President Obama Speaks on Rebuilding Our Nation’s Infrastructure at Ellicott Dredges, Baltimore, May 17, 2013

The President:

“But we’ve had a little difficulty getting our Republican friends to work with us to find a steady funding source for these projects that everybody knows needs to happen. But in fairness, one of the problems we’ve had in the past is, is that sometimes it takes too long to get projects off the ground. There are all these permits and red tape and planning, and this and that, and some of it’s important to do, but we could do it faster.

So a while back, what I did was I ordered everybody who was involved in approving projects to speed up the permitting process for 50 different big projects all across the country, from the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York to the Port of Charleston in South Carolina. And we’ve been able to, in some cases, cut approval times from seven years down to a year. So we’ve made progress. (Applause.)

Today, I’m directing agencies across the government to do what it takes to cut timelines for breaking ground on major infrastructure projects in half. And what that will mean is, is that construction workers get back on the jobs faster. It means more money going back into local economies, and it means more demand for outstanding dredging equipment that is made right here in Baltimore….

So those are some of the ways that we can create the conditions for businesses like this one to generate even more good jobs. And these are the kinds of ideas that we have to stay focused on every single day. This should be our principal focus: How are we making ourselves more competitive; how are we training our workers so that they can do the jobs that need to be done; how can we make sure that we stay on the cutting edge in terms of technology; how are we making it easier for businesses to succeed….

I think about a woman here, Myrna LaBarre. Myrna LaBarre — where is Myrna? (Applause.) There’s Myrna right here. (Applause.) Myrna LaBarre. Myrna has been at Ellicott for more than 50 years. (Applause.) Now, that means she started when there were no child labor laws, because it was clearly illegal. (Laughter.) She was about four or five, and they started putting her to work, put a broom in her hand. But when somebody asked Myrna what lessons she learned after 50 years working at the same company, she said, “Be honest, be helpful, accept your mistakes and improve upon them, be good to people, keep a good sense of humor, have the best work ethic possible, and handle the good times and get over the bad.” That’s a pretty good recipe for success right there. That’s who we are. That’s who we are. (Applause.) Thank you, Myrna.

I mean, that pretty much sums up everything. (Laughter.) That’s who we like to understand America to be, who we are as Americans. We’re honest and helpful. We work hard. We’re good to others. We handle the good times, and we get over the bad times. If we keep that in mind, if we just all keep Myrna’s advice in mind, keep plugging away, keep fighting, we’ll build an even better America than we’ve got right now.”

Full text: http://1.usa.gov/16rPVl9

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