Penny Pritzker, United States Secretary of Commerce, paid a visit to Plug and Play Tech Center as part of the administration’s continued effort to show support for and promotion of innovation and technology. San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and Congressman Mike Honda joined her on her tour of the tech accelerator.
Penny Pritzker gave a talk to an audience of startups and VCs, all eager to engage in a dialogue about innovation, job creation, and the economy. Secretary Pritzker opened her remarks with a confession:
“I have a confession to make. I’m a Silicon Valley girl.”
She went on to say that America’s spirit of innovation is what makes it so unique, and that Silicon Valley is a central part of that spirit. Throughout her talk she showed staunch support for her colleagues and for President Obama, at one point stating, “President Obama has done more for innovation that any other president in history.”
She also touched on the White House’s efforts to push through new patent reform, lauding the reform as an effort to do away with significant obstacles to innovators.
“These new reforms will help America focus on innovation, not litigation,” she said.
Immigration reform was another topic Secretary Pritzker discussed in her remarks, calling for the reform and stating that we have a ‘moral obligation’ to help the undocumented.
“We must pass immigration reform. The fabric of America is woven by immigrants. We have to help them figure out their status and come out of the shadows,” she stated.
She made it clear that the goal of the Chamber of Commerce is to support communities of investors and innovators, helping them continue to enrich the country. She related that on the door to her office in the Chamber hangs an antique sign that reads ‘Open for Business.’ This sign is meant to be emblematic of the department’s philosophy.
“The attitude of the Chamber of Commerce is that we’re open for business and the American people are the customers,” according to Secretary Pritzker.
After her remarks, Secretary Pritzker sat down with Linkdin CEO Jeff Weiner for an open discussion about the job market, education, and the role of technological innovation in America’s future. Secretary Pritzker, when asked about the hardships facing the unemployed and how the education system could better prepare them for success, said, “I don’t think we’ve cracked the code of using technology to help kids learn in an individual way. We owe young people in this country a better understanding of the opportunities ahead of them.”
Secretary Pritzker also expanded on her ideas to touch on equal opportunity when it comes to gender, specifically motherhood.
“The idea that the responsibility for the family falls only to the mother doesn’t work in this day and age. It’s a partnership,” she said.
Secretary Pritzker ended the talk by giving this piece of advice to startups: “Find mentors, ask for help. People love to help. Be Proactive.”
Later this week Secretary Pritzker will be visiting other renowned tech companies such as Facebook and Ebay.
Watch the Secretary’s speech here: