Obama touts new partnership between the military and the manufacturing community
by Sue Webber – Sun Newspapers – From the moment he shouted “Hello, Golden Valley!” into the microphone, President Barack Obama had the rapt attention of 1,700 people June 1 at Honeywell’s Golden Valley plant.
The President’s whirlwind, one-day trip to Minneapolis included a stop at Honeywell because Obama wanted to tout a new partnership between the military and the manufacturing community that he said will make it easier for businesses to hire veterans “who have learned skills our country needs.”
“I believe that no one who fights for this country ought to have to fight for a job when they come home,” said Obama, a remark that drew sustained applause from the crowd.
“Honeywell is a great example of a company that’s doing outstanding work,” Obama said.
Honeywell has hired 900 voters over the past year, and has 65 veterans employed at the company’s Golden Valley plant, Obama said.
When service men and women take off their uniforms, their service to the country doesn’t stop, Obama said,
“Our government needs the veterans’ patriotism and their sense of duty,” he said. “Our economy needs their outstanding talent.”
Obama said many returning military heroes have advanced skills but find that they can’t get jobs because they lack proper certification.
“Think about the skills they’ve acquired and the leadership they’ve learned in unbelievably dangerous, life and death situations,” Obama said. “You can’t get that stuff from a classroom. It’s exactly the kind of leadership and responsibility every business in the country should be competing to attract, the kind of American every company should want to hire.”
“Businesses say they can’t find enough workers,” he said. “Somehow, they’re missing each other.”
He applauded Honeywell for making it a mission to hire more veterans.
“Honeywell does it because it’s good for business,” Obama said. “Veterans make outstanding workers.”
He would like to put firefighters, police officers, teachers and construction workers back to work, he said.
“If you can save a life on a battlefield, you can save a life in an ambulance,” he said. “If you can oversee a convoy in Iraq, you can help manage a supply chain here at home.”
Though the economy has undergone ups and downs and hasn’t recovered from the recession as quickly as had been hoped, Obama promised better days ahead.
“I place my bets on American workers and businesses any day of the week,” he said.
Integral to their success is a partnership between businesses and the military to find jobs for veterans returning from service in Afghanistan and Iraq, he said.
“Standing up for our veterans is not a Democratic or Republican responsibility,” Obama said. “It’s an American responsibility. We are forever grateful for their service and sacrifice. As they fought for us, we will keep fighting for them.”
Obama was introduced to the audience at Honeywell by Ryan Sullivan, a Twin Cities native and Navy veteran who has worked for Honeywell since February. The 34-year-old said he found a passion for being an electrician while he was in the Navy. The training and experience he received while he was in the Navy qualified him for a job at Honeywell, he said.
Obama’s 25-minute speech was not open to the public, but was attended by Minnesota’s Congressional delegation, area state legislators, Gov. Mark Dayton, Golden Valley’s mayor and City Council members and other dignitaries, as well as scores of veterans and Honeywell employees.