THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
SATELLITE INTERVIEW OF THE PRESIDENT WITH KGTV - SAN DIEGO
The Old Executive Office Building
11:50 A.M. EDT
Q UCSD, University of California-San Diego, was the one you named today from this area?
THE PRESIDENT: That's right. They have a project that will use composite materials that were part of the Stealth Aircraft development to build and repair bridges.
There are others -- let me just tell you where the others are in southern California. We have one in Redondo Beach, one in -- that Cal State-Fullerton was involved in; one at Newport Beach with Hughes Electric -- G.M. Hughes; one in Torrance -- two in Torrance. So if you want to mention any of them, we can.
Q Joining us now to talk about the, what is called the first wave of the Technology Reinvestment Program grant is the author of the plan, more or less, the President of the United States Mr. Clinton. Thanks for joining us today to talk about what we here in San Diego call the defense conversion. Can you give us kind of a short definition or explanation of what it is you want to accomplish here?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, we're trying to take the capacities, the skills, the technologies that were developed in the big defense build-up of the 1980s, and instead of just letting those technologies and the abilities of those people go to waste, we want to give them a chance to be used in the commercial sector in a way that helps both national defense by keeping that skill and that technology alive, and helps to rebuild the domestic economy and to create jobs.
Today, we announced the first of what will be four announcements between now and the end of November in the Technology Research Project, which involved 41 projects from California to Maine, from former defense contractors or current defense contractors using technologies in defense for domestic purposes.
In San Diego, the University of San Diego, and Muller International, and a company called Trans-Science Corporation are using the composite materials developed for the Stealth Aircraft to build and repair bridges. And they're working on a bridge in San Diego now. And this is just one of, as I said, over 40 projects. California got a large number of these projects, but so did several other states that have been hurt by base closing and defense cutbacks. They were all given out on the merits, I assure you, and now, what the companies have to do is to negotiate with our defense conversion projects to make sure that the government and the companies all put up a fair amount of money. Then they'll start hiring people and going to work. We're very excited about it.
Q Mr. President, some claim that if it was a good idea, a strong company would run with that idea -- do you run a risk of propping up a bad company or a bad idea?
THE PRESIDENT: There may be some risk of that, but it's not much of a risk. After all, in terms of the potential expenditure of money, this is mostly seed money to get these projects started. A lot of these companies are quite well-established and these technologies have proven merit in the defense area. This is the sort of thing that our competitors in Germany, Japan, countries with lower unemployment rates and higher investment rates than we do -- they do these things all the time. We have -- we know the technology, the skills, the ideas to make the conversion, but we aren't organized for it. This simply helps us to organize to make this conversion from a defense base to a domestic economy, it will create a lot of jobs. And I think that it will be among the most efficient government programs ever seen, because, keep in mind, we don't put up all the money -- if the other side doesn't put up half the money the project doesn't get done. So, that's a pretty strong incentive to make sure whatever is done is a good project.
Q Mr. President, UCSD's $21 million -- granted, nobody wants to look a gift horse in the mouth, but it's really a drop in the bucket when you consider what San Diego has lost so far in cut backs in the military and defense jobs.
THE PRESIDENT: It is, but it that's the point. It starts up a new business enterprise for which there must be a market in the private sector. We believe there's a huge market. That's why all these things are helping to start up a process.
Keep in mind, too, that San Diego gained 5,200 jobs in the last round of base closings and consolidations, so those new jobs will be coming into your area over the next couple of years and that will help some also.
Q Mr. President, thank you very much for joining us today.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
END11:55 A.M. EDT