by Harry Moser, Founder, Reshoring Initiative
I was first contacted by the White House’s National Economic Council on Tuesday, Jan 3. They said that the Commerce Department and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy had both recommended I be included in a possible Jan 11 event related to reshoring, or as they called it “insourcing.” They asked whether I would attend if the event were held. I asked “attend” or “speak”? They were unable to commit. We communicated a bit by email for the next few days and I rearranged my travel schedule to get to DC and on to MA, Albany and NJ without breaking the bank. (DC to Albany would have been $700+). On Tuesday, Jan 10 they confirmed that I would actively participate in the morning Roundtable and the afternoon panel, so the travel arrangements were a good investment!
I entered the Eisenhower Executive Office Building thru the Guest Entrance, passed security twice, and was taken to the Roundtable room. Great assemblage of business executives, cabinet members, presidents of major unions, Governor of Oregon, Mayor of Atlanta, other administration leaders, and 2 other experts. Vice President, Joe Biden, also joined us with the President. Wonderful networking!
President Obama entered and shook hands with each of us. He said to me: “I have a question for you.” He was perfectly scripted with questions tied to each participant’s experience and knowledge. The President started the discussion and stayed quite non-political. The attendees responded with solid data and examples and avoided any political controversy. We all focused on what could be done. I described the importance of businesses using total cost of ownership (TCO) analysis and the fact that the online TCO data base showed that whereas 100% of cases had far higher U.S. prices, 60% had lower U.S. TCO. Strong support was expressed for use of TCO, instead of price variance, to decide on sourcing and for skilled workforce development.
The press conference was a mix of the essential content of the Roundtable and more politically motivated comments. At the end I told the President I would send him a good reshoring line for the State of the Union address. He encouraged me to do so. I sent it the next morning.
The afternoon panel was much less structured than the Roundtable. Karen Mills, Administrator of the SBA , led the panel. I provided overview and suggestions what SBA could to strengthen financing and the skilled workforce. The SBA senior staff followed-up with me to discuss issues and opportunities in depth.
I was honored to be included. I look forward to pursuing joint interests with many contacts and to advancing reshoring and the tightly tied issue of skilled workforce.