Today, I was proud to join Congressman Keith Ellison, Congresswoman Betty McCollum and Deputy Mayor Paul Williams at the grand opening of Frogtown Square, a new development in St. Paul, Minnesota that brings affordable housing and small business together under one roof. We were there because this is precisely the kind of investment President Obama described in his State of the Union address that America needs to win the future.
Having traveled to Minnesota three times since becoming HUD Secretary, it’s clear that the Twin Cities recognizes that you can’t compete and innovate in the 21st century economy if you don’t support the small businesses driving that innovation.
And at HUD, we recognize it as well. We’re not just a housing agency anymore — we’re putting the “UD” (urban development) back in HUD, helping cities like St. Paul become engines of opportunity by investing in the small businesses that are the backbone of our economy and the cornerstone of our communities, creating two of every three new jobs in America.
That is why since taking office President Obama has signed into law 17 new tax cuts for small business. Those tax cuts were included in laws ranging from the Recovery Act, which helped pull our economy back from the worst recession since the Great Depression, to the Affordable Care Act, which is providing relief for small businesses struggling with high health care costs, to the HIRE Act, which offered incentives to businesses to hire people out of unemployment.
And of course, the President’s bipartisan tax cut package from last December allowed all businesses–large and small–to expense every dime of their new investments until the end of 2011. This package alone will add more than a million-and-a-half jobs this year to the economy.
Frogtown Square represents an innovative investment in the small businesses that help our economy grow, and make America more competitive. Businesses like Dedrick Young and Damen Johnson’s barber shop, Phyllis Gillman’s women’s clothing store, Mike Saul’s Subway Restaurant, and all the other businesses working to create jobs and serve St. Paul.
But what makes Frogtown Square unique is that it literally piggybacks on to that small business investment to create affordable housing for seniors, with support from HUD. In fact, we’ve been working with Congressman Ellison to ensure every affordable housing development HUD supports can feature this mix of uses and incomes.
By working together to connect affordable housing to small businesses, we can give entrepreneurs a real chance to grow their businesses, create jobs, and serve a built-in customer base by providing residents with access to the retail businesses and grocery stores that are staples of any thriving community.
That’s how we can lay the foundation for the 21st century economy our country needs to compete — that’s what President Obama means by “winning the future.” And that’s how we can all play a part in realizing that future for our communities.