January 11, 2022
Suzanne P. Clark
President and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
In her first State of American Business keynote address, U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Suzanne P. Clark said that competition is how we build our country, make it exceptional, and move it forward.
“The state of American business is competitive,” said Clark. “Businesses are not simply competing to win today, but to build a better tomorrow—to propel our country and the world toward a brighter future of growth, solutions, and opportunity we know lies ahead.”
Outlining the top priorities for the business community in 2022, Clark explained how competition in the marketplace, competition for talent, competition for global leadership, and competition for ideas are what will spur the pursuit of a better future for all humankind.
Here are the top five takeaways from Clark’s keynote. (Click here to read the full speech transcript.)
Innovation and resilience—not government overreach—will promote competition and American enterprise.
Despite clear innovation, resilience, and the dynamism of our economy, Clark said we have leaders who think the government needs to step in and impose a heavy hand.
“If bureaucrats and elected officials don’t stop getting in the way, we will stop them. We will challenge overreach and defend the rule of law at every turn, in every agency, and with every tool at our disposal … in Washington, in the statehouses, and in the courts.”
To help win the competition for talent, we need to grow the workforce.
Addressing the worker shortage crisis, Clark called for doubling the number of people legally immigrating to the U.S., a permanent solution for the Dreamers, and the removal of the barriers faced by working parents, those with limited access to broadband, and formerly incarcerated adults.
“Let’s ensure everyone in this country has the skills, the education, and the opportunity to go as high and as far as their hard work and talent will take them—for the 11 million jobs that sit vacant today,” she said. “And for the jobs of tomorrow that haven’t even been invented yet.”
By one vital measure—trade—the U.S. is falling behind.
While other economies race to ink new deals, the U.S. hasn’t entered an agreement with a new trade partner in a decade. And the current administration—consumed by caution and internal reviews—is doing little to change that.
“We must compete vigorously around the world," Clark said. "We must stand up for our values and security and against unfair trade and regulatory practices. And we must cooperate on critical global challenges such as sustainability and public health. We have to do all three—and doing so deftly will be one of the defining features of American leadership in this era.”
We need more politicians willing to compete on the strength of their ideas and the ability to achieve them.
Clark said that our democracy is strongest when candidates and elected officials are focused on winning people over to their ideas, and then building broader coalitions to turn those ideas into good policy.
“The U.S. Chamber is calling for a new movement of bold—and I mean bold—business advocates committed to defending those elected officials who dare to find the common ground necessary to enact durable policies to move our country forward ... and committed to supporting pro-business champions in both political parties," Clark noted.
Businesses need to get louder, more passionate, and less apologetic.
“Businesses are key stakeholders in this democracy. Leaders in this country. The greatest way we can serve this country is by succeeding on its behalf and fighting for policies that will enable us to usher in a new economic era.”
Clark called on American citizens as well to get on the same side in the competition for our future.
“The U.S. has enough enemies. Let’s stop being our own worst enemy. Let’s stop the infighting and show the world that our democracy supporting our American enterprise system is what made the U.S. dynamic, diverse, resilient, and strong.”
From the Series