NRF Pushes Agenda

National Retail Federation (NRF) President and CEO, Matthew Shay, used his scheduled keynote address at the Valley Industry and Commerce Association’s 23rd Annual Business Forecast Conference to highlight the NRF’s agenda to spur jobs, innovation and consumer value. The speech marks the first in a series of planned events, as the organization’s nationwide advocacy campaign will include grassroots activism, social media and old fashioned lobbying. The NRF plans to become an even more well-known force on Capitol Hill, spending in excess of $10 million over the next year to get its message across.

Shay offered his remarks on retail and the economy to nearly 600 attendees representing the Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley business communities. This year’s conference theme was, “The Big Economy That Should.” Shay used his speech to underscore the important role retail is playing in powering the U.S. economy. “In these difficult economic times, saddled with high unemployment and low consumer confidence, there are still many reasons to remain optimistic about the nation’s political and economic future,” he said. “Creativity, innovation and hard work remain firm tenets on America’s Main Streets, led by our nation’s retailers, and it is that binding, dynamic spirit that will lead our economic recovery.”

Shay’s speech also described three critical measures that the country and Congress could focus on immediately to help the economy: investing in infrastructure and transportation, opening new markets to trade and investment, and reforming and streamlining the tax code. Below are clips from his speech:

Infrastructure is vital to the supply chain.

“The world’s largest economy needs a national commitment to infrastructure improvements,” said Shay. “We must update and upgrade our vital supply chain links, be it our near-dock facilities or highways, to ensure our nation’s central role in the global economy. New public and private initiatives and creative funding mechanisms are essential to address our unchecked infrastructure deficit.”

More trade means more jobs.

“I commend Congress and the Administration for working together to secure passage of the free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama,” said Shay. “These agreements will help America’s relationship with the developed and developing world, increase opportunity, lower costs and provide a bipartisan path forward for additional agreements, including those associated with the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership.”

Taxes need to be competitive and fair.

“Reforming our arcane tax code is certainly resonating with politicians and the public these days,” said Shay. “Now is the time to make our nation a more competitive place to create jobs and establish businesses, by lowering corporate tax rates and simplifying and streamlining our disjointed sales tax, so every retailer is treated fairly.”

This piece has been adapted from an original article on