Baldrige Award Ceremony for 2008 Award Recipient

Uploaded by usnistgov on 11.12.2009

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome
Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke,
and Chair of the Foundation for the Malcolm Baldrige
National Quality Award, Joe Alexander.
(applause) Welcome to the official
celebration and awards ceremony for the Malcolm Baldrige
National Quality Award 2008 recipients.
This is a celebration, so can we hear
a little noise and excitement?
(cheering and applause) Ladies and gentlemen,
please stand, remain standing for
the presentation of the colors by the Joint Armed Forces
Color Guard and the playing
of the National Anthem.
(instrumental music) Present arms.
("Star Spangled Banner") Right shoulder arms.
("It's a Grand Old Flag") You may be seated.
In a little while we'll have the honor of having
Vice President Biden join us.
At the conclusion of the Vice President's remarks,
we ask that you please remain seated
until you are instructed that it is okay to depart.
During this time, please enjoy the fine musical accompaniment
of the Air Force Band.
I will return to the stage, once the Vice President
has left the area with an announcement that we
are clear to depart the room.
It is now my distinct honor and pleasure to introduce
the Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke.
(applause) Well, thank you very much, Joe,
and congratulations for all the great work
that you're doing, and to everyone in the room,
This is a great occasion and we're especially honored
to have Vice President Joe Biden
joining us in a few minutes.
I want to recognize Malcolm Hollensteiner,
Malcolm Baldrige's nephew.
And we so delighted that you could join us.
Malcolm Hollensteiner, if you could just please
stand up and be recognized, and pay a tribute to you.
We're also expecting Senator Amy Klobuchar
from Minnesota.
Oh, there she is, all right.
You made it already.
And I believe Congresswoman Betsy Markey of Colorado
should be joining us shortly.
I also want to acknowledge the Malcolm Baldrige
Quality Award Board of Overseers,
the Baldrige Foundation and the American
Society for Quality and our wonderful Baldrige team
at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Thank you all for the great work
that you're doing to help make this program a success and
the Malcolm Baldrige Awards a success and such
an esteemed event every single year.
Let's give them a big round of applause
as well.
Thank you.
(applause) I'm really delighted
to have this opportunity to personally
congratulate the recipients of the 2008 Malcolm Baldrige
National Quality Awards.
These awards, of course, are given in honor
of one of the most respected Commerce Secretaries
in United States history.
Malcolm Baldrige led this great institution,
the Department of Commerce, for nearly seven years.
He came to the office from industry
and he deeply believed that America's
ability to produce the best products
and the best services in the entire world.
And as Secretary, he challenged U.S.
companies and organizations to overcome strong
global competition that our nation
was facing in the 1980s by focusing on quality.
And in 1987, Congress created the Quality Award Program
and named it after Mac Baldrige.
Now many of us in state government
and in private industry saw the value in recognizing
uncommon quality.
During my service as eight years as Governor of
the state of Washington, I took a cue from Mac Baldrige,
and we established a quality and performance award
to promote excellence.
I'm proud of the things that we were able to do
in creating our own version of
the Malcolm Baldrige Award within state government.
Drivers license renewal used to take over an hour
when I took office, we got it down to 10 minutes.
And even before we got it down to 10 minutes,
you could renew your driver's license online.
We created software so that businesses
could pay their taxes online using the software
that we provided free of charge.
And things that used to take three months,
we challenged our employees to get it done in one day.
So clearly, Malcolm Baldrige had an incredible influence
throughout America.
And I'm proud that we in state government
and most state governments have been able
to take the cue from him.
Also want to acknowledge that Governor Ritter
of Colorado was here and very much is engaged in
the same activities.
And he's not able to join us for
the rest of these ceremonies.
But clearly, the organizations that we're recognizing
today have set a very, very high bar.
And President Obama and his entire administration
have made it a priority to revitalize
America's industrial sector and reform our educational
and our health care systems.
And the three awardees that we honor and recognize today --
Cargill Corn Milling of North America,
Iredell-Statesville Schools and Poudre Valley
Health System -- hail from each of these sectors
and are a shining example of quality
and service done right.
Cargill Corn Milling of North America,
which manufactures over 60 corn and sugar-based products
for more than 3,000 customers, they employ
some 2,300 men and women.
Using a score card and best practice model
to monitor and promote performance excellence,
its earnings nearly tripled between 2003 and 2007.
Meanwhile, their cost of doing business dropped 5 percent
from 2005 to 2008.
And during that same period of time,
it maintained an error-free delivery rate
of 99 percent.
Throughout, Cargill has exhibited
an uncommon commitment to its employees
and the communities in which it operates.
In the year 2008 in June when flood waters destroyed
its corn milling plant in Cedar Rapids,
Cargill brought in its best people
from around the country to get the plant up and running
in a matter of months but also to assist
the community in its recovery efforts.
Importantly, amidst this devastation,
Cargill let its 200 Cedar Rapids employees
know that they would continue to be paid,
even though the plant was down and that they'd all have
a job when they came back and when the plant was up
and running -- just the
kind of commitment you'd expect from an organization worthy
of the Baldrige Award.
Our second winner is Iredell-Statesville Schools,
a K through 12 school system in southwestern North Carolina.
With four central offices, 35 schools
and a workforce of some 3,400 people,
it offers a variety of courses and educational programs
to meet the needs of its students.
Iredell-Statesville has built a collaborative atmosphere
that encourages its teachers to work together
to improve student learning.
In spite of a lower budget and lower per-pupil
expenditure, it has outperformed
comparative districts at the state
and even at the national level.
Student achievement is up from 55th to 9th
out of more than 100 school districts
in North Carolina.
And its average SAT scores exceed the national average.
Finally, we honor Poudre Valley Health System,
which offers a full spectrum of health care services
through two hospitals in Colorado
and a network of clinics and care facilities
that also serve residents in Nebraska and Wyoming.
This locally-owned, non-profit health care group
has been recognized for patient loyalty,
physician satisfaction, performance excellence
and competitive health care costs compared
to other local competitors.
Poudre's leaders are renowned for their facilitating
seamless communication between management and staff,
as well as an organization-wide focus
on high performance and customer satisfaction.
It's no surprise then that last year
Thompson-Reuters, a national health care
consulting firm, named Poudre Valley Hospital
as one of its 100 top hospitals in America
for the fifth year in a row.
Though the 2008 Baldrige Award recipients,
hail from different sectors, they each serve as a model
to all organizations who want to get the most out
of their people and provide
the very best service to their customers
and to the communities in which they operate.
Congratulations to all of these three award-winners
for doing a job and doing it so well.
Now I'd like to ask Alan Willits, President
and business unit leader, and Greg Page,
Chairman and CEO of Cargill, to come to the podium.
And we're going to do this with each of the representatives
and the executives of the three organizations
that we honor today.
But first, we'll start with Cargill.
(rattling and cheering) Now what kind of seeds --
what kind of seeds do you have in those containers, huh?
And to each of them a Baldrige flag.
Take off that nametag.
(applause) Now we'd like to ask
David Cash, Chairman, Board of Education,
and Brady Johnson, Superintendent
of Iredell-Statesville Schools to now join us
at the podium to receive the Malcolm Baldrige Award.
(applause) And now would -- is it --
I don't have his first name.
Is it Rulon Stacey, President, CEO
and Priscilla Nuwash, Director of Process Improvement
of Poudre Valley Health System.
(applause) Now what did the supporters of
the school district wave and clap -- what was it that
you waved and clapped?
Book -- no, little bells, little whistles there,
all right, a little bit dealing with education, okay.
And then now how's that related to hospitals
and health care, a little hand?
I mean, I can understand the corn,
I can understand the seeds, but we're going to have
to work on that.
All right, let's everybody -- let's give a big round
of applause, all three.
(applause) Let's see, we got the seeds,
we got the bells and whistles and we got the hand.
Well, now we're going to hear from our award recipients.
We're going to each have them all come up.
But first of all, I'd like to invite
Alan Willits, President of Cargill Corn Milling,
back to the podium, who will then be followed
by representatives of the other award winners.
(applause) Secretary Locke,
members of the Baldrige family, distinguished guests,
I am honored and humbled to accept this award
on behalf of the 2,400 of my colleagues
at Cargill Corn Milling.
(rattling) There we go.
Their dedication to serving our customers
and their enthusiastic embrace of the Baldrige principles
as the way to do it is the reason
I'm standing at this podium today.
I congratulate each and every one of them,
including the 60 of my teammates
that joined me here today in D.C.
All right.
It is also very gratifying to share the stage with people
of Iredell-Statesville Schools and Poudre Valley
Health Systems.
Congratulations to each of you for being among the very best
in the noble fields that you represent.
At Cargill Corn Milling, we too see ourselves
as having a noble purpose.
We share with our parent company
a vision of being the global leader
in nourishing people.
We do this by providing safe, nutritious, affordable
and good-tasting food ingredients
to our customers in food manufacturing
and food service.
For example, our innovative
whole grain cereals add fiber to millions
of cereal bowls every morning.
Our natural, non-allergenic glucosamine helps thousands
improve their joint health.
And yes, our corn-based sweeteners provide flavor,
texture and freshness that can make healthy
eating more enjoyable and convenient.
We also make premium quality animal feeds
for healthier livestock and we make ethanol
that's helping this nation diversify
its fuel supply.
The list goes on.
We are proud of all the ingredients
that we make at all of our nine manufacturing facilities
across the United States.
Ask any Baldrige recipient and they'll tell you
it was a long journey and perhaps during that journey
there was a crucial moment.
For Cargill Corn Milling, that crucial moment occurred
on November 6, 2002.
We had been following the business
excellence principles since the mid-1980s
and had success at many of our individual facilities.
But on November 6, 2002 we made a decision to really take
it to the next level.
Let me give you some context.
Earlier that year, we had applied for
a Cargill Business Excellence Award,
an internal award that mirrors
the Baldrige criteria.
We filled out the application and we didn't even
get a site visit.
To tell you the truth, we were pretty torqued off
about it.
So when we thought about it, we said, "What do we do?"
So we called a meeting with Cargill Chairman
and CEO Greg Page, and we complained
long and loud.
We said, "We have outstanding plants
across the nation, how could we
not even get a site visit?"
If a shoulder to cry on is what we sought, Mr. Page
was in no mood to provide it.
In effect, he pointed out to us that
we'd lost the game and here we were trying to complain
about the referees.
He told us, "If you really think
you're that good, then get to work and prove it.
That smarted but it forced us to take
a long look in the mirror.
And lo and behold, we found that we
did have some blemishes.
Cargill Corn Milling did indeed have
superb individual plants but to some extent,
each was an island unto itself.
In many cases, we actually competed with each other.
To make it to the next level, we had to operate
not as single plants focused on individual bottom lines,
but as a single enterprise focused on
serving our customer.
We got to work putting the processes
in place to drive improvement across the organization.
We set up a staffing structure that would be consistent
with a single enterprise.
We set performance goals that measured how well
we served the customer, not where we served
the customer from.
We encouraged collaboration, not just across corn milling,
but across all of Cargill.
It took time, it took relentless determination
at all of our locations and by a great many people.
But it paid off.
And when I say it paid off, I don't mean
because we received this award, however gratifying
that really is.
I mean, because our customers started to notice.
They started differentiating us from our competitors.
They learned to lean on us to help solve problems
and to help them develop better product offerings.
This is why we adhere to the Baldrige principles --
because they have been enormously helpful
in helping guide us to become a better supplier,
a better partner with our customers
and a better place to work.
That, in turn, has led us to profitable growth.
For helping us to achieve that, Malcolm Baldrige Committee,
we thank you.
For the recognition this award brings
to all 2,400 of our teammates, we thank you.
And for the 44 pages of opportunities
for improvement that came with this award,
we thank you for that as well.
In fact, we thank you for that most of all
because that will help us get even better
in the years to come.
Thank you.
(applause) Good afternoon.
I'm ask David Cash, the Chairman of
the Iredell-Statesville School's Board of Education.
And it's great to be here with you today.
Appreciate you having us here.
Secretary Locke, representatives
from the Baldrige family, fellow recipients
and other distinguished guests, it is my honor
and humble privilege to accept this award,
an award that represents the tireless work
Iredell-Statesville School's 3,000 employees
do for our school district's more than 21,000 students.
It is their relentless dedication and commitment
to performance excellence, their innovation
and focus on the future and their passion
for our children, which are
our most important customers, that have enabled this award
to become a reality for our school district.
Please allow me to introduce to you
only a small number of the many individuals
who have made a difference
for the students of Iredell-Statesville schools.
First, I must express my gratitude to my fellow
Board of Education members, our Vice Chairman,
Dr. Ken Wilson, and Board members
Bill Brater, Charles Kelly, John Rogers, Karen Watson
and Keith Williams and to our former
Superintendent, Dr. Terry Holliday,
who we're pleased to have with us here today.
It was Dr. Holliday's vision for the future,
his focus on continuous improvement,
his dedicated leadership and his courage
and determination that led Iredell-Statesville Schools
to this most exciting point in its quality journey.
Additionally, my partner on stage today,
our new Superintendent, Mr. Brady Johnson.
Mr. Johnson and I, along with
our Board of Education and our entire faculty
and staff, today stand poised
and ready for the next destination
in our voyage.
We are committed to building on our successes,
but are careful to acknowledge
that the journey to performance excellence
is founded upon continuous improvement
and discovering new and innovative ways to serve
and support our customers.
Finally, I couldn't leave the stage today
without expressing my sincere gratitude
to all of the faculty, staff and students
of Iredell-Statesville Schools.
It is such a privilege serving as your Chairman
of the Board of Education.
It is a distinct honor for our organization
to be here today, being recognized alongside
our fellow Baldrige recipients.
We understand and appreciate the hard work
and dedication it requires to stand on this stage.
As one only eight education recipients of
the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award to date,
we recognize and embrace both the monumental
honor and responsibilities that come with this award.
While we have enjoyed the scenic view
thus far on our journey, we know there is still
much work to be done.
I am so proud to be a part of Iredell-Statesville Schools
that I am both grateful and humbled today to be a part
of this outstanding organization.
Again, on behalf of all of the faculty,
staff and students of Iredell-Statesville Schools,
I thank you for this wonderful honor.
(applause) Thank you very much,
Secretary Locke, members of the Baldrige family,
distinguished guests and fellow recipients.
It is with tremendous pride and great humility
that I accept on behalf of the Poudre Valley
Health System the 2008 Malcolm Baldrige
National Quality Award on behalf of all
of our employees, physicians and volunteers.
I want to recognize the 50 representatives
who traveled here with us today and the many who are viewing
with us today back in Colorado as well.
Thank you very much and congratulations to you.
It's an honor to work with you.
Now would be a good time to clap.
(applause) Just over a decade ago, we were
a small community hospital that no one had heard of.
One in four of our employees was leaving every year,
our physicians were becoming our competitors,
and we had had five CEOs in just four years.
It was then, led by our Board of Directors,
that we set out on a journey to make the patients
in northern Colorado, southern Wyoming
and western Nebraska make sure that
they would have the best access to the best health care
in the world today and for generations to come.
I must admit, some thought that that was
an unrealistic goal and many -- some maybe in this room --
even laughed at us when we suggested that.
But slowly, over time, guided by
the Baldrige principles of performance excellence,
we engaged our employees and our physicians
and our volunteers.
We partnered with our suppliers and our community members,
and we demonstrated that by working together
collaboratively, we could accomplish
what many thought would be impossible.
So today, here we stand eager to tell a nation
that is plagued by rising health care costs
and limited access to health care,
how one locally-owned, not-for-profit
health system continues to hold costs below national
and regional averages, while achieving
clinical outcomes, patient satisfaction
and financial performance in the national
top ten percent, and employee satisfaction
and physician loyalty in the national
top one percent.
By having the courage to open themselves
to robust scrutiny of the Baldrige
National Quality Program and the fortitude to act
on what they learned, these people in front of you
and those watching back in Colorado
have literally transformed the way health care can
and should be provided.
As a result of their commitment,
I am convinced that there are people
who are alive today who otherwise
would not be alive.
So today, we stand ready to offer our contribution
to a nation searching for answers to health care.
We stand ready to help this great country.
Thank you very much for your time.
(applause) Now for the next few moments,
as we await the arrival of the Vice President,
we invite you to enjoy once again the music
of the Air Force Band.
("America the Beautiful") Well, ladies and gentlemen,
it's our pleasure to bring onto the stage
one of our nation's most distinguished,
dedicated public servants, Joe Biden.
Joe Biden has spent 36 years (laughter)
representing Delaware in the United States Senate
where he made it the cause of his life
to expand economic opportunity across this country.
And it's work that Joe Biden has continued
as Vice President.
Indeed, President Obama tapped him to head up
the White House Task Force on Working Families
where he ensures that policy-makers
and members of the cabinet and the staff
are focused on job creation and rebuilding America's
middle class.
Joe Biden understands the issues,
the worries, the dreams and the aspirations
of working families and small businesses
and organizations across America.
He is a person who is relentless in getting us
in the federal government to be more productive,
more efficient, and to focus on
the challenges of America.
He's one of the President's most trusted
advisors and we are indeed honored
to have him here with us.
Ladies and gentlemen, let's welcome the Vice President of
the United States of America, Joe Biden.
(applause) ("Hail Columbia")
Thank you very, very much.
Fortunately, all of you on this side
of the room could not see what this side
of the room saw.
Gary -- Mr. Secretary -- when you said, "Joe Biden,"
and I apologize -- no speaker should ever start this way
by apologizing for being late,
but it's one of the drawbacks of not being President.
You know, the boss says, "Stick," you stick, you know.
But as you said, I came rushing in,
knowing I was late.
And all I could hear you say was,
"Joe Biden" and I opened the curtain.
And I realized that I wasn't supposed to step out.
(laughter) I felt like
the Wizard of Oz back there.
You know, I told the governor earlier,
I tell all of you, I tried very hard for a while
there to become the nominee.
And by the way, I'd say retrospectively,
if I'd known how good this guy was,
I would have joined earlier, I just wouldn't
have fooled around.
But I often wondered, we'd be behind a curtain
like that during the campaign and the nomination,
and someone would say, "And here's Joe Biden."
Well, when I joined the ticket, you know,
there's formal people, folks back there
with microphones.
And they'll say, "Now you're going
to be introduced by the voice of God."
I had Harry Smith introducing me
or Charlie Jones.
Barack always had the voice of God
introducing him.
So now I realize why it wasn't even a race.
But folks, all kidding aside, I truly apologize
for keeping you waiting because this is
an important lunch.
It's an important occasion and it is not really excusable
for me to be late for so many important people
and the honorees.
I understand Senator Klobuchar is here,
or at least was.
Amy, if you're here, good to see you.
And the Board of Overseers, the Baldrige Foundation,
the American Society for Quality
and the Baldrige team at the National Institute
of Standards and Technology.
I acknowledge all of you and thank you all
for all that you've done.
You know, during my Senate career,
I had the pleasure of knowing --
which is really going to date me --
16 Secretaries of Commerce.
And I'm telling you, Mac was clearly
one of the most memorable that I have ever met
in my 37-year career.
Then again, it's pretty hard to forget
a cabinet member inducted into the Cowboy's Hall of Fame,
who was once named the Professional Rodeo
Man of the Year.
And I'm so pleased that I'm told
Mac's nephew is with us.
Malcolm, are you here?
There you go.
How are you doing, Malcolm?
Malcolm Hollensteiner.
If my dad were alive, he'd look at you
and he'd say, "Kid, you got good blood,
you've got good blood."
You know, after Mac's untimely death,
I was proud to support the Malcolm Baldrige
National Quality Improvement Act when
I was a United States senator.
That legislation passed way back
in August of 1987.
And it was born of the realization
that America's competitors were -- and I might argue
for the first time at least in the last century
for the first time -- beginning to outpace us,
especially in the area of manufacturing and industry.
Quite simply, it was clear -- and this was Mac's
sort of drumbeat -- we had do to better,
we had to do a lot better and our economic future
depended on it.
And I would argue it still does.
Mac's vision of this award's recognition helped us
refocus on the future, on quality,
on performance and, most importantly maybe,
on innovation.
Now here we are, 22 years later, and again
at an economic crossroads for this great nation, again,
channeling Mac's sprit and his vision
and again looking toward innovators in order
to strengthen our economy.
And that's why President Obama and I are so proud
to honor the hard-working men and women of Cargill
and who I just got a chance to meet,
and Poudre Valley Health Systems,
as well as a school system.
Think about this, here we are talking about
Iredell State School District
and their being honored today.
But when you know, and you do know,
what they've done, what all of them have done,
you understand why it's so important,
because they've made real changes.
Cargill Milling North America saw earnings nearly triple
between 2003 and 2007, and in the process
maintained an impeccable, impeccable error-free
delivery rate throughout.
But what makes so many people so proud,
and speaking for myself, so proud of Cargill,
is their model response to the devastating floods
in Cedar Rapids last year, floods which
I witnessed and saw, saw the devastation.
It's hard for people to believe,
unless you actually, physically saw it,
what happened.
The response from Cargill was that they engaged
the entire community and they treated
their employees with a kind of dignity
that should be a norm, but unfortunately these days
sometimes is an exception -- always, always treated
employees with dignity.
And the -- am I pronouncing it right --
You'd think, as an Irishman, I'd get that right.
The Iredell-Statesville School, our second winner,
you guys looked at the low budgets
that you were faced with and limited resources,
and said, "We're going to do the best anyway.
We're not going to use it as an excuse
as to why we can't get better."
You transformed your district culture --
that's how I see it, the entire culture
of your district.
I'm married to an educator, have been
for the last 35 years, she's been teaching
all that time.
And she always talked about the culture --
it's a phrase that she uses -- "The culture
of the school system," "the culture of the district,"
"the culture of the school."
Well, you literally transformed the district's culture from
one that focuses on teaching to one that focused
on learning.
You raised graduation rates, proficiency scores, attendance,
as well as morale.
And you became a model, a model for the 21st Century
public school systems we need throughout this country.
And, as for the third winner -- it's pronounced
"Prudo" right -- Poudre, what am I getting --
nothing wrong with it, you can call me "Bidden"
it's okay.
I often get called "Bidden."
The Poudre Valley Health System is amazing.
You know, what they've done is no surprise
except it is not the norm.
It's no surprise that both your patient loyalty
and physician satisfaction ranks in the top one percent
nation-wide of all the hospitals in America.
It's pretty impressive.
You've revolutionized health care
and that's because you get that the reason people
enter your industry in the first place
is to help others.
It sounds so basic, but the truth of the matter is
the motivating factor for most people
to be involved in health care is the same reason
motivating factor why people become firemen
or policemen -- they actually
are engaged in it, notwithstanding what
remuneration may flow from it --
because they really are moved by the notion
that they can actually help people.
And it seems surprising to me and so self-evident now
that you've done it, that it is not recognized.
When you appeal to that piece, that piece
of what motivates people to get involved
in the first place, you can change.
You know, when Aristotle wrote, "Excellence is not an act,
but a habit," I think he had these three guys
and their outfits in mind -- or they say he could have.
The truth of the matter is that while others that were asking,
"What has been done?"
you were wondering, "What hasn't been done?"
and "What can we do?"
You know, where others were settling for good enough,
you three were aiming, and your outfits were aiming,
at world-class.
Good enough wasn't good enough.
And while others were buffeted by the winds of change,
you harnessed those winds of change,
improving, inventing and innovating
for a new century in a new world.
Gary, the Secretary, has heard me say this before.
One of my favorite Irish poets is William Butler Yeats.
And he wrote about his Ireland in a poem called,
"Easter Sunday 1916."
And there's a verse in there,
a line in there, that better describes
where we are today than it did his Ireland
in 1916.
He said, "All's changed, changed utterly.
A terrible beauty has been born."
Most people in business and in their personal life
face that realization with a sense of dread
and a sense of foreboding.
You all faced it with a sense of opportunity.
You decided things got to change
and you embraced it.
And so, for me, for me, it comes down to
a habit, an attitude, a habit of seeking excellence,
a habit of seeking innovation, a habit of being
willing to take chances.
And you've applied that to everything you've done
in three totally different areas.
So what makes your achievements today
doubly impressive in my view is that you're reexamining
in the past and the present, you haven't decided to settle.
You decided we're able to do something
fundamentally different, even though people
have been trying in each of your areas
at this for a long while.
You know, the fact is that what you've done is
you've begun to set a standard and help America
reclaim its future.
So I want to thank each one of you
for all the work you've done and what I expect
a heck of a lot more you're about to do,
you're going to continue to do.
And I want to thank you for your example.
As you know, President Obama and I will be hosting
a White House job summit tomorrow with leaders
from American businesses, both large and small.
And I literally -- not figuratively --
will be taking your stories of success in
these three critical sectors -- manufacturing,
health care and education -- taking it to that conference,
taking it when I go.
And I hope, I hope that your stories can inspire
a new chapter in the America story.
Over the past three years I've had the opportunity to travel
all across America.
And often I was literally on a bus going through
small- and medium-sized towns in the south and Midwest
and throughout the country.
And on that bus, I was usually accompanied
by a local official -- Democrat or Republican --
someone, the town manager, the local representatives.
And as we passed in the bus -- and I mean this
in the literal sense, I'm not being figurative --
they'd point out the window and they'd point to
a local landmark.
And the commentary was almost always the same.
They'd say to me, "You know, Senator, that used to be..."
"That used to be a steel mill employing 2,000 people."
"That used to be -- our town used to be
the ceramic capital of the world."
"That factory used to employ 1,200 folks."
"That company used to have their headquarters
right there in our town."
That's what I heard -- that used to be...
literally not figuratively.
And it didn't matter whether I was in
central Ohio or in South Carolina,
rural South Carolina.
It was always, "That used to be..."
But I still travel the country.
I've been in God knows how many states
in the last 10 months and how many cities.
But I'm hearing a different refrain now --
literally not figuratively.
The same officials, in effect the same people
doing the same kind of jobs and the people
I rode with a year ago, it always starts off with,
"You see that over there, Mr. Vice President?
That's going to be..."
"That's going to be a factory that builds the next generation
of automobiles."
"That's going to be the hub of a newer smart grid
for the nation."
"That run-down old plant, that's going to be
an oasis of affordable housing and decent housing
to raise the standard of living in this neighborhood
and the safety quotient."
"That corn mill is going to be a model
of community engagement and manufacturing excellence."
"That hospital isn't going to lay off any more
decent men and women, it's going to be providing
the best health care in the region."
"That school isn't going to close,
it's not going to close, it's going to be
a model for writing the success stories of tomorrow
while employing top-notch educators today
and encouraging learning."
Folks, you know better that I do,
an economy has never been rebuilt in a day
or even a year.
And we got a lot of rebuilding to do.
Without casting blame or aspersions at anybody,
we've ignored an awful lot of things
for the past 20 years, and particularly
the last eight years in my view.
It's going to take time.
But you've helped show us the path forward
of how to begin to rebuild this economy.
And so, on behalf of the President
of the United States, I want to congratulate each
and every one of you and all of you in the audience
for participating in this.
You all made us proud, this organization
makes us proud.
You made America proud.
And with the grace of God, as my grandfather would say,
and the good will of the neighbors
and a whole lot more hard work and the willingness
to talk about this is going to be
rather than what used to be, I think we're on the road
to rebuilding an economy that is not based
on any bubbles, that is not based upon any
ephemeral choices we made, but based on serious,
solid foundations that grow out of a health care system,
an education system and a manufacturing base
that's real and innovative.
So all I can say is God bless you all,
keep it up and may God protect our troops.
Thank you very, very much. 857 00:49:41,000 (applause)