May 20, 2014 at 9:52 pm

Obama meets with business leaders, touts forum about creating more U.S. jobs

President Obama meets Tuesday with business leaders — including, center, Joe Hinrichs, president of the Americas for Ford, and Sanjay K. Jha, CEO of Globalfoundries — about creating more jobs in the U.S. (Charles Dharapak / AP)

Washington— President Barack Obama met with business leaders at the White House on Tuesday as the administration announced it will hold a new forum next year to woo more American and foreign companies into adding jobs in the United States.

Among the leaders during the 90-minute meeting was Ford Motor Co.’s Americas chief Joe Hinrichs, one of 11 business leaders to attend the meeting. He sat next to the president during the Roosevelt Room meeting that also included National Economic Council director Jeffrey Zients and senior advisor Valerie Jarrett. The White House didn’t say how long Obama dropped by the meeting.

“We have made enormous strides over the last several years not just recovering from a Great Recession, but taking advantage of and now marketing the advantages of doing business in the United States — whether it’s low energy costs, an incredibly productive workforce,” Obama said. “Obviously, we have the most dynamic and creative and innovative economy in the world, but we don’t always do what it takes to go after business around the world and make sure that they know the benefits of investing in the largest market on Earth. And we want to be more systematic about it. We want to make sure that the federal government is working in sync with state and local governments when it comes to locating businesses here in the United States.”

The White House is touting low-cost natural gas, a skilled workforce and other factors in trying to convince companies to expand or add production in the United States.

Ford was invited because it is adding 5,000 jobs in the United States this year after adding 14,000 jobs over the past two years. The White House noted Ford invested $200 million in its Cleveland plant to manufacture Ford's 2.0-liter EcoBoost engines that were previously built at a plant in Europe.

Hinrichs said before the meeting that it was an honor to take part and that he was “looking forward to talking about our plans to add 5,000 jobs.”

Ford said in a statement that it is the top U.S. exporter of vehicles and “highlighted key to continued U.S. investment is trade policies that open new markets and enforce rules.”

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney declined to say if trade agreements came up. Ford has been aggressive in insisting that protections to bar currency manipulation be made part of the agreement.

Others taking part included executives from K’Nex; Zurich Insurance Group, Umicore USA, Novozymes, Global Foundries, Ericsson North America, Lufthansa AG and Hankook Tire, a supplier to Ford and Hyundai Motor Co. Hankook is building its first U.S. plant in Tennessee and will add 1,600 jobs when it is completed by 2016.

“By investing in America, we will continue to provide our U.S. customers, consumers and car makers with high quality tires and leading service,” said Byeong Jin Lee, president of Hankook Tire America, who met with Obama.

DShepardson@detroitnews.com