Excerpted Remarks of President Barack Obama on Entrepreneurship and Community Colleges
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Posted by: Matthew Montoya
Remarks of President Barack Obama
of the Union Address
January 25, 2011
We measure progress by the success of our people. By the
jobs they can find and the quality of life those jobs offer. By the
prospects of a small business owner who dreams of turning a good idea into a
No country has more successful companies, or grants more
patents to inventors and entrepreneurs.
What we can do -- what America does better than anyone
else -- is spark the creativity and imagination of our people. We're the nation
that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison
and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook. In America, innovation
doesn't just change our lives. It is how we make our living.
Today, there are hundreds of thousands of students
excelling in our schools who are not American citizens…[some] come here from
abroad to study in our colleges and universities. But as soon as they obtain advanced
degrees, we send them back home to compete against us. It makes no sense.
[L]et's stop expelling talented, responsible young people who could be
staffing our research labs or starting a new business, who could be further
enriching this nation.
Robert and Gary Allen are brothers who run a small
Michigan roofing company. After September 11th, they volunteered their best
roofers to help repair the Pentagon. But half of their factory went unused, and
the recession hit them hard. Today, with the help of a government loan, that
empty space is being used to manufacture solar shingles that are being sold all
across the country. In Robert's words, "We reinvented ourselves."
… That dream -- that American Dream -- is what drove the Allen Brothers to
reinvent their roofing company for a new era.
Brandon [Fisher] started a company in Berlin,
Pennsylvania, that specializes in a new kind of drilling technology. And one
day last summer, he saw the news that halfway across the world, 33 men were
trapped in a Chilean mine, and no one knew how to save them… later, one of his
employees said of the rescue, "We proved that Center Rock is a little
company, but we do big things."
We're a nation that says,
"I might not have a lot of money, but I have this great idea for a new
might not come from a family of college graduates, but I will be the first to
get my degree." "I might not know those people in trouble, but I
think I can help them, and I need to try." "I'm not sure how we'll
reach that better place beyond the horizon, but I know we'll get there. I know
we will." We do big things.
Because people need to be able to train for new jobs and careers in today's fast-changing economy, we are also revitalizing America's community colleges. Last month, I saw the promise of these schools at Forsyth Tech in North Carolina. Many of the students there used to work in the surrounding factories that have since left town. One mother of two, a woman named Kathy Proctor, had worked in the furniture industry since she was 18 years old. And she told me she's earning her degree in biotechnology now, at 55 years old, not just because the furniture jobs are gone, but because she wants to inspire her children to pursue their dreams too. As Kathy said, "I hope it tells them to never give up."
That dream – that American Dream – is what drove the Allen Brothers to reinvent their roofing company for a new era. It's what drove those students at Forsyth Tech to learn a new skill and work towards the future. And that dream is the story of a small business owner named Brandon Fisher.