'The automotive sector and its record over the past few years is resilience defined,' U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said. 'Out of crisis, a phoenix has arisen. The auto industry's ability to reinvent itself is one of the most remarkable stories I've seen in my 27 years in business.' (David Coates / The Detroit News)
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker lauded Detroit’s resilient automotive industry and its scores of innovators in a wide-ranging speech Wednesday to the Detroit Economic Club at the North American International Auto Show.
Pritzker touched on topics ranging from the importance of manufacturing to the rebounding housing market and need for immigration reform. She said the Motor City plays an important role because of its booming auto business, strong exports and history of product-makers.
“The automotive sector and its record over the past few years is resilience defined,” she said. “Out of crisis, a phoenix has arisen. The auto industry’s ability to reinvent itself is one of the most remarkable stories I’ve seen in my 27 years in business.”
Later, in an interview, Pritzker said she’s unsure if Detroit’s bankruptcy has had an effect on attracting outside business, but said once the city emerges from its financial difficulties, it should be a more attractive destination.
“It’s really positive that Detroit is going to fix its balance sheet and address head-on the challenges that were obviously not fixable without bankruptcy,” she said. “Yeah, it’s hard, but it’s doable.”
She touted the auto industry’s “strongest job growth since the 1990s,“but also said the region is full of innovators that make the state attractive for other industries, like manufacturing and technology. She noted the U.S. Patent and Trade satellite office that opened in Detroit last year, the first and largest outside Washington, D.C.
“It’s all about people and the ability to think of new ideas,” she said.
She said the government is helping grow Detroit business through export assistance centers, which help companies find markets abroad to sell their products, and with $300 million in aid that the Obama administration announced late last year.
“This is a really resilient community,” she said. “I believe out of it will come great ideas.”