Former President Bill Clinton on Thursday opened a conference that drew hundreds of business and government leaders to discuss ways to support the nation's economic recovery.
"We are here because we believe that every person's life has worth and dignity and should have the chance to be developed," Clinton said. "We are here because we believe the severe underutilization of human and capital resources and inequality ... are severe constraints on growth here and around the world."
Clinton urged those attending the two-day Clinton Global Initiative America event in Chicago to invest in projects that will create jobs. The goals of the meeting, he said, were to share ideas in the areas of housing recovery, education, clean energy and employment for returning war veterans.
He called the lack of jobs for the nation's veterans, "an unconscionable, unfathomable problem."
The event has attracted high-profile participants like Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, CNN host Fareed Zakaria, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Clinton's daughter, Chelsea Clinton. Other attendees include the CEOs of major corporations and charities and the mayors of Philadelphia and San Diego.
Business leaders used the conference to announce philanthropic efforts. J.B. Pritzker, managing partner in the Pritzker Group, announced a project to invest in early childhood education. The Swiss banking and financial services group UBS announced a loan program for small businesses that includes mentoring and advice to help them succeed.