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Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo in Chicago to mark U.S. reopening to vaccinated international travelers

Raimondo has three Chicago events Monday. Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra will hold a series of roundtables Monday and Tuesday in Chicago.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo hits Chicago for three events on Monday, Nov. 8, 2021.
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo hits Chicago for three events on Monday, Nov. 8, 2021.
Department of Commerce photo

WASHINGTON — Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo hits Chicago on Monday to mark the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions for vaccinated international travelers, plug President Joe Biden’s agenda in an Economic Club speech and then talk about manufacturing at a near West Side tech hub.

Raimondo, a former Rhode Island governor, will be joined by United Airlines President Brett Hart at the O’Hare Airport International terminal to throw a spotlight on opening up the U.S. for the vaccinated.

“Obviously, that’s a huge step forward,” Raimondo told several reporters on a call previewing her Chicago visit. ”It’s going to really jumpstart our tourism and hospitality industry, which I know is an important part of the Chicago economy, frankly, an important part of the whole U.S. economy.”

United, headquartered in Chicago, has been saluted by the Biden White House for leading the way on employee mandatory vaccine requirements.

Former Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, who served under former President Barack Obama, will introduce Raimondo at the Economic Club event. Raimondo will talk about President Joe Biden’s just passed $1 trillion infrastructure bill and the push to pass the $1.75 Build Back Better social spending measure.

Turning to the supply chain shortage, Raimondo said, “Demand is searching for products. We, everybody, is living the pain at the moment due to disruptions in our supply chain, both acutely with semiconductors and the way to turn the tide is to make more chips and make more things in America. I probably will talk pretty extensively Monday about semiconductors, given their unique relevance in our current economy.

“The chips power our entire digital economy, our phones, our computers, our cars, our trucks, our medical equipment — your coffeemaker, your Peloton, your vacuum.

“We cannot live without chips. The chips industry was created in America, America created the semiconductor industry; twenty years ago, we produced the chips that we consumed, we produce nearly 40% of all chips in the world. Today, we produce 12% of all the chips in the world. And much more frighteningly, we produce 0% of the most advanced chips in America, which is an economic problem. It’s a security problem.”

Biden has proposed two programs Commerce will oversee, if approved by Congress: a $52 billion fund to stimulate the domestic production of chips and $5 billion to launch the supply chain resiliency office.

After the speech Raimondo will head to mHub, a tech innovation center at 965 W. Chicago Ave., for a conversation about manufacturing and training in underserved communities with Democratic Illinois Reps. Jan Schakowsky; Danny Davis and Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.


Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra will hold a series of roundtables on Monday and Tuesday in Chicago

On Monday, Becerra will be joined by Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., at a Humboldt Park community health center to discuss her Black Maternal Health legislation, one of her signature issues.

On Tuesday morning. Becerra joins Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., for a visit and roundtable discussion at the University of Chicago’s Chicago Center for Youth Violence Prevention.

Later on Tuesday in Waukegan, he joins Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., for a roundtable focusing on equity and pediatric vaccinations.