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Obama names GE's Jeffrey Immelt to new economic advisory board

President Obama visits a GE plant in Schenectady, N.Y., and says company CEO Jeffrey Immelt will lead a new panel aimed at 'putting our economy into overdrive.'

January 21, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli, Washington Bureau
  • President Obama listens to General Electric's Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt speak at GE headquarters in Schenectady, N.Y.. Obama named Immelt to head a new economic advisory panel focused on promoting growth by investing in business.
President Obama listens to General Electric's Chief Executive Jeffrey… (Reuters )

Reporting from Washington — President Obama used a visit to a GE plant in upstate New York to outline a new mission for his economic team, a shift from economic rescue into "overdrive" spurred in part by a ramping up of American exports.

The event at the birthplace of GE also served as the introduction of the company's CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, as the leader of Obama's new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. It will replace the Economic Recovery Advisory Board he created two years ago after taking office.

After touring the Schenectady plant, Obama highlighted the company's expansion in the region, which he said benefited from tax breaks extended in the recent tax compromise and his administration's trade deals with nations like China and India.

"For America to compete around the world, we need to export more goods around the world," he said. "This is how we go from an economy that was powered by what we borrow and what we consume. … We want an economy that is fueled by what we invent and what we build."

That's in part the mission of Obama's new council, and why he named Immelt to lead it. Additional members, which he said would represent the business, labor and academic communities, will be named soon.

"The past two years were about pulling our economy back from the brink. The next two years, our job now, is putting our economy into overdrive," he said. "Our job is to do everything we can to ensure that businesses can take root and folks can find good jobs and America is leading the global competition that will determine our success in the 21st century."

Friday's announcement comes toward the end of a significant overhaul of the Obama administration, and the start of a likely reelection effort.

The White House has said a key theme of Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday will be building on the nation's economic recovery.

mmemoli@tribune.com

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