Johnson Hails Recovery Act Progress
As prepared for delivery
Martha N. Johnson
U.S. General Services Administration
Major General Emmett J. Bean Federal Center Recovery Act Event
June 4, 2010
Good morning, Hoosiers. It’s great to be back in Indiana!
And it is especially meaningful to be here on behalf of the Obama administration, in the company of so many great Hoosiers, including Congressman Andre Carson.
For me, this is a homecoming of sorts. I got my start – not too far from here – working the production line at the Cummins Engine Company in Columbus, Indiana.
I know firsthand the strength and resolve of Indiana’s hard-working families. Indiana’s workers continue to play a pivotal role in powering our nation’s economy and getting our country moving again.
Last year, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – an unprecedented effort to cushion the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. Through a wide range of initiatives, the Recovery Act has helped to reinvigorate America’s private sector and move our economy forward. The mission of this landmark legislation was bold, and its purpose was clear: to mitigate the economic impact and lay a new foundation for our future prosperity.
And today, we received encouraging news.
In the last month our economy has created over 400,000 new jobs, and the unemployment rate has dropped to 9.7 percent. This is the fifth straight month of job growth and a signal that our economy is roaring back to life.
Many of these jobs are census-related positions, temporary jobs that provide hard-working Americans with livelihoods, paychecks and a needed relief from the anxiety of unemployment.
Longer-term jobs have been created as well; GSA has created quality jobs in traditional construction and emerging green industries thanks to our Recovery Act funding.
I can think of no better place to survey the Recovery Act’s progress than here in the Hoosier State where GSA is modernizing the Bean Federal Center, the Bayh Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, and the Minton-Capehart Federal Building.
I stand here today alongside the hard-working Hoosiers, like Brian Sullivan, Mike Farrel, and Phil DeBruler, who through Recovery Act investments are rebuilding our economy.
GSA’s Indianapolis projects are prime examples of the important work that is being done across the country to modernize and reinvest in our nation’s federal buildings.
In the last year with the help of the Recovery Act, GSA has been able to almost quadruple our number of active construction projects, and those initiatives are rolling out nationwide as we speak.
So far, Indiana has been awarded more than $7.5 billion in Recovery Act funds, and $4.7 billion of that has already been spent. The Council of Economic Advisors now estimates that due to the Recovery Act, Indiana has saved or created 64,000 jobs as of March 2010.
The evidence is clear: The Recovery Act is working, jobs are being created, Americans are returning to work, and our economy is growing again.
But we still have a long way to go, and the unemployment rate remains unacceptably high.
Yet we see signs of hope, and today’s job numbers show that there is light at the end of the tunnel. One-third of the Recovery Act money went directly to tax breaks for middle class families and small businesses, and we see that money being used to help the bottom line of millions of families.
As part of this unprecedented federal effort, GSA has committed its funds to create a more sustainable and better-performing federal building portfolio. As of last week, GSA had invested $4.1 billion in building modernization and construction and has put more than 400 companies back to work across the country.
We are driving the construction, transportation, energy, and automotive industries toward green projects and technologies that invest in the jobs and economy of the future.
Here at the Bean Federal Center, GSA is taking bold steps to implement the latest in energy-efficient solar technology and create the solutions of tomorrow. More than 6,000 solar panels will produce over 1.8 megawatts of renewable energy and reduce peak usage by 6 percent.
By reducing the buildings’ energy costs we save taxpayer dollars in building operations.
Across Indiana, GSA has awarded $157 million to businesses, and because of the Bayh, Bean, and Minton Capeheart projects Indiana has seen new jobs created.
Recovery Act funds have provided $558 million in loans to nearly 1,500 of Indiana’s small businesses, and we have partnered with women- and veteran-owned businesses across the region and the country.
I am proud that we have so fully and successfully engaged Indiana’s local talent like Zachary Eads, a young veteran who, after being honorably discharged from the Army following a tour of duty in Iraq, was hired through a local veterans employment representative to work on the roof project of the Bean Center.
Or Milton Cannon who was laid off from the local RCA factory after 25 years, and who, after surviving a battle with cancer, was brought on to work site logistics at the Bean Center.
Carla Algeier, a longtime employee of a local construction company, spent four months searching for a job until she was hired for the Bayh Building project, where she helps document program hours.
These Americans are working today because of the Recovery Act. Stories like theirs show the broad effect that the Recovery Act has had throughout the economy as new funding spurs job creation and promotes the growth of long-lasting and sustainable green-collar jobs.
Green jobs and green growth will be pillars of our future economic success. We are wasting no time in moving aggressively forward on the green and environmental front: By July, GSA will have put 545 companies to work on green building projects, more than double the number of a year ago. These jobs are long-term investments in our future. They represent the kind of smart investments that will launch our country into the next decade and beyond.
And we’re not done yet. This summer 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.
Experts continue to say the Recovery Act has helped pull us back from the brink of economic disaster. I am confident that with the American ingenuity, drive, talent, skill, grit, and perseverance that I have seen here in Indiana, our best days lie ahead.
And now I am honored to introduce Congressman Andre Carson. Congressman Carson was instrumental in working to create jobs through the passage of the Recovery Act. He is a dedicated public servant, firmly committed to putting Hoosiers back to work. A true champion for Indiana’s working families, please welcome Indianapolis’ very own Congressman Andre Carson.