May 22, 2017

225 Top Business Leaders Tell Secretary Tillerson: State Department Budget Matters for U.S. Jobs

Leaders from Coca-Cola, Land O’Lakes, General Electric, Cargill, UPS, Walmart and Hundreds More from Across the Country Call for Strong Resources for State Department and USAID

WASHINGTON, DC – This morning, 225 business leaders from across the U.S. joined together in a letter to urge Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to support a strong budget for the State Department and USAID as critical to our economy and American jobs.

The leaders represent a strong showing of Fortune 500 companies, along with small and medium-size businesses from over 30 states that understand the importance of the global marketplace. More than 80 of Chambers of Commerce from around the country also joined the letter representing thousands more companies.

“The bang we get for this small 1% of the federal budget is unmatched. When the State Department and USAID have the resources they need to create stable and growing markets for American goods – it’s truly an American jobs program,” said Chris Policinski, president and CEO of Land O’Lakes, Inc., a farmer-owned cooperative operating businesses in dairy, feed, crop inputs and sustainability, in addition to a 501c3 international development non-profit organization.

Recognizing that 95% of the world’s consumers live outside of the U.S., the business leaders wrote to the former business icon – now Secretary Tillerson – reinforcing the powerful role the State Department and USAID plays in advancing America’s economic interests abroad and supporting jobs here at home.

Reminding the Secretary, they wrote: “America’s diplomats and development experts help build and open new markets for U.S. exports by doing what only government can do: fight corruption, strengthen the rule of law, and promote host country leadership to create the enabling environment for private investment.”

The letter calls for support for a “strong International Affairs Budget” – the budget for the State Department and America’s global development agencies – and was sent just a day prior to the Administration’s release of their full Fiscal Year 2018 Budget. In March, the Administration’s “skinny budget” proposal called for a 31% cut to the State Department and USAID.

“We depend on robust American engagement overseas to strengthen our state’s economy here in Wisconsin. This small 1% of our federal budget for the State Department and USAID has an outsize impact on creating jobs and making our country safer,” said Saul Newton, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce.

The letter’s signers represent major U.S. companies – including Walmart, Coca-Cola, Nike, Land O’Lakes, Cargill, Loews, UPS, Kellogg, DuPont, Microsoft, Mars, General Electric, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Pfizer, Proctor & Gamble, and Marriott alongside dozens of local Chambers of Commerce and businesses across the country from the agriculture, manufacturing, technology, retail, tourism, food, energy, and health industries.

Download the letter here. Full text is below.



May 22, 2017

Secretary Rex Tillerson
U.S. Department of State
Washington, D.C.

Dear Secretary Tillerson,

As business leaders, we are writing to voice our strong belief in the return on investment from the U.S. International Affairs Budget in advancing America’s economic interests overseas and supporting jobs at home.

With 95 percent of the world’s consumers outside the United States and many of the fastest growing economies in the developing world, now is the time to double down on America’s global economic leadership. America’s diplomats and development experts help build and open new markets for U.S. exports by doing what only government can do: fight corruption, strengthen the rule of law, and promote host country leadership to create the enabling environment for private investment. Our country’s investments have generated impressive results: eleven of America’s top fifteen export markets are in countries that have been recipients of U.S. foreign assistance.

Strategic investments in diplomacy and development make America safer and more prosperous. American companies depend on robust U.S. engagement overseas, especially in the fast growing markets in the developing world. Our embassies and consulates around the world are essential partners for American businesses to ensure we can compete on a level playing field. Trade promotion programs have helped drive American exports, which today make up almost 13 percent of America’s $18 trillion economy and support about one in five American jobs.

The State Department and USAID are increasingly partnering with American businesses to catalyze and leverage private sector expertise and resources to create sustainable solutions at scale on a range of challenges such as energy, health, and agriculture. And today, host countries themselves are driving policy changes to compete for American investments. Moreover, America’s global economic leadership also embodies our country’s values – promoting economic freedom, prosperity, and entrepreneurship that can mitigate the drivers of violent extremism in the world today. In today’s global economy, we have a significant opportunity to strengthen the State Department, USAID, and our development agencies and the capacity to partner with the private sector to address global challenges and to expand opportunity.

We are committed to working with you in your role as Secretary of State to share our perspectives on the importance of U.S. international affairs programs to boost our exports abroad and our jobs here at home, and we urge your support for a strong International Affairs Budget for Fiscal Year 2018.


Chris Policinski
President and CEO
Land O’Lakes

Andrew Tisch
Loews Corporation

David MacLennan
Chairman and CEO

Sarah Thorn
Senior Director, Global Government Affairs

Caroline Roan
Vice President, Corporate Responsibility
Pfizer, Inc.
Pfizer Foundation

Kate Rumbaugh
Vice President, Government Relations
The Coca-Cola Company

John Murphy
Senior Vice President for International Policy
U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Jim Collins
Executive Vice President

Brad Figel
Vice President Public Affairs North America
Mars, Inc.

Connie Justice
Planson International

Paul Neureiter
Executive Director for International Government Affairs

Kathryn Reilly
Global Director Public Affairs

Tara Hogan Charles
Associate Director, Global Government Relations
Procter & Gamble

H. C. Shin
Executive Vice President, International Operations

Michael Boyle
Boyle Energy Services & Technology

Bill Lane
Chair Emeritus
U.S. Global Leadership Coalition

Jeff Rowe
President of Global Seeds and North America

Philip de Leon
Director, Public Affairs & International Business
AGCO Corporation

Hugh Welsh
DSM Nutrition

Peter Tichansky
Business Council for International Understanding

Doug Galen

David Wilhelm
Partner & Chief Strategy Officer
Hecate Energy

Pamela Venzke
Global Government Affairs & Policy
General Electric

Florizelle Liser
President & CEO
Corporate Council on Africa

Kathryn D. Karol
Vice President, Global Government & Corporate Affairs
Caterpillar Inc.

Dan Gaynor
Global Communications

Kevin Kolevar
Vice President, Global Government Affairs
The Dow Chemical Company

Laura Lane
President, Global Public Affairs

Melissa Froehlich-Flood
Vice President, Government Affairs

Gary M. Cohen
Executive Vice President and President
Global Health and Development BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company)

Lisa Malloy
Senior Director, Global Policy Group
Intel Corporation

Kris Charles
Senior Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs

Ambassador Richard Holwill
Vice President, Public Policy

Jeffrey N. Simmons
Elanco Animal Health

Tom Halverson

Ken Fletcher
Pike Enterprises

Peter M. Robinson
President & CEO
United States Council for International Business

Karl Jensen
Senior Vice President, National Governments

Ward Brehm
Founder, Chairman
The Brehm Group

Chris Keuleman
Vice President, Global Government Relations
International Paper

Frederick S. Humphies, Jr.
Corporate Vice President, U.S. Government Affairs
Microsoft Corporation

Dave Adkisson
President & CEO
Kentucky Chamber of Commerce

Joseph Albert
Eli H. Albert Agency

Diane Alleva Caceres
Market Access International, Inc.

Luis Arguello
President & CEO

Jeremy Arthur
President & CEO
Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama

Connie Bacon
Port of Tacoma

Doug Badger
Executive Director
Pacific Northwest International Trade Association

Travis Barnes
President & Founder
Hotel Tango Artisan Distillery

Gene Barr
President & CEO
Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry

Kurt R. Bauer
President & CEO
Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce

Lane Beattie
President & CEO
Salt Lake Chamber

Jon Bennett
Vice-President of Business Development
Catalyze Dallas

Thomas Bentley
Owner & Chairman of the Board
Bentley World Packaging

John Bernloehr
Consolidated Metal Products, Inc.

Carl Blackstone
President & CEO
Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce

Silvia Bonilla
Director, Small Business Development Center
Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Antonio Boyd
Think Tank Consulting Group, LLC

Tony Braida
Vice President
Bankers Trust Global Banking

Becky Brooks
President & Executive Director
Ruidoso Valley Chamber of Commerce

Kelly Brough
President & CEO
Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce

Cindy Brown
Chippewa Valley Bean

John Bruntz
President & CEO
The Boulder Company

Anne Burkett
Executive Director
North Alabama International Trade Association

Bob Burleson
Florida Transportation Builders Association

Jay Byers
President & CEO
Greater Des Moines Partnership

Steve Cain
Triangle North Carolina British American Business Council

William Canary
President & CEO
Business Council of Alabama

Ben Cannatti
Executive Director
Main Street Jobs Coalition

John Casper
President & CEO
Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce

Kip Cheroutes
Japan-U.S. Network, Inc.

Lalit Chordia
President & Founder
Thar Tech

Gil Cisneros
Chairman & CEO
Chamber of the Americas

Jay Clemens
President & CEO
Associated Oregon Industries

Jonathan Coffin
Vice President
VOX Global

Harvey Cohen
KZB, Inc.

Todd Connor
Bunker Labs

Caralynn Nowinski Collens

Alfonso Cornejo
Hispanic Chamber Cincinnati USA

Bill Cronin
President & CEO
Pasco Economic Development Council, Inc.

Joe Crookham
Musco Lighting

Maryann Crush
South Boston Transit Systems, LLC

Dan Culhane
President & CEO
Ames Chamber of Commerce

Yuri Cunza
President & CEO
Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Eric Dallimore
Leon Gallery

Sarah Davasher-Wisdom
Greater Louisville, Inc.

Daniel Davis
President & CEO
Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce

Richard Dayoub
President & CEO
Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce

Ryan Deckert
Oregon Business Association

Connor Deering
Cemen Tech, Inc.

Dustin DeVries
Co-Founder, Technology Consultant
Caffeine Interactive Technologies

Brian Dicken
Vice President of Advocacy & Public Policy
Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce

Billie Dragoo
Founder & CEO

Steve Dust
President & CEO
Greater Cedar Valley Alliance and Chamber

Barry DuVal
Virginia Chamber of Commerce

Lauri Elliott
Chairman & Executive Director
Afribiz Group, Inc.

Jason Espinoza
New Mexico Association of Commerce and Industry

Joe E. Evans
Evtex Companies

Keith Evans
Key Financial Insurance Agency, Inc.

Teresa Faidley
Senior Vice President
Schaumburg Bank & Trust Company N.A.

Terry Fankhauser
Executive Vice President
Colorado Cattlemen’s Association

Ronald J. Finlayson
E-Systems Corporation

Beverly Flaten
Vice President of International & Domestic Marketing
JM Grain

Henry Florsheim
President & CEO
Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce

Michael Ford
Mid-Atlantic District Export Council

Nathan Frampton

Stephanie Freeman
President & CEO
Dunwoody Perimeter Chamber

Jenny Fulton
Miss Jenny’s Pickles

David Gessel
Executive Vice President
Utah Hospital Association

Matt Glazer
Executive Director
Austin Young Chamber of Commerce

Howard Glicken
Founder, Chairman & CEO
The Americas Group

Neel Gonuguntla
US India Chamber Of Commerce DFW

Dean Gorder
Executive Director
North Dakota Trade Office

Terry Grant
President, Utah Market

Trey Grayson
President & CEO
Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce

Keith Guller
Essex Industries

Dan Haley
President & CEO
Colorado Oil & Gas Association

David Hart
Executive Vice President
Florida Chamber of Commerce

Chris Henney
Ohio Agribusiness Association

Aaron Hermsen
Director of Business Development
China Iowa Group

Dave Hofferbert
Bond Technologies, Inc.

Gregory Hopkins
Partner & President
Solitude Wealth Management

Kevin Hougen
President & CEO
Aurora Chamber of Commerce

Galen Hull
Hull International

Thomas Hulseman
Managing Director
Metro Chicago Exports

Mark Ingrao
President & CEO
Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce

Bob Jameson
President & CEO
Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau

Andrea Jett Fletcher
Executive Director
French-American Chamber of Commerce

John Kalaras
Quality Training Institute

Jeffrey B. Kendall
JBK Integrated Solutions, LLC

Robert Kill
President & CEO
Enterprise Minnesota

Joseph Kirk
Executive Director
Mon Valley Progress Council

Wally Kocemba
Chairman & CFO
Calhoun Companies

Katie Kruger
Denver Metro Commercial Association of REALTORS

Matt Krupp
Desantis Krupp, LLC

Kitty Kurth
Kurth Lampe

Emily Lane
Vice President of Sales
Calendar Islands Maine Lobster

Craig Lang
The Prairie Strategy Group

Lloyd Le Page
President & CEO
Heartland Global, Inc.

Kirk Leeds
Iowa Soybean Association
Donna Lindquist
Soleil Global Communications

Lou Ann Lineham
Linehan Associates, LLC

Doug Loon
Minnesota Chamber of Commerce

Kevin Lutz
Armstrong Printery, Inc.

Kevon Makell
Founder & CEO
Seww Energy
Dr. Toby Malichi
Founder, Global Chief Executive, and Ambassador of Trade
Malichi Group Worldwide

Ron Marston
President & CEO
HCCA International

Frances Martinez
Founder & CEO
North Shore Latino Business Association, Inc.

Nick Mastronardi
Founder & CEO

Jason Mathis
Executive Director
Downtown Alliance

Robert Mayes
Keel Point

Eddie McBride
President & CEO
Lubbock Chamber of Commerce

Sandi McDonough
President & CEO
Portland Business Alliance

Candace McGraw
Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport

Larry McQueary
Indy Fuel

Daniel McVety
Japan China Carolina

J. Patrick Michaels
Founder, Chairman & CEO
CEA Group

David Milton
Chief Supply Chain Officer
Payless ShoeSource

Mortada Mohamed
Executive Director
Texas International Business Council

Aneezal Mohamed
General Counsel, Compliance Officer & Secretary
Commercial Vehicle Group

Beau Morrow
Left Hand Design

Wilfred Muskens
President & CEO
Stevens & Lee

Ron Ness
North Dakota Petroleum Council

Saul Newton
Executive Director
Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce

Laura Ortega
Executive Director, International Business Council
Illinois Chamber of Commerce

Ersal Ozdemir
President & CEO
Keystone Corporation

Jerry Pacheco
Border Industrial Association

Jim Page
President & CEO
Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama

Richard Paullin
Executive Director
The International Trade Association of Greater Chicago

Raymond Pilcher
Raven Ridge Resources

Heather Potters
Chief Business Development Officer
PharmaJet, Inc.

Ramiro Prudencio
President & CEO
Burson-Marsteller Latin America

Robert Quick
President & CEO
Commerce Lexington

Laurie Radke
Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce

Rona Rahlf
President & CEO
Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce

Brooks Raiford
President & CEO
North Carolina Technology Association (NCTA)

Michael Ralston
Iowa Association of Business and Industry

Bede Ramcharan
President & CEO

Olga Ramundo
Express Travel

Josh Rawitch
Senior Vice President, Communications
Arizona Diamondbacks

Joe Reagan
President & CEO
St. Louis Regional Chamber

Jeff Reigle
President & CEO
Regal Ware, Inc.

Gene Reineke
Hawthorne Strategy Group

John Reinhart
CEO & Executive Director
Port of Virginia

Colin Renk
Executive Director
America China Society of Indiana

Sandra Renner
FasTrack Global Expansion Solutions, Inc.

Jim Roche
Business & Industry Association of New Hampshire

Bob Rohrlack
President & CEO
Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce

Robert Rotondo
Rotondo Enterprises, Inc.

Jack Roy
Jax Enterprises

David Rudd
Ballard Spahr, LLP

Rebecca Ryan
Next Generation Consulting

Mel Sanderson
Vice President of International Affairs
Freeport McMoRan, Inc.

Lydia Sarson
Executive Director
German American Chamber of Commerce of Philadelphia

Joe Savarise
Executive Director
Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association

Chris Saxman
Executive Director
Virginia FREE

David Schaffert
Olympia Thurston County Chamber of Commerce

Dean Schieve
Victus Motion and DMD Consulting

Michael Schmitt
Executive Director
America-Israel Chamber of Commerce Chicago

Bret Scholtes
President & CEO
Omega Protein Corporation

Ralph Schulz
Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce

Mike Shanley
Founder & CEO
Konektid International

Stephanie Simpson
Vice President
Texas Association of Manufacturers

Bill Sisson
President & CEO
Mobile Chamber of Commerce

Nathan Slonaker
Columbus International Affairs Opportunity

Jim Spadaccini
CEO & Creative Director

Bruce Steinberg

Michael Strange
Bassett Ice Cream

Carol Stymiest
Canadian Business Association of North Carolina

Greg Summerhays
President & CEO
Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce

David Taylor
Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association

Christian Thwaites
Chief Strategist
Brouwer & Janachowski

Jon Troen
President & CEO
Mittera Group

Brett Vassey
President & CEO
Virginia Manufacturers Association

Liane Ventura
Senior Vice President
Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce

Chad Vorthmann
Executive Vice President
Colorado Farm Bureau

Chris Wallace
Texas Association of Business

Jeff Wasden
Colorado Business Roundtable

Joyce Waugh
President & CEO
Roanoke Chamber of Commerce

Cherod Webber
President & CEO
Innovative Global Supply,LLC

Ed Webb
President & CEO
World Trade Center Kentucky

Deborah Wilkinson
Wilkinson Global Connections

Sheryl Wohlford

Richard Yang
Carolinas Chinese Chamber of Commerce

Steven Zylstra
President & CEO
Arizona Technology Council