Just hours after President Barack Obama publicly urged Republicans to end tax breaks to oil companies and the very wealthy as part of a deal to extend the debt ceiling, former President Bill Clinton kicked off his CGI jobs summit in Chicago in the hopes of finding ways to improve economic growth, while sidestepping the legislative morass in Washington.
Standing in front of hundreds, and sharing the stage with the likes of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Clinton announced commitments from summit attendees that would offer employment training to 140,000 people, create 1,000 information technology jobs and deliver $3.5 million in loans to American small businesses.
“Initiatives like these prove that organizations and individuals around the country have the power to take action to spur economic growth,” said Clinton, who laid out some ways to spur economic growth in a recent cover story for Newsweek.
Donning a bold red tie and glasses, which hung low on his nose, Clinton expressed hope that those in attendance could find micro-economic solutions that would help the larger economy.
“Every job matters,” he said. “Most of the jobs created over the past 30 years have been created by small businesses.”
Over the clatter of silverware, Clinton, his hair well-coiffed as usual, announced that Visa, the credit card giant, was giving Kiva, an online lending firm, $1 million to work with local community leaders and financial institutions in Detroit to fund and administer microloans. Over the next two years, the two companies will create similar programs in other cities with the goal of administering millions more loans.
Clinton also announced two other commitments: 1) Onshore Technology Services, a rural outsourcing firm, will create 1,000 jobs over the next five years in rural Missouri, including Joplin, the town, which was ravaged by the recent tornado; 2) The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) said it would work with financial institutions to invest $10 billion in capital from its workers over the next five years for infrastructure projects. The labor group will invest up to $20 million additional to making public buildings more energy efficient.
“Investing in infrastructure can get Americans back to work and advance our energy independence,” Clinton said. “It’s good economics.”