Frost & Sullivan believes that the true mark of leadership is when a person with great influence makes a tough, important decision in the face of great opposition. President Barack Obama's bold stance to support the U.S. automotive industry in 2009 serves as a perfect illustration of this point. As President of the United States, he displayed visionary perspective and genuine courage in making a crucial decision of great import to the industry and the country. For these qualities, Frost & Sullivan considers it an honor to bestow upon President Obama its GIL (Growth, Innovation and Leadership) Visionary Award.
After President Obama took office, he faced an economy going in reverse, the financial infrastructure crumbling, the housing market failing, unemployment rising at alarming rates, and a country mired in two expensive wars. In the midst of this adversity, the U.S. automotive industry–the bedrock of American innovation in the 20th century–was threatened like never before. To have allowed the auto industry to be subject to pure free market influences would have risked, at a minimum, a prolonged decline of the industry. Such a decline could have caused a ripple effect of catastrophic proportions across the entire supply and value chain of the industry. President Obama had every incentive to ignore this threat, to avoid burnishing the "socialist" mantle he was saddled with by his political opponents. Instead, he chose to act.
President Obama made the crucial decision to provide assistance to the Big 3 automotive firms - General Motors (GM), Chrysler and Ford (although Ford ultimately accepted a credit line as opposed to a bridge loan) - both as a critical short-term safety net and to support the long-term innovation and growth of the industry. Why is Frost & Sullivan recognizing this decision now, three and half years after it was made? The jury is in, from an economic impact standpoint. By most reliable accounts, 150,000 to 200,000 new jobs have been created in the auto industry as a result, with additional jobs saved, if not added, in ancillary industries like plastics, steel and consumer goods. In the state of Ohio alone, roughly 850,000 automotive and automotive-related jobs have been preserved, according to the Center for Automotive Research (CAR). GM reclaimed the title for world leader in automotive sales in 2011, an accomplishment that could not have been contemplated back in 2009. The Big 3 automotive firms have created new jobs and added shifts, reporting double-digit sales growth as recently as June 2012. GM and Chrysler have paid back government loans well ahead of schedule (independent of the 32% ownership stake that the government still has in GM, as a long-term strategic investment). There is a renewed sense of hope and vigor in the U.S. automotive industry today, with increasing investments in R&D and innovation.
“In short, President Obama's timely support of the U.S. automotive industry is paying off in both measurable and immeasurable ways. His leadership at a time of genuine crisis has helped turn around an industry that was in great peril. His strategic intervention has kept factories open, preserving much needed jobs,” said Frost & Sullivan Global President and Managing Partner, Krishna Srinivasan. "President Obama's recognition of the importance of the automotive industry to U.S. economic vitality was prescient, to say the least. The cost of inaction would have been prohibitively high, both to the industry and the economy as a whole. We consider it an honor and privilege to recognize President Obama for his visionary leadership."
"The UK used to be the biggest car manufacturing country in Europe with over 50 car manufacturers in the 1950s and also home to the biggest manufacturing plant in the world with Rover. Rover does not exist today and what is left of it is owned by the Chinese, because the British government chose not to support the car industry in its time of crisis,” said Sarwant Singh, Partner and Vice President of the Automotive & Transportation Practice at Frost & Sullivan. “President Obama could have made a similar choice. He however chose to support manufacturing and preserve the national brands. His leadership shows that governments need to support vital industries to gain advantage over other nations in this increasingly competitive world."
The GIL Visionary Award recognizing President Obama will be formally announced at Frost & Sullivan's annual flagship event, GIL 2012: Silicon Valley Congress, held Sept. 9 to 12, 2012 at The Fairmont in San Jose, Calif. For the last five years, Frost & Sullivan’s GIL Congress has united industry thought leaders, technology pioneers and business leaders with expert analysts and consultants to create a global GIL community that fosters the exchange of ideas and innovative solutions to address the toughest global challenges of our time.
For more information on GIL 2012: Silicon Valley, including inquiries about speaker, sponsorship and media partnership opportunities, please contact Frost & Sullivan Vice President of GIL, Brian Denker at brian.denker[.]frost.com. Also, feel free to join the conversation on Twitter through #GILSV.
Please note that this announcement is not an endorsement of a political party by Frost & Sullivan, nor is it a commentary on the overall state of the U.S. economy. Rather it is an objective recognition of the impact of visionary leadership on an industry that affects as much as 10 percent of U.S. GDP.
About Frost & Sullivan
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