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More Jobs for Americans? We’ll See, Department of Commerce Is Hopeful

written by: •edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 6/23/2011

On June 15, 2011, President Obama announced a new program to lower unemployment, attract new businesses and keep entrepreneurs alive in the U.S. would become law—yep, law. Overseers will be the Department of Commerce. With unemployment at nine percent or more in some areas, will this program work?

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    More Jobs or More Woe?

    Screenshot SelectUSA Website Home Page The new program called the SelectUSA Initiative does indeed look good on paper. So of course as a business owner, I was intrigued—more jobs, more factories on American soil and the bonus points U.S. businesses will receive if indeed they shift their interests away from foreign countries, expand or build a small business in order to receive much needed government aid. If you’re a small business owner, this sounds like great news, right? Maybe not.

    The website, Politics on Point offers this excerpt:

    “The Initiative will provide enhanced coordination of Federal activities in order to increase the impact of Federal resources that support both domestic and foreign investment in the United States. In providing assistance, the Initiative shall work to maximize impact on business investment, job creation, and economic growth.”

    Translation? If your company bids on government contracts, offers products or services for the government and can employ more Americans, you’ll get big time tax credits. Wasn’t this tried once before, and didn’t it fail?

    US DOL Training for Employers Remember those jobs promised after the “Yes We Can” man became our leader? Crowds of people were reassured that many jobs were “created” in 2010, but created didn’t mean “available” or “actual.” Every job “created” was associated with government contracts—mostly improving our highways and byways; only one area of job opportunities for contractors and builders of roads and bridges. So, not much for the out-of-work factory worker or accountant, unless of course they are retrained by an employer or small business owner. However, there really isn’t any money for training available for free. A visit to the U.S. Department of Labor’s website shows employers can receive incentives—but nowhere on the list is “government-funded retraining.” Click on screenshot to the right and you’ll see what I mean.

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    Should We Buy In?

    Same Old Story The signed-into-law initiative, appropriately called “SelectUSA” has its very own website where visitors can find out what the program is all about, why a visitor should select the United States as a place to open businesses and offer jobs, and finally, a list of those companies who are already on board—good old “Made in the USA” businesses, right? Well, not actually. The list seems large, but after digging in deeper, most companies on the list have offices overseas where taxes are less expensive for big biz. This was revealed in depth by CBS’ 60 Minutes Program. Find a link to this 60 Minutes story in the reference section, I guarantee it will blow your mind if you haven’t seen it.

    Let’s take Intel for example, proudly stating via the new initiative website: “Intel announced in October 2010 (its) plans to invest between $6 billion and $8 billion on next-generation manufacturing technology in its U.S. facilities over the next several years.” A visit to Intel’s website, however, offers this statement, “Public Policy for the Global Economy" which is great, but this American company buying into the initiative also says about global economy trade, "Intel supports trade agreements and rules that facilitate general commerce between countries and expand access of the technology industry to growing world markets." Come on Intel, you can't have your cake (big government incentives) and eat it too!

    In fact, they have global offices in the Asia/Pacific Region, Europe, Latin America and in the Middle East/Africa Region. Indeed their corporate offices are in California but the part of the announcement that scares me is “over the next several years.” Who knows if SelectUSA will even be around in the next several years unless Intel’s already received some incentives from the U.S. Government? I couldn’t find any information on that, but I bet their bank account is a little larger or they have some huge tax credits they can claim very, very soon.

    The Los Angeles Times quoted John Engler, the president of the executive roundtable of top U.S. corporate executives who came up with the initiative for President Obama, who stated, “For example, companies of all sizes can face costly delays in winning government approval of sites they have selected to build new facilities.”

    Screenshot SelectUSA for Small Business Opportunities Here, the “companies of all sizes” bothers me. Again, I visited the SelectUSA website to see as a small business owner if indeed I could win government approval for funding if I expand, hire more people and create jobs. Alas, my search on incentives came up blank (see screenshot to the left).

    There is help and aid for anything green (which is a good thing), innovations in agriculture or medical services and diversity programs—a visit to offers up the same programs and grants, however.

    So, where’s all this promised help for what built America—the small business owner? It’s not here folks and although it sounds like a great program to inspire new businesses and end unemployment, this is just another hopeful, and then doubtful, ploy from the government to change how we think about unemployment, business foreclosures, and small business funding.

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    What It Really Means

    Uncle Sam Wants Us Apparently Under the “Why SelectUSA” web page, this statement really caught my attention (spelling error included...hmm wonder if I can get a job as a proofreader for the government?):

    “Americans know how to take advantage when opporunities (sic) present themselves—it’s the American spirit. And that spirit makes the U.S. workforce a desired partner in developing successful businesses.”

    I’m not sure what this means really, especially if you’re a small business owner looking for help—what opporunities (sic)? Again, I turn to the SelectUSA Initiative website. If I am a farmer, great, maybe I can get help, right? Only if I sell my farm offerings to the government. If I am a scientist and what to develop a new antibiotic I can get aid, right? Only if I plan on selling the new drug to the U.S. Government only. Okay, what if I want to build a more affordable wind turbine or solar panel, I can get aid, right? Only if the same are purchased by Uncle Sam.

    I hope this initiative does work, but it’s not like some sources are reporting as a way to get Americans back to work. In fact, to me, it’s simply a way for the government to offer aid to large corporations who can receive big incentives while the government gains products or services at discounted rates.

    I can’t see how this can help the small business owner create jobs or help the American workforce get back to work. But again, those “created” jobs in 2010, were not actual jobs and well, that didn’t work either.

    What’s your opinion?

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    Politics on Point -

    SelectUSA Website -

    DOL Employer Incentives (via Reuters)- U.S. Launces SelectUSA Initiative to Spur Business Investment -

    Why SelectUSA? -

    60 Minutes - The New Tax Havens -

    Intel Global Economy Statements -

    Image Credits:

    Newspaper Boy -

    Uncle Sam - Wikimedia Commons/US Department of Defense

    Screenshots of SelectUSA courtesy of Government Website and Employer Training Programs coutesy of U.S. Department of Labor