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The Commerce Blog

Secretary Pritzker Meets With Gaming Industry CEOs in Silicon Valley

Secretary Pritzker visiting Silicon Valley and the Gaming Industry

On Monday, U.S Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker met with various gaming industry CEOs at Electronic Arts in Silicon Valley to learn more about the creative job skills and talent required to maintain American competitiveness, as well as the gaming industry’s overall contribution to the economy. She also toured Electronic Arts and GlassLab. Electronic Arts (EA) is a developer and publisher of computer and video games with several subsidiaries which includes sports role-playing, racing and combat, online communities and original franchises like Tetris, Scrabble and Monopoly. Glasslab is a research and development effort that focuses on educational games and game-based assessment design in the United States.

During the discussion, Secretary Pritzker emphasized the important role that the Department of Commerce plays in creating the conditions that support the growth of the country’s most competitive industries, and empowering private sector companies to out-innovate anyone in the world. She also expressed her desire to learn more about the contributions that the gaming industry has brought to the economy, the jobs it has created, and the ability to remain globally competitive.

The United States gaming industry has enjoyed enormous success over the last decade, and the jobs it supports are now a crucial part of the country’s economic growth. In fact, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) recently produced a 2014 report on video games in the 21st century which measures the economic contributions made by the gaming industry during the period of 2009-2012. According to ESA’s report, the game software publishing industry has employed 42,000 people in 36 states. The report also highlights that U.S total employment, both direct and indirect, that depends on this industry now exceeds 146,000. The value that this industry has added to the U.S GDP is over $6.2 billion.

Secretary Pritzker Speaks at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit

Secretary Pritzker with Mary Barra Patty Sellers Nina-Easton

This week, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker participated in a panel discussion at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit, where she discussed the economy and steps the U.S. government and private sector can take to spur economic growth and job creation, building a bridge to the business community.

During her question and answer session with Nina Easton, Secretary Pritzker noted that in her first year at the Commerce Department she has visited 25 countries on behalf of American companies and met with more than 1,200 business leaders, including more than one-third of the Fortune 500. Secretary Pritzker also highlighted SelectUSA, an Obama Administration program, led by the Commerce Department program dedicated to making the United States the world’s premier location for business investment.

Spotlight on Commerce: Jose "Pepe" F. Burgos, Director U.S. Commercial Service-Puerto Rico

Jose "Pepe" F. Burgos, Director U.S. Commercial Service-Puerto Rico

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month

Guest blog post by Jose "Pepe" F. Burgos, Director U.S. Commercial Service-Puerto Rico

My name is Jose F. Burgos. My nickname is Pepe and I was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. My mother was from the town of Aguadilla in the west part of the island, and my father was from Humacao on the opposite side of the island. I was raised in Aguadilla by my mother and brothers after my father passed away when I was four years old. When I was 13 years old, my mother and older sister passed away in a car accident. Then I was raised by one of my cousins and their family. I have one brother who lives in Baltimore and we are very close. I was blessed to grow in a very family-oriented environment surrounded by my cousins and friends.

At first I wanted to be a doctor, but when I start studying and got to physics and organic chemistry, I realized medicine was not for me. I decided to study business, but I was not sure what kind of business. I decided to study international business with the main purpose to obtain a job to travel around the world.

Eleven years into my career, I realize how big international business can be – that it is more than traveling and is a daily learning experience. I worked three years in the Puerto Rico Trade Company and I have been currently working for the past eight years as Director of the U.S. Commercial Service in Puerto Rico. 

My passion for international commerce grew during my academic years, ultimately leading to my earning a Master’s Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in International Business & Marketing from the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico and a professional development certification from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in International Trade Policy.

It has been a rewarding and amazing opportunity to be able to do what I always wanted to do and work in the field that I studied. 

Since 2006, I have been working as Director of the US Department of Commerce for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. I have assisted companies from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands in exporting to countries around the world, and provided advice with all the logistic components, including market intelligence, trade counseling, business matchmaking, and advocacy/commercial diplomacy support.

My support has helped companies survive difficult economic times and helped them be among the companies that are creating new jobs for residents in the islands.

Enhancing the Climate Resilience of America’s Natural Resources

Priority Agenda for Enhancing the Climate Resilience of America’s Natural Resources Graphic

Guest Blog Post by Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D.,Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator

Our societal well-being is linked to a healthy, productive, and resilient environment. However, many of our nation’s treasured landscapes and iconic species are fundamentally changing due to the effects of a changing climate.

For example, many fish, wildlife and plant species are shifting northward and into higher elevations or deeper water as temperatures increase. Increasing ocean temperature and acidity in our oceans are altering local food webs and disrupting historic fisheries. Sea level rise is decreasing the extent of coastal wetlands and coral reefs. And the disappearance of ice in the northern latitudes is forever changing the habitats where whales, seals, polar bears, and walruses live and feed. 

Conservation is a critical strategy for promoting resilience among our nation’s fish, wildlife and plants – including humans – as our planet continues to change.

A new White House Fact Sheet and report released yesterday, the Priority Agenda for Enhancing the Climate Resilience of America’s Natural Resources lays the path of conservation planning in the face of climate change. 

Protecting our country’s natural resources also benefits communities and economies.  Healthy and resilient ecosystems play an important role in “buffering” the effects of extreme weather on our communities, providing us food and clean water, and helping to mitigate the impacts of carbon pollution by serving as “sinks” that sequester and store carbon.  Additionally, energy generation, agriculture, and tourism, and many more sectors of our economy rely on the availability of natural resources, underscoring the essential need for conservation as a critical resilience and adaptation strategy. 

The Priority Agenda is one part of an ongoing strategy to implement the President’s Climate Action Plan, and make the nation better prepared for the impacts of climate change. The Agenda builds upon the robust climate change adaptation work already underway by federal agencies, including NOAA, and identifies significant actions moving forward.

Spotlight on Commerce: Aaron Trujillo, Associate Director For Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs

Spotlight on Commerce: Aaron Trujillo, Associate Director For Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month

Guest blog post by Aaron Trujillo, Associate Director for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs, Department of Commerce

As the Associate Director for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs at the Department of Commerce, I carry two responsibilities; handling the issues of Economic Development, Skills Development, and Manufacturing and serving as the Acting Senior Advisor for Native American Affairs Policy. The Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs (OLIA) supports the Secretary on all matters pertaining to the Department’s relationship with Congress, state/local elected officials, territorial and tribal governments.    

Before coming to Commerce, I worked in the U.S. House of Representatives for five and a half years. There I served a Member of Congress in his capacity on the House Natural Resources Committee as Ranking Member of the Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Subcommittee, and later, as a distinguished member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. During my time in the U.S. House, I also served as Senior Policy Advisor on Rural Development, Energy, Environment, Natural Resources, Agriculture, Veterans Affairs and Native American Affairs policies.

While working here at the Department of Commerce, I have been given the great opportunity to utilize my expertise to assist the Department and the Administration in advancing initiatives to build a stronger American economy. Our work here at the Department truly embodies the notions of opportunity, action and optimism because we work daily with businesses, organizations, community leaders, and elected officials at the local and national level to find opportunities that will create the conditions for economic success. 

I was raised in El Rancho, New Mexico, a small farming community just north of Santa Fe, NM.  As a child, I was influenced by the time honored traditions of my rural community and developed a deep respect for diversity in culture, language and the inherent connection between agricultural communities and natural resources. My upbringing has always been a driving force behind my work and advocacy in government.

President’s Export Council Travels to Poland and Turkey About Growing Economic Opportunities For All

President’s Export Council to Poland and Turkey About Growing Economic Opportunities For All

Guest blog post by Michele Cahn, Vice present of Global Government Affairs and Corporate Philanthropy for Xerox

For everyone who may speculate that the U.S. position of influence in the world has declined, our recent trip to Poland and Turkey proves to me that when business and government come together, we make a very powerful statement. This type of initiative is something that is unique to the United States… this is commercial diplomacy in action at its very best.

I was able to spend the first days of October with Xerox CEO Ursula Burns, who is the Vice Chair of the President’s Export Council (PEC) and who helped lead a fact-finding mission to Poland and Turkey. U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker led the high-level delegation of U.S. business leaders on an economic fact-finding mission to identify opportunities to increase trade and investment between the U.S. and Poland and the U.S. and Turkey, two high-potential, fast-growing markets that have been under penetrated by US companies, especially SMEs.

The PEC delegation included CEOs from such companies as Vermeer, Lockheed Martin, Marriott International, Archer Daniels Midland, 32 Advisors, and UPS—representing a combined market cap of more than $850 billion and senior representatives from another eight companies.

What impressed me so much was the reception from the entire range of people we met with was how significant this trip was and how and why  the PEC selected Poland and Turkey for this trip.  And while we take some of this for granted, private and public partnerships are very rare in these countries.  We were asked why would these US companies join together for this trip…don’t you compete with one another. We were able to make it very clear, that this wasn’t about competing; this was trying to grow economic opportunities for all of us.  The outcome of this mission will be to help stimulate business in Poland and Turkey and help increase exports from the U.S. and combined, that means economic and job growth in these countries and in the U.S., so we all benefit.

Business leaders in Poland and Turkey have a very strong interest in capitalizing on innovation and entrepreneurship.  Poland has a highly skilled and highly educated workforce, but the general impression there is that the digital revolution has passed them by.  The challenges in Turkey might be more significant in terms of modernizing laws, simplifying bureaucracy and building transparency.

So while there are challenges, there are significant opportunities to accelerate business growth and to encourage governments and businesses in both countries to partner more with each other. 

Preparing for the 2020 Census: Measuring Race and Ethnicity in America

Preparing for the 2020 Census: Measuring Race and Ethnicity in America

Cross blog post by John Thompson, U.S. Census Bureau Director

The year 2020 may seem a long way away, but we’re already in full swing preparing for the next decennial census. We held an operations update to announce some of the steps we’re taking to ensure that the 2020 Census provides the highest-quality statistics about our nation’s increasingly changing population, such as how we measure race and ethnicity.

One challenge we face is how Americans view race and ethnicity differently than in decades past. In our diverse society, a growing number of people find the current race and ethnic categories confusing, or they wish to see their own specific group reflected on the census. The Census Bureau remains committed to researching approaches that more accurately measure and reflect how people self-identify their race and ethnic origin.

During the 2010 Census, most households received a census form that asked about race and Hispanic origin through two separate questions. However, we also conducted a major research project – called the “2010 Census Race and Hispanic Origin Alternative Questionnaire Experiment” (AQE) – to better understand how and why people identify themselves in different ways and in different contexts.

The AQE tested different questionnaire strategies with four goals in mind:

  1. Increase reporting in the race and ethnic categories as defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget,
  2. Increase responses to the race and ethnicity question(s),
  3. Increase the accuracy and reliability of the results, and
  4. Elicit detailed responses for all racial and ethnic communities (e.g., Chinese, Mexican, Jamaican, Lebanese, etc.).

Spotlight on Commerce: Sara A. Rosario, U.S. Census Bureau

Spotlight on Commerce: Sara A. Rosario, U.S. Census Bureau

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month

Guest blog post by Sara A. Rosario Nieves, U.S. Census Bureau

As the Census Scientific Advisory Committee coordinator, I help determine Census Bureau operations and programs that need scientific advice. By working with the committee — established by the Secretary of Commerce as an advisory body to the Census Bureau director — I help engage some of the nation’s top economists, statisticians, researchers, geographers, sociologists, engineers, political scientists, demographers, and operations managers on ways to advise us on streamlining processes without compromising quality and use proper technologies all while saving taxpayer money.

The President’s State of the Union Address this year centered around three key principles: opportunity, action, and optimism. I too will use these three words to describe my 10-plus years as a federal employee.

Opportunity: While pursuing my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Puerto Rico, I noticed that years of specialized experience were required for entry-level positions on the island. I was astonished but continued studying and looking for work opportunities. Part of my studies included a semester-long industrial management internship with the master scheduler of Bristol-Myers Squibb pharmaceutical in Mayaguez. One of my professors then told me about a summer internship opportunity with the Department of Commerce, which led me to Washington, D.C., in 2001. Upon completion of my MBA, I accepted a job with the Census Bureau. Though I was eager to learn new things and yearned to hear fresh ideas, this geographical move was not an easy decision but thinking back now on the incredible experiences I have had and the professional growth I have gone through, I know I made the right decision. While at the Census Bureau, I have completed the DOC Aspiring Leaders Development Program and obtained a Masters Certificate in Project Management from George Washington University. In 2011, the Department of Commerce honored me with its Gold Medal Award for helping lead the 2010 Census partnership program, which engaged 257,000 national and local organizations with $1.2 billion in value-added contributions to the overall census effort.

Action: One of the most enjoyable aspects of my civil service work is mentoring young individuals who are looking to expand their skills and for advice on how to reach their maximum potential. Last month, I was a panelist for the Paths for Success session of the Government Leaders for Tomorrow (GL4T), where nationwide selected science and technology students with diverse economic, social, academic and cultural backgrounds come to D.C. to learn about life as a federal government employee. The conversations with the mentees, along with recruits I regularly meet on campus, help me understand the vast capacity of the next generation to work alongside seasoned and experienced talent and contribute to the department’s innovation and reengineering goals. 

MBDA National Director Alejandra Castillo Challenges Young Latina Entrepreneurs to Think Big

MBDA National Director Alejandra Castillo speaks at the Latinas Think Big Conference

Last week, Alejandra Castillo, the first Hispanic American woman appointed as the National Director of the Minority Business Development Agency, participated in a panel discussion at the Latinas Think Big Innovation Summit at Google’s Mountain View Campus. The Summit brought together thought leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators and influencers to exchange ideas, address important issues, and connect attendees to high-caliber networks.

Created by Dr. Angelica Perez-Litwin, PhD, Latinas Think Big™ is a progressive platform and national tour created to bring together innovative ideas and groundbreaking projects of Latinas around the country. “I created Latinas Think Big™ to showcase the innovative ideas, talents and groundbreaking projects of Latinas around the country. I wanted to bring talented Latinas and thought leaders to the stages of well-regarded institutions like Columbia University and powerful companies like Google, for the world to 'see' how Latinas are contributing to the country's social and economic well-being,” said Dr. Perez-Litwin.  

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2007 Survey of Business Owners, between 2002 and 2007 Hispanic-owned businesses increased by 43.7 percent to 2.3 million, more than twice the national rate of 18 percent between the same period of time. Hispanic women-owned businesses are the fastest growing business demographic, increasing 43 percent between 2002 and 2007.

Latinas Think Big creates a space in which young women have access to speak to professional women across all sectors. At the event, Castillo talked to the audience of young Latinas about the importance of entrepreneurship and innovation. “As entrepreneurs, you need to understand that 95% of the world’s consumers live outside of the U.S. borders. The fact that you speak Spanish, the fact that you are Latinos, and the fact that you understand the business culture of Colombia, Dominican Republic, and El Salvador, positions you in a very unique place to be able to tap into those markets. When thinking about entrepreneurial ideas, think about how to go global,” stated Castillo.

Spotlight on Commerce: Efrain Gonzalez, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Administrative Officer, BusinessUSA

Efrain Gonzalez, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Administrative Officer, BusinessUSA

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month

Guest blog post by Efrain Gonzalez, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Administrative Officer, BusinessUSA

I currently serve as Chief Financial Officer and Chief Administrative Officer at BusinessUSA, a Presidential Initiative and partnership between the Department of Commerce and the Small Business Administration. Our mission is to help American entrepreneurs, businesses owners and executives successfully start and grow their business by making it easier for them to find and access the right government resources. Put simply, my role as part of BusinessUSA is to make sure people, money and strategy come together to achieve this mission.

From my first days at Commerce, I have been privileged to serve on initiatives and projects aimed to either directly serve the needs of businesses or assist the agencies that directly serve U.S. businesses. Prior to joining BusinessUSA, I served as Chief of the Office of Business Development for the Minority Business Development Agency where I worked on the Hurricanes Katrina and Rita Recovery Projects and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. For me, it’s this type of mission-driven work that we do here at Commerce that connects me to my roots as a first-generation American growing up in East Los Angeles and Montebello, California, a suburb just east of LA.

My father was an entrepreneur who owned a service station. Like many kids of hardworking business owners in this country, I spent my weekends working with him to support the family business. I watched him succeed, and I watched him struggle. I saw his commitment to his employees and how the responsibility of making his payroll sometimes weighed on him. Later, when I took over managing the business for a short time, I felt the weight of that responsibility myself. But, I think that just like many Mexican immigrants to this country, my dad thought that all those long days and weekends were a fair price for the opportunity to build a better life for his family. His hard work gave me the opportunity to attend good schools and eventually graduate from the University of Southern California (USC). My years running the family business helped to build the foundation that my career at Commerce and before that, at USC, has been built on.

President’s Export Council Espouses Commercial Diplomacy

Robert Wolf, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of 32 Advisors

Guest blog post by Robert Wolf, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of 32 Advisors.

As a member of the President’s Export Council (PEC), I had the good fortune of going to Poland and Turkey with a group led by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker along with CEOs from Archer Daniels Midland, Lockheed Martin, Marriott, UPS, Vermeer and Xerox as well as representatives from other member firms.  The PEC, comprised of companies with an aggregate market capital of over $850 billion, chose Poland and Turkey for our inaugural trip with the Secretary as we view these countries, first and foremost, as high priority economically important growth markets in addition to being strategically significant.

During the trip I wore two hats: one as an ambassador for US businesses broadly promoting the President’s National Export Initiative and US foreign direct investment priorities and, second, as a businessman in representing a cross-border advisory on a fact finding mission to explore Poland and Turkey as good places to enhance our business relationships and our client’s growth initiatives.

I learned that both Poland and Turkey want many of the same things as the US: transparency, public/private partnerships, infrastructure investment, an all-in energy approach and a skilled labor force/education.

What I found while visiting with both public and private leaders was that there are some incredible market opportunities for US businesses. Given the impressive strides both countries have made in recent years, I am not particularly surprised.

Eighth-Grade Students Explore S.T.E.M Careers and Opportunities On Manufacturing Day

Categories:
Darlene Mullen (in yellow), technology and pre-engineering teacher for Friendship Academy at Cherry Hill in Baltimore, MD, is joined by her students at a Manufacturing Day 2014 event

Guest blog post by Darlene Mullen, technology and pre-engineering teacher for Friendship Academy at Cherry Hill in Baltimore, MD.

 

I have worked in the manufacturing and engineering environment for many years prior to becoming an educator for the Baltimore City Public School System. I am passionate about exposing our youth to the many career choices they can make in a manufacturing environment. My participation with several S.T.E.M. programs have afforded me the opportunity to broaden my students exposure to many manufacturing and engineering roles and how focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics will give them the foundation they need to thrive in the fields of manufacturing and engineering.  S.T.E.M. is woven into the schools’ fabric. We offer Gateway to Technology, a pre-engineering program and Smart Lab Creative Learning Systems to our middles school students. As always S.T.E.M. is embedded in our everyday curriculum.

If our eighth-grade students are exposed to S.T.E.M careers and opportunities while they are in middles school, they will be able to make sound decisions when choosing a high school to attend next academic school year. They will be able to choose high schools that offer the sciences and mathematics classes needed to pursue engineering and technology degree upon completion of high school. Many of our eighth graders are already talking about pursuing technical fields that will allow them to become essential employees of the manufacturing environment.

Our school, Friendship Academy at Cherry Hill is located in the Southwest area of Baltimore City, with a population of five hundred plus students, who are always willing and ready to learn. My students and I are very excited about spending time at Northrop Grumman during Manufacturing Day to gain an up close and personal understanding of the importance and operations of manufacturing.

EDA Announces $1.9 Million Grant to Support Advanced Manufacturing in Recognition of Manufacturing Day

EDA Announces $1.9 Million Grant to Support Advanced Manufacturing in Recognition of Manufacturing Day

Guest blog post by Jay Williams, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

When I was growing up, manufacturing work was all about having a strong back and a strong work ethic. These days, manufacturing has changed. The first Friday in October each year marks Manufacturing Day, and today more than 1,500 manufacturers nationwide are opening their doors to host open houses, public tours, career workshops, and other events, in order to show people what manufacturing is – and what it isn’t. There is a lack of understanding of present-day manufacturing environments, which are highly technical. Manufacturing Day provides manufacturers with the opportunity to address the skilled labor shortage they face, connect with future generations, take charge of the public image of manufacturing, and ensure the ongoing prosperity of the whole industry. 

In honor of Manufacturing Day, I was joined by Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and faculty members for an event at Wichita State University (WSU) in South Kansas. The region is a leader in manufacturing, and the University is a key member of the South Kansas Manufacturing Community consortium, which U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced as one of the 12 Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) designated communities in May. While there, I announced a $1.9 million EDA grant to WSU to support advanced manufacturing. According to the grantee, the project will create 500 jobs and further regional capabilities in advanced manufacturing, with an emphasis on automated additive manufacturing innovation, and will provide competitive advantage for the transportation equipment manufacturing industry. These innovative technologies will also be applied to the emerging medical equipment manufacturing cluster in the region. 

While in Wichita, I got to see first-hand the sort of operations that have made South Kansas a leader in manufacturing. I was treated to a Manufacturing Day tour of the Wichita Operations of Bombardier-Learjet facility, where a critical EDA investment helped expand operations in 2012. The facility is truly impressive – as is the finished product

President Obama, the Commerce Department, and EDA are all committed to supporting manufacturing, because manufacturing creates good jobs with the largest multiplier effect of any part of the economy. In the last fiscal year, EDA invested in 89 manufacturing projects, totaling nearly $78 million. The projects were diverse, representing different industries, different geographies, and different community needs. Half of these projects were construction projects, which created more than 7,000 jobs and generated nearly $4.3 billion in private investment.

BEA Stats Offer Interesting Nuggets about U.S. Factories in Recognition of Manufacturing Day

BEA Stats Offer Interesting Nuggets about U.S. Factories in Recognition of Manufacturing Day

Today is Manufacturing Day and that’s the perfect time to brush up on your factory factoids. Here are some data nuggets produced by the Bureau of Economic Analysis that might surprise you:

The first two facts come from BEA’s GDP by industry data, which are now available on a quarterly basis. The next installment comes out Nov. 13. The third one comes from BEA’s GDP accounts. And, data on exports of manufactured goods can be found in the monthly trade report produced jointly by BEA and the U.S. Census Bureau.  

Want to know where manufacturing plays the biggest role in state and regional economies? You can rely on BEA data to answer that question.   

In 2013, Indiana ranked highest in the concentration of manufacturing, followed by Oregon, Louisiana, and North Carolina. According to the BEA’s GDP by metropolitan area data released Sept. 16, the Elkhart-Goshen, Indiana and Kokomo, Indiana metro areas had the highest manufacturing concentration in the nation, followed by the Lake Charles, Louisiana metro area.

Providing businesses and individuals with the statistics they need to compete in the global marketplace is one way that BEA is helping to unleash the power of data for American businesses. The Commerce Department’s ‘Open for Business Agenda’ prioritizes unleashing more data and making it more accessible so it can catalyze the emergence of new businesses, products, and services. Data from the Commerce Department, America’s data agency, enable start-ups, move markets, and power both small and multi-billion dollar companies. 

Resources to Help Manufacturers Understand Export Controls

On October 3, on Manufacturing Day, American manufacturers will be celebrated for the contributions they make toward U.S. job creation, innovation and a strong, competitive U.S. economy.  With the recent creation of more than 700,000 new manufacturing jobs, the increased growth rate experienced by the U.S. manufacturing sector is almost twice the rate of growth in the overall economy.  To accelerate this growth even more, manufacturers may sell their products in international markets, which comprise two-thirds of the world’s purchasing power.

Many commodities and technologies manufactured in and exported from the United States are used only for commercial purposes, but some also have military applications.  Items with recognized civilian and military applications include, for example, numerically controlled machine tools, advanced electronics, and high-performance computers.  The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) licenses the export of such commodities, as well as related software and technology.  BIS administers export control laws and regulations to strengthen U.S. national security and foreign policy objectives, such as preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction. 

Currently, BIS is at the forefront of changes to the U.S. export control system related to the Administration’s Export Control Reform initiative.  A key element of the reform is moving tens of thousands of items—mostly parts and components—from the State Department’s jurisdiction to the Commerce Department, which will provide greater flexibility for U.S. companies to engage in export trade.      

On the BIS website, there are several resources to help manufacturers and exporters understand the licensing system, changes under Export Control Reform, and how to set up effective compliance safeguards.  Here are a few resources to help manufacturers export your items:

Secretary Pritzker and CEOs from the President’s Export Council Explore Market Opportunities with Turkish Business Leaders

Secretary Pritzker and CEOs from the President’s Export Council Explore Market Opportunities with Turkish Business Leaders
After a productive stop in Poland, Secretary Pritzker traveled to Turkey with CEOs from the President’s Export Council (PEC) to explore opportunities for U.S. firms interested in the market and address outstanding challenges to expanding bilateral trade and investment. 
 
While the United States and Turkey have sustained deep strategic and diplomatic ties for decades, both countries want to expand their economic and commercial relationship. In 2009, President Obama visited Turkey and established the Framework for Strategic Economic and Commercial Cooperation (FSECC) with then-Prime Minister of Turkey Tayyip Erdogan. The two leaders tasked the U.S. and Turkish governments to create a framework to help substantially increase the trade and investment flows between both countries to help strengthen the economic dimension of our partnership. Now, Secretary Pritzker and the PEC CEOs -- serving as commercial ambassadors -- are working to expand and strengthen this relationship through meetings with Turkish government and business leaders in Istanbul and Ankara.
 
In Istanbul, Secretary Pritzker delivered remarks to more than 200 Turkish business leaders and guests at the AmCham/American Business Forum in Turkey (ABFT) 10th Anniversary gala. She noted that progress has been made in the U.S.-Turkey commercial relationship, with total bilateral trade in 2013 just under $20 billion.  

She also stressed three challenges U.S. businesses face in the Turkish market that must be addressed: greater transparency in government procurement; commercial offsets – a policy that forces companies to produce locally; and the ability to obtain Good Manufacturing Practices certification. Ilker Ayci, President of Turkey’s Investment Promotion Agency, also shared Secretary Pritzker’s sentiment that the United States and Turkey must work together now to address current obstacles.

Oct. 3, Manufacturing is in the Neighborhood

Oct. 3, Manufacturing is in the Neighborhood

Guest blog post by Mark Schmit and Zara Brunner, National Institute of Standards and Technology

The first Friday of the month might not normally stand out, but the first Friday of October is a very big deal to us at the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP) program. Every day we help small and mid-size manufactures innovate and grow, but tomorrow we help them celebrate Manufacturing Day (MFG Day).

On MFG Day, the public gets the chance to see what modern manufacturing is all about and we’re hoping you’ll join us at one of more than 1,500 open houses, factory tours, job fairs and other events across the country. There’s a good chance there’s something exciting happening not far from your own neighborhood.

Manufacturing plays an important role in our economy at both the national and local levels. It’s responsible for 12.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product and every day, more than 16 million of our neighbors go to work in manufacturing. Many of them have been hard at work for months planning MFG Day activities with their companies, local MEP centers and communities.

MFG Day reflects the diversity of manufacturing. Manufacturers are hosting events in fields as ranging from consumables, textiles, cosmetics, optics, electronics, aerospace, energy, robotics, to nanotechnology and more. Visitors will learn how they make everything from ukuleles, jeans and jewelry, motorcycles, and airplanes, to one million cookies an hour.

Why the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation?

Why the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation?

Guest blog post by Barb Ewing, Chief Operating Officer for the Youngstown Business Incubator, and Scott Deutsch, Manager, Communications & Special Programs for the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining

Youngstown Business Incubator is home to the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (“America Makes”), the pilot program for the President’s National Network for Manufacturing Innovation.

Too often, when we think about manufacturing, we think of large, multi-national corporations that once dominated the economic landscape.  However, as corporations continue to downsize and revamp operations, Small to Mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) are increasingly becoming the life blood of the nation’s manufacturing economy.

Large companies generally have the extra resources – both human and financial -to assume the risks associated with adopting new technologies. They view these investments as critical to becoming more efficient and flexible on a global scale. While the leadership at smaller firms may also recognize the potential benefits, limited technical expertise in house, challenges with their workforce and small (or nonexistent) capital budgets make it more difficult for SMEs to make those same kind of investments.

That’s where the National Network of Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) can come into play. The NNMI are public private partnerships aimed at accelerating the development and adoption of cutting-edge manufacturing technologies for making new, globally competitive products.  Each institute in the network is an exciting new collaboration space for industry and academia to speed up innovation.  They are positioned to “bridge the gap” between basic research and industry needs.  The focus is to de-risk and scale up new materials and processes to solve the priority problems of industry.

Census Bureau Completes Release of All 364 Manufacturing Reports from Economic Census Industry Series

Census Bureau Completes Release of All 364 Manufacturing Reports from Economic Census Industry Series

In recognition of Manufacturing Day on October 3, the Census Bureau presents descriptions of its wide array of data products on the manufacturing sector of the economy. Additionally, statistics on all 364 industries in the manufacturing sector are now available from the 2012 Economic Census.

  • 2012 Economic Census Industry Series: A complete series of national-level data files on specific manufacturing industries, including, for instance, the number of establishments, payroll, number of employees, value of product shipments and services provided by businesses. News releases are available highlighting breweriesautomobile manufacturing, household appliance manufacturing andsemiconductor manufacturing. The economic census is conducted every five years.
  • 2012 County Business Patterns: Provides the only detailed annual information on the number of establishments, employees and payroll for nearly 1,200 industries at the national, state and county levels. This data set includes statistics for all manufacturing industries. Latest data were released in May.
  • Annual Survey of Manufactures: Includes three data sets: statistics for industry groups and industries, value of product shipments and geographic area statistics. Collected annually, except in years ending in 2 and 7, at which time these statistics are included in the manufacturing sector of the economic census.
  • Survey of Plant Capacity Utilization: Provides quarterly statistics on the rates of capacity utilization for the U.S. manufacturing and publishing sectors. Data for the second quarter 2014 now available.

Public-Private Partnerships: A Key Enabler for American Manufacturing Innovation

Steve Betza, Director of Advanced Manufacturing and Development at Lockheed Martin

Guest blog post by Steve Betza, Director of Advanced Manufacturing and Development at Lockheed Martin.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs about 113,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.

 

As we celebrate this year’s Manufacturing Day, Lockheed Martin is hosting hundreds of students, community leaders and government officials at facilities across the country, with the goal of inspiring our next generation of manufacturing leaders. We envision an exciting future for U.S. manufacturing – a future built upon a strong foundation of public-private partnerships.

At Lockheed Martin, we are breaking new ground in additive manufacturing, advanced materials, digital manufacturing and next-generation electronics. We produced the first additively manufactured parts to fly in space onboard NASA’s Juno spacecraft – currently on its way to Jupiter. We are launching new STEM and workforce development initiatives, conducting high-impact research, and publicly communicating the importance of manufacturing and job creation to the U.S. economy.

While these are promising steps, it’s important that government, industry and academia come together early and often to accelerate manufacturing innovation. As a nation, we need to successfully transition new technologies from the laboratory to production, and then bring them to the marketplace – both domestic and global. We believe that the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) has the potential to transform U.S. manufacturing on a grand scale. For this reason, we are active or committed Tier 1 members at all four Institutes for Manufacturing Innovation (IMIs) launched to date.

New tool shows manufacturing in America carries huge potential savings; a reshoring success “toy story”

New tool shows manufacturing in America carries huge potential savings; a reshoring success “toy story”

Guest blog by Dr. Sue Helper, Chief Economist, Economics and Statistics Administration

This week, as we celebrate the country’s vital manufacturing sector, we are excited to unveil a new tool that will allow manufacturers to calculate potentially significant savings that can be realized by manufacturing in America.

With the first iteration of Assess Costs Everywhere (ACE), we assisted manufacturers in deciding where to locate their operations by examining 10 cost and risk factors they should consider.  This week, we present “the Cost Differential Frontier,” or CDF, as part of ACE 2.0.  Developed by economists at the University of Lausanne, this calculator serves as a framework to consider total inventory costs and risks. 

ACE 1.0 examined factors such as labor; trade financing and regulatory compliance costs; product quality; shipping; travel and oversight; inventory; intellectual property; political/security risks; and other inputs to gain a better understanding about the sometimes hidden costs associated with manufacturing location decisions. Great work is underway to further our understanding of the financial implications of these factors.  Applying CDF, businesses for the first time can quantify potential savings that would be derived from reducing lead time, in conjunction with other factors. 

Because customer demand often fluctuates unexpectedly, companies should carefully consider the value of a domestic supply chain with shorter lead times.  Using offshore suppliers increases the time between order and delivery, often by months. As a result, the buyer must place the order based on a forecast.  As the lead time gets longer, the range of demand levels that must be considered becomes wider.  These fluctuations lead to costly stock-outs or overstocks.  The savings from offshoring may need to be large (20 percent or more) to compensate for these mismatch costs between supply and demand. Applying CDF, manufacturers can calculate exactly how the long supply chains and uncertainty add large hidden costs to production.

Moreover, real-life examples such as the successful reshoring story of U.S. toy manufacturer K’NEX demonstrate that the promise of ACE is more than just theoretical. Indeed, with ACE and CDF, a truly compelling case for reshoring is emerging.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Prizker Co-Chairs Economic and Commercial Dialogue with Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister Piechocinski

U.S. Commerce Secretary Prizker Co-Chairs Economic and Commercial Dialogue with Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister Piechocinski

Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker joined Polish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Janusz Piechociński in co-chairing an Executive Session of the Economic and Commercial Dialogue (ECD). The ECD is a forum created by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Polish Ministry of Economy to work specifically on strengthening the ability of our companies and investors to do business in each other's markets. Secretary Pritzker is traveling with a delegation of some of America's top CEOs who are members of the President's Export Council.            

At yesterday's meeting, Secretary Pritzker and the PEC CEOs addressed collaborative and tangible ways to increase trade and investment between the U.S. and Poland, particularly as Poland's economy continues to grow. Poland currently has the sixth-largest and one of the fastest growing economies in the EU, and growth is projected to continue in 2014. While bilateral trade between the U.S. and Poland has quadrupled over the past 10 years, reaching nearly $8.8 billion in 2013, there is tremendous opportunity for continued growth.

One mechanism to increase trade and investment between the U.S. and Poland is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which is currently being negotiated between the United States and the EU. Once concluded, TTIP will combine the U.S. and EU markets into a stronger transatlantic marketplace, with more than 800 million customers. The U.S. considers Poland an important voice in TTIP negotiations.

Secretary Pritzker Hosts Innovation Roundtable with Polish Industry Leaders and Startups

Secretary Pritzker Hosts Innovation Roundtable with Polish Industry Leaders and Startups
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and a delegation of U.S. CEOs yesterday met with Poland's Minister of Higher Education and Science and a group of Polish innovators to discuss the country's efforts to encourage innovation in their economy. Secretary Pritzker was in Warsaw with a group of U.S. CEOs who are members of the President's Export Council. 
 
The Polish government has made the promotion of innovation a top priority. Poland will be receiving a total of $106 billion in funds from the European Union by 2020. Poland plans to invest about 70 percent of those funds to promote innovation. The United States is well-positioned to serve as a partner in these efforts by sharing best practices and engaging our private sector leaders in Poland to further promote innovation.
 
The discussion centered on obstacles that individuals and businesses are experiencing when it comes to innovation, and how the United States can serve as a partner in support of innovation in Poland. For example, while a strong commitment to R&D is one principal driver of innovation, Poland’s current spending on R&D is less than 1 percent of GDP.  
 
However, R&D is only one component of a strong innovation economy. The Department of Commerce is America's "innovation agency," and helps build an innovation ecosystem in the United States by supporting a strong patent system, making investments in regional business incubators and science parks, expanding access to broadband and developing technology standards. 

Manufacturing: Rebuilding America’s Economy

Manufacturing: Rebuilding America’s Economy

Guest blog post by Jay Williams, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

Last week, I was honored to participate in Partnering for Illinois’ Economic Future Second Annual Economic Summit hosted by Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-IL) in Rock Island, Illinois. This summit is the highlight of an initiative the Congresswoman launched in 2013 to foster economic collaboration in the 17th Congressional District of Illinois, and my keynote focused on the challenges and opportunities facing the American manufacturing sector, how we can prepare for success in the global economy, and what is being done at the federal level to help regions succeed. 

Manufacturing matters:

* Manufacturing supports 17.4 million U.S. jobs.

* Manufacturing career opportunities include engineers, designers, machinists, and computer programmers.

* The annual average salary of manufacturing workers is more than $77,000, which is approximately 17 percent more than similar workers employed in other sectors.

* For every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, the sector creates $1.32 for the U.S. economy. 

While some have been quick to write the obits for nearby manufacturing towns like Moline, and East Moline, Illinois, and Davenport, Iowa, it was refreshing to see the close collaboration taking place locally to bring manufacturing back. 

At the national level, we are working to support our manufacturers by supporting efforts to build the President’s National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), which is working to accelerate development and adoption of cutting-edge manufacturing technologies.

Two weeks ago, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker spoke of the need for passage of pending bipartisan legislation that would establish the network. NNMI is all about keeping America – our manufacturers, businesses, and economy – globally competitive. NNMI is focused on helping America lead the global economy; boosting local, regional, and state economies, and most importantly, create new growth industries, right here in America. 

Secretary Penny Pritzker to Lead High-Level U.S. Business Delegation to Poland and Turkey

Secretary Pritzker met with young entrepreneurs, who are the future of a stronger Ukrainian economy, during her commercial diplomacy trip to Kyiv, Ukraine.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker will lead a high-level delegation of America’s top CEOs on an economic fact-finding mission next week to Poland and Turkey. Secretary Pritzker and the CEOs, all of whom are members of the President’s Export Council (PEC) will use the trip to identify immediate and long-term opportunities to increase trade and investment between the U.S. and Poland and the U.S. and Turkey, two high-potential, fast-growing markets. Through greater understanding of these markets, the Department of Commerce and the President’s Export Council can help U.S. companies gain better access to Poland and Turkey, so they can sell more of their goods and services abroad and support jobs here at home.

Following this trip, the PEC CEOs joining the mission will apply their commercial expertise to produce a report for President Obama, which will recommend actions the U.S. government can take to address challenges and increase trade and investment between the U.S. and Poland, and the U.S. and Turkey

Just prior to the PEC mission, Secretary Pritzker will visit Kyiv, Ukraine. Secretary Pritzker's visit to Ukraine was announced by President Obama during Ukrainian President Poroshenko’s visit to Washington, D.C. last week.  Secretary Pritzker, whose family comes from Ukraine, will use her time there to discuss with Ukrainian government and business leaders the reforms necessary to improve their business climate, attract private capital, expand opportunity, and strengthen the economy for greater investment and growth. She will also explore potential opportunities for additional commercial cooperation between the U.S. and Ukraine.

After her stop in the Ukraine, Secretary Pritzker will join the eight PEC members and Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Stefan M. Selig in Warsaw, where they will meet with Polish government officials and business leaders and gather insight on opportunities and challenges facing U.S. companies in each respective market. Following the stop in Warsaw, the group will continue on to Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey.

Supporting Manufacturers on Manufacturing Day and Every Day

Manufacturing is a crucial contributor to the economy of North Carolina and the entire United States.

Guest blog post by Greg Sizemore is the Director of the International Trade Administration’s U.S. Commercial Service team in North Carolina.

Cross-posted from Trade.gov.

Manufacturing is more than just a cornerstone of the U.S. economy; it’s a cornerstone of modern life.

The screen you’re reading this on is a manufactured commodity. The radio you’re listening to, the car you drove to work, the smartphone your kids keep staring at – your refrigerator, your TV, your medicine – all manufactured goods.

Many headlines about U.S. manufacturing are negative, focusing on increased global competition in the sector, but the fact is that the U.S. manufacturing industry is growing, it’s supporting jobs, and it is supporting higher quality of life here in the U.S. and around the world.

Manufacturing is also a major source of U.S. exports, and the International Trade Administration estimates that one in four U.S. manufacturing jobs is supported by exports. That’s huge for our economy and I’m glad that we’ll celebrate the industry on Manufacturing Day on October 3.

Here in North Carolina, our manufacturers are creating and exporting billions of dollars’ worth of transportation equipment, chemicals, electronics products plastics, and more. I’m glad that my office in Charlotte and our other Export Assistance Centers in the state get to work with local manufacturers to find opportunities to sell their quality products in foreign markets.

If you’re a manufacturer looking to do business overseas, here are some of the services an Export Assistance Center can provide for you:

  • Market Research: Find out you product’s potential in a given market. Learn about specific regulations that could affect your business model. This kind of information is crucial for your export strategy.
  • Gold Key Matchmaking: Who are the best distributors in a market? What potential joint venture partners exist? What are the best government contacts for you to have? We can find those contacts, make introductions, and make sure you spend your time doing what’s most important: managing your company.
  • Trade Missions: Imagine you could go on a trip to a target market, surrounded by market and industry experts, and meet the foreign government and industry leaders most relevant to your business. That is a trade mission. We connect you to the most relevant opportunities and contacts to make sure you have every advantage to being successful in a market.
  • Trade Leads: We have commercial diplomats on the ground in more than 70 global markets and they have their fingers on the pulse of the business environment. Let us tell you the most current and relevant opportunities for your business around the globe.

You should also consider attending an event in our DISCOVER GLOBAL MARKETS Business Forum Series. We have export-promotion events coming up in New York, Georgia, Minnesota, and – of course – North Carolina, to support your business in competing abroad. There’s no better event to give your company a leg up in the global marketplace.

There are many other ways the Commercial Service can support your manufacturing business, so contact your nearest Export Assistance Center for assistance.

As Manufacturing Day approaches, I want to thank the 50-plus North Carolina-based manufacturers who are opening their doors to the public on October 3. I hope many of you in the Tar Heel State, and around the country, will participate in Manufacturing Day this year!

Data Innovation Summit: Taking Advantage of Boston’s Big Data Movement

Under Secretary Mark Doms Speaks at the Big Data Innovation Summit in Boston, MA

Guest blog post by Mark Doms, Under Secretary for Economic Affairs

Cross-posted from ESA.gov.

I was honored to deliver the keynote address this morning to over 800 of today’s data leaders.  In preparation I had one goal: to tell the story of data -- how far the Department of Commerce has come and it’s potential for the future. These are exciting times. Over the past decade, jobs in data fields have grown at a rate 6 times faster than the economy as a whole, and these jobs pay 73% more than the typical American job.

The federal government provides fundamental statistical building blocks about our population, our economy, and our climate. This information is so pervasive that people often are unaware they are using government data. For instance, one survey found 301 billion weather forecasts are consumed per year -- information that is delivered by an array of sources, but begins with the National Weather Service, part of the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Indeed, many of the companies attending the Big Data Innovation Summit today in Boston rely heavily upon government data.  

Since 1790, when the first Census occurred, our government has taken the time to collect information that tells the demographic and economic story of our nation. We take this commitment very seriously at the Department of Commerce and we welcome user input.  

Minority Businesses Keep the “Made in America” Brand Strong

Recent studies have shown that the pace of growth in the U.S. manufacturing sector continues to rise. Minority businesses are playing an integral part in that growth and are helping to keep the “Made in America” product strong.

This year, the Minority Business Development Agency recognized two businesses for outstanding manufacturing impact and achieving significant success in employing new and innovative techniques that led to a significant increase in market share, job growth and customer satisfaction.

The first was Detroit Manufacturing Systems, LLC (DMS). DMS currently has more than 700 employees and develops state-of-the-art automotive interior systems. By utilizing the latest technologies, DMS assembles and manufactures injection molded interior trim components for global automotive brands, all with a firm commitment to quality and efficiency.

The second award was given to Ruiz Food Products, Inc. Fred Ruiz cofounded Ruiz Food Products, Inc., with his father Louis in a small warehouse in Tulare, Ca. in 1964. The company is now celebrating its 50th anniversary, and employs 2,300 people. Ruiz Food Products has three manufacturing facilities – in Dinuba, Calif., Tulare, Calif., and Denison, Texas – and recently purchased another facility in Florence County, S.C.

Securing Intellectual Property Protection Around The World

Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO Michelle K. Lee  in Geneva

All inventors—everywhere—deserve to have their inventions protected and promoted through intellectual property (IP) law everywhere. That is why the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) international IP focus—both in terms of policymaking and in IP processing—specifically advances us toward a world of global IP promotion and protection. And that is why USPTO’s senior leadership, led by Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO Michelle K. Lee, has spent the last week leading the United States’ delegation at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) General Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland. Working with their colleagues from other major IP offices across the globe, the USPTO remains focused on Building a Better Patent System both at home and abroad.

One focus of Lee and her team in Geneva has been advancing the Global Dossier project, a signature initiative of the IP5. The IP5 includes the five largest patent offices in the world—ours, as well as Europe’s, China’s, Korea’s, and Japan’s. The USPTO hosted the 2013 IP5 meeting in Cupertino, California, where members agreed to create a one-stop-shop for applicants to file and manage a global portfolio of patent applications.

An effective Global Dossier program allows an inventor to more easily travel on the Patent Prosecution Highway, or PPH. This program ensures an inventor applying to two patent offices can benefit from those offices coordinating on the examination process. As those bilateral partnerships grew, however, it became clear that common rules of the road were needed across all PPH participating nations. Thus at the beginning of this year USPTO launched the Global PPH program, which ensures that all PPH-participating countries adhere to the same work-sharing standards. The Global PPH program now has 17 participating offices, with Singapore and Austria scheduled to join later this year.

Of course obtaining a patent faster and cheaper only matters if it is enforceable.

Commerce in the Community: Paramount Pictures Works with Local Partners to Promote Opportunity Through High-Impact Education and Mentorship Programs.

Frederick Huntsberry - Commerce in the Community

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Commerce in the Community series highlighting the work of community leaders and organizations that are strengthening the middle class and providing ladders of opportunity for all Americans.

Below is an interview Frederick Huntsberry, the Chief Operating Officer of Paramount Pictures, a position he has served in since 2006. Mr. Huntsberry started his career in entertainment in 1997 at Universal Studios and later NBC Universal where he held various positions in Finance and Business Development, as well as President, NBC Universal Television Distribution where he was responsible for all U.S. first-run syndication and domestic and international television distribution sales activities. His last position was President, NBC Universal International, where he provided strategic direction for new business development growth opportunities, as well operational oversight for international TV distribution and global networks.

Question 1: Tell us about your team at Paramount. What is your mission and main focus?

As Chief Operating Officer at Paramount Pictures, I oversee worldwide strategic planning and operations for the studio. Paramount Pictures, a subsidiary of Viacom, is a producer and distributor of feature films that have entertained audiences around the world for over 100 years. In addition, last year we announced the formation of Paramount Television which focuses on the production of made for television and digital content. We are proud of the content we create, but we’re equally inspired by the tremendous volunteer spirit of our company and employees.

What Manufacturing Really Looks Like Today

What Manufacturing Really Looks Like: Celebrating Manufacturing Day

Did you know that over 70 percent of Americans view manufacturing as the most important industry for a strong economy and national defense, but only 30 percent of parents encourage their kids to enter manufacturing? Or that the manufacturing sector has added more than 700,000 jobs over the last four-and-a-half years and is growing at twice the rate of GDP? Clearly there is a disconnect. The future of American manufacturing is bright and provides many benefits, both in the number of high-quality, good paying job opportunities and the sector’s contribution to the U.S. economy.

Here is what manufacturing really looks like today:

  • Manufacturing supports 17.4 million U.S. jobs
  • Manufacturing career opportunities include engineers, designers, machinists, computer programmers among others
  • The annual average salary of entry-level manufacturing engineers is nearly $60,000
  • The annual average salary of manufacturing workers is more than $77,000, which is approximately 17% more than similar workers employed in other sectors
  • For every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, the sector creates $1.32 for the U.S. economy
  • Manufacturing comprises 12.5% of the American GDP
  • In just five states manufacturing adds over half a trillion dollars to the economy

Manufacturing is vital to our economy and depends on a skilled workforce. Companies are reporting they have jobs they can’t fill due to a skills gap. Therefore, National Manufacturing Day, which takes place this year on October 3rd, celebrates the contributions of manufacturing the U.S. economy and the wide variety of careers that it offers. Over 1000 manufacturers from around the country are opening their doors in an effort to inform and engage the public about the industry and to attract a new generation of manufacturing workers. Make sure to find and attend an event in your area!

Three Takeaways from National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) Day

Secretary Pritzker enjoying NNMI Day with Senator Sherrod Brown and Congressmen Joe Kennedy and Tom Reed

Last Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker participated in the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) Day on Capitol Hill event. She was joined by Sen. Sherrod Brown, Reps. Joe Kennedy and Tom Reed, several business leaders and the directors of the newly established pilot Institutes of Manufacturing Innovation. NNMI Day was an opportunity to showcase the successes of the four pilot institutes in North Carolina, Youngstown, Chicago, and Detroit in the areas of additive, digital, electronics, and modern metals manufacturing. In early 2014, President Obama announced a new competition for the next manufacturing innovation institute, focused on composites materials and structures, which is the first of four additional institutes the President committed to launching this year in his State of the Union address, for a total of eight pilot institutes nationwide.

During the event Thursday, Hill staffers and other attendees had the opportunity to hear from the pilot institute directors and several private sector partners about how a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation would help improve U.S. competitiveness, increase domestic production and accelerate development of an advanced manufacturing workforce.

The following are three main takeaways from the speakers and panelists:

Lessons Learned: Exploring the Value of Open Data on Capitol Hill

Lessons Learned: Exploring the Value of Open Data on Capitol Hill

Cross blog post by Mark Doms, Under Secretary for Economic Affairs

Government data helps drive our economy and will increasingly become more important in the future. Thursday, I had the opportunity to speak on this topic at a congressional briefing hosted by U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Budget Committee’s Government Performance Task Force, and the Center for Data Innovation. Panelists included Daniel Castro, Director of the Center for Data Innovation, Kathleen Phillips, COO for Zillow, Tom Schenk, Chief Data Officer for the City of Chicago, and Steven Adler, IBM’s Chief Information Strategist.

We explored how government data is the foundation of the ongoing data revolution, fostering innovation, creating jobs and driving better decision-making in both the private and public sectors. The federal government is, and will continue to be, the only provider of credible, comprehensive, and consistent data on our people, economy, and climate. We also pointed to the findings in our recently released report,“Fostering Innovation, Creating Jobs, Driving Better Decisions: The Value of Government Data,” which found that billions in economic output and trillions in resource decisions are driven by federal data.

Daniel Castro, Director of the Center for Data Innovation, urged attendees to make sure Congress continues to invest in our data infrastructure. He highlighted the value of open data, ensuring that data flows more seamlessly between the public and private sectors. Castro also focused on the need to consider new ways to enable cooperation between government and industry to maximize the benefits of big data to the greatest number in society.

Zillow’s Chief Operating Officer Kathleen Phillips discussed how her company uses a wide variety of federal and local data to better connect buyers and sellers in the real estate marketplace. Zillow provides critical information in an easy to digest mapping format for over 50 million properties around the country. Their Zillow Home Value Forecast, fed in part by federal datasets, also predicts local home values. Zillow uses data from the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Federal Housing Finance Agency and other federal sources to provide a real time evaluation of local real estate markets.

Deputy Secretary Andrews Lauds Software Industry for Helping Ensure America is Open for Business

Deputy Secretary Andrews Lauds Software Industry for Helping Ensure America is Open for Business

Today, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews spoke about the software industry’s role in strengthening the economy at an event hosted by the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA), the principal trade association for the software and digital content industry. During the event, titled “The Software Century: Analyzing Economic Impact & Job Creation,” Deputy Secretary Andrews talked with SIIA Vice President of Public Policy Mark MacCarthy about the Commerce Department’s efforts to support American businesses in the software and other high-tech sectors.

During the discussion, Deputy Secretary Andrews highlighted how the Department supports the software industry at practically every stage of development through our “Open for Business Agenda.” Those efforts include increasing broadband access across the country, linking small businesses and their customers with high-speed Internet, boosting manufacturing to provide the hardware software needs, and strengthening U.S. intellectual property protections, cybersecurity and consumer privacy.

Deputy Secretary Andrews also talked about data as a key department-wide strategic priority. Commerce is working to unleash more of its data to strengthen the nation’s economic growth; make its data easier to access, understand, and use; and, maximize the return of data investments for industries, including the software industry.

It was fitting, then, that SIIA today released a first-of-its-kind report providing detailed analysis and data related to the software industry’s output, productivity, exports and job creation. MacCarthy, former Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs Robert J. Shapiro, and representatives from Oracle, Intuit and GM discussed the report, titled “The Impact of the U.S Software Industry on the American Economy,” at the event.

The report epitomizes how government data is essential for industries to understand their contributions to the broader economy and how improvements can be made accordingly. Further, Deputy Secretary Andrews explained that the prevalence of the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis data throughout the report is a testament to the usefulness of the department’s data to help American businesses grow. The value of government data was recently highlighted in “Fostering Innovation, Creating Jobs, Driving Better Decisions: The Value of Government Data,” a Commerce report by the Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA).

Secretary Pritzker Says Increased Gender Diversity in Corporate Boardrooms is Vital to Economic Success

Secretary Pritzker Says Increased Gender Diversity in Corporate Boardrooms is Vital to Economic Success

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker addressed the urgent need to boost our companies’ economic competitiveness by bringing more women into corporate leadership at the Global Conference on Women in the Boardroom, hosted by the Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). 

Pritzker noted that this pressing challenge of addressing the of a lack of women in corporate leadership is nothing new in American business. Female advancement in corporate America is stagnant. Women hold less than 5 percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions. Women hold less than 17 percent of board seats at Fortune 500 companies. And 10 percent of these companies have no women on their boards at all. 

Women in corporate leadership roles is not solely a women’s issue. Secretary Pritzker argued that it is an issue of economic competitiveness and the presence of more women in the boardroom is critical to companies’ creativity, performance, and ability to thrive in the 21st century. Leadership with diverse and different backgrounds typically mean more creativity, fresh ideas, and better outcomes. 

To increase the number of women in the boardroom, Secretary Pritzker recommended five steps to integrate gender diversity into corporate DNA:

  1. Engage men in senior leadership to look outside their known circle of colleagues.
  2. Develop deliberate strategies for recruitment, including establishing a rule that a board’s nominating committee must consider at least one woman per opening.
  3. Review the impact of internal policies on female employees, including sick, family, medical, and maternity leave, then change then where appropriate.
  4. Ensure equal opportunities for mentoring and professional development.
  5. Measure and disclose company’s diversity statistics and couple that with action. 

Secretary Pritzker committed herself to highlighting the issue of women in the boardroom, tout solutions, and advance diversity. She promised to continue to call on leaders to act – in government and in business and she will highlight companies that set the example, recruit more women to join their boards, and take action to improve their reputations and their bottom line. 

Secretary Pritzker concluded, “When women have a voice in corporate leadership, American companies thrive and the American economy prospers. When women have a seat in the boardroom, American business succeeds.”

Expanded 2014 Edison Scholars Program to Focus on Litigation Issues

Expanded 2014 Edison Scholars Program to Focus on Litigation Issues

Guest blog post by Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO Michelle K. Lee 

I’m delighted to welcome our 2014 Thomas Alva Edison Visiting Scholars to the USPTO. The Edison Scholar program, which began in 2012, enlists the services of distinguished academic researchers to study intellectual property issues that further the USPTO’s mission and the public interest. The scholars devote up to six months of full time service to the agency, or up to a year in part-time service. 

Past Edison Scholars have studied ways to improve the USPTO’s efficiency and performance, decrease burdens on applicants, and improve patent quality and clarity. Their work has generated concrete proposals for patent policy and continues to deliver exceptional results.

Because of its success, the White House Task Force on High-Tech Patent Issues directed the USPTO to expand the Edison Scholars program to study an issue that is of particular and urgent interest, abusive patent litigation. Last fall, the USPTO issued a call for proposals and began a competitive selection process to fulfill this mandate. We have five Edison Scholars this year, including three “Research Fellows” who were selected to specifically develop and publish robust data and research on litigation issues. They’ll be working within our Office of Policy and International Affairs, led by Chief Policy Officer Shira Perlmutter. We look forward to the contributions of all the 2014 Edison Scholars on these essential topics.

2014 Thomas Alva Edison Visiting Scholars

Graeme Dinwoodie is professor of Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law at the University of Oxford, Director of the Oxford IP Research Centre, and a Professorial Fellow of St. Peter’s College. Professor Dinwoodie is an international authority on comparative IP law and is the author of five casebooks. He earned his J.S.D. from Columbia Law School. Research topic: Professor Dinwoodie will study the role of trademark registrations in defining rights as to infringement, whether to confirm market usage rights already in effect or to provide broader protections that enable economic expansion.

Commerce’s NIST Megacities Project on Improving Accuracy of Greenhouse Gas Measurements Named ‘Project to Watch’ by United Nations

Sensors located around Los Angeles provide measurements of greenhouse gas mixing ratios of carbon dioxide, methane and carbon monoxide. Aircraft, mobile laboratories and satellites contribute remote-sensing measurement.

A greenhouse gas field measeurment research program developed by scientists at the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and several collaborating institutions has been named a “Project to Watch” by a United Nations organization that focuses on harnessing big data for worldwide benefit. 

The Megacities Carbon Project was launched in 2012 to solve a pressing scientific problem: how to measure the greenhouse gases that cities produce. Urban areas generate at least 70 percent of the world’s fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions, but gauging a city’s carbon footprint remains difficult due to the lack of effective measurement methods. The project aims to change that by developing and testing techniques for both monitoring urban areas’ emissions and determining their sources.

The large sensor networks that each city in the Megacities Carbon Project employs generate huge amounts of data that could reveal the details of the cities’ emissions patterns. It is the project’s use of this so-called “big data” that drew accolades in the Big Data Climate Challenge, hosted by U.N. Global Pulse and the U.N. Secretary General’s Climate Change Support Team. The ability to analyze big data—vast quantities of electronic information generated by many sources—has the potential to provide new insights into the workings of society, and Global Pulse is working to promote awareness of the opportunities big data presents across the U.N. system.

Launched in May 2014, the competition attracted submissions from organizations in 40 countries. The applicants ran from academia to private companies to government initiatives like the Megacities Carbon Project. Two projects earned top honors, while a total of seven were dubbed Projects to Watch.

U.S. Commerce Department Releases Data on Nation's Growing Hispanic Population to Kick Off Hispanic Heritage Month

U.S. Commerce Department Releases Data on Hispanic Population to Kick Off Hispanic Heritage Month

To kickoff the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Commerce Department's Census Bureau recently released a range of updated statistics describing the demograhic state of the nation's Latino population. 

In September 1968, Congress authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson to proclaim National Hispanic Heritage Week, observed during the week that included Sept. 15 and Sept. 16. Congress expanded the observance in 1989 to a monthlong celebration (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15) of the culture and traditions of those who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean. 

September 15 is the starting point for the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively. Below are a few key facts on the Hispanic population: 

54 million 

The Hispanic population of the United States as of July 1, 2013, making people of Hispanic origin the nation’s largest ethnic or racial minority. Hispanics constituted 17 percent of the nation’s total population. Source: 2013 Population Estimates. 

1.1 million  

Number of Hispanics added to the nation’s population between July 1, 2012, and July 1, 2013. This number is close to half of the approximately 2.3 million people added to the nation’s population during this period. Source: 2013 Population Estimates, National Characteristics: Population by Sex, Race, and Hispanic origin <http://www.census.gov/popest/data/national/asrh/2013/index.html>, See first bullet under “Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin."

USPTO Deputy Director Michelle Lee Discusses Entrepreneurship and Job Creation at the Virginia Innovation Partnership Virginia Ventures Forum

Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Michelle K. Lee addressed the Virginia Ventures Forum, a meeting of the statewide Virginia Innovation Partnersh

Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Michelle K. Lee today addressed the Virginia Ventures Forum, a meeting of the statewide Virginia Innovation Partnership (VIP) at the USPTO.  One of only seven multi-institution initiatives to win federal funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce's i6 Challenge in 2012, VIP is bringing together universities, community colleges, corporations, investment capital, and other resources to drive promising research discoveries forward and accelerate innovation and economic growth throughout the Commonwealth.

Some of VIP’s funded projects for 2013-14 included “Development of a novel chimeric vaccine for tick-transmitted disease” at Virginia Commonwealth University, “Laser Modification of Metallic Surfaces for Industrial Applications” at the University of Virginia, and “Next Generation Diagnostics” at George Washington University.  All Virginia colleges and universities were invited to apply for proof-of-concept funding.  Projects selected by VIP’s review and advisory boards were granted access to VIP’s expansive mentoring network and matching funds from VIP partners.  It is the Partnership’s hope that the VIP will serve as a model for adoption by other states as well.

“By working together,” Lee said at today’s event, “government, universities, and private enterprise can spur innovations that make our world a better place, while fueling entrepreneurship and job creation in Virginia and beyond.”

Also speaking at the Forum were Tom Skalak, Vice President for Research at the University of Virginia; Matt Erskine, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Development at the Department of Commerce; and Aneesh Chopra, senior advisor to The Advisory Board Company and the nation’s first Chief Technology Officer from 2009-12.

Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of AmeriCorps and Our Country’s Commitment to Public Service

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Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of AmeriCorps and Our Country’s Commitment to Public Service

Guest blog post by Joshua Dickson, Director, Department of Commerce’s Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships 

Our country is built on a deeply-held commitment to service and community. From our women and men in uniform to our educators to those who administer important government programs, each day millions of Americans give of themselves to ensure the safety, hope and livelihood of their neighbor.  Without a doubt, one of the great things about the United States is the way in which the success of each of us is tied to the success of all of us. 

The AmeriCorps national service program, which celebrates its 20th Anniversary today, is a fantastic representation of this. AmeriCorps engages more than 75,000 Americans in intensive service each year at nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community and faith-based groups across the country. Since the program’s founding in 1994, more than 900,000 AmeriCorps members have contributed more than 1.2 billion hours in service across America while tackling pressing problems and mobilizing millions of volunteers for the organizations they serve. 

I had the honor to serve with AmeriCorps and it was a transformational experience. As a kindergarten teacher on the South Side of Chicago with Teach For America, I saw firsthand the inequities faced by too many Americans living in low-income communities around the country. My students, 100% of whom were on free or reduced-price lunch, entered school with tremendous eagerness and aptitude. At the same time, they faced the daunting reality that, in Chicago, they have just a 60% chance of graduating from high school. And I saw the way in which the obstacles brought on by poverty can play a role. Whether it was the inability to afford appropriate school supplies, the lack of access to high-quality pre-school or tutoring services, or having to skip meals once the school day commenced, my students faced a litany of challenges simply based on the circumstances they were born into. 

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Welcomes Chinese Delegation

Deputy Director Michelle K. Lee discussed a number of key intellectual property (IP) issues at the Intellectual Property Rights Working Group meeting of the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT)

On September 11, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Deputy Director Michelle K. Lee discussed a number of key intellectual property (IP) issues at the Intellectual Property Rights Working Group meeting of the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT), co-chaired by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

Deputy Director Lee welcomed Assistant Minister of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, TONG Daochi and his delegation of Chinese IP officials this week for the opening of the JCCT meeting. The meeting included a tour of USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, and commemorated 35 years of USPTO and U.S. Commerce Department training and assistance on IP matters with China.

In her remarks, Deputy Director Lee said, “We maintain close and effective office-to-office relationships with our counterpart agencies in China and have a strong history of collaboration. Our relationship rests on a firm foundation and we look forward to expanding our engagement and exchanging ideas in the future.”

The Chinese delegation visited the Global Intellectual Property Academy, a facility which serves as the U.S. government’s preeminent facility for enabling exchange of thoughts and ideas concerning intellectual property. Then they participated in the JCCT meeting, which covered patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secret issues that are at the forefront of the U.S.-China relationship.

Updated “Whale Alert” iPad, iPhone app invites public to contribute to protection of West Coast whales

Updated “Whale Alert” iPad, iPhone app invites public to contribute to protection of West Coast whales

Mariners and the public on the U.S. West Coast can now use an iPad™ and iPhone™ to help decrease the risk of injury or death to whales from ship strikes. 

Whale Alert, a free mobile application originally developed in 2012 to help protect endangered right whales on the East Coast, has been updated with new features to provide mariners in the Pacific with the most current information available about whale movements and conservation initiatives. The app uses GPS, Automatic Identification System, Internet and NOAA nautical charts to provide mariners with a single source of information about whale locations and conservation measures that are active in their immediate vicinity.
 
Slow-moving whales are highly vulnerable to ship strikes, since many of their feeding and migration areas overlap with shipping lanes. In 2007, four blue whales were killed by confirmed or likely ship strike in and around the Santa Barbara Channel. NOAA Fisheries declared this an Unusual Mortality Event. In 2010, five whales (two blue, one humpback and two fin whales) were killed by confirmed or likely ship strikes in the San Francisco area and elsewhere along the north-central California coast.
 
Whale Alert has been developed by a collaboration of government agencies, academic institutions, non-profit conservation groups and private sector industries, led by NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. Collaborating organizations include Bioacoustics Research Program at Cornell University, Cape Cod National Seashore, Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at the University of New Hampshire, Conserve I.O., Excelerate Energy, EOM Offshore, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Massachusetts Port Authority, NOAA Fisheries, National Park Service, Point Blue Conservation Science, U.S. Coast Guard and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, as well as shipping industry representatives.
 
Whale Alert can be downloaded free of charge from Apple’s App Store.

You Don’t Have to Start a Business to Think Like an Entrepreneur

You Don’t Have to Start a Business to Think Like an Entrepreneur

Guest blog post by Jay Williams, Assistant Secretary for Economic Development

One of my favorite things about my time as Mayor of Youngstown was having the opportunity to go out and speak to students in local schools. I found myself inspired and energized by their enthusiasm and idealism. It’s so easy to get cynical in this world, but young people tend to be optimistic about the future, and it’s nice to be reminded that there are infinite possibilities for all of us – even those of us who have been out in the world for a while. 

I have had the opportunity to speak to many different audiences in my previous role as the executive director of the auto recovery office and recently as Assistant Secretary. But last week, I got to get back to what I love when Montgomery College invited me to address its Business and Economics majors. 

I was humbled by the turnout – in a room that had more than 75 seats, there was standing room only. Most of the students in attendance were minorities or immigrants, and it was very meaningful to me to be able to address such a group as an official of the Obama Administration.

After a brief overview of my background and what EDA does, I turned the floor over to the students. I wanted to know more about them. I had been told by the faculty that many in the audience hoped to be entrepreneurs and start their own businesses someday. As I listened to their business ideas, I thought about our work with EDA. These students are on a continuum, much like the communities we help. Some just have an inkling that they want to be their own bosses while others wanted to know how they could make money of a fully fleshed out idea. Some need help with planning while others need help securing capital.

NOAA Ship & National Aquarium Co-Host Star-Spangled Events & Tours

NOAA Ship & National Aquarium Co-Host Star-Spangled Events & Tours

On Sept. 10, NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, America’s Ship for Ocean Exploration, joined a parade of tall ships, Navy vessels, and other boats entering Baltimore Harbor as part of the Star-Spangled Spectacular, a week-long festival celebrating the 200th anniversary of the national anthem. 

Okeanos Explorer will be moored next to the National Aquarium through Sept. 16. During that time, the Aquarium and the ship will co-host a range of events, including public tours. 

Star-Spangled Spectacular events also include living history demonstrations, a family fun zone, live musical performances, and food vendors. Public events culminate on Sept. 13, when two concerts will take place, as well as a fireworks display over Fort McHenry and the Baltimore harbor. For more information about NOAA and National Aquarium-hosted events go to http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/about/what-we-do/oer-updates/2014/baltimore-090914.html

The Okeanos Explorer is the only federal vessel assigned to systematically explore the ocean for the purpose of discovery and the advancement of knowledge. She methodically maps the deep seafloor and conducts several major expeditions each year using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to investigate seafloor habitats. ROV expeditions are live-streamed to the oceanexplorer.noaa.gov website, where anyone can follow along as a virtual explorer. Through telepresence technology, scientists on shore are able to participate remotely in real time, helping aid in discovery and identification of species, geological features, and other deep-sea phenomena. Okeanos Explorer is in port between Legs II and III of her current expedition, Our Deepwater Backyard: Exploring the Atlantic Canyons and Seamounts. The expedition, taking place Sept. 16-Oct. 7, will explore the diverse deep-sea environments just off the Northeast coast—in other words, within a couple of hundred miles of one of the most densely populated areas of the U.S.  This area is home to deep-sea corals, chemosynthetic communities, and unique geological features. Much of the area is unknown and has never been seen by humans. 

 



President’s Export Council to Participate in Administration’s First-Ever Fact-Finding Mission

President’s Export Council to Participate in Administration’s First-Ever Fact-Finding Mission

Guest blog post by Stefan M. Selig, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

Yesterday, Secretary Pritzker and I announced that we will lead a high-level delegation on an economic fact-finding trip to Poland and Turkey later this month. I am excited to participate in the first PEC fact-finding mission for the Obama administration. 

That delegation — members of the President’s Export Council (PEC) — is the principal advisory committee on international trade to the president. It includes both public officials and private sector leaders. 

The private sector leadership that will participate during the trip represent many of the most successful and important companies doing business globally today. That includes the PEC vice chair, Ursula Burns, Chairman and CEO of Xerox Corporation. 

CEOs and senior executives from Lockheed Martin, Marriott International, Archer Daniels Midland, Boeing, Dow Chemical, eBay, IBM, and Pfizer, among others, will also participate in the fact-finding mission. 

With Poland as the sixth largest economy in the EU, and Turkey tripling its GDP per capita since 2002, the trade and investment opportunities are plenty and promising, particularly as they relate to economic growth for American businesses. 

After exploring potential opportunities in these countries, the PEC will report its findings to President Obama later this year. This trip is also an occasion for both the administration and American businesses to expand its presence in the field of commercial diplomacy. Working together as partners, we are deepening U.S. economic ties and continue to strengthen our presence on the global stage. 

In fact, one of the reasons I am excited to lead ITA at this moment in time, is because I believe we have a significant role in shaping international economic priorities.  

We can drive commercial diplomacy to new heights. 

From our Doing Business in Africa campaign, which helps facilitate business deals that result in trade-based development for the continent and jobs for the United States, to our Look South Initiative, which is designed to increase trade and investment with our neighbors to the south, or trade missions that promote clean, renewable energy throughout the world, the linkages between our trade and our diplomatic priorities is clearer than ever. 

For more information about the PEC, its members, or history, visit http://trade.gov/pec. Stay tuned for our report to the president. 

The Survey of Business Owners and Self-Employed Persons Is Key to Explaining America’s Economy

The Survey of Business Owners and Self-Employed Persons Is Key to Explaining America’s Economy

Cross blog post by John Thompson, Director, U.S. Census Bureau

Did you know that there are 27.1 million non-farm businesses in America? The U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners and Self-Employed Persons provides the only comprehensive source of statistics about business ownership in the U.S. The Census Bureau conducts the SBO every five years. This is the first time the SBO is being conducted primarily online.

If you own a business, such as a salon or a landscaping company, you may be one of the one million Americans selected to participate in the Survey of Business Owners. Even if you do not have employees other than yourself, we want to hear from you. By participating online now, you can help provide consistent, comparable, and comprehensive statistics on U.S. business performance. For example, the 2007 SBO showed us that 5.9 percent of responding firms reported income from e-commerce – an important insight into how the Internet is shaping our economy.

Right now we are in the process of asking respondents to fill out the Survey of Business Owners, which is part of, and benchmarked to, the 2012 Economic Census. We begin the Survey of Business Owners after the data collection phase of the Economic Census is complete. It provides information every five years on business characteristics (e.g., if a business is home-based, or how much start-up capital it received) and owner characteristics (such as gender, race and ethnicity, and veteran status) for businesses of all sizes across America.

Businesses of all sizes are crucial to the U.S. economy and having quality statistics on businesses is critical. Some of the ways that government leaders and others use SBO statistics include:

  • Business owners are able to analyze their operations in comparison to similar firms, compute their market share, and assess their growth prospects.
  • Entrepreneurs can make informed decisions about what types of products and services to sell, and where to sell them. They can also use SBO data in business plans and loan applications.
  • The Small Business Administration can assess business assistance needs and allocate available resources.
  • Local government commissions are able to establish and evaluate contract procurement practices.
  • Federal, state, and local government agencies have a framework for planning, directing, and assessing programs that promote veteran-, women-, and minority-owned businesses.
  • Researchers can analyze long-term economic and demographic shifts, and differences in ownership and performance among geographic areas.

“Built to Last” – Secretary Pritzker Talks to Investors about the Build America Investment Initiative

 Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker discussed the Administration’s efforts to “Build America” at the Infrastructure Investment Summit hosted by the U.S. Departments of Treasury and Transportation.

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker discussed the Administration’s efforts to “Build America” at the Infrastructure Investment Summit hosted by the U.S. Departments of Treasury and Transportation.  The Summit brought together senior Administration officials and more than 100 leaders from industry, finance, philanthropy, and local and state governments to highlight the urgent need to invest in our country’s infrastructure, build public-private partnerships, and develop strategies for increasing investment in sectors like transportation, water, telecommunications, and energy.

During her address, Secretary Pritzker described the central role the Department of Commerce is playing in expanding infrastructure investments and facilitating connections between government, investors, and local leaders.

The Secretary outlined several of the ways the Department is taking the lead. First is through SelectUSA, the first-ever government-wide program designed to attract and retain investment in the United States, which works to connect current and potential investors with local communities interested in attracting infrastructure investment.

Second is the work of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which has strengthened our digital infrastructure though more than $4 billion in grants since 2009 to increase broadband access to underserved communities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

1776 Roundtable: Businesses Growing Out of Data

Under Secretary Mark Doms Addresses Entrepreneurs at 1776

Guest blog post by Mark Doms, Under Secretary for Economic Affairs

This morning, I visited start-up hub 1776, to discuss the Department of Commerce’s efforts to make government data more accessible and informative – to build businesses, grow the economy and help governments and individuals make more informed decisions.

One of my roles as the Under Secretary for Economic Affairs is to connect with our data users, (our customers), to discuss our strategic initiatives in the data space, and gather feedback from interested businesses, government officials, and the public.

At 1776, we met with key stakeholders from innovative start-ups like ID.me, Haystack, Narrative Science, Brigade, Ride Scout (just purchased by Daimler), and firms like Yelp, which has graduated from the start-up phase to employ thousands with offices around the world.

All are users of federal, state and local data, and all are making a contribution to our economy, through employment and the deployment of new technologies that spur innovation and improve peoples’ lives. It was a great conversation, and we gathered some excellent ideas to explore, such as the possibility of using private sector developed APIs for public sector data dissemination.

As a convener and facilitator of world class talent, 1776 sets the model for start-up hubs across the country. Thanks to our hosts and participants for a great event!

Calling Kids of All Ages: USPTO Launches Web Page Encouraging Invention and Science and Tech in School

Calling Kids of All Ages:  USPTO Launches Kids Page Encouraging Invention and Science and Tech in School

Did you know that only one U.S. president earned a patent? Do you know which one? Have you ever wondered where the famous expression “The Real McCoy” comes from?

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) launched a newly redesigned section of its website for kids, but not kids alone! Parents, teachers, and teens will find lots of resources as well as hands-on activities for anyone from preschool to high school. The website encourages students of all ages to engage making, inventing, and discovering the importance of intellectual property. The site also exposes future inventors and entrepreneurs to the inventive thinking process. 

When the children in your life check out the new USPTO KIDS! pages, they’ll discover interesting facts about inventors and learn how they can bring ‘creations of the mind’ to life!  

The website includes games, coloring pages, an audio library of sound marks, videos created by NBC Learn in collaboration with the USPTO and the National Science Foundation (NSF), Girl Scouts’ intellectual property patch activities, lesson plans for teachers, and a list of upcoming events. 

Students can explore collectible cards featuring interesting facts about past and current inventors from diverse walks of life. They’ll also see profiles of inventors their own age, such as Marissa Streng, who while still in elementary school received a utility patent for her dog dryer invention and is the owner of a federally registered trademark. Marissa’s story was featured earlier this year on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Another featured student, Rebecca Hyndman, received a patent for the invention of an under-floor that she designed as an 8th grader. Rebecca was called upon to introduce President Obama at the signing of a historic patent reform bill, the America Invents Act.  

Deputy Secretary Andrews Highlights Efforts to Boost Rural Exports in Upstate New York

Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews says that his native Syracuse is 'poised to succeed' at the White House Rural Council "Made in Rural America" Forum

Today, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews highlighted efforts to boost rural exports in upstate New York at a “Made in Rural America” forum at SUNY Cortland. Deputy Secretary Andrews was joined by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) at the event, where both delivered remarks on how to position rural America for success in the 21st century.

Co-hosted by the White House, U.S. Commerce Department, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Appalachian Regional Commission, the forum convened local business leaders, industry representatives, economic development organizations and local, state and federal leaders to discuss ways to help rural businesses grow. The forum supports the Administration’s “Made in Rural America” Export and Investment Initiative that President Obama announced earlier this year to help rural businesses and leaders take advantage of new investment opportunities and access new markets abroad.

In his remarks, Deputy Secretary Andrews discussed Commerce Department work to ensure small and medium-size businesses have the tools needed to begin or expand exports and create good jobs. Specifically, he outlined goals to expand the national and global footprint of our local and rural businesses; create good-paying jobs for our workers; and cultivate prosperity in communities across Central New York.

Back to School -- Census Bureau Introduces the Statistics in the Schools Program

Statistics in Schools

Cross blog post by John H. Thompson, Director, U.S. Census Bureau

A lot of our work at the Census Bureau looks toward the future – next year’s American Community Survey, or the decennial Census in 2020, for example. One exciting forward-looking initiative is our Statistics in Schools (SIS) program. Research shows that jobs related to statistics are expected to increase by more than 25 percent over the next decade, and SIS is part of our efforts to help make sure students are prepared for them.

Statistics in Schools supports statistics education by providing grade-appropriate classroom activities in math and history, and many resources – such as maps, news articles, videos, infographics, and games – for K-12 teachers to use. Staff from all areas of the Census Bureau worked together to create these activities, which are available online at no charge. Some examples of the activities teachers can find are:

  • Tools for identifying the demographics of specific states and metro areas.
  • Activities to analyze information correlating income to educational attainment.
  • Specific data, such as the number of single-father households, vehicles per household, and salary based on industry sector.
  • Worksheets to graph state population demographics.
  • Activities for estimating how many people in the U.S. walk to work.

The activities are aligned to national standards, including Common Core State Standards and the UCLA National Standards for History. They aren’t intended to replace existing curricula, but rather complement existing lesson plans.

U.S. Department of Commerce Announces $15 Million Grant Competition to Spur Regional Innovation

U.S. Department of Commerce Announces $15 Million Grant Competition to Spur Regional Innovation

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today announced the launch of the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) $15 million 2014 Regional Innovation Strategies Program competition to spur innovation capacity-building activities in regions across the nation. Under this program, EDA is soliciting applications for three separate funding opportunities, including: the i6 Challenge, Science and Research Park Development grants, and cluster grants to support the development of Seed Capital Funds.

“President Obama and I are committed to strengthening American innovation, which is crucial for sustained economic growth and competitiveness,” said Secretary Pritzker. “The EDA Regional Innovation Strategies Program announced today, which builds on the highly successful i6 Challenge, will help spur innovation through the development and strengthening of regional innovation clusters. Innovation clusters strengthen communities by creating good jobs and growing regional economies nationwide.”

“EDA helps foster connected, innovation-centric economic sectors to support commercialization and entrepreneurship, including through regional innovation clusters,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams. “EDA’s new funding opportunity will provide more communities and regions with the resources they need to help local businesses start and grow. Specifically, EDA will help regions across the country develop regional innovation strategies, including proof of concept and commercialization centers, feasibility studies for the creation and expansion of science and research parks, and opportunities to close the funding gap for early-stage companies. This new funding opportunity is also an important component of the Administration’s commitment to build globally competitive regions.”.

The 2014 Regional Innovation Strategies Program originally started as the Regional Innovation Program under the reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act of 2010. This year’s program includes $15 million in funding for the following programs:

  • i6 Challenge ($8M): Launched in 2010 as part of the Startup America Initiative, the i6 Challengeis a national competition based on the most impactful national models for startup creation, innovation, and commercialization. The 2014 i6 has been broadened to include growing or expanding existing centers or programs and considering funding for later-stage Commercialization Centers, which provide opportunities for fine tuning and refinement of innovations. Special consideration will be given to programs which include initiatives focusing on innovative manufacturing and exports. 

NIST Team Honored for Work on Military Smartphone Apps, Security

NIST Team Honored for Work on Military Smartphone Apps, Security

The U.S. Department of Commerce's today announced researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have earned a 2014 GCN Award for Information Technology Excellence* for speeding development and delivery of secure, battlefield-handy—and sometimes lifesaving—smartphone apps to U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

The four-year NIST effort included distilling soldiers’ needs into app requirements, evaluating app performance, and designing a unique smartphone security architecture. It is among 10 GCN-recognized public-sector projects “showing the power of mobile technology to transform the government IT enterprise.”

The NIST team of engineers and computer scientists was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), under its Transformative Apps (TransApps) program. Working with soldiers, contract app developers and others, NIST contributed two brands of expertise—cybersecurity and software performance evaluation. And it organized the collaboration to accomplish DARPA’s objective, "Develop a diverse array of militarily relevant software applications using an innovative new development and acquisition process."

Within about a year after its 2010 start, DARPA-funded collaborators delivered a batch of commercially available smartphones and an initial set of secure, soldier-defined apps to an Army brigade in Afghanistan. By 2013, about 4,000 mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) were deployed in Afghanistan, and an online apps store was up and running for soldiers. The site now features about 60 apps—from map displays to a calculator for estimating blast distances to language games—and it offers regular upgrades.

One of the most popular apps is HeatMap, which color codes routes to indicate frequency of troop use, helping soldiers to vary their travel patterns.

U.S. Department of Commerce Invests Nearly $2 Million to Support Entrepreneurs and Startups in South Carolina

U.S. Department of Commerce Invests Nearly $2 Million to Support Entrepreneurs and Startups in South Carolina

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $1.9 million investment to the University of South Carolina (USC)/Columbia Technology Incubator. The grant will support the building of a new startup center to serve as the regional hub for the development of entrepreneurship, incubation, and acceleration programs for early stage ventures across South Carolina. According to the grantee, the investment is expected to create 698 jobs and generate $11.9 million in private investment in the first five years of the project.

The Obama Administration and Commerce Department have prioritized supporting American innovation and entrepreneurship, which are key drivers of U.S. competitiveness, job growth and long-term economic growth. The EDA investment announced today will support an important infrastructure project that support public-private partnerships with the University of South Carolina to help local entrepreneurs and businesses grow.

EDA’s investment will support the construction a 50,000-square-foot technology and incubation facility. As the first development in a new technology corridor in USC’s Innovista Innovation District, the center is expected to serve as a critical facility for integrating USC and the Columbia Metro region's entrepreneurial activities. This facility will be able to take advantage of its proximity to the University of South Carolina's research activities, emerging technologies in the region, and student/faculty talent to help create a world class regional innovation ecosystem.

In addition, the investment will facilitate the co-location of entrepreneurs, technology startups, existing and mature technology ventures, and the region's community of entrepreneurial support organizations to create a mixture of talent, technology, capital, and mentoring. The grantee expects this co-location to facilitate the launch and acceleration of a new generation of technology ventures in the state.

Daring to Be Great in Supporting U.S. Exporters

Many of ITA’s senior commercial diplomats from around the globe are meeting in Washington, D.C. to discuss ways to better support business investors and U.S. exporters.

Cross blog post by by Judy Reinke, Deputy Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service

Many of ITA’s senior commercial diplomats from around the globe are meeting in Washington, D.C. to discuss ways to better support business investors and U.S. exporters.

In order to support U.S. businesses going global, the International Trade Administration itself needs to be global.

That’s why we maintain staff throughout the United States and in more than 70 markets around the world, connecting companies of all sizes to opportunities in the international marketplace.

Technology has helped us execute our mission across borders, between time zones, and through language barriers. But just like we tell our clients seeking overseas partners, sometimes there’s no substitute for an old-fashioned face-to-face meeting.

That’s why I am excited about our Global Markets Global Meeting this week, bringing together ITA’s senior Commercial Service staff from the United States and around the world to share best practices, learn about new opportunities, and connect with the people who are making commerce happen – people we sometimes only know by email.

It’s been more than 10 years since our last meeting of this magnitude, and this week’s event will enable us to better execute our mission and understand new methods to better support our clients.

Commerce Department Reports Demonstrate that Exports Continue to Help Spur U.S. Economy and Support Jobs

Exports of Goods Supported 7.1 million jobs in 2013

Guest Blog Post by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker

The Obama Administration and the U.S. Department of Commerce today released two new reports that further prove exports are strengthening our economy and creating good jobs. I am very pleased that for the very first time, our department has released data detailing the number of jobs supported by goods exports in 2013 in each of the 50 states. A second report released today highlights the level of goods exports achieved by each of the nation’s 387 Metropolitan Statistical Areas in 2013.

Back in 2010, President Obama launched the first-ever national strategy to increase exports, the National Export Initiative (NEI), with the idea that American businesses could lead our economic recovery by selling more of their goods and services to markets all over the world. The NEI has been a remarkable success. The United States has broken export records for four straight years, hitting an all-time high of $2.3 trillion dollars last year, up $700 billion from 2009. And just four years after NEI was launched, we know that 1.6 million more Americans have export-supported jobs, bringing the total to 11.3 million Americans who wake up every day and go to work in jobs supported by exports.

Today’s new data show more evidence of the NEI’s success. The first report released today, Jobs Supported by Goods Exports from States in 2013, breaks down the national total of jobs supported by good exports in 2013, 7.1 million, into estimates of the number of jobs in each state that are supported by goods exports. Texas exports supported more jobs – an estimated 1.1. million – than were supported by the exports from any other single state. Data show that goods exports from Texas, California, Washington, Illinois and New York supported an estimated 3 million jobs, or 43 percent of all U.S. jobs supported by exports in 2013.

The Value of Government Weather and Climate Data

Guest blog post by Jane Callen, Economics and Statistics Administration

The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) collects weather and climate data. As we noted in a recent Commerce Department report on the Value of Government Data, the return to society on investment in government meteorological data is large.

For example, one survey found that the overwhelming majority of people said they used weather forecasts and did so an average of 3.8 times per day. That equates to 301 billion forecasts consumed per year!

The study’s authors note that, other than current news events, there is probably no other type of information obtained on such a routine basis from such a variety of sources. Certainly, the researchers say, no other scientific information is accessed so frequently. And while the information is being delivered from an array of sources, most of it directly or indirectly originates from NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS). Americans check to learn what is happening in the weather, and we plan our days – and lives – based on this data.

The researchers found a median valuation of weather forecasts per household of $286 per year, which suggests that the aggregate annual valuation of weather forecasts was about $31.5 billion. The sum of all federal spending on meteorological operations and research was $3.4 billion in the same year, and the private sector spent an additional $1.7 billion on weather forecasting, for a total of private and public spending of about $5.1 billion. In other words, the valuation people placed on the weather forecasts they consumed was 6.2 times as high as the total expenditure on producing forecasts. NOAA data is re-packaged and analyzed to produce 15 million weather products, such as air quality alerts, the three, five and ten day extended weather forecast, earthquake reports, and tornado and flash flood warnings. Many end users do not realize that NOAA provides the data they see and hear every day on The Weather Channel, AccuWeather, the radio and in the morning paper.

EDA: Helping Communities Build Economic Resilience

EDA: Helping Communities Build Economic Resilience

Guest blog post from Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, Jay Williams

Since taking office, President Obama and his administration have worked to help communities and regions impacted by natural disasters and major economic challenges respond and rebuild stronger than before.

This week, on a visit to Colorado, I was pleased to have the opportunity to announce two Economic Development Administration investments that support those efforts in two communities.

In Estes Park, a picturesque town located at the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, residents are working diligently to rebound from severe flooding that hit them hard as they were preparing for the busy snow season – and the economic tourism boon that comes with it - last fall. 

To help the town following the federally-declared flood disaster, I was honored to announce a $300,000 EDA investment to help the Town develop a strategy that will guide their economic diversification and resiliency efforts. One key component of this grant is developing specific actions to make use of Estes Park’s existing fiber optic ring to deliver improved broadband services to the town and surrounding region. By working with other affected communities – including nearby Loveland and Lyons – this strategy will help the region diversify while strengthening their existing established industry clusters.

In Colorado’s central western region, the recent closure of Oxbow Elk Creek coal mine has resulted in a regional economic emergency. 

To help the region respond, I announced a $245,000 EDA grant to the Region 10 League for Economic Assistance and Planning of Montrose, Colorado, to help create a strategy that aims to improve and enhance the economic resiliency and sustainability of Delta and Gunnison counties.

Resiliency is critical to economic prosperity: all communities—whether in a position likely to weather significant natural disasters, or struggling to deal with immediate or pending catastrophes—must have or be able to develop strategies that can mitigate an economic downturn and support long-term recovery efforts.

I am proud of the important role EDA plays in helping communities get back on their feet stronger than before.

Welcoming Investment from South America

Profile photo of Aaron Brickman, Deputy Executive Director, SelectUSA

Guest blog post by Deputy Executive Director, SelectUSA Aaron Brickman

Not only is South America the birthplace of soccer greats and the location of natural wonders, it is also an important and rapidly growing source of foreign direct investment (FDI) to the United States. According to the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), more than 85,000 men and women go to work each day at South American companies operating in the United States.

The SelectUSA South America Road Show this week connected U.S. economic development organizations (EDOs) directly with inversores and investidores in Santiago, Chile; Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Bogota, Colombia to build opportunities for even more South American companies to succeed in U.S. cities and regions.

Why did SelectUSA’s first South American Road Show focus on Chile, Brazil, and Colombia?

  • These three countries accounted for nearly a quarter of inward investment from Latin American sources in 2013.
  • Brazil is the largest source of investment from South America, with a total stock of nearly $15 billion in 2013. Brazilian companies such as JBS, Embraer, Braskem, and Chilli Beans have made significant investments in the United States over the past several years. The annual growth rate of Brazilian investment averaged 19.6 percent between 2009 and 2013, making Brazil the ninth-fastest global source of investment to our country. There is robust interest from a diversity of sectors: 325 Brazilian firms took part in our seminar and one-on-one meetings with EDOs.
  • As of 2013, the stock of FDI from Chile into the United States stood at $983 million. Investment from Chile, with which we have a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), has been growing at a compound annual growth rate of 11.9 percent since 2009. More than 130 Chilean firms registered for the Road Show, and we were joined by Arauco and Elecmetal – two well-known Chilean companies who shared their experience investing in the United States.
  • Colombia, another FTA partner, was the source of over $2 billion of FDI stock in the United States as of 2013. A recent example includes Fehr Foods, a subsidiary of Grupo Nutresa, which announced earlier this year that it will invest an additional $32 million and create 105 jobs in its U.S plant. Many more Colombian firms are looking to find success in the United States, as evidenced by the 190 participants in the Road Show in Bogota. FDI from Colombia to the United States from 2009 to 2014 grew at a compound annual growth rate of 14.6 percent.

Profile America: Facts for Features - Labor Day 2014

Cross Post: U.S. Census Bureau

Labor Day 2014: Sept. 1

The first observance of Labor Day was likely on Sept. 5, 1882, when some 10,000 workers assembled in New York City for a parade. That celebration inspired similar events across the country, and by 1894 more than half the states were observing a "working men's holiday" on one day or another. Later that year, with Congress passing legislation and President Grover Cleveland signing the bill on June 29, the first Monday in September was designated "Labor Day." This national holiday is a creation of the labor movement in the late 19th century and pays tribute to the social and economic achievements of American workers.

Who Are We Celebrating?

155.6 million

Number of people 16 and over in the nation's labor force in May 2013.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table A-1 <http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf>

Our Jobs

Largest Occupations May 2013Number of employees
Retail salespeople4,485,180
Cashiers3,343,470
Combined food preparation and serving workers,
   including fast food
3,022,880
Office clerks, general2,832,010
Registered nurses2,661,890
Waiters and waitresses2,403,960
Customer service representatives2,389,580
Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand2,284,650
Secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal
   medical, and executive
2,159,000
Janitors and cleaners, except maids and housekeeping
   cleaners
2,101,810

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupations with the Highest Employment, May 2013, <http://www.bls.gov/oes/2013/may/featured_data.htm#largest>

Historic Forum Yields Significant Gains for Africa-U.S. Business Ties

Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Stefan M. Selig speaking with Elizabeth Littlefield, President & CEO of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum

Guest blog post by the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Stefan M. Selig

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Commerce and Bloomberg Philanthropies co-hosted an event showing that Africa is one of the world’s next great sources of economic growth.

The first-ever U.S.-Africa Business Forum brought together American and African business leaders with the heads of nearly 50 African nations to exchange ideas and create partnerships that will promote trade, accelerate job growth, and encourage investment.

And this was not just an academic discussion. We built the kind of relationships that will help usher in a new level of success for the growing economies and businesses of Africa, as well as spur real gains for U.S. companies.

Several American companies, among others, announced new partnerships in Africa, resulting in multi-million and multi-billion dollar deals:

Also, as part of the White House’s Power Africa initiative—which pledges to invest $7 billion and create an additional 10,000 megawatts of cleaner electricity over the next five years— American company Contour Global secured a $120 million contract to rehabilitate an existing Senegalese power site and construct a new one. That deal will provide another 53 megawatts of electricity to Senegal’s citizens.

As excited as my colleagues and I are about these deals, contract signings weren’t the only highlights of the forum.

Travel Journal: There’s No Place Like Nome!

Secretary Pritzker reviewing plans in Nome, Alaska with Joy Baker, Col. Christopher Lestochi and NOAA Administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan

Last week, I embarked on my first trip as Commerce Secretary to Alaska to see how the Last Frontier directly contributes to our economy, and how the U.S. Department of Commerce can help further support Alaskan communities.

The Arctic’s importance to the Nation continues to grow as the impact of global climate change and loss of sea ice make the region much more accessible. This accessibility has inspired strong interest for new commercial initiatives in the region, including energy production, increased shipping, scientific research, tourism, and related infrastructure development. Last year, the Obama Administration introduced  the National Strategy for the Arctic Region, not only in recognition of the growing interest in and vulnerability of the region, but also to prioritize and integrate efforts across the Federal government to explore emerging opportunities – while simultaneously exploring efforts to protect and conserve this pristine environment.

During my trip, I explored the city of Nome, which is located on the edge of the Bering Sea on the northwest side of the 49th state. Once a gold mining town, Nome is one of the most remote communities in Alaska, with a population of 3,500.

My first stop was the Port of Nome. Joy Baker, Special Projects Director and former Harbormaster of the City of Nome, led me and my staff on a tour and described the economic impact and infrastructure challenges associated with increased Arctic shipping.  Although originally from San Antonio, Texas,  Joy has worked for the City of Nome for almost 25 years. Her passion for the city was obvious, and she explained how satisfying it was to see the expansion and development of the facility as the successful end result of many years of work and input about additional infrastructure needs in Nome.

After the port tour, we saw U.S. Arctic port infrastructure and vessels, ranging from small gold dredges to industry ships, giving us a better understanding of how the Department of Commerce’s work in implementing the Community Development Quota program in 1992 has been able to grow and further support economic development and achieve sustainable and diversified local economies in the region.

Having enjoyed the outdoors, we moved inside for a roundtable focused on new economic opportunities that are emerging as the impacts of climate change are felt in the Arctic region, including maritime transportation, fishing, and oil and gas activities. Various Alaska Native corporations, industries, and local, state, and federal officials offered a variety of perspectives which gave me a better sense of how the Department of Commerce can further our efforts to support the region.

We wrapped up the day with another productive and engaging roundtable centered on the threats from climate change, which are already impacting some Alaskan communities. These threats include exacerbated erosion and inundation frequency; and the shrinking of sea ice habitat affecting marine mammals.

While we face these challenges, my hope is that the Department can continue to do its part to facilitate trade and investment, assist with the development and management of natural resources, and provide the data and environmental intelligence that are critical to the safety and prosperity of individuals, communities and businesses that are dealing with a changing environment.

I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Alaska, and I look forward to strengthening our partnerships in Alaska and across the Arctic region in the coming months and years.

Commerce and NOAA Data Provide Critical Environmental Intelligence to Alaska

Secretary Pritkzer and NOAA Administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan  visited the Alaska Weather, Water and Ice Center which is the National Weather Service’s (NWS) main operations center in Anchorage, Alaska

From supplying daily weather forecasts, severe storm warnings and climate monitoring, to managing fisheries management, supporting coastal restoration and promoting marine commerce, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) products and services are critical to the country’s economic vitality. NOAA maintains a presence in every state, and has a particularly robust team in Alaska.

Secretary Pritzker visited Anchorage this week to see first-hand how Commerce helps Alaska stay “open for business” by supplying the environmental intelligence that citizens, planners, emergency managers and other decision makers rely on. Secretary Pritzker was joined by NOAA Administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan on her first trip to Alaska.

Unlocking more of the Department of Commerce’s vast stores of data is one of the key pillars of the Department’s “Open for Business Agenda." In Alaska, the Department's data is critical to the safety and prosperity of individuals, communities and businesses that are dealing with a changing environment.

Secretary Pritzker and Dr. Sullivan visited the Alaska Weather, Water and Ice Center which is the National Weather Service’s (NWS) main operations center in Anchorage. The Center is also among the largest consolidated NWS operations centers in the country, containing four specialized operational units: the Weather Forecast Office including the Sea Ice desk; the Alaska Pacific River Forecast Center; the Alaska Aviation Weather Unit and the Volcanic Ash Advisory Center. No other forecasting operation is positioned to deliver such integrated information services – from marine weather and sea ice to hydrology to public and aviation forecasts – making it incredibly beneficial to Alaskan and Arctic decision makers.

In addition to the NWS Center and various forecast offices, NOAA facilities in the state include four marine laboratories, an atmospheric observatory, and a satellite command data acquisition station.

Later in the day, Secretary Pritzker and Dr. Sullivan met with about 75 NOAA employees to learn more about their work and thank them for their service. NOAA team members had the opportunity to provide their perspectives and discuss Alaska-specific issues.

Examples of Commerce data and research in Alaska include the following:

  • NOAA’s fisheries research and management programs, which are both vital to promoting sustainable use and conservation in light of a changing climate. Fishing is a $5.8 billion industry in Alaska, and supports 100,000 jobs. Fishery-related tourism also brings in more than $300 million annually for the state;
  • NOAA’s sea ice research which strengthens the forecasts of both ice and weather conditions, and helps build a better understanding of the direct links between sea ice and climate change;
  • NOAA essential decision support services that provide regional decision makers with forecasts and warnings for events like extratropical storms, tsunamis, floods, droughts, and volcanic ash;
  • Important NOAA services like mapping and charting, for coastal communities which improves safe Arctic maritime access and prepares communities for intensifying weather.     

Secretary Pritzker: Commerce Department Helps Keep Alaska Open for Business

Secretary Pritzker meeting with CEOs representing the Alaska Native Corporations

The Department of Commerce is focused on creating the conditions for businesses to grow, hire, and strengthen the economy in all 50 states. This week, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker is in Alaska to showcase how the Department keeps the Last Frontier open for business.

Secretary Pritzker met with business leaders in Anchorage this morning to discuss challenges and opportunities facing the business community in the state and resources for Alaska businesses that are looking to grow. Among the roundtable participants were representatives from the Chamber of Commerce, as well as the transportation, logistics, and travel and tourism industries.

During their conversation, they discussed workforce development challenges, the need for infrastructure development to seize the economic opportunities of a changing Arctic, and the importance of making it easier  for visitors to enter the United States. With more than 1.9 million visitors during fiscal year 2014, Alaska’s expanding travel and tourism industry is critical to economic growth and job creation in the state.

She also highlighted the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda,” of which trade and investment is a key pillar. Alaska’s merchandise exports have grown from about $3.2 billion in 2009 to $4.5 billion in 2013, but the Commerce Department wants to help Alaska reach even more international buyers. Secretary Pritzker announced that the Commerce Department is getting ready to reopen the U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC) in Alaska in the coming weeks. USEACs around the country connect U.S. companies with international buyers, provide them with market intelligence and trade counseling, and facilitate business matchmaking and commercial diplomacy support.

Quarterly Gross Domestic Product by State, 2005–2013 (Prototype Statistics)

Percent Change in Real GDP by State, 2013:III-2013:IV

Cross Post: Bureau of Economic Analysis

  • The quarterly GDP by state prototype statistics for 2005-2013 provide a more complete picture of economic growth across states as they evolve from quarter to quarter. 
  • The quarterly GDP by state statistics are released for 21 industry sectors and are released in both current dollars and inflation-adjusted chained (2009) dollars. 
  • Nondurable-goods manufacturing was the largest contributor to U.S. real GDP by state growth in the fourth quarter of 2013. This industry was the leading contributor to real GDP growth in 31 states in the fourth quarter. 
  • Professional, scientific, and technical services was the second largest contributor to U.S. real GDP growth in the third and fourth quarters of 2013. This industry contributed to the growth in 49 states and the District of Columbia in the fourth quarter of 2013. 
  • Wholesale trade contributed to real GDP growth in 48 states and the District of Columbia in the fourth quarter of 2013. 
  • Construction subtracted from real GDP growth in 47 states and the District of Columbia in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Read the full report.

NIST to Establish Research Center of Excellence for Forensic Science

A NIST Standard Reference Material 2460 "standard bullet" mounted on a blue stub. Each one has six signature markings typically found in a fired bullet. SRM 2460 is intended primarily for use as a check for crime laboratories to help verify that the computerized optical equipment for bullet imaging and profiling is operating properly.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has announced a competition to create a Forensic Science Center of Excellence dedicated to collaborative, interdisciplinary research. The center’s mission will be to establish a firm scientific foundation for the analytic techniques used in two important branches of forensic science, pattern evidence and digital evidence.

The seminal 2009 National Research Council report Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States – A Path Forward called for a thorough examination of the techniques used in forensic analysis to better understand their strengths and limitations. It also called for establishing scientifically rigorous standards and practices, including the development of tools and methods to better standardize analytical protocols.

Forensic investigations involve the collection of evidence, measurements of the evidence, analysis of those measurements and the determination of conclusions of known validity. One important goal is to develop so-called “probabilistic methods”—techniques that produce a quantifiable assessment of the likelihood that a given method produced a correct result. Forensic DNA analyses, for example, typically report the probability that an apparent match between two separate samples could come about by chance.

The new NIST-sponsored center will focus on developing probabilistic methods for dealing with pattern evidence and digital evidence. Pattern evidence encompasses much of what is typically thought of as forensic evidence: fingerprints, shoeprints, tire marks, tool marks, shell casing or bullet striations—anything that relies on comparing two sets of markings. Digital evidence includes such things as the data on cellphones or personal computers.

The planned center will work on scientific advances in probabilistic methods and information technology tools, as well as the necessary infrastructure to educate and train forensic science practitioners in using the new methods. The center will help expand NIST’s expertise in the field and promote interactions between NIST, academia and various stakeholders in the forensic science community.

This Center of Excellence is one of several NIST plans to establish to provide an interdisciplinary environment where researchers from NIST, academia, industry and government can collaborate on emerging areas of basic and applied research and innovations in measurement science. On Dec. 3, 2013, NIST announced the establishment of a Center for Hierarchical Materials Design (CHiMaD) under a consortium led by Northwestern University that will pursue advanced materials research. A second NIST Center of Excellence to be focused on community disaster resilience is the subject of a current competition.

MBDA National Director Concludes Trip Connecting California Minority-Owned Businesses with Commerce Department Resources

MBDA National Director Alejandra Castillo addressing the California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Yesterday, MBDA National Director Alejandra Castillo concluded her week-long tour of California where she spoke to local businesses and community leaders about the Obama Administration’s work to spur continued economic growth and job creation through support of exporters, entrepreneurs, and small, women- and minority-owned businesses. 

Earlier this week, Castillo joined U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker in Oakland where the Secretary delivered remarks highlighting a number of Commerce Department resources available to help foster economic growth among minority-owned businesses. The Secretary also discussed the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda,” a bold policy agenda focused on boosting trade and investment, supporting innovation and entrepreneurship, and unleashing more government data. 

Following the Secretary’s remarks in Oakland, Castillo led a panel discussion on economic development that helped to connect local business leaders and economic development organizations with the expertise of the Department and its resources. The forum featured Overseas Private Investment Corporation’s (OPIC) Director of Corporate Development, Alison Germak; Port of Oakland’s Director of Aviation, Deborah Ale Flint; Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson and Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. 

U.S. Commerce Department Invests $2.8 Million to Foster Innovation in Louisiana and Massachusetts

U.S. Commerce Department Invests $2.8 Million to Foster Innovation in Louisiana and Massachusetts

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today announced $2.8 million in Economic Development Administration (EDA) investments to support projects that will foster innovation and entrepreneurship in Louisiana and Massachusetts.

“The Obama Administration and Commerce Department have prioritized supporting American innovation, which is the key driver of U.S. competitiveness, job growth and long-term economic growth,” said Secretary Pritzker. “The EDA investments announced today will support critical infrastructure and manufacturing projects that use innovation to help attract investment and create jobs in Louisiana and Massachusetts.”

The investments announced today include the following:

  • In Vidalia, Louisiana, EDA is investing $1.2 million to help construct the 5,700-square-foot Vidalia Technology Center that will function as an incubator to help entrepreneurs to compete globally and create viable employment opportunities in the region. The EDA grant will also support the building of a more robust high speed broadband infrastructure with alternative power sources. Given its relative isolation from major markets and employment hubs, this Mississippi Delta region town needs adequate Internet connectivity to better prepare for and respond to natural disasters. The increased access to broadband communication and back-up power sources will make both the public and business sectors more resilient and strengthen the speed of future recovery efforts.

5 Takeaways about Doing Business in Africa

In case you missed it during the U.S.-Africa Business Forum last week, the International Trade Administration (ITA) published a report that shows that the U.S. trade relationship with Africa is growing at an increasing rate.

ITA’s Report on U.S.-Africa Trade and Investment examines the economic statistics related to U.S. commercial involvement in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) – one of the world’s fastest-growing economic regions. The report is part of the Doing Business in Africa (DBIA) campaign, through which federal trade agencies are joining forces with U.S. businesses to take advantage of the growing export and investment opportunities available in the region.

Here are the five key takeaways of the report:

1. Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world. Average GDP growth has surpassed 5.2 percent three straight years. The International Monetary Fund estimates that this will increase in both 2014 and 2015.

2. U.S. exports to SSA are at record levels. Merchandise exports reached $24 billion in 2013, an increase of $8.8 billion from 2009. The past decade saw the largest increase in value of U.S. exports to sub-Saharan Africa in history; U.S. goods exports have increased by 130 percent since 2000, or an average of 6.7 percent annually.

3. Small and medium-sized businesses are finding success in SSA. More than 92 percent of businesses exporting to Africa are considered small and medium-sized enterprises—those with fewer than 500 employees. They accounted for a 53 percent increase in the value of exports to the region from 2009-2012.

4. Most export growth originates from Texas, Louisiana, New York, Illinois, New Jersey and Georgia. In total, these states accounted for 60 percent of total exports and more than 70 percent of growth in exports to SSA in 2013. Mineral fuel and oil drilling, automotive parts and supplies, precious metals, and boilers and machinery parts are the top export sectors to SSA common among these states.

5. Total U.S. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Africa has grown by 37.5 percent since 2009. While world foreign direct investment position in 2012 was 27 percent greater than in 2009, U.S. FDI position grew by 40 percent during that period.

As evidence of the report’s positive outlook for U.S. trade with Sub-Saharan Africa watch this short video of many of the deal signings that happened last week at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum. 

If your business is ready to do business in Africa, visit Trade.gov/dbia or contact your nearest Export Assistance Center.

Census PoP Quiz Mobile App Challenges Knowledge of State Statistics

Census PoP Quiz Mobile App Challenges Knowledge of State Statistics

The U.S. Census Bureau today released Census PoP Quiz, a new interactive mobile application that challenges users’ knowledge of demographic facts for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The new app, which draws from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, aims to raise statistical literacy about the U.S. population.

Census PoP Quiz provides an introduction to the statistics that define our growing, changing nation and is  a great way for everyone to learn facts about all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the nation in a fun, relevant way.

With each state challenge completed, users will earn a badge to show their knowledge of various state demographic characteristics. After earning badges from every state, the app will unlock the final U.S. challenge. Throughout the quiz, players can share their badges on social media sites including Facebook and Twitter.

The app is free and available for both iPhone and Android smartphones and tablets. Features include:

  • Challenges that test knowledge of topics such as population, housing and commuting.
  • Questions that span locations in all 50 states and the nation’s capital.
  • Badges to share with contacts via social media connections.

Census PoP Quiz is the third in a series of Census Bureau mobile apps. The mobile initiative is one example of how the Census Bureau is working to make America’s statistics available anywhere, anytime to everyone and on any device — consistent with the Department of Commerce’s open data priorities and the federal government’s Digital Government Strategy.

NOAA-U.S. Coast Guard Exercise Aims to Improve U.S. Response, Capabilities to Deal with Future Contingencies in the Arctic

NOAA-U.S. Coast Guard Exercise Aims to Improve U.S. Response, Capabilities to Deal with Future Contingencies in the Arctic

As multi-year sea ice continues to disappear at a rapid rate, vessel traffic in the Arctic is on the rise. This is leading to new maritime concerns, especially in areas increasingly transited by the offshore oil and gas industry, cruise liners, military craft, tugs and barges, and fishing vessels. Keeping all of this new ocean traffic moving smoothly is a growing concern for safety's sake. It's also important to the U.S. economy, environment, and national security. But what happens if there’s a major incident such as an oil spill in this remote region?

This month, researchers from NOAA’s National Ocean Service and NOAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program are taking part in an Arctic exercise aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy that is part of an annual effort to ensure the Arctic remains a safe, secure, and environmentally protected region.

During the month-long ‘Arctic Shield’ mission, the USCG’s Research and Development Center will simulate an oil spill once the Healy makes it far enough north to test technologies at the ice edge.  The team will test a variety of technologies, including unmanned airborne and underwater sensing platforms.

The NOAA components of this exercise focus on testing technologies to improve oil spill reconnaissance and mapping to enable faster and safer decision-making while operating from a ship—a likely platform for responding to a spill in the Arctic due to lack of infrastructure and accommodations.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker Shares Economic Development Opportunities in California

Representative Barbara Lee, Secretary Penny Pritzker, Clifton Burch, President at Empire Engineering & Construction, Inc. and MBDA National Director Alejandra Castillo

Last year, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker unveiled the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda,” a bold policy agenda focused on boosting trade and investment, supporting innovation and entrepreneurship, and unleashing more government data. Yesterday, she took the Agenda on the road to California. Along with Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) National Director Alejandra Castillo, Secretary Pritzker spoke to local businesses and community leaders about the Obama Administration’s work to spur continued economic growth and job creation through support of exporters, entrepreneurs, and small, women- and minority-owned businesses.

Secretary Pritzker joined Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), a strong advocate for minority economic development and trade policy, at a regional economic development forum at the Oakland Airport, hosted by Lee. The Secretary delivered remarks highlighting a number of Commerce Department resources available to help foster economic growth. Noting that exporting is an essential tool for economic development, she discussed the Commerce Department’s NEI/NEXT initiative, a data-based, customer-driven effort to help U.S. companies increase their exports to international markets. Secretary Pritzker also talked about the work of the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership to help manufacturers boost productivity and growth, as well as investments by the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to help attract new industries and create jobs. Through these and other tools, the Commerce Department is helping businesses in California and across the country to grow and hire. 

Following the Secretary’s remarks, MBDA National Director Castillo led a panel discussion on economic development that helped to connect local business leaders and economic development organizations with the expertise of the Department and its resources. The forum featured OPIC’s Director of Corporate Development, Alison Germak; Port of Oakland’s Director of Aviation, Deborah Ale Flint; Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson and Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. 

Before the event, Secretary Pritzker also participated in a roundtable discussion with East Bay business leaders, hosted by Rep. Lee. They discussed regional economic development, supplier diversity and the importance of gender and ethnic diversity in corporate leadership. Earlier in the day, Secretary Pritzker and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee met with leaders of local technology companies, including Twitter, Yelp, Kiva, and others, ​to discuss the Department of Commerce’s expanding role as “America’s Data Agency." Secretary Pritzker specifically asked how the government can most effectively make additional data available, and what public-private partnerships are currently serving as strong models that can be replicated when it comes to data dissemination.​ 

AAR Lands Multi-million Dollar Supply Chain Deal with Kenya Airways with Help of U.S. Government Advocacy Efforts

For the first time since the Obama administration’s “Doing Business in Africa” initiative went into effect, an aviation company has landed a multi-year deal in Africa. AAR, a global aerospace, government and defense contractor, recently announced a five-year deal with Kenya Airways. Under the conditions of this multi-million dollar accord, Kenya Airways agrees to provide power-by-the-hour component support for its fleet of 737NG aircraft, while AAR places inventory on site in Nairobi and offers rotable pool support from its newly established supply chain in Brussels.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s leadership and staff from Washington D.C., Chicago and the U.S. Embassy in Kenya aided the finalization of this arrangement by connecting AAR’s top executives with African government and business officials during a visit to Nairobi, Kenya. The successful advocacy strategy was also supported by several inter-agency partners including the U.S. State Department.

Deals like these are one of the key reasons the U.S. Department of Commerce and Bloomberg Philanthropies hosted the inaugural U.S.-Africa Business Forum on Tuesday. The event, part of President Obama’s U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit, focused on trade and investment opportunities on the continent. The Forum highlighted U.S. private sector engagement in Africa in the areas of finance and capital investment, infrastructure, power and energy, agriculture, consumer goods, and information communication technology. Heads of state engaged with business executives from both sides of the Atlantic in conversations about successes and solutions to build greater access for trade and investment in Africa. The day served as a catalytic opportunity for American companies to increase economic partnerships and investment in Africa and ended with the announcement that U.S. companies plan to invest more than $14 billion in the continent.

While these announcements and deals are exciting moments, they take great preparation and negotiation. For example, AAR contacted the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Advocacy Center for assistance in reaching decision-makers at Kenya Airways, including the CEO. Over the course of several months, AAR representatives were provided with assistance on meeting legal requirements, establishing business protocols, and cultivating key business relationships in Kenya. The advocacy effort was brought to the attention of then-Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank, who in late 2012, personally advocated on behalf of AAR to Kenya Airways and government officials during her trip to Nairobi, Kenya; providing an additional measure of support which helped secure the business deal for AAR.

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Highlights U.S. Commitment to Doing Business In Africa

Secretary Pritzker Joins Mayor Bloomberg and President Obama at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum

Yesterday, at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker highlighted a number of Commerce Department efforts to help more American businesses explore opportunities in Africa’s fast-growing markets. The Forum, focused on trade and investment opportunities on the continent, was part of President Obama’s three-day U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the largest event that any U.S. president has ever convened with African heads of state or government.

Co-hosted by the Department of Commerce and Bloomberg Philanthropies, the U.S.-Africa Business Forum was created to encourage greater U.S. investment in Africa, foster business deals, and help create jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. During remarks at the Forum, President Obama announced that U.S. businesses have already committed to investing $14 billion in clean energy, aviation, banking, and construction projects, among other commitments totaling more than $33 billion that support economic growth in Africa and thousands of U.S. jobs.

The Commerce Department leads the Doing Business in Africa (DBIA) campaign, which was launched in 2012 as part of the President Obama’s “U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa.” DBIA aims to increase U.S. trade promotion to Africa, address market barriers, expand the availability of trade financing, and attract more American companies to explore sub-Saharan Africa trade and investment opportunities.

In an op-ed published by Forbes, Secretary Pritzker and Michael Bloomberg touted the business deals signed during the forum and made the case for Africa as a prime investment location. “We know what is possible when American companies work hand-in-hand with African counterparts: we can help raise living standards and pave the way for future growth.” One example of the benefits of these partnerships can be seen through IBM, who opened Africa’s first major commercial technology research lab in Kenya to pioneer consumer-facing innovations aimed at African markets. This forum was only the beginning, and highlighted American companies willingness to increase their economic partnerships and investment in Africa.

Secretary Pritzker Highlights the Work by the Commerce Department to Improve Trade and Investment with Africa at the Historic U.S.-Africa Business Forum

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker delivered opening remarks at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum, a day focused on trade and investment opportunities on the continent. In her remarks, Secretary Pritzker stated that the U.S.-Africa economic relationship is fundamental to our mutual peace and prosperity. She discussed the work that the Commerce Department is doing to advance President Obama’s vision for the future of U.S.-Africa relations, including expanding the Foreign Commercial Service presence across the continent. She announced that the Department of Commerce and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency will lead 10 new trade missions to Africa and 10 reverse trade missions to the United States by 2020. She also announced the start of NIST’s Global Cities Challenge to catalyze the development of “smart cities,” as well as the launch of a new web portal for American businesses to explore opportunities in Africa. We want to make doing business in Africa easier for every business. Noting that increased trade and investment in Africa will spur growth on both sides of the Atlantic, Secretary Pritzker expressed her hope that the business and government leaders will keep the U.S.-Africa partnership open for more growth and success.

MEP Launches Competition to Fund Manufacturing Centers in 10 States

Making an Impact on U.S. Manufacturing

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today opened a competition to award new cooperative funding agreements for its Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) centers in 10 states. The competition is the first in a multiyear effort to update the funding structure to better match needs with resources in MEP's network of 60 centers. The MEP centers help small and mid-sized U.S. manufacturers create and retain jobs, increase profits, and save time and money.

The current competition will fund awards for centers in Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. The awards will provide half of each center's first-year operating funds, which the centers must match with funding from nonfederal sources. MEP anticipates awarding a total of nearly $26 million for the 10 centers.

Established in 1988, MEP is a public-private partnership that delivers a high return on investment to taxpayers. For every one dollar of federal investment, MEP helps businesses generate nearly $19 in new sales growth and $21 in new client investment. This translates into $2.2 billion in new sales annually. For every $1,978 of federal investment, MEP helps create or retain one manufacturing job.

Each MEP center works directly with area manufacturers to provide expertise and services tailored to their most critical needs, ranging from process improvement and workforce development to business practices and technology transfer. Through local and national resources, MEP centers have helped thousands of manufacturers reinvent themselves, increase profits, create jobs and establish a foundation for long-term business growth and productivity.

Commerce in the Community: Jail Education Solutions (JES) utilizes innovative workforce development model to reduce recidivism and prepare inmates for reentry into the job market.

Brian Hill, Co-Founder of Jail Education Solutions

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Commerce in the Community series highlighting the work of community leaders and organizations that are strengthening the middle class and providing ladders of opportunity for all Americans.

Below is an interview with Brian Hill, co-founder of Jail Education Solutions (JES). Prior to starting JES, Brian worked for General Mills and served as a business consultant. He received his undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University in Provo, UT and is currently finishing his JD/MBA at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.

Q1: Tell us about Jail Education Solutions (JES). What is your mission and main focus?

JES is dedicated to improving inmate outcomes during incarceration and after release by incentivizing educational and vocational progress through tablet technology in correctional facilities. Investment in inmate education leads to reduced recidivism and lowers taxpayer liability. However, educational programming in correctional facilities is extremely limited and does not currently meet inmate demand. JES grants inmates access to an immense collection of resources, which would otherwise be unavailable, such as k-12 education, GED and college readiness; employment and other community resources; exploratory educational material; cognitive behavioral therapy and treatment and legal information. It does so at no additional cost to the institution or taxpayer. 

Q2: How did Jail Education Solutions get started?

The initial interest happened when I was young, and came from my father. He was a psychology professor at Folsom Prison, and his bedtime stories were his student’s papers. I saw so much human potential locked up, but at that age had no idea about the magnitude of the problem. It wasn’t until later in my first year at Northwestern Law School when I began work on a Social Impact Bond initiative for Cook County's Jail (Chicago) that I was reminded of the great need for opportunity. This passion, bolstered by the very innovative Sheriff Tom Dart, provided the space to test, learn, and create JES.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Joins U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue

Secretary Penny Pritzker Joins U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue

On the final day of her visit to India, Secretary Pritzker and Secretary of State John Kerry met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss opportunities for strengthening the U.S.-India commercial relationship. Their trip was the first U.S. Cabinet-level visit to New Delhi since Prime Minister Modi was elected.

Secretaries Kerry and Pritzker were in New Delhi for the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue, which took place July 31. Launched in 2010, the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue is the highest level regularly scheduled dialogue between the two governments and provides a forum to discuss U.S.-Indian relations. Secretary Pritzker led discussions aimed at strengthening the commercial and economic ties between the U.S. and India, focusing on ways the U.S. can collaborate with India’s new government to promote growth in both nations. Secretary Pritzker underscored the desire of U.S. firms to do more business in India, and discussed how U.S. businesses can collaborate with India in the areas of infrastructure and manufacturing to help the country meet its development goals.

While in New Delhi, Secretary Pritzker joined the AmCham Infrastructure Committee at a breakfast meeting focused on receiving U.S. industry feedback on the opportunities and challenges that they face in the Indian infrastructure sector.

Secretary Pritzker also met with several other Indian government officials, including her counterpart, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman. During their discussion, Secretary Pritzker pressed forward on plans to create an infrastructure platform that will help U.S. firms serve as a partner on significant infrastructure projects in India. Secretary Pritzker also joined the Indian Minister of Finance, Defence, and Corporate Affairs Arun Jaitley for a joint bilateral meeting with Secretary Kerry. In addition, Secretary Pritzker met with Indian Minister of Power Piyush Goyal and discussed how American firms can use their capabilities and expertise to help India meet its ambitious energy-development goals.

Commerce Department Recognizes Minority Business Community Champions

Deputy Secretary Bruce Andrews, National Director of the Minority Business Development Agency Alejandra Castillo, and MBDA Public Affairs Team Lead Velicia Woods congratulate a MED Week Award winner

Today, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews recognized the 2014 National Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week Award winners during a ceremony at the annual MED Week Conference in Washington, D.C. MBDA awarded 13 organizations, businesses and individuals who have demonstrated leadership and commitment in advancing the minority business community.

As one of the longest running Minority Business Enterprise events in the United States, the National MED Week Conference recognizes the outstanding achievements of leading minority entrepreneurs and organizations while positioning business owners for opportunities that drive growth. Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) National Director Alejandra Y. Castillo and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet delivered remarks to kick off the one-day conference this morning.

The conference provided opportunities for small business owners and entrepreneurs to connect with senior public officials, industry executives and leaders from all over the country and learn about cutting-edge tools that can give their business a more competitive advantage.

The Obama Administration and Commerce Department have been laser-focused on helping businesses create good-paying jobs, particularly small and medium-sized businesses. On July 25, President Obama issued a proclamation declaring this week Minority Enterprise Development Week, during which Americans are celebrating the essential role that minority entrepreneurs and businesses play in our economy and communities.

Commerce Department Achieves FY 2013 Small Business Federal Contracting Goal

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) today announced that the federal government met its small business federal contracting goal for the first time in eight years – awarding 23 percent, or $83.1 billion, of all federal small business eligible contracting dollars to small businesses in fiscal year 2013.

The Commerce Department played a significant role in that achievement – exceeding its goal of awarding 39 percent of funds to small businesses and receiving an overall “A” rating from SBA for the fourth straight year in a row. In FY13, the Department also surpassed overall federal government and statutory goals for prime contractors who are small disadvantaged businesses, women-owned small businesses, and service disabled veteran-owned small businesses.

U.S. small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and the Commerce Department works to both support those businesses and ensure they know about our many services that can help them grow.

For example, just a couple months ago, Commerce awarded five small businesses with a contract that is expected to save up to $25 million in taxpayer dollars over the next five years. In addition to saving money, contracts that make our work more efficient and effective enable Commerce to focus more resources on our primary mission, including making investments that help businesses of all sizes create jobs and help grow our economy.

To that end, the Department offers a wide array of services to our small businesses and entrepreneurs. For example, Commerce’s National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) has a Manufacturing Extension Partnership program with centers based around the country who work with small and medium-sized manufacturers to transform their business plans, access new technology and increase exports. As part of the department’s ‘Open for Business Agenda,’ we are working to make more of our data accessible to more people, which supports start-ups and powers small companies.

NTIA Broadband Program Supports Workforce Preparation Across the United States

Las Vegas Urban League: Young visitors to the Doolittle Community Center use the free Internet access to work on school projects.

Cross blog post by Laura Breeden, program director for public computing and broadband adoption, National Telecommunications and Information Administration

Last week, President Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act aimed at creating a more flexible and responsive system of workforce development to meet the needs of employers looking to fill 21st century jobs. Ensuring U.S. workers are able to compete and succeed is a key priority at the U.S. Commerce Department. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker served on a task force with Vice President Biden that recently released a report looking at solutions for making the nation’s workforce and training system more job-driven, integrated and effective.

At the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), workforce development is a priority of our broadband grant programs. Grant recipients have helped unemployed and under-employed people learn to use computers and the Internet for job searching, skill-building, resume development and networking. Today, in keeping with the Department’s commitment to helping match skilled workers with good jobs, we are releasing four case studies on employment-related impacts of our broadband projects. The reports, prepared by independent contractor ASR Analytics, examined the effectiveness of the more than $450 million in matching grants, provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, to establish or upgrade public computer centers and initiate innovative broadband adoption programs in underserved communities.

The first report focuses on Workforce West Virginia (WFWV). The agency is responsible for promoting employment and job growth in West Virginia, which has chronically high rates of poverty and unemployment. The grantee upgraded 19 workforce centers and 75 additional centers in locations such as libraries and veterans’ support organizations, with new computers and Wi-Fi. In addition to serving thousands of low-income and unemployed patrons each week, the WFWV centers experienced measurable productivity gains as a result of patrons’ ability to search for jobs, prepare resumes and practice computer skills more independently. This has allowed staff to spend more time focusing on specialized assistance. The high-speed network has also made intra-agency communication and technology management faster and more reliable.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Makes First Official Trip to India for U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Makes First Official Trip to India for U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue

The commercial relationship between United States and India has long stood as a core pillar of the alliance between our two countries. The United States is committed to reinvigorating ties with India and expanding our economic partnership.  That is why U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker traveled to India this week, where she joined U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue in New Delhi. Their trip marks the first U.S. Cabinet-level visit to New Delhi since the new Indian government was elected. Earlier this week, Secretary Pritzker visited Mumbai for meetings with Indian business leaders to discuss new avenues to reinvigorate economic ties between our two nations.

While in Mumbai, Secretary Pritzker delivered remarks at an event hosted by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), focused on the U.S. commitment to partner with the newly-elected Indian government, especially in areas of infrastructure, manufacturing, and business investment. Founded over 115 years ago, CII is one of the most important business groups in India and plays an active role in India’s development process. 

As part of efforts to advance the U.S.-India economic partnership, Vinai Thummalapally and Chairman & Managing Director of Export-Import Bank of India Yaduvendra Mathur signed a Memorandum of Intent (MOI) between SelectUSA and the India’s Export-Import Bank. This MOI will encourage collaboration to attract Indian investment to the United States. SelectUSA is the first U.S. government-wide program to promote and facilitate business investment in the United States. Export-Import Bank of India directly supports Indian foreign direct investments abroad.  

The American Community Survey: Helping Decision Makers Assist People in Times of Need

The U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey provides statistics that communities use to make decisions about resources, such as after a natural disaster. These statistics are critical to emergency planning, preparedness and recovery efforts. For example, the American Community Survey provides detailed information on how many people in a community may need extra assistance during a disaster, such as the elderly or disabled or those who speak a language other than English. Knowing these specific details about local communities gives decision makers the information they need to plan and efficiently deploy resources and to accurately measure the impact of a disaster. Learn how by watching this video. 

U.S.-Africa Business Success Stories: How a Supplier of Powerboats to the U.S. Military Started Doing Business in Nigeria

Note: This post is part of the U.S.-Africa Business Success Stories series highlighting the work of the Department of Commerce to strengthen the economic relationship between U.S. and African businesses. This series will lead up to the U.S. Africa Business Forum on August 5th, the first of its kind event, which will convene African heads of state and government, U.S. government officials and business leaders to discuss trade and investment opportunities on the continent.

Hann Powerboats’ customers include the United States Air Force, United States Navy, and the United States Army Corps of Engineers – and now, because of assistance that the company received from the Department of Commerce, they can add another name to their impressive list: the Nigerian oil and gas company, MOP Marine.

U.S. businesses like Hann Powerboats are increasingly seeing tremendous economic opportunity in Africa, and the reason why is simple: Africa is thriving. From 1995 to 2013, Africa experienced an average annual GDP growth rate of 4.5 percent. In 2012, eight of the twenty fastest growing economies in the world were in sub-Saharan Africa, and, according to the IMF, in 2013, total U.S. two-way goods with the region were $63 billion. Africa’s potential to be the world’s next major economic story is why businesses in the United States, like Hann Powerboats, want to offer their products, services, and expertise to help unlock even more of Africa’s potential – that is why the Obama Administration and the Department of Commerce remain committed to assisting American businesses in finding opportunity in this economically expanding region.

Hann Powerboats became interested in expanding its business to Africa when it was approached by a potential client in Nigeria to secure MOP Marine’s need for patrol boats. Hann Powerboats asked for assistance from the Tampa Bay U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC) and the U.S. Commercial Service (CS) team in Lagos to help with vetting this potential partner, and CS Lagos was able to facilitate meetings between Hann Powerboats and MOP Marine. The Tampa Bay USEAC then helped put Hann Powerboats in touch with the Nigerian Embassy in Washington D.C. to help with them acquire proper documentation. The result of this assistance allowed Hann Powerboats to make sales to MOP Marine for over $4 million.

NIST Announces New Competition for Advanced Manufacturing Planning Awards

NIST Announces New Competition for Advanced Manufacturing Planning Awards

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today announced a new competition for planning awards to support industry-driven consortia in developing research plans and charting collaborative actions to solve high-priority technology challenges and accelerate the growth of advanced manufacturing in the United States.

NIST's AdvancedManufacturing Technology Consortia (AMTech) Program anticipates awarding a total of $5.6 million in two-year grants during the young program's second competition. Awards will range between about $250,000 and $500,000, subject to the availability of funds. Applications are due Oct. 31, 2014, and selections will be announced during the first half of 2015.

Teaming and partnerships that include broad participation by companies of all sizes, universities and government agencies, driven by industry, are encouraged. Nonprofit U.S. organizations as well as accredited institutions of higher education and state, tribal and local governments are eligible to apply for the program.

AMTech's goal is to spur consortia-planned and led research on long-term, precompetitive technology needs of U.S. manufacturing industries. The program aims to help eliminate barriers to advanced manufacturing capabilities and to promote domestic development of an underpinning technology infrastructure, including high-performing supply chains.

AMTech is designed to address a serious weakness in the nation's innovation ecosystem, an issue identified by the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) and the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, among other bodies.

EDA and the International Economic Development Council Create User-Friendly Tool to Help Communities Recover Their Economy after Disasters

EDA and the International Economic Development Council Create User-Friendly Tool to Help Economies Recover after Disasters

Everyone sees the destruction caused by a natural disaster – the loss of life and property make headlines for weeks. But natural disasters can have lasting effects that don’t garner as much media attention. Beyond property and infrastructure costs, disasters impact the health of the business community. According to the Small Business Administration, as much as 25 percent of small businesses do not reopen after major disasters. Communities need to be prepared for all of the effects of a natural disaster, and there is a new tool available to help them be more resilient.

The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) recently launched "Leadership in Times of Crisis: A Toolkit for Economic Recovery and Resiliency" – a guide to help communities recover their economy after a disaster. The toolkit was funded in part by an Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant and is available for free download at www.RestoreYourEconomy.org. It includes practical resources, proven how-to's, real world case examples, checklists and best practices to implement recovery programs following any type of disaster and to make preparations in order to be more resilient after potential future events.

"Leadership in Times of Crisis" provides strategies and tactics for community leaders to focus on for economic recovery and preserving jobs, incorporating useful information for convening private and public stakeholders to identify key economic recovery strategies, tips on how to navigate federal resources for response and recovery, and implementation of recovery initiatives.

A wide range of public and private sector officials that provide support to businesses and industries in the economic recovery process can benefit from using the toolkit, including economic development organizations (EDOs), chambers of commerce, business leaders, small business development centers (SBDC), community colleges and business schools, and community development financing institutions (CDFIs), among other organizations.

Building Bridges to Young Africa Leaders

Building Bridges to Young Africa Leaders

Guest blog post by U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews

The United States understands the importance of creating opportunities for young people to succeed, both in this country and around the world. That is why yesterday, during a town hall with 500 exceptional young people who participated in the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders - President Obama announced the expansion of his Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). At the town hall, President Obama announced that the fellowship, the flagship YALI program, will be renamed the “Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders,” and will be doubled to reach 1,000 participants per year by 2016. Launched in 2014, YALI is a signature effort to support the next generation of African leaders and embodies President Obama’s commitment to invest in the future of Africa. The Washington Fellowship connects young African leaders to leadership training opportunities at some of America’s top universities to help expand their leadership skills and knowledge so they can foster change in their communities and countries.

At the Commerce Department, we are also working closely with young entrepreneurs to help spur economic growth by helping them gain the skills and connections they need to launch new businesses and create jobs in their communities. Entrepreneurship is a cornerstone of the global economy, giving people the power to unlock their economic potential and transform their communities. With the launch of the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) initiative, chaired by Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, the U.S. government is partnering with 11 prominent American business leaders to mentor the next generation of entrepreneurs. Africa is an area of interest for PAGE efforts. In fact, as part of a trade mission to West Africa this past May, Secretary Pritzker and PAGE member Nina Vaca, CEO of Pinnacle Technical Resources, visited the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) and the MEST Incubator program, which provides training, investment and mentoring opportunities for aspiring technology entrepreneurs in Africa. In addition, PAGE members Steve Case, Chairman and CEO of Revolution, and Alexa von Tobel, CEO of LearnVest, will be sharing their experiences and expertise on Wednesday on an “Enabling Inclusive Economic Development” plenary session, as part of the fellowship Summit.

The U.S. Partnerships and Initiatives Spurring Economic Growth in Africa

President Obama has called Africa “the world's next great economic success story.” According to the African Development Bank, Africa maintained an average GDP growth rate of 3.9 percent in 2013, exceeding the 3 percent rate for the global economy.  U.S. exports to the continent of Africa have grown 39 percent since 2009, reaching $50.2 billion in 2013. The brightest spot has been U.S. merchandise exports to sub-Saharan Africa, which have increased 58 percent since 2009.

Building on this progress, the Department of Commerce and Bloomberg Philanthropies are co-hosting the U.S. Africa Business Forum on August 5, a day focused on trade and investment opportunities on the continent. Part of the first-ever U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit taking place August 4-6, the Forum is part of the Administration’s efforts to explore Africa’s huge economic potential:

  • U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa: In 2012, President Obama announced the U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa, a comprehensive policy strategy to address the opportunities and challenges in Africa in a forward-looking way. The Strategy focuses on strengthening democratic institutions; spurring economic growth, trade, and investment; advancing peace and security; and promoting opportunity and development. 
  • Doing Business in Africa: As part of the Strategy, the Department of Commerce launched the Doing Business in Africa Campaign, which has helped U.S. businesses take advantage of the many export and investment opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa. As part of the campaign, Commerce has expanded trade promotion programs tailored toward Africa and dedicated an online Africa business portal directing businesses to federal resources.
  • Commercial Service expansion: To expand Commerce’s human resources footprint in Africa, Secretary Pritzker recently announced the opening of new U.S. Commercial Service offices across the continent. The U.S. Commercial Service helps U.S. businesses start exporting or increase sales to new global markets. By expanding its Commercial Service teams in Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, and Libya, and opening offices in Angola, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Mozambique for the first time, the Department of Commerce hopes to help U.S. businesses find their next customer abroad and create jobs in Africa.

Using Data to Connect Workers & Employers at Career Building Data Jam

Using Data to Connect Workers with Employers at the 21st Century Career Counseling Data Jam

Cross post by Mark Doms, Under Secretary for Economic Affairs

On Friday, I was part of the team from the Department of Commerce, Department of Labor, Office of the Vice President, and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) who joined up with Baltimore’s Morgan State University (MSU) to "data jam" on how to get America’s youth connected to jobs and on the path to rewarding careers.

Labor force participation for America’s youth is at historic lows. Only about 1 in 2 people in their teens and early 20s are working or looking for work. While it is easy to point to increasing college enrollment as a reasonable explanation, the workplace offers the opportunity to gain skills to complement academic, career and technical training. The cost of young people staying out of the labor market is all too real. Failure to join the labor market means reduced financial self-sufficiency, lost opportunities to apply academic skills or gain occupation-specific experience, and acquire more general workplace skills such as teamwork, time management, and problem solving.

The Data Jam brought together entrepreneurs, technology leaders, and policy experts to explore ideas for tools, services, and apps for young job seekers to explore career options, training opportunities, and new industries. Technology can help young people find connections to the labor market; assess academic, career, and technical training information; and, simply learn more about the world of work. The proliferation of labor market and career information from federal and state governments and the private sectors can provide great content and inspiration for new tools and apps. So, it was fitting that MSU, with competitive STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) coursework and state of the art facilities, opened its doors to national technology experts, and regional and federal government leaders to connect young workers with the training and resources they need to identify and seize upon employment opportunities.

Commerce's NIST Leads Nationwide Effort to Provide Tools and Guidance to Help U.S. Communities Become More Disaster Resilient

Commerce's NIST Leads Nationwide Effort to Provide Tools and Guidance to Help U.S. Communities Become More Disaster Resilient

Guest Blog Post by Stephen Cauffman, NIST Lead for Disaster Resilience

When disaster strikes . . .

No other phrase may be more ominous, conjuring images of powerlessness, destruction, and an aftermath of painful, costly recovery. Think Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy; the Oakland firestorm of 1991; the Joplin, Mo., and Moore, Okla., tornadoes; or last year’s floods in Colorado and much of the Midwest.

Although communities cannot dodge hazardous events like these, they can take concrete actions in advance to minimize the toll that natural—and even human-caused—hazards inflict and to speed up the pace of recovery. Communities can make themselves more resilient to disasters.

Providing tools and guidance to help U.S. communities become more disaster resilient is the goal of a collaborative, nationwide effort led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Carried out under the President's Climate Action Plan, this recently launched national initiative will yield a comprehensive, disaster resilience framework that will help communities develop plans to protect people and property before disaster strikes and to recover more rapidly and efficiently.

Focusing on buildings and infrastructure systems, such as communications and electric power, the framework will identify performance goals; document existing standards, codes, and practices that address resilience; and identify gaps that must be addressed to bolster community resilience.

As we prepare the draft framework, NIST is soliciting input from a broad array of stakeholders, including planners, designers, facility owners and users, government officials, utility owners, regulators, standards and model code developers, insurers, trade and professional associations, disaster response and recovery groups, and researchers.

Commerce in the Community: MDC utilizes effective partnership model to promote sustainable economic development and opportunity at the community level

David Dodson, President of MDC

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Commerce in the Community series highlighting the work of community leaders and organizations that are strengthening the middle class and providing ladders of opportunity for all Americans.

Below is an interview with David Dodson, President of MDC. Originally known as “Manpower Development Corp.”, MDC creates programs that employ integrated, sustainable solutions that connect people with the financial supports that can stabilize their lives, the education and training they need to get better jobs and the industries that will benefit from their labors and improve the entire community. David Dodson has been with MDC since 1987, where he has directed major projects to increase student success in public schools and community colleges, address regional economic decline, strengthen community philanthropy and build multiracial leadership across the South and the nation. Prior to joining MDC, David served as Executive Director of the Cummins Foundation and Director of Corporate Responsibility for Cummins Engine Company, a Fortune 500 manufacturer based in Columbus, Indiana.

Q1: Tell us about MDC. What is your mission and main focus?

MDC helps organizations and communities close the gaps that separate people from opportunity. We focus on education, employment and economic security and believe the pathway to opportunity is cleared by creating equity—removing the social, financial, and educational barriers that make it harder for those left behind to take advantage of the opportunities America has to offer.

Our programs focus on the American South. We work with policymakers, grassroots community leaders, business people, educators and nonprofits to create a will for change by getting to know a community or organization, connecting leaders across social and political lines and highlighting gaps through historical and statistical research. We then help them identify solutions with a high potential for success and mobilize leaders to address the issues raised.

Our theory of action— Education + Work+ Assets = The Pathway to Opportunity—produces our vision that “society benefits when everyone succeeds.”

Commerce Joins Federal Partners to Present Job Training Programs Review

Commerce Joins Federal Partners to Present Job Training Programs Review

Guest Blog Post by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker

A strong, skilled American workforce is essential to ensuring that U.S. businesses are able to compete in the global economy. In the 2014 State of the Union Address, President Obama asked that I join Vice President Biden, Secretary Perez, and Secretary Duncan to lead a review of federal training programs, to ensure that these programs prepare workers for the jobs that are available right now. On Tuesday we presented our findings and recommendations to the President at an event at the White House. President Obama also signed H.R. 803, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which will help improve business engagement and accountability across federally-funded training programs.

As a business leader of 27 years, I know the importance of hiring skilled workers. In our “Open for Business Agenda,” the Department of Commerce is making workforce development a top priority for the first time ever. While the Department does not directly fund job training programs, many of our initiatives support efforts to match workers to local industry needs. The Economic Development Administration (EDA) and National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) in particular have taken significant leadership roles in the Department’s skilled workforce policy. For example, the Economic Development Administration (EDA) funds critical efforts that help communities address local economic needs, including workforce needs. In addition, the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) works with manufacturers around the country to help them improve their processes and create and retain jobs.

Commerce is coordinating with other federal partners to leverage support for job-driven training initiatives. For example,  we are working in coordination with the Department of Labor (DOL) on their Center for Workforce & Industry Partnerships (CWIP), which will bring together key agencies across the federal government to support workforce and industry partnerships and form a common vision and approach to partnerships. To better align economic development and workforce development goals, EDA is working to develop stronger ties between EDA Regional Offices and Department of Labor (DOL) regional offices, and is incorporating job-driven training principles into its new Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies guidelines for economic development districts. Also, NIST MEP is working closely with DOL’s Registered Apprenticeships Program to spread awareness of their resources to common clients.  In fact, MEP and DOL co-hosted a webinar on these programs last week, and MEP helped DOL host an advanced manufacturing industry roundtable in Chicago last month to inform the upcoming solicitation for federal apprenticeship funding, one of the major announcements to come out of the Administration’s work on job-driven training.

We are also leveraging Commerce data to develop new tools for connecting job-seekers to available positions. Today, at the 21st Century Career Counseling Jobs Data Jam in Baltimore, Md., Under Secretary for Economic Affairs Mark Doms and Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez spoke with technology leaders and app developers to explore opportunities to use government data to help workers find jobs and training opportunities.

The Department of Commerce is leveraging our resources and will continue to collaborate with our other interagency partners, as well as businesses and educational institutions, to ensure that both workers and businesses get the best out of workforce skills programs. The report we presented on Tuesday offers a blueprint for our future actions to help more Americans climb the ladder of opportunity. 

U.S.-Africa Business Success Stories: A Kodak Moment: How the Department of Commerce Brokered a Deal between Eastman Kodak and an Egyptian Bank

Ed. Note: This post is part of the U.S.-Africa Business Success Stories series highlighting the work of the Department of Commerce to strengthen the economic relationship between U.S. and African businesses. This series will lead up to the U.S. Africa Business Forum on August 5th, which will convene African heads of state and government to meet with President Obama, Secretary Pritzker, and former Mayor Michael Bloomberg to discuss trade and investment opportunities for African heads of government and American business leaders.

When the Department of Commerce helped Eastman Kodak broker an exporting deal with one of Egypt’s largest state-owned banks, it was a true Kodak moment. American businesses like Kodak are becoming increasingly engaged in exporting to Africa, and the reasons why are clear:

  • Africa has made great strides towards achieving sustainable economic growth and widespread poverty alleviation.
  • Gross domestic product (GDP) in Africa is expected to rise 6 percent per year over the next decade.
  • Africa is set to have a larger workforce than India or China by the year 2040.
  • According to the World Bank, almost half of Africa’s countries have attained middle-income status.

Africa’s potential as the world’s next major economic story is why businesses in the United States, like Kodak, want to offer their products, services, and expertise to help unlock even more of Africa’s potential – and the Obama Administration and Department of Commerce are committed to helping these exporting businesses each step of the way.

Kodak, the company best known for pioneering photographic film products, has been an active client of the nearby Rochester U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC) for decades. This long-standing relationship connected Kodak with one of the largest state-owned banks in Egypt, Banque Misr. When the bank was about to place an order to purchase Kodak Scanners, Banque Misr was told that Kodak had encountered a financial problem not familiar to many outside the U.S.: Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

To better understand Kodak’s financial situation, Banque Misr contacted the U.S. Commercial Service in Egypt, which then contacted the Rochester USEAC. The Rochester USEAC  was able to confirm that Kodak was still operational and headquartered in Rochester. With the help of Tim McCall, a trade specialist in Rochester, and the U.S. Commercial Service, the bank received the proper paperwork and placed an order to Kodak which amounted to roughly $185,000 in export sales.

The Obama Administration and the Department of Commerce believe that Kodak’s and Banque Misr’s example can encourage other U.S. companies to do business in Africa. That is why, last year, President Obama announced the launch of Trade Africa, a partnership between the United States and East African Community (EAC) – Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. Trade Africa aims to increase exports from the EAC to the U.S. by 40 percent, reduce the average time needed to import or export a container from African ports by 15 percent, and decrease by 30 percent the average time a truck takes to transit certain borders, making it easier for businesses on both side of the Atlantic to trade. 

Businesses interested in learning more about exporting should contact their local U.S. Export Assistance Center.

New BEA Data Provide Insights on How Harsh Winter Impacted Industries in First Quarter

Real value added —a measure of an industry’s contribution to GDP—for agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting declined 31 percent in the first quarter, reflecting a drop in the production of farm-type products, including livestock and dairy.

How much did the harsh winter weather affect the U.S. economy in the first quarter of this year?

We know that the economy, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP), contracted at an annual rate of 2.9 percent over January, February and March, the first quarterly decline in three years. But how were different industries affected and was weather a factor?  New data released today by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis provide fresh insights on that front.

The economy’s downturn in the first quarter was widespread, with 19 of 22 major industry groups contributing to the drop in U.S. economic activity, the new BEA data show.  Some of the leading contributors to the downturn included industries that were impacted by the unusually harsh winter weather that hit most of the United States, including “agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting.”

Severe weather conditions can have both positive and negative (although mostly negative) effects on the Nation’s economic performance. For some industries this is intuitive, like “agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting” and “construction;” for other industries, like “mining,” and “nondurable-goods manufacturing,” the link may not be as intuitive.

Real value added —a measure of an industry’s contribution to GDP—for agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting declined 31 percent in the first quarter, reflecting a drop in the production of farm-type products, including livestock and dairy. 

Construction fell almost 9 percent, reflecting a notable decline in nonresidential construction activity that began in January and continued through March; unusually cold and wet weather hampered construction activity. 

Perhaps somewhat surprising, the utility industry also contributed to the decline in GDP in the first quarter.  While demand for additional utilities, for example electricity generation, was evident with the severe winter weather, a surge in the costs of the inputs used by the utilities industry—things like energy, materials, and purchased services used in the production process—caused real value added to drop over 16 percent in the first quarter. 

Working to Ensure Public Safety Has Cutting-Edge, Reliable Communications

Working to Ensure Public Safety Has Cutting-Edge, Reliable Communications

Guest blog post by Stephen Fletcher, Associate Administrator, Office of Public Safety Communications, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)

First responders know the deadly consequences of not having a communications network that is reliable and interoperable, a problem highlighted during the September 2001 terrorist attacks and Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.  

The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is working to ensure our nation’s first responders have access to the most advanced communications when responding to an emergency or natural disaster.

NTIA is working closely with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), an independent authority within the agency, as it works towards creating a nationwide public safety broadband network. In support of that effort, NTIA also is working to ensure states are prepared to take full advantage of this network once it is deployed.

NTIA awarded $116 million in grants to 54 states and territories to help plan for the broadband network that FirstNet will deploy. The State and Local Implementation Grant Program (SLIGP) is helping states prepare for the development and implementation of a more resilient broadband network, which will enable first responders to communicate efficiently and, consequently, save lives.

With the help of SLIGP funding, states and territories have begun to initiate collaborative relationships with public safety stakeholders through enhanced statewide governance, as well as by conducting education and outreach regarding the public safety broadband network, consulting with FirstNet, and identifying potential users. For example, FloridaNet, the team facilitating Florida’s broadband coverage needs, used SLIGP funding to host a listening tour – a series of eight, three-hour sessions across the state – and a webinar earlier this year to provide an overview of FirstNet and the role played by FloridaNet for law enforcement, fire, emergency medical services, emergency management, hospitals, Tribal Nations, and other stakeholders.

Going forward, NTIA will support its SLIGP grantees by engaging in outreach and technical assistance activities, such as holding webinars and conference calls, developing programmatic best practice documents, and conducting site visits. Through this work, and the work of many others, the United States is on its way to developing a public safety broadband network that stands tough in the face of crisis.

Supporting the Best Environment for U.S. Exporters

Supporting the Best Environment for U.S. Exporters

One way the International Trade Administration (ITA) supports U.S. exporters is through specific teams of specialists who focus on specific industry sectors.

From marine technology, to health care, to automobile manufacturing, ITA offers export support in a variety of sectors.

To promote professional development and to make sure our specialists stay on top of the latest business trends and opportunities, our teams come together to share lessons learned, study best practices, and discuss ways their industry is changing.

This month, the Environmental Technology team did just that.

Their week-long conference included various seminars which built on existing knowledge of export policies and emerging environmental technologies. These conferences benefit exporters because they keep the commercial service specialists up to date on the latest and greatest in their industry. The main focus of this year’s training sessions was ways the team can address pollution issues related to water, air, and soil, and to learn about new recycling technologies.

Other ways ITA supports environmental technology exporters are through programs such as;

The environmental sector is a large and growing industry. Environmental technologies make up a $735 billion global market with U.S. exports currently comprising about $45 billion of this market. Therefore there is much growth potential for U.S. envirotech exporters.

Industry-specific offices are just one of the ways ITA constantly works to make exporting easier for American businesses.

You can find out more about our industry teams and how they support exporters at export.gov. Or you can contact the Environmental Technology Team so they can help lead you in the right direction.

SEWW Energy, Inc. Inks a $175 million deal spanning 7 years following West Africa Trade Mission with Commerce Department

SEWW Energy, Inc. David Ellis, SVP, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Kevon Makell, Chairman, President, & Chief Executive Officer for SEWW Energy, Inc. while on the West Africa Trade Mission

Guest blog post by Kevon Makell, President & Chief Executive Officer of SEWW Energy, Inc.

Ed Note: This post is part of the U.S.-Africa Business Success Stories series highlighting the work of the Department of Commerce to strengthen the economic relationship between U.S. and African businesses. This series will lead up to the U.S. Africa Business Forum on August 5th, the first of its kind event, which will convene African heads of state and government, U.S. government officials and business leaders to discuss trade and investment opportunities on the continent.

The West Africa Trade Mission was a rousing success for SEWW Energy, Incorporated. Being selected to participate in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Trade Mission, with host Secretary Penny Pritzker, was a critical move for my company. It provided us an opportunity to realize years of groundwork that my team and I have labored over and prepared for, waiting for the right moment to execute. It was obvious when we landed that success was in the air as the first delegates stepped off the plane, landing in Accra, Ghana.

Accompanied by Vice President David Ellis, our tag team duo spent part of the first day with the Managing Director of Electricity of Ghana, moving our idea of West Africa electrification across the goal line. This was the defining moment we have waited for.  In anticipation, we worked through the night praying that preparation and opportunity would meet. My goal during this important trip was to confirm the signing of a major contract on day two.  All the strategy sessions, planning details, what-if scenarios, infrastructure analysis and playbook calls all came down to this moment. SEWW Energy was focused on carrying out the mission to serve the underserved with the “Power To” change lives and make a positive difference in West Africa.

The seven-day trip solidified SEWW’s vision of becoming an international player in developing micro and macro grids electrification systems for the Accra, Ghana region. We are ecstatic to be the first company to sign a solid contract to lead the upgrade and expansion projects in the Greater Accra Region spanning seven-years, at $25 million per year. The project is supported by the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and will include efforts to improve the transmission and distribution of electricity, in the West African nation. 

Within the seven-year time frame, SEWW Energy has been authorized to provide products and services in support of the project that will include network transmission, the rebuilding of substations, and the design of smart grids. ECG has identified infrastructure challenges that have consistently troubled Ghana including: rapid energy demand growth, inadequate network capacity, network outages, and poor energy supply reliability. SEWW Energy will spearhead solutions to reduce the cost of power supply and address security, reliability, and efficiency. Additionally, we will train local citizens in Ghana to operate and maintain the new infrastructures.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you U.S. Department of Commerce, Secretary Pritzker and my wonderful Team SEWW. We are now moving full speed ahead to Power the World!

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Businesses interested in learning more about the benefits of exporting should contact their local U.S. Export Assistance Center.

Please check back regularly for moresuccess stories about companies doing business in Africa.

NOAA and Partners Provide Real-time Information to Keep Economic Activity Flowing in Port of Jacksonville

The air gap sensor installed on the Dames Point Bridge in Jacksonville, Fla., ensured that Carnival Cruise Lines could continue serving the Port of Jacksonville while the bridge was undergoing repairs. According to a 2009 study completed by Martin Associates, the cruise industry generates more than $67 million in annual economic impact for Northeast Florida.

Our country’s port system is an essential driver of the U.S. economy and for connecting us to the rest of the world.  Every day, U.S. ports and waterways handle millions of tons of domestic and international cargo ranging from agricultural products to heating oil and automobiles.

As demand for U.S. goods and services increases, U.S. ports are responding by implementing innovative technologies. Today, the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its local partner, the Jacksonville Marine Transportation Exchange, dedicated the newest Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System, or PORTS®, in the country.  

Part of NOAA’s network of observational platforms, PORTS® puts real-time, actionable information, or environmental intelligence, into the hands of people who need it to make informed decisions.

The new Jacksonville PORTS®, the second largest ever established in the system, includes a broad suite of operational sensors with water level, meteorological, visibility, salinity, air gap (under bridge clearance), and tidal currents. These sensors are the new “eyes” for the Port of Jacksonville giving 20/20 vision to port operators, ship captains, shipping companies, and others. Jacksonville PORTS® will provide mariners with better maritime information about currents and water levels so they can navigate more efficiently and safely.

PORTS®, combined with up-to-date nautical charts and precise positioning information, can provide mariners with a clearer picture of the potential dangers in the water.  In addition, as ships increase in size and carry more cargo, PORTS® provides shipping companies with information to ensure they safely enter and exit our ports.

Census Bureau Releases Disability Facts and Figures in Recognition of ADA Anniversary

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Cross blog post from Disability.gov

In preparation for the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on July 26, the U.S. Census Bureau released its collection of the most recent data pertaining to Americans with disabilities. The numbers are striking. People with disabilities represented 19 percent of the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population. Persons with a disability have a physical or mental impairment that affects one or more major life activities, such as walking, bathing, dressing, eating, preparing meals, going outside the home, or doing housework. A disability can occur at birth or at any point in a person’s life.

  • Approximately 57 million Americans have a disability. There are more people with disabilities living in America than the entire population of Canada or the Caribbean.
  • More Americans with disabilities require the assistance of others to perform basic activities of daily living than the entire population of Greece.
  • If you take the population of Ireland and cut it in half, that’s roughly the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s or other neurocognitive disorders.
  • The number of Americans with vision impairments is comparable to the entire population of Switzerland, and there are more Americans with hearing impairments than in all of Denmark, Paraguay or Hong Kong.
  • By age in the U.S., 8 percent of children under 15 had a disability; 21 percent of people 15 and older had a disability; 17 percent of people 21 to 64 had a disability; and 50 percent of adults 65 and older had a disability.
  • West Virginia had the highest rate at 19% of the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population with a disability, the highest rate of any state in the nation. Utah, at 9 percent, had the lowest rate.

On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodations, commercial facilities, telecommunications, and state and local government services.

U.S.-Africa Business Success Stories: How a Texas Oil Company Started Doing Business in Cameroon and Morocco

Note: This post is part of the U.S.-Africa Business Success Stories series highlighting the work of the Department of Commerce to strengthen the economic relationship between U.S. and African businesses. This series will lead up to the U.S. Africa Business Forum on August 5th, the first of its kind event, which will convene African heads of state and government, U.S. government officials and business leaders to discuss trade and investment opportunities on the continent.

The geographic distance between Texas-based Arnold Oil Company and Sub-Saharan Africa may be thousands of miles, but their economic relationship has never been closer. U.S. businesses like the Arnold Oil Company are increasingly finding economic opportunity in Sub-Saharan Africa: between 2001 to 2012, U.S. trade to sub-Saharan Africa tripled from $6.9 billion to $22.5 billion dollars. Africa is now home to six of the top ten fastest growing economies in the world, leading President Obama to call sub-Saharan Africa the “world’s next major economic success story.” That is why the Department of Commerce is working to facilitate and advocate for American businesses in this growing region, and U.S. firms are eager to help unlock even more of Africa’s economic potential.

A family-owned supplier of automotive and oil lubricant products, the Arnold Oil Company became interested in expanding its business abroad. They met with the U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC) in Austin to request assistance in developing an exporting and marketing plan for their products. After creating a plan that satisfied the company, the USEAC arranged for a meeting with a representative from the U.S. Export-Import Bank to assist the Arnold Oil Company with financing its exports.

But the USEAC took its assistance one step further, introducing the Arnold Oil Company to a buyer in Cameroon, who eventually was signed as a distributer. As a result of this relationship, the Arnold Oil Company was able to ship their first exports of oil lubricants to Morocco, generating revenue of more than $24,000 in 2013. With assistance from the USEAC, the Arnold Oil Company was able to expand its business into one of the most economically dynamic regions in the world.