Remarks by Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen at Advanced Nano Products in Elizabethtown, Kentucky

As Prepared for Delivery

Good afternoon. Thank you to Dr. Park for the introduction. I’m glad to be here with Governor Beshear, whose leadership for Team Kentucky is driving change on many shared priorities. 

We’re here today to see Advanced Nano Products’ nearly $50 million investment for a facility that will produce parts for EV batteries. It’s part of a boom in EV-related investments in Kentucky. And those are part of the massive investments in manufacturing and clean energy being made across the country, driven by the Biden Administration’s economic agenda and state and local actions.

As I’ve said before, President Biden and I are focused on creating pathways to and opportunity for the middle class in America. America’s growth isn’t meaningful if the gains are not shared. And a strong middle class will continue to lead our future. 

We’re supporting the middle class through a strategy I call modern supply-side economics, which aims to expand our economy’s ability to produce and create good jobs. Through the American Rescue Plan and then the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Inflation Reduction Act, and the CHIPS and Science Act, we’re providing funding and fueling private sector investments that will grow 21st-century industries. And we’re particularly focused on reaching people and places that have not received the level of investment that they deserve. These communities are poised to take advantage of opportunity. And their success is key to our country’s success. 

I. America’s Comeback Communities

For too long, opportunity in America has been too concentrated—on the coasts and in wealthier communities. Good schools and good jobs haven’t been evenly distributed. Unemployment rates across the country range from below two percent in some metropolitan areas to above ten percent in others. And where you live affects your children’s opportunities. Children who grow up in less wealthy neighborhoods are more likely to be less wealthy as adults.  

Many communities that were once at the center of the American economy have experienced economic challenges over the past few decades—through no fault of their own. They’re places where American steel, textiles, and many other industries were born. But over time, opportunity dwindled. Jobs disappeared and neighborhoods became hollowed out. Other communities have always had significant potential but have never gotten the investment they deserve.  

Middle-class Americans across the country have faced other challenges too. Over the past decades, it has become harder to buy or rent a home and harder to afford education and health care. While 90 percent of my generation earned more than our parents did at age 30, only half of children born in the mid-1980s earned more than theirs.

Past government efforts haven’t worked to bring back or create jobs and the dignity that comes with them. Strategies like trickle-down economics cut taxes for those at the very top with the hope that the gains would reach the rest of the economy and boost growth. But the results are clear: Trickle-down doesn’t fuel growth and only the wealthiest benefit. As President Biden said last week during the State of the Union, we envision “a future where the days of trickle-down economics are over and the wealthy and biggest corporations no longer get all the breaks.”

Policymakers on both sides of the aisle who thought that people would or should just move to where the opportunity was were also severely misguided. We all understand the appeal of staying close to our families and to the communities where we grew up. And people who do want to move often face barriers such as cost, with additional barriers for those who have been historically disadvantaged, including Black workers and workers without college degrees. The result is that 80 percent of Americans live within 100 miles of where they grew up.

II. The Economic Case

From the start of this Administration, the President and I have been determined to change this. Americans across the country have immense talent and willingness to work hard but not enough opportunity. And investing in people and places that have been underserved can yield the biggest bang for the buck economically, giving us greater returns on our public investments. When job-creating opportunities come to the most disadvantaged places, employment increases by more than in places that are already thriving. And changes to local employment rates can lead to other benefits, like reducing crime and generating revenue for local governments.

Some of our country’s proudest moments have been when we’ve made deliberate efforts to invest in all American communities, and particularly those that have been underserved, as we did in the New Deal and the Tennessee Valley Authority’s commitments to rural infrastructure and electrification. But that focus hasn’t been sustained. Now, the Biden Administration is putting theory into practice and pursuing an economic agenda for the 21st-century focused on reaching communities that have tremendous potential but not enough opportunity.

III. Biden-Harris Administration Policies

We started with the American Rescue Plan, enacted just over three years ago. The ARP’s State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds program made unprecedented funding available to state, territorial, local, and Tribal governments. The state of Kentucky received more than $2 billion, and another $1.5 billion went directly to cities and towns across the commonwealth. 

We designed the program to be flexible for state and local governments because communities know what’s best for them. And we also helped make sure funds got to where they were needed, such as by making low-income households and communities automatically eligible for the broadest range of support. Analysis just published by Treasury staff shows that the ARP’s grant programs delivered significantly more funds to disadvantaged and economically hard-hit areas than to other areas.[1] 

And these and other policies helped drive a historic recovery. GDP growth is strong and inflation has fallen significantly, though we continue to take action to bring prices down, including health care costs. It’s also been the fairest recovery on record. A nearly 20 percent gap in the unemployment rate between metropolitan and rural areas has now been eliminated. 

The American Rescue Plan also laid the foundation for investments in our medium and long-term growth, paving the way for other policies to continue driving change in communities across America. Take infrastructure. After years of talk in Washington about infrastructure investment, President Biden got it done, with a focus on getting resources to communities that had been overlooked. Usually, wealthier states invest more in infrastructure. Now, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding is going to states with the lowest-rated public infrastructure and with lower median household incomes. Funding is also being broadly distributed. In 2019, only five states accounted for about two-thirds of all public transit investment. Treasury analysis shows that those five states accounted for only about 40 percent of BIL funding, and states across the country are receiving many times their pre-pandemic public transit investment.[2] 

The Inflation Reduction Act was designed with underserved communities front and center. It provides enhanced tax credits for projects in low-income communities and in communities where coal mines and plants have shut down, limiting opportunity and reducing local tax revenue. It also creates an option we’re calling direct pay that allows state and local governments, as well as nonprofits, to take advantage of IRA tax credits. Like with the ARP, the Treasury Department has been making sure funds get to the places where they’ll matter, such as through outreach to cities across the country. 

We’ve seen investments grow significantly. Companies have announced almost $650 billion in investments in clean energy and manufacturing across the country since the start of the Administration. Pre-IRA, clean energy investments in energy communities—places that had traditionally relied on industries like coal, for example—were at only $2 billion a month, compared to $2.5 billion in other places. Based on updated Treasury analysis published yesterday, since the IRA was passed, we’re seeing $4.5 billion per month announced in energy communities, even more than the $3.5 billion announced elsewhere.[3] 

Funds are also going to places that face other challenges. 69 percent of clean energy investments announced since the IRA was passed have been in counties where the employment rate is below the national average. 75 percent have been in counties where the median household income is below it. 84 percent have been where college graduation rates are below the national rate. We see similar patterns across all regions of the country. 

Our focus on reaching all communities is not just a Treasury priority; it’s a government-wide one, driven by President Biden. Through the Department of Transportation, funds are going to reconnect communities that have been cut off from good infrastructure. Through the Department of Commerce, grant programs are connecting workers to good jobs in economically distressed neighborhoods. And the Administration has established 31 technology hubs, building coalitions to drive growth in manufacturing. 

IV. Impacts     

We’re starting to see the impacts from our policies and investments for middle-class Americans in communities across the country. 

Here in Elizabethtown, ANP’s expansion will create almost 100 jobs. And they’ll be good ones—expected to pay an average hourly wage of $40. The fact that Fort Knox is nearby means there’s already interest from veterans, among others who haven’t always had the opportunities they deserve.

Across Kentucky, households are benefitting from repaired roads, clean drinking water, and expanded internet access, such as in Boone County, where the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds program will enable high speed affordable broadband to reach every household.

And Governor Beshear’s economic plan is working alongside federal incentives to bolster key supply chains. In Glendale, Ford and SK Innovation partnered to create BlueOvalSK. With the help of a federal loan, they’re building what will be one of the largest EV battery manufacturing facilities in the world, employing 5,000 workers. ANP will supply BlueOvalSK. And ANP will also look to supply others, up and down I-65 and I-75, providing materials not just for EVs but also for other clean energy technologies, including solar. 

As we build resilient supply chains for 21st-century industries, we also build stronger communities. Here in Elizabethtown, the unemployment rate last December fell to 3.9 percent—near a decade-long low. Wage growth in Kentucky from December 2022 to December 2023 exceeded the national average. 

V. Conclusion

Of course, our work to fuel growth in communities across America is far from done, and I’d like to end by announcing two additional actions we will take moving forward. 

First, Treasury will join the Thriving Communities Network alongside other federal agencies. This will allow us to strengthen collaboration across the federal government to target resources from our Administration’s historic investments through the ARP, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Inflation Reduction Act, and the CHIPS and Science Act to communities with histories of economic distress and systemic divestment.

Second, Treasury will significantly expand our Inflation Reduction Act outreach efforts by conducting direct outreach to 150 cities across the country on the opportunities available to them to support their transitions to clean energy and especially to access tax credits. These are cities with populations of more than 20,000; poverty rates of 20 percent or more; and that have experienced population decline—cities that can benefit from the IRA but that may not be aware of opportunities or not yet taking advantage of them.

These additional actions will reinforce what we’re already seeing, in Kentucky and across the country. The Biden Administration’s policies and federal funds are fueling private sector investments. Early investments drive others to build ecosystems. State and local governments are providing vision and support. As President Biden put it, “it doesn’t make the news but in thousands of cities and towns the American people are writing the greatest comeback story never told,” and “America’s comeback is building a future of American possibilities.” 

Thank you for being here today.





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