Finding “Community”

In the current post-recession economy, competition is not only fierce, but it’s on a global scale, with communities wondering how they can attract and retain businesses and talent.  I recently came across an article that assessed a study by the nonprofit Community Builders based on a survey from over 1,000 business owners in the Rocky Mountain states.  There have been studies about the shifting nature of economic development, most of them focus on larger metro regions and bigger cities in the US.  This study, however, placed more emphasis on small and medium-sized communities in the West.  While the survey showed that more “traditional” approaches to economic development, such as tax policies and business incentives, played a big part in drawing Community treebusinesses to communities, there were a variety of other factors, mainly focused around community, that proved equally important in attracting businesses and workers.  Listed below are some of these factors:

The basic jist of the survey is that the best way to attract both businesses and talent is to have not only plenty of job opportunities, and businesses, but a strong sense of community.  A majority of people questioned in the survey (83 percent) said that they’d take a lower salary if it meant living in a nicer community.  44 percent of people felt that both a job and a community were necessary factors for relocating to a different place; compare that to 17 percent who just viewed job opportunities as the most important factor.

Most business owners don’t just come to a community with the explicit purpose of starting a business there; most of them (70 percent) have roots in the community before they actually open up a business.  For those who do end up establishing businesses, community character, an ability to attract capable employees.

While there was a lot of talk about “community”, what sort of factors tied in with that?  According to the survey, these included safety, open space, access to recreation, short commutes and neighborhood “character”.  Apart from community, housing costs were an extremely important factor, with 60 percent of business owners feeling that they played a significant factor in attracting employees.  Since a lot of the communities being reviewed in this survey came from smaller and medium-sized areas, where housing is most definitely cheaper than in places such as New York City or San Francisco, a surprising 68 percent of respondents felt there weren’t enough housing options for the range of incomes in the area, a dangerous percentile.

If communities that want to attract businesses and young talent, this survey indicates that they need to work on making their town or city an ideal place to not only work, but live as well.  But an ability to attract the specific kind of people that will form a great community is a lot easier said than done.  A small city in the Rocky Mountains can have plenty of open space, access to recreation and a ridiculously low cost of living, but that’s not all that will convince the people you need to move to an area.  Most of the people who these communities are trying to attract will be more attracted to bigger and more exciting urban centers, even if they are more expensive, because of the amenities and status that they boast.  As the trend towards urbanization, particularly among younger people, continues, fighting against that trend and bringing in newer businesses to smaller cities that will revitalize them can be difficult.

What Affects the Value of the Dollar?

A country’s economic stability, growth or failure largely depends on the value of their currency.  There are several important factors that affect the value of currency, yet what are the most important things to look at if you’re evaluating your country’s economic well-being?  I recently came across an article that lists the four factors that affect the value of currency, specifically the US dollar, listed below:

supply vs demand

1. Supply & Demand: When other countries want to buy products or services from the US, there’s a demand created for that currency.  Whoever the buyer is will have to purchase those goods and services with the US dollar, therefore they end up exchanging their own currency.  In effect, this means that they’re buying US dollars.  The host country, in this case the United States, receives benefits from more than one route, since this transaction is usually conducted in the form of bonds issued by various corporations.


2. Trade & Investment: Analysts tend to mark this part of the economy as the most influential aspect to to dollar’s value.  A balanced trade will represent the difference between the imports and exports of the US, and exports are hopefully higher than imports.  This is called a surplus; when the numbers are reversed, then it becomes a deficit.

Inflation of dollar

3. Inflation & Interest: When the market’s inflation changes, the value of your currency exchange rates does as well.  If you have a lower inflation rate, the prices of your goods and exchanging them with other countries will increase at a slow but steady rate.  Interest rates and inflation are directly linked; if a country maintains higher interest rates, then it actually boosts the value of that country’s currency by drawing in foreign capital.

Uncle Sam US vs world

4. Sentiment & Philosophy: The way that the rest of the world views a country, the sentiment induced at the suggestion of exchange and international relations all matter a whole lot.  If a country views the US as “weak”, and think the American economy is struggling, then they could sell back their bonds.  This is a bad return process, that proves bad for business.  Therefore, financial relationships and history are both important in regards to the country’s level of financial competency.  Trade relations need to be nurtured and treated with the utmost respect.

The Arts in Economic Development

It’s a well-known fact that culture and the arts have been used to stimulate the economy.  There are numerous creative and cultural industries that bring in money and move it around.  Like medicine, they’re both fields that have staying power.  People will always be interested in culture and history, and will always have a need to be creative and make new things.  This is why these are such integral parts of society and economics.  I recently came across an article that featured some industries in the historic and cultural fields, and how they help to keep the economy afloat, listed below:

Museum dinosaur bones

Galleries and Museums: Art galleries offer a home to fine art, as well as a place where people can come and view it.  They often run off of donations and sales, in the same way that museums do.  Art galleries offer an outlet for artists, and when a great piece of art sells, then that money tends to stay local with local artists, and spreads back around the community as they stock up on more supplies to create even more amazing pieces of art.

Film set crew

TV, Movies and Gaming: The TV and movie industries make money around the world, traveling to different places to shoot and hiring both big- and small-time actors.  They make money that might mostly go back home with them, although they still spend a lot in the communities where they shoot, for hotel rooms, meals and more.  Gaming is also an art form, and the gaming industry has recently spent some time in museums around the US, showing people the art that goes into creating video games.  Such things also help keep the economy stimulated, since both children and adults love video games.

performing arts ballet

Performing Arts: The performing arts can be anything from a professional ballet performance to a local community theater run by volunteers.  The performing arts allows performers to do their art and even make a living out of it, as provides those viewing it to learn a lesson about different cultures and arts, letting them travel into a different world.

Tourists in New York
Tourism: The tourism industry is a huge part of the cultural side of things, and one of the largest economic stimulators in a particular area.  It works to draw new people to an area, whether it’s visitors or new residents.  This can include creating art and cultural festivals, tournaments and man other exciting things to attract people from all walks of life and spend money.

Economic Development & The Arts

Dennis Cuneo masksOut in upstate New York, the Regional Alliance for a Creative Economy is currently seeking “big-picture ideas” to convince the Capital Region Economic Council that the greater Albany area can win Governor Andrew Cuomo’s upstate economic competition through focusing on the connection between entrepreneurship and the arts.  The group will be holding a series of public forums to gather ideas about how culture and the arts can be used to stimulate economic growth.  Ideas are meant to center on initiatives that artists can collectively take, as opposed to individual projects.

The coalition will be weaving ideas into a presentation, that it plans on giving in the early fall to the Capital Region Economic Development Council, which itself will make the final determination on the focus of the region’s entry and what initiatives are included.

The Capital Region Economic Development Council is the governor’s appointed regional economic development panel, meaning that these ideas are all rolled into a sort of “master plan”.  The Upstate Revitalization Initiative, as the governor’s economic development contest is known, is funded from state legal settlements with the financial industry, and is a one-time initiative that will supplement New Yorks’ regular annual round of economic development funding.  Three winning regions will receive $100 million each in annual funding for five years, in addition to an estimated $30 million in the regular 2015 round of economic development funding, equalling $130 million each in 2015.  Upstate regions that don’t receive Upstate Revitalization Initiative funding would each get about $90 million in regular 2015 economic development funding, more than the average amount awarded to the top region over the past four years.

Is Silicon Valley Killing Entrepreneurship?

Dennis Cuneo Silicon Valley

Due to its image as a “cradle for innovation”, Silicon Valley has attracted countless entrepreneurs around the world. But is this harming the entrepreneurial spirit of the rest of the country?

In the first season of the HBO show “Silicon Valley”, the titular valley is hailed as the “cradle of innovation” by fictional tech billionaire Peter Gregory.  And in many ways, this eccentric character was right.  However, I recently came across an article about how Silicon Valley could also be sucking the entrepreneurial life out of the rest of the country.  Over the past few years, this one region of northern California has seen an explosion in tech, where people around the world of all ages and from all sorts of backgrounds flock with their new idea for an app that could make them millions.  At the same time, statistics from across the country have revealed an overall decline in entrepreneurship in other parts of the US.

Nobody has yet to prove a direct link between these two trends, and it’s totally possible that there’s no correlation.  Nonetheless, the case against Silicon Valley is compelling.  Thanks to such trends as cloud computing and social media, the article argues, our society is increasingly winner-take-all.  So when it comes to entrepreneurship, Silicon Valley is the clear winner.  New York has earned some recognition as the number 2, but even as other cities have worked tirelessly to attract tech entrepreneurs with such incentives as tax breaks and cheap rent, it’s continued to be an uphill battle.  There seems to be a massive startup gap between Silicon Valley and the rest of the country.  For example, venture capital firms in 2014 pumped more than $32 billion into startups based in the stretch from San Francisco to San Jose, the very heart of the valley.  That’s twice as much as all of the venture capital put into companies in all the rest of the US.  New York and Boston both had around $4 billion each, but after that the drop-off proved extremely steep.

According to data from the Census Bureau, American entrepreneurs have been starting about 25 percent fewer companies in the 2010s than the 2000s.  A 2014 report from the Brookings Institution said that this decline in entrepreneurship points to a US economy that has become steadily “less dynamic over time”.  Recently, the leaders of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce convened to discuss the bizarre paradox of why entrepreneurship seems to be on such a decline while starting a company is easier than ever before.  Four years ago, they had launched a program at becoming America’s “most entrepreneurial city”.  This unfortunately proved to be a goal much too ambitious for them to actually accomplish, as it was so difficult for entrepreneurs to get capital.  It’s possible that since there’s only so much capital to go around, and so much of it is going to northern California, that less of it is available to go elsewhere.  But even in Silicon Valley, the number of companies being started is down from the record levels of the dot-com boom years of the late 1990s.

It seems that the money that at one time would have been spread among lots of younger companies across the country is now being transferred to just a handful of companies in one strip of land.  This could explain a lot of the outlandish valuations in the news, with Silicon Valley companies frequently being valued in the high billions.  The blame, the article argues, goes to the tech universe that’s been in development in the past 30 years.  More of life and business is becoming digital, as digital newcomers have disrupted companies that never thought they were digital.  Once a business is digital and in the cloud, then it’s possible for one company to take over the entire sector, since it instantly becomes available to the world, and has the potential to freeze out any competitor if it can take hold and get sufficient funding to secure its position.  Because of this, venture capitalists don’t want to invest in any sort of “me-too” startups that have little chance of making a big impact on the industry, leaving many entrepreneurs little chance to even get started.

Many people have noticed this trend in the industry, and have been fighting to combat it.  Steve Case, the founder of AOL, has been travelling the country by bus and holding startup contests in cities such as Atlanta and Richmond.  In the process, he’s found great entrepreneurs with great ideas who haven’t been getting capital.  While such projects have made some progress, the future of American entrepreneurship remains unclear.

Toronto Economy Booming

Dennis Cuneo TorontoAccording to The Conference Board of Canada’s Metropolitan Outlook: Spring 2015 report, Toronto’s economic growth will soon top that of its Canadian peers for the first time in the 21st century.  The report says that the city’s economy grew in 2014 at its fastest pace in four years, and it’s expected to expand again by 3.1 percent this year.  If everything goes as predicted, Toronto will be the fastest-growing economy in 2015 among 13 cities covered in the report for the first time since 1999.

Toronto’s growth was boosted by gains in the manufacturing, transportation, warehousing and retail trade services, all sectors that are expected to improve again this year.  The city’s manufacturing output is set to grow by 2.8 percent, the sector’s fifth gain in six years.  According to the report, renewed strength in the global economy, low interest rates, falling oil prices and a weaker Canadian dollar have helped to increase demand for Toronto-made products.  The construction sector, which has seen declines in the past two years, is also expected to grow 3.8 percent in 2015, thanks to rising housing starts and the growth of downtown condominiums.  Consumer spending in Ontario is also predicted to climb with a return to positive employment growth and the upcoming Pan Am Games lifting the province’s tourism activity.

Ontario’s export industry is still robust, mainly since the US economy, which buys nearly 80 percent of the province’s exports, has been rapidly expanding.  The report states that the Canadian dollar’s slide in competition with the US dollar has been helping with Ontario’s competitiveness.  However, the outlook for Canada as a whole remains far from bright.  The plummeting prices in oil have been hitting the Canadian economy hard, particularly in the oil-rich regions of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador.  Overall, this has resulted in another year of unimpressive economic growth for Canada.  The sharp drop in oil prices will end up costing producers more than $40 billion (US) in lost revenue, although growth in other regions of the country is expected to offset these negative impacts.  The Canadian auto industry, which is based in Ontario continues to suffer from competition from Mexico, which continues to attract new auto assembly plants.

Dennis Cuneo to Speak at AD FDI Forum in Atlanta

Dennis Cuneo, SSOE Board Member and former SVP of Toyota Motor North American,  is looking forward to a trip to Atlanta, where he’ll give a presentation on Foreign Direct Investment and its role in the U.S. Auto Industry. He will speak at the forum on Monday, April 13th at 11:30AM.

With extensive knowledge of FDI’s role in automotive, Dennis will provide firsthand experience and relate research on new technologies driving the industry, trends in FDI, and recommendations for communities who want to attract new auto-related investment. He’ll touch on all aspects of the auto industry, from original equipment manufacturers to the supply base, and how the industry has restructured in the last 5-10 years, creating new economic development opportunities.

Check out the full press release below:

Dennis Cuneo Press Relesase

Consultant Connect Podcast

This past month, Dennis Cuneo was featured on the Consultant Connect podcast, where he talked about his experience in site selection and how communities can attract and garner investment from companies who are looking for a new site.

Dennis Cuneo ConsultantConnect

Click here to here the Consultant Connect podcast in its entirety.

The Future of American Manufacturing (2004)

In 2004, Dennis Cuneo, then the Senior Vice President of Toyota Motor North America, spoke at a conference of economic development officials on the future of manufacturing jobs in the United States. C-SPAN covered the panel and has posted the full video. Click here for C-SPAN’s full coverage of the Future of American Manufacturing panel.

In the speech, he identifies core challenges to the future of manufacturing: deflationary pricing, structural costs, litigation overhang, regulatory costs, trade barriers (especially in developing countries), and the future of the manufacturing work force.

Overcoming these challenges are important to manufacturers and non-manufacturers alike, because of manufacturing’s role as a jobs multiplier. In 2004, there were 15 million directly working in manufacturing, with 8 million in sectors that depend directly on manufacturing.

Dennis Cuneo C-SPAN American Manufacturing

Dennis Cuneo speaking on The Future of American Manufacturing. Credit: C-SPAN

The full text for Dennis Cuneo’s is as follows:

I am honored to be part of this distinguished panel, and I’m here today in two capacities. First, I’m representing the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). For those of you who don’t know what NAM is, it’s the largest industrial trade organization in America. It represents about 14,000 companies, and those companies collectively account for about 85% of America’s industrial output. And then I’m here in my capacity as a Senior Vice President of Toyota. You may know Toyota for the products we produce, but what you may not know is we’re the fourth-largest auto manufacturer in America, and we have a serious stake in the future of manufacturing here.

When I checked in the hotel last night, I recall that it was 40 years ago that I paid my first visit to Washington, D.C. I grew up in a small town in the hills of western Pennsylvania. I was a patrol boy. We came here to march in—I think it was a cherry blossom parade. We stayed in this very hotel, four to a room. I remember paying 25 cents for a glass of Coca-Cola and being outraged at how expensive things were in Washington, D.C. That was 15 cents more than you paid in Ridgeway, Pennsylvania! Forty years ago, there weren’t any Japanese companies producing vehicles in this country. In fact, forty years ago, you would have been hard-pressed to find a Japanese vehicle on the road. Back then, I never would have imagined that forty years hence I’d be in the same hotel speaking to a distinguished group of economic development officials on C-SPAN as the Senior Vice President of a Japanese automaker who now employs over 31,000 people here. The world has changed. Manufacturing has changed. And what I hope to do is talk about some of the challenges that we see in the manufacturing community in North America.

Manufacturing is one of the bedrocks of our economy. It’s an engine of economic growth. It drives productivity. It provides jobs with high wages and benefits. And it stimulates innovation. Manufacturers make things. We create wealth. We create jobs. Let me share some statistics to back that claim. Over the last decade, manufacturing contributed more than one-fifth of overall economic growth at 22%. Since 1980, manufacturing productivity in America has doubled at a rate much faster than the economy as a whole, and those productivity improvements enabled the low inflation economy that we enjoyed over the past decade. Manufacturing jobs pay about $54,000 a year when you add in wages and benefits. That’s about 20% higher than the average compensation in the United States.

In addition to better pay, manufacturing is a tremendous job multiplier. There are about 15 million Americans who work directly in manufacturing, but an additional 8 million people working in sectors whose jobs depend on manufacturing, bringing that total to about 23 million. In some sectors like auto manufacturing, the multipliers are much higher. Manufacturing is a source of most of the private sector R&D in this country. Our contribution to research is much higher than our contribution to the overall GDP. I’ve given you a brief macro view of manufacturing, let me now give you a specific example, which is the company I work for, Toyota, which over the past 18 years has grown into the fourth-largest auto manufacturer in this country.

Eighteen years ago, when I first started with Toyota, every vehicle we sold here was made in Japan. Today most of the vehicles we sell here are made here. Since 1986, our investment in the United States has grown to over $14 billion. That includes ten manufacturing plants, and last year we produced over a million vehicles here. We’re boosting the economy and in the states where our plants are located and where our

dealers and suppliers are located. We directly employ 31,000 Americans, but that’s only the tip of the job creation iceberg. Together with our suppliers and dealers, we create over 180,000 American jobs. Beyond the states where we have our manufacturing facilities, our growth impacts most other states as well. We purchase parts and components from 500 suppliers located in 36 different states. When you add in goods and services, we do business with over 10,000 businesses located across the U.S. Over the past eight years, our purchases in North America have tripled from 7 billion to $22 billion. Let me put that figure in context. Our purchases in the United States are greater than the revenues of such companies as Oracle, 3M, Kodak, and Coca-Cola.

In addition to our manufacturing and supplier footprint, we have sales facilities in 22 states, R&D facilities in three states. Design facilities in two states, financial services in 14 states, and dealers — 1,400 dealers in all 50 states. Think about a dealer. On average, they employ 70 people, from salespeople to skilled service technicians. Each dealer pays taxes, buys advertising in the local media, and supports numerous local charities and organizations. The job figures of those dealers don’t count as manufacturing jobs, but they depend upon manufacturing jobs.

Toyota’s growth in North America and the U.S. continues. In 1996, we created a North American manufacturing headquarters in the northern Kentucky suburb of Cincinnati. And since that time, in the past eight years, we built a new assembly plant in Indiana and expanded it twice. We built a new engine plant in West Virginia and have expanded that three times. We built a new plant, an engine plant in Alabama. We’re expanding it. We built a new assembly plant in Texas. And we’re building a new casting plant in Tennessee. We expanded our casting plant in Missouri. Our affiliate Hino will assemble medium duty commercial trucks in southern California. Another affiliate of ours, Aisin, has just created a new transmission plant in North Carolina that will employ 700 people.

So we’ve been fortunate to grow in this country, creating jobs and economic opportunities. But as a large manufacturer here, we also face the challenges that all the manufacturing community faces in the United States. Those are deflationary pricing, the rising cost for regulations, health care and energy, high tariffs, developing countries, and the search for future qualified workers.

Deflationary pricing is perhaps the fundamental problem facing manufacturing, and it’s a problem that doesn’t affect other industries such as health care, or, my former profession, legal services. Because of the intense global and domestic competition, manufacturers here can’t raise prices. So if costs go up, we can only survive by raising productivity.

Now, this is tough news for manufacturers, but it’s good news for the consumer. It’s good news for the economy. And, indeed, continued productivity improvements are a key to improving our standard of living in the United States. But because controlling costs are so important to manufacturing’s future, NAM issued a recent report on these cost pressures, and I brought some reasons called “How Structural Costs Imposed on U.S. Manufacturers Harm Workers and Threaten Competitiveness.” I see some of these are at your seats, and if you have time and if you care about manufacturing, you might want to glance through and read this report, you’ll find that our costs, our so-called structural costs of doing business are higher than our major trading partners. And the major finding is that there are local, state, and federal governments impose at least 22% in added costs to doing business here, causing more damage to manufacturing than foreign competition. And the NAM study highlights how these five areas — taxes, health care, regulations and natural gas prices are undercutting our competitiveness.

Here are some facts: The U.S. is not a low-tax country. Our corporate tax rate of 40% puts us at a higher rate than every one of our trading partners, with the exception of Japan. Manufacturers who operate in the U.S. face higher litigation costs than any country in the world. Estimates are that tort costs cost U.S. manufacturers 2.5 times more than they do in other parts of the world. Plaintiffs’ lawyers stand ready to lash out in all directions to make somebody pay for eating fast food, spilling coffee, or virtually any other incident. Let me give you an example. Two students were attending a small college, and they had a disagreement. One of those students took his revenge by burning the dorm area where his adversary slept. The sleeping student died from smoke inhalation, and the student who set the fire is now serving time in jail. But that wasn’t enough. In the ensuing aftermath, parties who had any connection to the incident, including the companies that made the draperies, the wallpaper, the furniture or anything else that could have served as fuel for that fire were sued for the role their products played in that death. And one of our companies at NAM, a small manufacturer, was sued. They eventually got out of the litigation, but they spent thousands of dollars. That’s just added cost. You don’t find that kind of litigation in China. You don’t find it in Canada. You don’t find it in Korea. But you find it here. It’s expensive. It adds cost. And in my mind –and I say this as a lawyer – – the only beneficiaries, the real beneficiaries are the Trial Bar and a few plaintiffs who hit it big in the litigation lottery. And the rest of us lose because we have to respond to those added costs.

Our next challenge is regulatory costs, and they run the gamut, and U.S. Manufacturers spend more on regulatory costs than our trading partners. And when you add it all up — and the details are in that report, the taxes, litigation, and the like — you add 22% to the cost of doing business in the United States. And without these added costs, the total cost of manufacturing in the United States would be lower than Canada, Germany, the U.K., or France and close to South Korea. So think of the U.S. Manufacturing base as a long distance marathon runner, running with an additional five- pound pack on his back. If the runner is fit, has trained well, he can compete over the first few miles, but by the 20th mile, that extra five pounds would have made a big difference. Now, we hear a lot about leveling the playing field. And I suggest that we start with these structural items. Our elected officials at the local, state, and federal level can remove this burden if they have the courage and will to do so.

The third challenge facing manufacturers are trade barriers especially tariffs in developing countries. The average industrial tariff in the United States is less than 2%. Tariffs in some developing countries are 10, 20, or 30%, and that undercuts U.S. exports. One small NAM company in Missouri can’t sell industrial oil filters to an Argentine oil industry company because of a 30% tariff that applies only to companies in the U.S. and other countries that don’t have a trade agreement with Argentina. Trade agreements to eliminate or reduce these tariffs and facilitate free trade are good for all parties.

The last of our challenges in manufacturing is the future work force. Speaking as a baby boomer, many of our most skilled and talented workers are baby boomers, and guess what? We’re starting to retire. The younger population that will eventually replace us, the 18 to 24-year-old group, is smaller than the baby boomer group. To make things worse, NAM has conducted focus groups across the country. We’re learning that many young people don’t want to consider manufacturing as a career. And those who do seek jobs in manufacturing are often not prepared with this math and science skills that are increasingly important to the modern factory. So we face this tremendous question in the near future: Where are future skilled workers going to come from? Our electricians…our pipe fitters? 35% of China’s college undergrads graduate in engineering, and 6% graduate in engineering in the U.S. I have twin boys. They graduated with engineering degrees from Cornell university of Virginia, and many of the students in their classes were foreign students. We have to do a better job in our high schools and colleges in educating our young people and getting them to go into technical fields that add value.

All in all, manufacturers and non-manufacturers alike have an interest in maintaining a vibrant and healthy manufacturing base and I, for one, believe our efforts should be directed to education and removing some of the structural costs of doing business in the U.S., such as the litigation overhang. To change attitudes towards industry, NAM has launched a campaign for growth and manufacturing renewal, and the Coalition for the Future of Manufacturing. And I’m delighted that IEDC is a coalition member. I encourage each of you to add your name to the list. There are blue sign-up sheets someplace in the room. It doesn’t cost any money. If you sign up, you can show your support for manufacturing.

In closing, I hope I’ve demonstrated how manufacturing remains a pillar of the U.S. economy. We must continue to educate our elected officials about that fact. Manufacturing can and will have a robust future if we can take care of some of these challenges that I’ve described. We need you in the economic development community to help us because I think, among all audiences, you recognize the importance of manufacturing. I know because many of you have solicited me in the past for expansions, et cetera. And I think that the work that you do is very important and I salute you for it.

Thank you very much.

Download a PDF version of Dennis Cuneo’s speech