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Remarks by Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross at the Roundtable with the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce


Introduced by Helen Edenfield, Global Director for Facilities, NeoGenomics

Thank you, Helen, for that kind introduction.

I was really looking forward to seeing the facility and all of you in person, but as you can appreciate this is a particularly hectic time in the administration and a totally unexpected event made it impossible for me to spend the travel time to and from Ft. Meyers. But I am able to meet with you by phone. As you probably know, when I am not in Washington, I live in Palm Beach, so please give me a rain check.

The ground-breaking work you do here is changing the landscape for precision medicine, and for cancer patients who want more diagnostic and treatment options.

NeoGenomics has performed admirably amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, helping to advance COVID-19 testing technology. I thank you for your participation in these efforts.

I would also like to welcome Colleen DePasquale and the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce for joining today’s discussion. Your companies and workers are among those that make Florida a world leader in important areas like healthcare and technology – and health care technology!

American-owned businesses like those represented by the Chamber form the economic backbone of our communities. I was pleased to learn that NeoGenomics will open a new world headquarters right here in Fort Myers, next September. No doubt this new facility will continue to strengthen the Florida economy, creating more high paying jobs and valuable opportunities for hardworking Americans.

This expansion comes as no surprise, as Florida has long been a hub for tech innovation. In fact, two of the greatest inventors and innovators of all time, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, both owned homes in Fort Myers. Air conditioning was also invented here in 1851.

In the 169 years since, Florida has become home to more than 19,000 manufacturers employing more than 331,000 workers. And Florida stands out among other states for its ability to sell these products and others abroad.

There are 60,000 exporters in Florida, the second largest of any state. And as such, your companies – exporting aerospace components, telecommunications equipment, advanced circuitry other goods and technologies – have much to gain from President Trump’s U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement. Florida ranked an impressive 7th in the United States for exports last year, shipping $56 billion in goods overseas. And your state exported $7.7 billion in goods to Mexico and Canada in 2018.

The President’s USMCA expands your ability to trade with our valued neighbors to the north and south. It incentivizes more U.S.-based manufacturing. And it protects your intellectual property in order to better facilitate digital commerce. This is important as we emerge from the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are indicators that we are holding to a standard and steady pattern of economic recovery here in the Sunshine State and across the country. Americans saved more than $22 trillion between March and September. And once we beat the virus, there will be pent-up demand in the tourism sector. We can expect that Americans, empowered by these savings, will be ready to spend here in your state in the near-term.

Recent trends are promising, with U.S. consumers spending nearly $2 trillion more in August than they did in April. In fact, Americans are now spending more in our economy now than they did when President Trump first arrived in office. This is all reassuring news for your businesses and your workers.

Moreover, President Trump’s rapid implementation of the CARES Act was critical to accelerating Florida’s recovery. The CARES Act injected $32.3 billion into more than 432,000 Florida companies with fewer than 500 employees through the Paycheck Protection Program.

The Trump Administration is invested in your success. And my Department will continue putting its resources behind rebuilding the U.S. economy and strengthening our global commercial ties here in Florida and across the country.

Now I look forward to hearing your ideas on how we can continue working together to revitalize your industries and communities, generate more jobs, and create an economy that is resilient and can withstand any future shock. Thank you.