Remarks by Martha Johnson at Recovery Act Event with Local Businesses
As Prepared for Delivery
Martha N. Johnson
U.S. General Services Administration
Groundbreaking for Bakersfield Courthouse
July 12, 2010
Thank you, Jeff, for that kind introduction.
It’s great to be back in California and with so many great Californians including Congressman Costa, Mayor Hall, and Chief Judge Ishii. I would also like to acknowledge Judge Thurston, the presiding judge at this new courthouse, and Senator Boxer who unfortunately couldn’t join us today but has sent remarks.
I’m delighted to be here at the groundbreaking of the new Bakersfield Courthouse – for many reasons.
First, I have many roots in California – growing up in the Great Central Valley and on the northern coast among the redwoods. I remember the peaches, the smell of Manzanita bushes, the sounds of Japanese spoken by our neighbors, the roar of the ocean which was too dangerous for swimming. My son is here in college; my husband went to graduate school here. My brother has stayed on in San Francisco. California holds a special place in my heart.
But, second, courthouses also hold a special place in my heart. We left California when I was in high school and moved to North Dakota. There, in our small town, in the center of the small town, stood the courthouse. I could see it out my bedroom window. The courthouse was a familiar place. Our schools were unaccredited and I needed to beef up my coursework for college. So, I took geometry and US History by correspondence and my work was supervised by the clerk at the courthouse. I went there to make progress reports and sit for exams. The halls were cool, the ceilings high, and tests administered in that environment carried a considerable seriousness.
As we gather today to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Bakersfield Courthouse, we can all be reminded of the way a courthouse anchors a community and represents so much for the citizens and nation that it serves.
And so, I am immensely proud to join you today as a representative of the Obama Administration.
When President Obama came to office, he inherited an economy that was losing an average of 750,000 jobs each month. The country faced the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression.
In response to this economic freefall, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The mission of this landmark legislation was bold: to mitigate the economic impact of the crisis and lay a new foundation for our future prosperity.
The results are clear. After 22 difficult months of job loss, the economy has created private-sector jobs for six months in a row, including 83,000 in June and nearly 600,000 this year. Through its wide range of initiatives, including large tax breaks for millions of working families, the Recovery Act has helped to reinvigorate America’s private sector and propel our economy forward.
GSA has played a significant part. Since last summer, GSA has quadrupled our number of active Recovery Act construction projects, creating jobs that put people to work and invest in our collective future by building the vital infrastructure of our nation, such as this courthouse. The Bakersfield Courthouse represents the best of the Recovery Act because it marries infrastructure projects with GSA’s design and sustainability expertise. The courthouse is expected to receive a minimum sustainability rating of LEED Silver by incorporating the latest in innovative design – let me list some of those elements:
- Seamless integration of daylight;
- Highly efficient HVAC;
- Solar-heated water;
- “Cool roof” technology, and;
- Highly efficient lighting systems.
These features will also encourage the development of skills and green jobs with local design, construction and engineering firms. Across the country, new skills and green jobs are becoming the pillars of our future economic success. This is smart investing by our government and it will pay off for decades to come.
We at GSA are wasting no time in moving aggressively forward on the green and environmental front: To date, we have invested $4.1 billion in building modernization and construction projects. As of this month GSA has put 545 companies to work on green building projects, more than double the number of a year ago.
Thanks to the Recovery Act, GSA is driving the construction, transportation, energy, and automotive industries toward green projects and technologies that invest in the jobs and economy of the future.
Here in California, the state has been awarded nearly $22 billion in total Recovery Act funding: To date, that money has helped save or create more than 70,000 jobs.
Yet as the national economic outlook is improving, there is still a long way to go before our economy is back on its feet again. These numbers tell a story of a new direction, one we can be building on. But there are still too many Americans unemployed and suffering the terrible anxiety of being without work to support themselves; support their families.
Therefore, it is a hopeful sign to be here in Bakersfield today where hundreds of workers will be brought in to work on the Bakersfield Courthouse thanks to the Recovery Act funding. And similar stories can be heard across the country.
These Americans are going to work because of the Recovery Act. Their stories shows that the Recovery Act is spurring job creation, which ripples across the country, encouraging further job creation and promoting the growth of long-lasting and sustainable green-collar market segment, the engine of the future.
And we’re not done. This summer will be the most active Recovery Act season yet. We will see a significant spike in the rolling out of transportation, housing, and energy projects nationwide. In the past year, the construction industry has seen its biggest increase in the last decade, but when it comes to Recovery Act projects, the best is yet to come.