U.S. Treasurer Rosie Rios praised the East Bay business community and reiterated Obama’s mission to create more jobs during a brief press conference in Union City Tuesday afternoon.
“Job creation happens to be at the forefront of this recovery and it also happens to be my passion,” Rios stressed before heading into a private roundtable discussion with Bay Area manufacturing executives at , a manufacturer of high-performance lighting systems.
Though press was not allowed into the roundtable, Rios said before she went in that the meeting would allow her to meet with manufacturing executives to see what’s working and what isn’t, and to help direct policies and legislations.
“[The East Bay] has a strong foundation in manufacturing,” Rios said. “As we think about policies and legislation, it’s this type of discussion we need to have.”
Rios said the high employment rate within the industry locally and the industry’s educated workforce are helping manufacturing to advance and remain economically viable.
According to Karen Engel, executive director of the East Bay Economic Development Alliance, who hosted Rios’ visit with the East Bay Manufacturing Group, innovation is driving the East Bay with advanced and specialized manufacturing continuing to grow in the region.
Tuesday’s event was a homecoming for Rios, who served as Union City’s community redevelopment manager in the 1990s. Rios, a Hayward native, also worked in the economic development departments in Fremont, San Leandro and Oakland before being nominated by President Obama to be Treasurer in 2009.
“It’s a great success story,” said Union City Mayor Mark Green, who worked with Rios. “We all share in her climb up the ladder and it’s great to see her back in town.”
Finelite founder Terry Clark said he was honored for that his company was selected as a visit destination for Rios. He said Finelite was a perfect example as to why manufacturing is still a large industry.
“We’re vibrant, we’re expanding, we’re creating jobs,” Clark said of Finelite. “The types of jobs we’re creating are helping the state and nation build better lighting for schools and offices.”
The company employs about 175 people and plans to hire 50 more employees by summer, Clark said. In the last year, FineLite has hired across the board, from entry-level factory workers to a new CEO, he said.
In Union City for 10 years, he said Finelite has no plans in leaving Union City or the “very overlooked” East Bay.
“Frankly, [Union City] is one of the last affordable places to pay a reasonable rent,” Clark said.
A representative of the White House Business Council, Rios has been meeting with similar groups across the nation to discuss business and economic recovery.
On Monday in Oakland, Rios told attendees of an Alameda County Budget Workshop that the American economy is on the road to recovery.
She said the $800 billion stimulus formally known as the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 helped "jumpstart the economy from a very deep hole."
She also said the Build America Bonds program, which helps states and localities pursue capital projects, which build infrastructure and create jobs, has been "a very big success story.”
Rios is the third-ranking person in the U.S. Department of the Treasury, behind Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner and Deputy Secretary Neal Wolin. In her post, Rios has direct oversight of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the U.S. Mint, and Fort Knox, and her signature is printed on U.S. currency.
Rios also serves as a senior advisor to Geithner in the areas of community development and public engagement.
Bay City News Service contributed to this report.