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The Commerce Blog

Commerce Employees are Proud to Serve

For Public Service Recognition Week 2014, several of our Commerce employees talk about what public service means to them.

National Climate Assessment Underscores Urgent Need for Americans and Our Businesses to Prepare for Climate Change in the United States

Cover of the third U.S. National Climate Assessment report

Guest Blog Post by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker

The effects of climate change on our planet are becoming more evident, and its impact on our communities, and key sectors of the economy, is becoming more profound.

As part of its overall efforts to provide scientific information about climate change, the Obama Administration released the third U.S. National Climate Assessment. This report – a key deliverable of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan – is a comprehensive, authoritative scientific assessment about climate changes that are happening now in the U.S. and further changes that we can expect to see throughout this century.

The report communicates the impacts of climate change according to geographic region of the U.S., and by economic and societal sector—including agriculture, energy, and health. These tailored findings help translate scientific insights into practical, useable knowledge that can help decision-makers and citizens anticipate and prepare for specific climate-change impacts.

Among the 12 key findings, the report concludes that evidence of human-induced climate change continues to strengthen and that impacts are increasing across the country. Over the next 100 years, we can expect these impacts to further increase unless the global emissions of heat-trapping greenhouses gases are stabilized or reduced. 

While these findings are indeed sobering and provide real-cause for concern, there is also reason for hope. Ultimately, the amount of climate change, severity of impacts, and how we will prepare for those impacts will be largely be determined by the decisions we make today. 

Commerce Department Recognizes Employees’ Service

This week marks Public Service Recognition Week – an opportunity to honor the men and women who serve our nation as federal, state, county and local government employees.

There are more than two million Americans who have answered the call to serve our country and many of them have dedicated their careers to making our government work better. Their tireless efforts many times go unnoticed or unrecognized – and this week is an occasion to highlight the important work they do and thank them for their service to our country and our citizens.

The Commerce Department has employees working in all 50 states and around the globe focused on strengthening our economy. Commerce employees, and the work of our 12 bureaus, touches the daily lives of the American people in many ways, with a wide range of services in the areas of trade and investment, economic development, innovation, entrepreneurship, environmental stewardship, and statistical research analysis. From National Weather Service weather forecasts, to the Census Bureau’s decennial census statistics, your work helps improve everyday life.

To recognize the incredible work of Commerce employees, Secretary Penny Pritzker, along with other Administration officials, and Commerce leadership will participate in a number of events with employees to honor their dedication and commitment to their work and thank them for their service. Commerce is also launching the “Coffee with the Secretary” series this week – an opportunity for 20 employees to meet informally with Secretary Pritzker for coffee and to share their thoughts and ideas.

Taking Action to Attract the World’s Top Talented Professionals

Guest Blog Post by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker

Today, the Obama Administration announced new steps to make it easier for highly skilled workers and talented researchers from other countries to contribute to our economy and ultimately become Americans. These measures are part of administrative reforms first announced in 2012, and reflect our commitment to attracting and retaining highly-skilled immigrants, continuing our economic recovery, and encouraging job creation.

Specifically, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a proposed rule that would—for the first time—allow work authorization for the spouses of H-1B workers who have begun the process of applying for a green card through their employers. Once enacted, this proposed rule would empower these spouses to put their own education and skills to work for the country that they and their families now call home.  This rule change was requested in a “We the People” petition to the White House.

At the same time, DHS is also proposing another new rule to make it easier for outstanding professors and researchers in other countries to demonstrate their eligibility for the EB-1 visa, a type of green card reserved for the world’s best and brightest. Just as great athletes and performers are already able to provide a range of evidence to support their petition for an EB-1, professors and researchers would be able to present diverse achievements such as groundbreaking patents or prestigious scientific grants.

These measures build on continuing Administration efforts to streamline existing systems, eliminate inefficiency, and increase transparency, such as by the launch of Entrepreneur Pathways, an online resource center that gives immigrant entrepreneurs an intuitive way to navigate opportunities to start and grow a business in the United States.

Commerce in the Community: Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren on Public Service and Expanding Opportunity in Her City

Mayor Lovely A. Warren, Rochester, New York

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 Rochester, New York Mayor Lovely Warren. A Rochester native, Mayor Warren served as President of the Rochester City Council prior to the start of her first term as Mayor in 2014. This interview is part of the Commerce Department’s participation in Public Service Recognition Week.

Q1: What inspired you to pursue public service?

When I was in college, I never saw myself pursuing a career in public service.  In fact, I had a lifelong desire to become a prosecutor.  When I was 7 years old, my grandfather was shot while working security at a local grocery chain.  He almost died, but thankfully he pulled through.  From that moment on, I pursued a dream of becoming a prosecutor so I could bring people, like the man who shot my grandfather, to justice.

After college I went to law school and was still hoping to become a prosecutor.  But fate had other plans for me.  I took an internship with New York State Assemblyman David Gantt, and my life was forever changed.  Working for Assemblyman Gantt, I got my first introduction to the world of public service.  Not only did I see how laws are actually created and executed on the state level, but I also got to see how elected officials help their constituents.  People would call Assemblyman Gantt’s office when they were out of options, and we were their last hope.  I helped people who were about to lose their homes due to foreclosure,  people who needed guidance on how to navigate the legal system,  people who wanted to start a business, and people who were being taken advantage of by slumlords.  I was amazed at the incredible diversity of issues that are brought to elected officials.  But more importantly, I was impressed by the incredible potential elected officials have to positively impact the lives of so many people, particularly the poorest citizens, who often don’t have access to the knowledge and resources that more affluent citizens may enjoy.

That is still what motivates me to get up and go to work every morning; the opportunity to positively impact the lives of city residents.

Q2: As Mayor of Rochester, what are your key priorities for expanding economic opportunity?

NOAA Invites Citizens to “Come Visit Us” at the Coastal and Ocean Places It Helps Protect

Come Visit Us - kayak alongside a river bank

Conserving coastal places provides economic benefits to local communities. For example, across all national marine sanctuaries, about $4 billion annually is generated in local coastal and ocean-dependent economies from diverse activities like commercial fishing, research and recreation-tourist activities. NOAA’s National Ocean Service works to conserve marine areas — and preserve the economic benefits of these special places to local communities — through coastal management and place-based conservation programs such as the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, National Marine Sanctuaries, and the Coral Reef Conservation Program.

From May 5-9, NOAA’s National Ocean Service will celebrate these special coastal and marine places in conjunction with National Travel and Tourism Week. Their online campaign, Come Visit Us, highlights a variety of coastal and marine places that the National Ocean Service helps to protect, including

  • 28 national estuarine research reserves (1.3 million coastal and estuarine acres)
  • 13 national marine sanctuaries and 1 national marine monument (170,000 square miles of marine and Great Lakes waters)
  • coral reefs and marine protected areas in U.S. coastal waters

The campaign will include ocean facts, an audio podcast, videos, and even a guide to diving in our sanctuaries and reserves. And for those who can’t travel to our ocean and coasts in the near future, this visual campaign will help them virtually experience the coastal and marine places that NOAA strives to protect. Conserving these special places today is critical to ensuring future generations can enjoy and benefit from these valuable ocean and coastal resources tomorrow.

You can follow Come Visit Us on the NOAA Ocean Service Facebook or Twitter pages.

Commerce Department Collaborates with Regional Partners to Make the U.S. a Magnet for Advanced Manufacturing and Good Paying Jobs

This week, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker met with the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) Steering Committee 2.0 and the Manufacturing Council to discuss issues affecting the health of America’s manufacturing industry, including progress on the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI).

In his 2013 and 2014 State of the Union Addresses, President Obama called for the creation of a nationwide network devoted to innovating and scaling-up advanced manufacturing technologies and processes to create good paying jobs and spur economic growth. These efforts, known as the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) consist of regional hubs, bringing together companies, universities, community colleges, and government to accelerate the development and adoption of cutting-edge manufacturing technologies for making new, globally competitive products. The President has asked Congress to authorize a one-time $1 billion investment—to be matched by private and other non-federal funds—to create an initial network of up to 15 hubs. Over the span of 10 years, he has proposed building out NNMI to encompass 45 such hubs.

Significant progress has already been made to accelerate the development of the NNMI. In January, President Obama announced the selection of the Next Generation Power Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Institute, headquartered at North Carolina State University, to lead a manufacturing innovation institute for next generation power electronics. It is focused on enabling energy-efficient, high-power electronic chips and devices by making wide bandgap semiconductor technologies cost-competitive with current silicon-based power electronics. President Obama also announced two additional institutes in February – the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute, headquartered in Chicago, and the Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing Innovation Institute, headquartered in the Detroit area. These announcements build on the NNMI pilot – the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, now known as America Makes – launched in August 2012 in Youngstown, Ohio.

May is World Trade Month 2014

Guest blog post by Ken Hyatt, Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade.

Happy World Trade Month!

For years, May has been the time to not only recognize the benefits of international trade, but also for organizations around the country to support more American companies competing overseas.

For the United States, the benefits of trade have been great, as have our successes. We recently announced that for the fourth straight year, the United States set a record for annual exports in 2013, at $2.3 trillion. That is a 40 percent growth in total exports since 2009.

Behind those exports are millions of well-paying American jobs – a record 11.3 million jobs to be exact. That number is an increase of 1.6 million from 2009.

As more American businesses compete and succeed in the global marketplace, the entire national economy reaps benefit.

Fishing’s Impacts Ripple across the Broader Economy

1.7 million jobs supported by U.S. commercial and recreational fishing industries in 2012

Guest blog post by Eileen Sobeck, NOAA’s Assistant Administrator for Fisheries

Fishing is big business in the United States. From commercial fisheries to recreational and charter boat business owners, fishing contributes to the United States’ economy and supports jobs. According to new reports issued today by NOAA Fisheries, we continue to see positive economic impacts from commercial and recreational U.S. fisheries as well as progress in rebuilding our nation’s fish stocks.

Between 2011 and 2012 alone, U.S. commercial and recreational saltwater fishing generated more than $199 billion in sales impacts, contributed $89 billion to gross domestic product, and supported 1.7 million jobs.

Breaking down the numbers a little more, the value chain of the commercial fishing industry—harvesters, processors, dealers, wholesalers, and retailers—generated $141 billion in sales, $39 billion in income and supported 1.3 million jobs in 2012.

The recreational fishing sector generated $58 billion in sales, $19 billion in income, and supported 381,000 jobs in 2012.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. The United States is a world leader in responsibly managed fisheries, and there’s no doubt that our approach to management is directly tied to the positive economic impacts across the broader U.S. economy in the last few years as we see in the Fisheries Economics of the U.S. 2012 report.

New Expansion to Support New Opportunities

Guest blog post by Arun Kumar, Assistant Secretary for Global Markets and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service

Last week, Commerce Secretary Pritzker made an important announcement that demonstrates the United States’ commitment to supporting developing economies and the Department of Commerce’s commitment to U.S. businesses competing overseas.

The Department’s International Trade Administration will open offices in five new markets, bringing Foreign Commercial Service (CS) officers into some of the world's most rapidly developing economies. In cooperation with the U.S. State Department, we will open offices in Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Burma this calendar year.

These new offices, and our staff additions in other offices around the world, will make us more capable of supporting U.S. exporters. We can support more Gold Key Matchmaking, we can conduct more market research, and we can help connect U.S. companies to more global markets.

As a new member of the Department of Commerce team, I'm very excited to be a part of this major expansion - especially in such important markets for U.S. businesses.

Commerce in the Community: Opportunity Nation Works to Expand Economic Mobility and Promote a 21st Century Workforce

Mark Edwards, Executive Director of Opportunity Nation

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 Mark Edwards, Executive Director of Opportunity Nation, which he launched in 2011 with a coalition of more than 250 cross-sector partners.

Q1: What is Opportunity Nation?

Opportunity Nation is a national, cross-sector campaign comprised of more than 300 businesses, educational institutions, nonprofits and civic organizations working together to expand economic mobility and close the opportunity gap in the US. 

Our work is guided by the belief that the zip code where you are born should not determine your chances in life. If the ability to move up the ladder of opportunity grinds to a halt, we are in grave danger of losing the best of America.

Q2: How is Opportunity Nation working to promote job creation and economic development?

Working closely with nonprofits, community colleges and employers who are committed to helping young Americans gain the skills they need, we advocate for federal policies and public and private sector actions that expand opportunity, outlined in our Shared Plan. We also hold regional and national meetings that bring cross-sector leaders together.  Lastly, we’ve created a first-of-its-kind tool, the Opportunity Index, that’s sparked research, national awareness and grassroots activism on opportunity-related issues.

NIST Research Offers Guide in Formulating Cancer Treatment Drugs

NIST Research Offers Guide in Formulating Cancer Treatment Drugs

Potentially valuable drugs slowed down by sticky molecules may get another shot at success. Joint research by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Genentech, the University of Delaware and Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) has revealed the reason why a certain class of proteins tends to form clusters that lead to high viscosity in drug solutions.

The newly published results* could help drug companies create a variety of cancer and autoimmune disease treatments based on monoclonal antibodies, whose stickiness can make them difficult to administer through thin needles.

Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) are Y-shaped protein molecules that hold great promise for disease treatment. In principle, the tip region of two of their "arms" can be engineered to deliver attacks on tumor cells without harming surrounding tissue, making mAbs less dangerous to the body than standard chemotherapy, that kills both healthy and cancerous cells. However, a roadblock in the way of their bright pharmaceutical future as a subcutaneous injection—the preferred delivery technique—is their high viscosity: in solution, some mAbs become so viscous at required high concentrations that they are nearly impossible to inject.

PTO Addresses Importance of Intellectual Property for World IP Day

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

Today I had the opportunity to discuss the importance of intellectual property during a World IP Day event at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. I want to share my remarks with you through this blog:

One of the challenges I’ve come to appreciate in my own career in IP law, and particularly as Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, is how to facilitate a better and broader public understanding of the importance of intellectual property in our daily lives. Let’s face it: As engineers, scientists, academics, and lawyers, we don’t always do a great job helping get the public as excited about intellectual property as we are, or in helping them see the connection between intellectual property, the products they enjoy, and the IP-related jobs created every year in our innovation economy. As recently as 2012, a Commerce Department study found that IP-intensive industries support at least 40 million jobs and contribute more than $5 trillion dollars to, or 34.8 percent of, U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). That’s a huge part of our economy.

As a child of the Silicon Valley, I saw the power of innovation and intellectual property up close and personal. My parents were immigrants, drawn across the Pacific Ocean by the promise of the American Dream. My father was an engineer, and so were all of the dads on the street where I grew up. They worked for tech companies of all sizes, often founded by just one person who grew their businesses through the power of intellectual property. Many of them had the experience of creating an invention, patenting it, and using the protection that patent provided to obtain venture capital funding, hire employees, and begin producing and selling new products and services. Seeing that process as a child made an indelible impression on me, and I never had much doubt about what I wanted to do when I “grew up.” But of course my childhood was shaped by intellectual property in other ways that I didn’t always recognize or appreciate.

New Commerce Data Supports Better Economic Decision-Making by Businesses and Policymakers

This week, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released two new data products that will help American businesses, consumers, policymakers and academia gain important information about the performance of the U.S. economy.

Yesterday, BEA released inflation-adjusted estimates of personal income for states and metropolitan areas, which are being released for the first time as official statistics. Americans looking to move or take a job anywhere in the country can now compare these inflation-adjusted incomes to better understand how their personal income may be affected by a job change or move. In addition, businesses looking to relocate or establish new facilities can use this data to get a comprehensive and consistent measure of differences in the cost of living and the purchasing power of consumers nationwide.

Also for the first time, BEA today released quarterly estimates of the economic activity generated by 22 industries – including manufacturing, construction, finance, transportation, retail, health care, educational services, and the arts. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data – one of our government’s most valuable data resources – shows how different industries helped or hindered the U.S. economy’s growth in a given quarter. These new statistics will enable industries in all sectors to better measure their contributions to GDP and understand and identify emerging trends more quickly. This economic intelligence can help make businesses more competitive and innovative, as well as guide their decisions about investing and hiring.

New BEA Data Proves Valuable for Retail Industry

Jack Kleinhenz, Ph.D., Chief Economist, National Retail Federation

Guest blog post by Jack Kleinhenz, Ph.D., Chief Economist, National Retail Federation 

NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries.

The National Retail Federation closely monitors economic conditions in order to gauge the health of the overall industry and the consumers who represent nearly 70% of the national GDP. By having quarterly updates on the economic performance of 22 sectors, we will be better served when representing retailers and their needs as it relates to economic forecasts, labor markets and job reports, and much more.

Having higher frequency GDP data by industry will be extremely valuable in assessing current economic conditions and shaping economic forecasts. The new data series should provide reliable information on the changes in growth for specific industries, and offer insights into whether the growth is well-above, well-below, or average relative to overall GDP growth. In the past, the annual data could not provide perspective on the fits and starts in marketplace activity, so I am encouraged that a more detailed picture is now more accessible. 

No modeling effort can accurately capture the dynamics and complexity of the U.S. economy nor consider all the variables. The difference now is that we don’t have to wait a year to find out how different industries are performing and contributing to the United States’ economic growth. This data will add to our toolkit for forecasting both short and long-term trends. Additionally, these quarterly reports will provide a better barometer of when an industry might be poised for a surge or a drop – otherwise known as turning points – that can possibly be a signal for the direction of the larger U.S. economy.

All in all, the access to this new statistical product will add to more informed decisions by all who need reliable and timely data on the performance of the economy.

Secretary Pritzker Talks About Two Keys to an Innovative and Competitive Economy: a Skilled Workforce and Entrepreneurship

Secretary Pritzker Talks About Two Keys to an Innovative and Competitive Economy: a Skilled Workforce and Entrepreneurship

Innovation is key to supporting economic growth and creating jobs in the United States. In order to ensure that the United States stays competitive, the Department of Commerce works to create the conditions that empower Americans to turn their ideas into successful businesses, grow their ventures, and create jobs.

Wednesday, on the third day of the Ed Innovation Summit in Scottsdale, Ariz., Secretary Pritzker spoke with former Washington Post executive editor Len Downie about what the Department of Commerce is doing to support innovation. Secretary Pritzker shared that since taking office almost one year ago, she has spoken to more than 1,000 CEOs and business leaders, including more than 150 of Fortune 500 companies, around the country. One of the top concerns they have shared is the challenge of finding the workers with the right skills to fill available jobs, which is a threat to our nation’s long-term competitiveness. In order to best equip workers for the jobs that are available now, and will be available in the future, Secretary Pritzker has made skills development a top priority for the Department of Commerce for the very first time.

Central to this effort is breaking down silos between the public and private sectors to create programs that match workers’ skills to the needs of businesses. The Department of Commerce is working closely with the Departments of Education and Labor, as well as businesses, training organizations, academic institutions, and state and local governments to do just that. Earlier this month, Secretary Pritzker traveled to Pittsburgh with President Obama and Vice President Biden, where they announced $100 million in competitive grants to support apprenticeships and a nearly $500 million grant competition to support partnerships between community colleges, employers, and industry association that will help develop job-driven training programs -- a first for the Department.

Another important aspect driving innovation is encouraging a start-up culture in which entrepreneurs can thrive. However, as Secretary Pritzker mentioned during her Ed Innovation talk, the rate of new business formation is actually declining in the United States. Research indicates that new and young companies are responsible for virtually all new job growth across the United States, so supporting entrepreneurship is a priority for the Administration.

Earlier this month, President Obama announced the inaugural members of the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE). Chaired by Secretary Pritzker, PAGE is an initiative to help develop the next generation of entrepreneurs across the globe and right here in the United States. The 11 PAGE members will participate in an ongoing dialogue with policy makers globally to discuss how to create an environment in which creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship can grow and thrive. They will also participate in outreach and mentorship activities to help promote a start-up culture, and energize their own personal and professional networks to challenge, inspire, and educate budding entrepreneurs.

Following her armchair discussion at the Ed Innovation Summit, Secretary Pritzker toured SkySong, the ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center, and met with local entrepreneurs. SkySong is a mixed use development designed to help companies grow by providing business services and programs offered or facilitated by Arizona State University, which include access to new technologies, capital networks, and a skilled workforce.

In her roundtable with SkySong's entrepreneurs, Secretary Pritzker discussed ways in which the federal government can serve as a catalyst to innovation. For example, the Department of Commerce protects entrepreneurs' intellectual property through the Patent and Trademark Office, enabling innovators to capitalize on their ideas. Another part of the Commerce Department, the Economic Development Administration (EDA), makes investments that help fund business incubators like SkySong. In fact, EDA helped create SkySong's technology transfer accelerator, known as Furnace, in 2012.

The investments in entrepreneurs have already paid off for Arizona. According to a 2012 study by the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, SkySong-based companies, which range from start-ups to large companies like Ticketmaster and Recruiting.com, have generated more than $460 million in economic impact for the Greater Phoenix area since SkySong's inception in 2008.

As part of its mission to help create an environment that stimulates economic growth and job creation, the Department of Commerce is dedicated to identifying and supporting successful programs for workforce training and entrepreneurship.

Commerce's Advocacy Center Supports Jobs at Boeing Facility in Arizona

Secretary Pritzker signs an Apache helicopter during a visit to Boeing's Mesa, Arizona facility. She is joined by Kim Smith, Boeing VP Attack Helicopter Programs, and David Koopersmith, Boeing VP/GM Vertical Lift Organization

As the country’s Chief Commercial Advocate, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker works to ensure that U.S. companies have the best possible chance of selling their goods and services abroad.

Through the International Trade Administration’s Advocacy Center (AC), the Department of Commerce helps level the playing field for American businesses by coordinating U.S. government resources on behalf of U.S. companies that are bidding on contracts to sell goods and services to overseas governments. This kind of collaboration and advocacy helps exporters win contracts and protects American jobs. In fact, the work of the Advocacy Center supported close to 200,000 U.S. jobs in fiscal year 2014 alone.

This week, Secretary Pritzker visited the Boeing facility in Mesa, Arizona, which has benefited from the efforts of the Advocacy Center. Just last August, the Advocacy Center helped Boeing win a $1.6 billion contract to sell 36 Apache helicopters made in Mesa to South Korea, which will support several hundred U.S. jobs.

Boeing is one of the many U.S. companies that receive support from the Advocacy Center, which is currently handling almost 1,000 active cases on behalf of companies of varying sizes and business sectors. With proven success, Commerce Department will continue to advocate for U.S. exporters so that America can remain competitive in an increasingly global economy.

As a resource to help U.S. businesses sell their goods and services abroad, the Advocacy Center is a key component of President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI), a government-wide effort to support U.S. businesses in exporting to the 95 percent of worldwide consumers who live outside America’s borders. Since NEI was launched in March 2010, the Advocacy Center has been successful in 228 cases, which have a U.S. export content value of $163.7 billion.

Driving German FDI – the U.S. as a Manufacturing & Distribution Hub, and an Export Platform

Inward foreign direct investment (FDI) stock totaled $2.7 trillion in 2012, a 6 percent increase from the prior year, which equals the average annual growth rate between 2001-2011.

Guest blog post by Amy Zecha, International Investment Specialist with SelectUSA. Her portfolio covers Central and Eastern Europe, including Germany. 

SelectUSA just finished another successful event at the Hannover Messe manufacturing trade fair – the largest in the world – and now we’re gearing up for another big event in Germany.  In September, we’ll be participating in Automechanika, a global trade show for the automotive industry.  We hope you’ll join us!

It’s been a great couple of months for German investment in the United States, and we’ve had some exciting news in the auto industry.  In a post last month, ITA’s Tradeology blog highlighted some impressive figures – including the 115% growth in U.S. auto exports of passenger vehicles between 2009 and 2013.

It is therefore no surprise to see international automakers – such as Germany’s BMW – continue to grow their U.S. manufacturing operations. At the end of March, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker joined BMW officials and others in Spartanburg, SC in celebrating the start of production of the X4 – and the announcement of the brand new X7. The addition of this model line will make Spartanburg BMW’s largest manufacturing facility in the world.

BMW, as a business, knows the value of manufacturing in the United States, and also the advantages of using the U.S. as an export platform. Today, BMW is one of the top auto exporters in the United States. More than half of all the cars produced by BMW at their Spartanburg plant are shipped to other markets beyond our borders. BMW has clearly harnessed the power of U.S. manufacturing and successfully coupled it with the export opportunities offered by U.S. trade agreements to maximize the potential of their U.S. operations.

This is just one case study of German success in the U.S. market. Success comes in many sizes - sometimes it's the small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) that makes the commitment to the United States, like PTF Pfuller, a manufacturer of precision parts and assemblies for the semiconductor, food, medical technology, laser and aerospace industries. The CEO, Mr. Oliver Zintl spent two years working with Jenny Trick of Racine County Economic Development Corporation, after an initial meeting at the USA Investment Center organized by SelectUSA and CS Germany at Hannover Messe 2011. PTF established its U.S. division in Sturtevant, Wisconsin in August 2013 with initial plans to start with a small sales staff – but then noted the potential to add manufacturing and a distribution center within five years, creating at least 50 jobs. PTF cited the tremendous work of Racine County and Milwaukee 7 (a regional economic development organization), as well as the central location, access to existing customers in the region, and the quality of the Gateway Technical College – which offers the potential for a nearby source of talent for the company.

Spurring Economic Growth through Infrastructure and Planning

Spurring Economic Growth through Infrastructure and Planning

Guest blog post by Matt Erskine, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Development

Generally, when people think about economic growth, they think in terms of big ideas: workforce development, increasing exports, foreign-direct investment. Most people don’t think about sewer systems or roads – the hard infrastructure that enables communities to achieve those big idea goals. The critical infrastructure that are the building blocks to economic growth are a major focus for the Economic Development Administration (EDA), and I was fortunate to be able to announce EDA grants for such projects in Massachusetts this week.

On Tuesday, I traveled to Worcester, Massachusetts to announce a $1 million grant to New Garden Park, Inc. with Congressman Jim McGovern. The money will be used to create more than 15,000 square feet of incubator space to establish the Worcester Technology and Idea Exchange in the former Worcester Telegram & Gazette facility. This is an investment for the future, an investment that is critical to the continued revitalization of Worcester’s downtown business district. According to grantee estimates, the planned technology incubator and accelerator will create more than 100 jobs by supporting a central location for entrepreneurs to explore and start a business in growing industries.

Following that announcement, I visited Devens to announce a $1.85 million grant to the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency of Boston. This grant will support the final phase of the Jackson Road reconstruction project at the Devens Industrial Park. In today’s global economy, first-class jobs gravitate to first-class infrastructure. The improvements will enable two manufacturing firms to expand their operations and attract private investment from automotive and film/video production businesses. The EDA investment is expected to generate $307 million in private investment and create 460 jobs, according to grantee estimates. 

Commerce Connects U.S. Businesses to Opportunities in Africa’s Power Sector

Energy for Africa: 600 million people, 70% of the population of Sub-Saharan Africa are without electricity

With its fast-growing middle class and tremendous human, agricultural, and mineral resources, the continent of Africa is attracting investors and businesses from all around the world. Home to seven of the world’s ten fastest-growing economies, Sub-Saharan Africa outpaces global average growth. That is why, in 2012, President Obama launched the Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) on Sub-Saharan Africa, now known as the U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa. The Strategy recognizes that Africa holds the promise to be “the world’s next major economic success story,” and the Commerce Department is working help businesses be part of that success story by promoting U.S. trade and investment through the Doing Business in Africa (DBIA) campaign.

Today, the Commerce Department’s Minority Business Development Agency’s (MBDA), Miami MBDA Business Center hosted the Power Africa B2B Summit to promote the public-private partnership model envisioned by President Obama’s Power Africa Initiative. President Obama announced Power Africa last year as an initiative to double the number of people with access to power in Sub-Saharan Africa, where 600 million people lack access to electricity. The United States is investing more than $7 billion in this effort.

At today’s Summit, prominent government and business leaders, including Nigeria’s Power Minister the Honorable Muhammed Wakil, CEOs of Africa’s major power companies, and representatives from the U.S. Export-Import Bank and USAID, joined MBDA to share opportunities for accessing the energy sector in African markets.

US Postal Service unveils new Earth Day stamp celebrating NOAA Climate Science

Global: Sea Surface Temperatures Forever® Stamp (credit USPS)

This morning, the U.S. Postal Service celebrated Earth Day by unveiling a new Forever international rate stamp inspired by a simulation of sea surface temperatures from a NOAA model of the Earth’s climate. The round stamp depicts the globe with North America in the center, surrounded by vivid bands of blue, green and red, signifying the varying temperatures of sea surface waters.

"This stamp is a fabulous tribute to the NOAA scientists and partners who develop models that help us understand changes in our climate and weather," said
Mark Schaefer, Ph.D., assistant secretary of commerce for conservation and management and NOAA deputy administrator. "These global models are key to understanding changes in our dynamic planet over both the short- and long-term, and they are major sources of the environmental intelligence NOAA provides each day.  Armed with this kind of information, decision makers can help communities plan for and take action to become more resilient in the face of Earth's changing climate."

The image was chosen through the Postal Service’s public process that begins with suggestions from citizens to the Citizen Stamp Advisory Committee.

“Our citizen stamp advisory committee looks to the public for stamp subjects that celebrate people, ideas and events that are important to American history and culture,” said Joshua Colin, Eastern Area vice president for the U.S. Postal Service. “This year’s Earth Day stamp celebrates the important role that science is playing in our understanding of the Earth, the oceans and our climate.”

Several months ago, Postal Service representatives contacted scientists at NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo., to ask about a sea surface temperature animation on NOAA’s Science On a Sphere website. The sea surface temperature image came from NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, N.J., where teams of scientists have been modeling the behavior of the oceans and atmosphere since the 1960s.

Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Re-Launched With Expanded Role

The U.S. Department of Commerce announced today the re-launch of its Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, one of 13 federal agency offices under the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Housed within the Office of the Secretary, the Center serves to connect community- and faith-based organizations to Commerce resources and programs, engage a diverse array of stakeholders in the work of the agency, and promote economic development and job creation through local partnerships.

In direct alignment with the Department’s “Open for Business Agenda,” the Center has created Commerce’s first-ever “Community Development Resource Toolkit,” which highlights how community-based organizations can utilize Commerce Department programs to promote local-level economic development. The Center has also revamped its website and will begin a “Commerce in the Community” blog series highlighting the many ways in which local business, nonprofit and religious leaders are partnering with Commerce to make a positive impact at the local level. Additionally, the Center will begin a series of place-based convenings this summer, focused on connecting communities with Commerce Department programs and resources, while also promoting local partnerships around skills and workforce development.

On March 30, 2014, the Center co-hosted Business Sunday - its first event under Secretary Pritkzer - at 19th Street Baptist Church in Washington, DC. A collaboration between the Minority Business Development Agency and the Small Business Administration, Business Sunday is focused on providing current and aspiring business leaders from congregations and communities around the country with the federal resources they need to start and grow their companies. As a reflection of the President’s commitment to job creation and economic opportunity for all Americans, Business Sunday connects people to valuable technical assistance, grant information and other resources from the Minority Business Development Agency, BusinessUSA and the Small Business Administration.

The Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships is led by Director Josh Dickson. Originally from Upstate New York, Josh is a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School and a long-time community organizer who’s been involved in numerous initiatives focused on engaging faith-based and neighborhood organizations in community development. In his role as Director, Josh will oversee faith-based and community partnership projects across all Commerce bureaus as well as within the Office of the Secretary.

The Mysteries of the Gulf of Mexico: Brought to You by NOAA

Towards the end of the first dive, we found a carbonate outcrop inhabited with the chemosynthtic mussel Bathymodiolus sp. These mussels appeared to be encased in methane hydrate, formed by methane gas conglomerating at their base.

Bubbles of gas escaping from the seafloor. Delicate corals, dancing sea cucumbers, weird fish. Sunken shipwrecks holding unknown treasures. A bursting mud volcano or clear underwater river. Think you have to watch cable to see this stuff? Think again.

Between now and April 30, the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will be exploring the depths of the Gulf of Mexico from NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer and we invite you to follow the action and discovery – LIVE. Today, the ship is currently launching the Deep Discoverer remotely operated vehicle to dive in Keathley Canyon at site KC3. Keathley Canyon is a narrow, steep-walled canyon south of the Flower Garden Banks on the continental slope. We’ll be exploring at locations in the canyon that transect canyon slopes and along the adjacent floor, looking for brine flows and hardbottom habitats.

Using satellite and high-speed Internet pathways, live seafloor video from cameras on the Deep Discoverer remotely operated vehicle and Seirios camera sled and lighting platform is streamed to scientists around the world, allowing them to participate virtually. This means the number of scientists who can provide input and conduct “at-sea” research isn’t limited by the space available on the ship. And, these same live video feeds are available online 24/7, so that anyone, anywhere can follow the exploration.

U.S. EDA-funded William Factory Nurtures and Graduates Job-creating Businesses

William M. Factory - Small Business Incubator

Guest Blog Post by Tim Strege, Executive Director, The William Factory

The William Factory Small Business Incubator has a vision to build and sustain an “Innovation & Employment Campus” that connects disadvantaged individuals with entrepreneurship and desirable jobs.

Located adjacent to Interstate 5 within the economically distressed East Tacoma community in Washington State, the Incubator has a 28-year track record of nurturing firms through their formative years by providing advisory and professional assistance in technology sophisticated facilities. 

The Incubator historically focused on the specialty trade construction cluster – a “good fit” for workers who no longer had gainful employment after Tacoma lost over 10,000 manufacturing jobs during the 1980s. Recently, with critical support from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the Incubator completed a “Phase II” Scientific & Technical Services Incubator to grow information technology oriented companies. 

Among the recent graduates are Juli Norris & Tanya Stack, owners of Chi-Chack, which provides language translation services for federal agencies and private parties; disabled veteran Roger Lyons of Lyons Technology, which installs technology in the financial sector; and Greg Stewart of Orbiter, which combines radio frequency devices with software for military fitness programs, research projects and inventory control.  These firms continue to grow commercial revenues and support the productivity of others that use their products and services.

Secretary Pritzker Delivers Remarks on America’s Economic Future in the Asia-Pacific

In her remarks, Secretary Pritzker discussed the United States’ commitment to strengthening commercial and economic ties throughout the Asia-Pacific, which is a critical dimension of the president’s rebalance toward this fast-growing region. The Asia-Pacific region presents rapidly growing opportunities for American businesses and workers. The region accounts for nearly 60 percent of world GDP and 40 percent of global trade. Secretary Pritzker highlighted the United States’ leadership role in efforts such as the Trans Pacific Partnership, and she also emphasized the growing U.S. ties with both longstanding and emerging trade partners.

Read a summary of her remarks and audience tweets below.

Early Career Commerce Scientists and Engineers honored by White House

President Barack Obama talks with the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) recipients in the East Room of the White House, April 14, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) (Official White House Photo)

The Commerce Department is home to some of the world’s leading scientists and engineers that are tackling some of the biggest challenges facing our planet and doing great work to ensure our nation remains the global epicenter of innovation. Earlier today, President Obama honored six NIST and NOAA engineers and scientists with the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) at a ceremony at the White House. The award is the highest honor given by the federal government to outstanding scientists and engineers in the early stages of their careers. The Commerce scientists are part of a group of 102 scientists from across federal agencies that received the prestigious award.

PECASE awardees are selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach. The winners represent outstanding examples of American creativity across a diverse span of issues—from adding to our understanding of the most potent contributors to climate change to unlocking secrets to some of the most pressing medical challenges of our time to mentoring students and conducting academic outreach to increase minority representation in science fields.

First Americas Competitiveness Exchange Encourages Collaboration, Drives Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Western Hemisphere

Guest Blog Post by Walter Bastian, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for The Western Hemisphere

Competition and collaboration aren’t typically mentioned in the same breath. For nations and businesses competing to innovate and prosper in a global marketplace, these concepts seem completely antithetical to one another.

That’s why the first Americas Competitiveness Exchange on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Exchange) is such a unique and exciting partnership.

As part of the Exchange, senior officials from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) and Economic Development Administration (EDA) last week led a delegation of 45 business and government leaders from 20 Latin American and Caribbean countries on a tour across the Southeast United States. They visited five cities in four days with stops in Atlanta, Ga., Greenville, S.C., Conover, Kannapolis, and Charlotte, N.C.

The delegation toured technology centers, innovation hubs, and investment zones to see how U.S. companies are working to create some of the most advanced products in the world. The tour was geared to help make the interpersonal and inter-governmental connections that can lead to future international trade and investment deals.

The Americas Competitiveness Exchange for Innovation and Entrepreneurship provided a great opportunity for decision and policy makers in the Americas to see the results of economic development initiatives and meet high level authorities, leaders of private sector associations, public and private universities with research and innovation centers, looking to explore and expand the links between our economies and key stakeholders.

The United States and Latin America maintain a very special and very important investment relationship. In 2012, the total stock of Latin American foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States was nearly $96 billion. And every day, 259,000 workers in the United States go to work in U.S. subsidiaries of Latin American firms. 

SelectUSA: Investing in the United States, Creating Jobs, and Spurring Economic Growth

Editor's note: This has been cross-posted from the White House's Blog.

Guest Blog Post by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Jeff Zients, Director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy 

Today, Lufthansa Technik announced a significant new investment in Puerto Rico that demonstrates how efforts to deploy the full resources of the federal government to win job-creating investments in U.S. states and territories pay off. Through the advocacy of several high-level U.S. officials, including the Vice President and the Secretary of Commerce, as well as the work of SelectUSA, the government of Puerto Rico was able to secure this new investment, which will create up to 400 permanent jobs and strengthen Puerto Rico’s burgeoning civil aviation sector.

Lufthansa Technik, a wholly owned subsidiary of Germany-based Lufthansa AG, is making a significant new investment in Puerto Rico to build a maintenance, repair, and operations facility. Thanks to the persistent support of the Administration through our SelectUSA investment initiative, local efforts led by Governor Garcia Padilla of Puerto Rico, and the strengths of Puerto Rico’s growing aviation industry, the United States won this new investment despite strong competition.

SelectUSA – launched in 2011 and housed in the Department of Commerce – is the first-ever federal effort to bring job-creating investment from around the world to the United States in partnership with state and local economic development organizations. Today, Ambassador-led teams at our posts overseas directly support foreign investors looking to make investments in the U.S. by providing resources and information, and when needed, connecting them to investment experts at the Department of Commerce and throughout the SelectUSA interagency network. 

Each investor, and investment case, gets tailor-made attention from our case managers at SelectUSA, who rely on ombudsman efforts to answer questions, as well as a sophisticated advocacy network that leverages key Administration officials all the way up to the President of the United States. Lufthansa is a perfect example of our coordinated efforts to bring job-creating investment here to the United States. In addition to Vice President Biden and the Secretary of Commerce and her team, SelectUSA involved other key federal officials, and coordinated with several federal agencies to provide the needed assistance to secure the project. And, when it came time to seal the deal, SelectUSA coordinated an effort across the federal government, including the support of the President’s Taskforce on Puerto Rico, to present Lufthansa with the case for locating their investment in the United States.

The Lufthansa investment is yet another example that demonstrates that the United States is an increasingly attractive location for job-creating business investment from around the world. Last year, for the first time in a decade, global business executives ranked the United States the number one destination for foreign investment. And the Department of Commerce released new data showing that foreign direct investment flows into the United States and our territories rose from $160 billion in 2012 to $187.5 billion in 2013.

With our booming natural gas sector, our skilled workforce, our status as home of the some of the top research universities and innovation hubs, and our resurgent manufacturing communities, the United States is primed for business investment. Businesses increasingly cite the U.S. open investment climate, rule of law, the ability to efficiently export their goods, access to high-quality supply chains, and proximity to robust consumer markets as key factors to locate their operations in the United States. And now, with the help of SelectUSA, the federal government is undertaking a coordinated and concerted effort to showcase our strengths and make the case with even more investors that the United States should be their top choice.

To put it simply, the United States is Open for Business. 

Jeff Zients is Director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy. Secretary Penny Pritzker is the Secretary of Commerce.


Join the Conversation on Investment

Vinai Thummalapally, Executive Director, SelectUSA

Guest blog post by Vinai Thummalapally, Executive Director, SelectUSA

This month, SelectUSA is really upping our game when it comes to online engagement around investment.  We hope you’ll join the conversation on Twitter at #SelectUSA!

Our colleagues across the Commerce Department will be sharing their thoughts on how innovation, data and hard work contribute to job creation. We’re collaborating with our friends at the State Department’s Economic & Business Affairs Bureau, as well as with our Commerce and State colleagues throughout the United States and globally at our embassies and consulates. 

But we’re not stopping with Commerce and State. We’re reaching out across the U.S. federal government through the Interagency Investment Working Group (IIWG), to more than twenty other agencies.  (You can find all of our Commerce and IIWG twitter profiles here.)

This is a big conversation, but most importantly, we hope to be hearing from YOU.

We’re broadening the conversation at #SelectUSA to talk about how investment in the United States drives job creation and how we can work together to attract even more jobs.

Did you know that, as of 2011 (the most recent data available), U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies employed more than 5.6 million workers and paid an average annual salary of $77,600?  According to preliminary estimates from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows totaled $187.5 billion in 2013, rising from $160.1 billion in 2012.  The United States also recently took back the top spot in A.T. Kearney’s FDI Confidence Index.

What do these numbers mean to you?  Are you an investor looking to expand your operations in the United States?  Are you seeking to attract more investment to your town, city, county or state?  How can SelectUSA assist you?  

Big Data is Big Business for Commerce

Under Secretary for Economic Affairs Mark Doms (center) along with Erie Meyer, Joel Gurin, Waldo Jaquith, and Daniel Castro at the Center for Data Innovation hosted “The Economic Benefits of Open Data” event

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

Big Data and Open Data are all the rage these days. However, Commerce was into Big Data before Big Data was cool. As far back as 1790, we began collecting data on patents in the U.S. and the Census Bureau conducted the first Decennial Census the same year. In 1870, the National Weather Service was created – which today is one of the biggest data producing agencies around.

Back then, our economy was based largely on agriculture. Over the years, our economy evolved through the industrial revolution, later giving rise to the strong service sector. Today, we are at the nascent stages of the next era in our economic growth, the information age. On a daily basis, there is an ever-increasing amount of data becoming available, and the demand for data is increasing exponentially. We have before us both great opportunity and fascinating challenges to understand how best to harness this national resource. This is a key focus of Commerce’s Open for Business Agenda.

You may not know it, but the Department of Commerce is home to many agencies that are your primary source for data that you likely use every day.

For example:

  • How many people live in the U.S. or in your hometown? You might know the Census Bureau is the authority on population, but did you know the Census Bureau’s data goes well beyond just population? Census also produces huge volumes of data on our economy, demographics, and fascinatingly insightful data describing our communities – or, if you are a business, your customers.
  • The Bureau of Economic Analysis is a little know agency that produces key economic data and many of the closely watched economic indicators that move markets, drive investment decisions and guide economic policy. Do you know which industries are the leading sources of income in your community, or to your customers? BEA data can tell you.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, is your primary source for weather, ocean and climate data – they are collecting data every minute of every day from land, sea, and even spaced-based sensors. When you hear the local forecast or hear about severe weather warning, that is NOAA data informing you about your environment in real time.
  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology, locally known as NIST, is our nation’s authority on broad swaths of scientific, cyber, and physical data – including, officially, what time it is.
  • We also have data on patents going back more than 200 years at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which is a gold mine of inspiration for innovation.
  • Other agencies in Commerce provide data on economic development, minority businesses, trade, and telecommunications and the Internet.

On any given day, the Department will generate in excess of 20 terabytes of data, and sometimes much more. Yet, we think we can do more with this resource. We want to take every step we can to open access to it to the entrepreneurs and innovators of America, as we are pretty convinced that there is huge unmet value and potential. We understand that a huge part of the value of data is when it is not seen alone, but as part of a rich tapestry of information. We believe that there is great opportunity to solve problems, innovate new businesses, and improve data-driven decision-making, and we are committed to that path.

That is why I was so glad to be a part of today’s launch of the Open Data 500 Project, housed out of the GovLab at NYU. This exciting project has verified what we were certain must be true: That hundreds of American companies are using Commerce data every day to innovate and deliver important goods and services to their customers.

Startup Diplomacy: Announcing the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship

Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship Graphic

Guest blog post Steve Case, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Revolution

ED NOTE: Steve Case is an inaugural member of the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) initiative, a group of successful American businesspeople who have committed to sharing their time, energy, ideas, and  experience to help develop the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Not too long ago America was a startup.  It was just an idea, forged by visionaries who later became heroes. Through fits and starts they wrote a business plan – the Constitution – hired a CEO – George Washington – elected a board of directors – Congress – and set out to build better lives in a new land. In the process, they were able to change the course of history.

Fast forward to the present: America is now the leader of the free world. It didn’t happen by accident; it happened because we built a stable democracy, and because we built the largest and most resilient economy. We did this by encouraging and supporting entrepreneurs. America’s innovators led the world, first in the agricultural revolution, then in the industrial revolution, and more recently in the digital revolution.    

It hasn’t always been easy. The cycles of innovation and entrepreneurism over our 250-year history led to the rise and sometimes the fall of different sectors of our economy, and regions of our country. But the fact remains: entrepreneurs are the bedrock of America’s economic success. Helping them succeed is essential to helping our economy grow, and creating opportunities for future generations. Indeed, our best hope for a bright future is doing everything we can to ensure we remain the world’s most innovative and entrepreneurial nation.

That’s why I joined with the President in 2011 to launch the Startup America Partnership (now UP Global) – a groundbreaking effort that supported the growth of entrepreneurial communities in regions across the United States. It’s why I joined the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, and before that the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. It’s why I advocated on behalf of the Jumpstarting Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act two years ago, and also why I am doing my part to encourage bipartisan support for immigration reform. And it’s why I am proud to now join the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) – a first-of-its-kind collaboration between American entrepreneurs, the White House, and multiple government agencies including the State Department, the Commerce Department, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Secretary Pritzker Announces Inaugural Members of the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship Initiative

 Secretary Pritzker Announces Inaugural Members of the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship Initiative

Secretary Pritzker will today chair the first-ever meeting of the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) initiative, a group of successful American businesspeople who have committed to sharing their time, energy, ideas, and experience to help develop the next generation of entrepreneurs.

President Obama announced that the Administration would form a committee of entrepreneurs, to be chaired by Secretary Pritzker, last October during the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) are also partners in this effort.

Research indicates that new and young companies are responsible for virtually all new job growth across the United States. Not only do they create positions for those entering the job market for the first time, but they also absorb workers who may have been laid off from companies that are contracting.

Members have agreed to participate in an ongoing dialogue with policy makers globally to discuss how to create an environment where creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship can grow and thrive.  They will also participate in outreach and mentorship activities to help promote start-up culture, and energize their own personal and professional networks to challenge and inspire budding entrepreneurs and raise awareness of the many resources available to them.

The inaugural members of PAGE are:

  •     Rich Barton, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman, Zillow
  •     Tory Burch, Chief Executive Officer, Tory Burch; Founder, Tory Burch Foundation
  •     Steve Case, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Revolution
  •     Helen Greiner, Founder and CEO, CyPhy Works; CoFounder, iRobot Corporation
  •     Reid Hoffman, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman, LinkedIn
  •     Quincy Jones, Chief Executive Officer, Quincy Jones Productions
  •     Salman Khan, Founder and Executive Director, Khan Academy
  •     Daphne Koller, Co-Founder and President, Coursera
  •     Hamdi Ulukaya, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Chobani
  •     Nina Vaca, Chief Executive Officer, Pinnacle Technical Resources
  •     Alexa von Tobel, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, LearnVest

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker to Receive Harry S. Truman Award

There are 3.9 million unfilled jobs in the United States and many of these jobs, in fields such as healthcare, manufacturing, and engineering, require post-secondary training, and some unemployed workers find that their skills are incompatible with the requirements needed for these new high-tech jobs. In order to help more Americans get back to work, it is essential to align workers’ skills with the needs of industry employers.

For the first time ever, the Commerce Department is making skills a top priority and is working closely with the Labor and Education Departments to ensure that every American has the skills needed to compete in today’s economy. That means more on-the-job training and more apprenticeships that help train American workers with the skills employers need, and match them to good quality jobs that lead to a career path.  

Community colleges and technical colleges are a major part of the solution. Every day, these institutions provide 13 million students across the country with the education they need to be competitive in today’s economy. These two-year institutions continue to improve the quality and relevance of the education that their students receive. Last week, Secretary Pritzker explored the partnership between BMW and three of South Carolina’s local technical colleges. Through the BMW Scholars Program, students have the opportunity to rotate through the body shops, paint shops, and assembly lines, gaining hands-on experience in the field. These college-business apprenticeships are just one example of new ways to better place students on direct paths to good jobs while providing strong candidates to businesses.

The rules of the job market are changing: firms are requiring candidates to have stronger skills sets to remain competitive, and community colleges are helping provide the skills these candidates need. Groups like the American Association of Community Colleges provide a voice for these community colleges, and the U.S. Department of Commerce will continue to partner with them, businesses, government and other regional and national institutions to ensure that America can continue to compete in a 21st century global economy.

In honor of her work to improve and expand workforce skills training, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker will be presented with the Harry S. Truman Award by the American Association of Community Colleges on Saturday, April 4. The Truman Award recognizes leaders outside of the field of education for their major contributions to community colleges. Past honorees have included President Obama, President Clinton, and Senator Kennedy. Secretary Pritzker will be receiving the award for her previous work in education and training and her current advocacy for skill development as an administration-wide priority.

New Atomic Clock, NIST-F2, Three Times More Accurate

NIST physicists Steve Jefferts (foreground) and Tom Heavner with the NIST-F2 “cesium fountain” atomic clock, a new civilian time standard for the United States.

The U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has officially launched a new atomic clock, called NIST-F2, to serve as a new U.S. civilian time and frequency standard, along with the current NIST-F1 standard.

NIST-F2 would neither gain nor lose one second in about 300 million years, making it about three times as accurate as NIST-F1, which has served as the standard since 1999. Both clocks use a "fountain" of cesium atoms to determine the exact length of a second.

NIST scientists recently reported the first official performance data for NIST-F2, which has been under development for a decade, to the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM), located near Paris, France. That agency collates data from atomic clocks around the world to produce Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), the international standard of time. According to BIPM data, NIST-F2 is now the world's most accurate time standard.

For now, NIST plans to simultaneously operate both NIST-F1 and NIST-F2. Long-term comparisons of the two clocks will help NIST scientists continue to improve both clocks as they serve as U.S. standards for civilian time. The U.S. Naval Observatory maintains military time standards.

Both NIST-F1 and NIST-F2 measure the frequency of a particular transition in the cesium atom—which is 9,192,631,770 vibrations per second, and is used to define the second, the international (SI) unit of time. The key operational difference is that F1 operates near room temperature (about 27 ºC or 80 ºF) whereas the atoms in F2 are shielded within a much colder environment (at minus 193 ºC, or minus 316 ºF). This cooling dramatically lowers the background radiation and thus reduces some of the very small measurement errors that must be corrected in NIST-F1.

Watch Steve Jefferts, NIST physicist, explain how the NIST-F2 atomic clock works.

Life Lessons in Public Service

Maria Cardona and Secretary Ron Brown

Guest blog post Maria Cardona, Principal at the Dewey Square Group and a Political Commentator on CNN and CNN Español. She serves on the boards of several non-profit groups and has named several times as one of the top 100 Hispanic leaders in the country by Hispanic Business.

ED NOTE: Maria Cardona was the Deputy Press Secretary for Secretary Ron Brown and served at the Department of Commerce for six years during the Clinton Administration

Most everything I learned about public service, I learned from Secretary Ron Brown. He was the best kind of mentor, short on personal advice, long on teaching by example. The first time he walked into the Department of Commerce, he told his staff he wanted to meet the cafeteria workers and the janitorial staff. When he was taken to the cafeteria, the workers almost fainted. They had never seen the Secretary – any Secretary - walk into the cafeteria before. Some even cried. This exemplifies my biggest lessons from my time with Ron: to always meet people where they are, make it personal, and never think, no matter what title you have, you are better than anyone else in the room.

Ron had the ability to make you feel important no matter who you were. He was just as comfortable speaking with Saudi kings as he was shooting the breeze with homeless teenagers in the favelas in Brazil. His message was always the same no matter who he talked to: The United States business community was there to help bring more economic opportunity to their citizens, while expanding market opportunities for US businesses.

The Secretary would always say he was a big fan of “doing well by doing good.”  He was visionary about where the next opportunities for US economic expansion would come from, and he was unapologetic about making the deals that would help American enterprises sell more goods abroad, creating jobs and opportunities on both ends. But he never forgot about the people behind the progress. He would always want to meet the local business leaders, the workers, the families that were starting to prosper because of these expanded opportunities. Ron was always treated like royalty wherever he went in the world, but he never played the part.

US Patent and Trademark Office Now Accepting Applications for 2014 Patents for Humanity Program

Patents for Humanity

The U.S. Commerce Department’s United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) today announced that Patents for Humanity is being renewed as an annual program. Started as a one-year pilot in 2012, the program recognizes businesses, inventors, non-profits, and universities who leverage their intellectual property portfolio to tackle global humanitarian challenges.

2013 Patents for Humanity pilot award winners pioneered innovative business models in frontier markets to deliver much-needed HIV medicine, create more nutritious food products for the poor, and deliver solar energy to off-grid villages, among others. Building on the success of the pilot, USPTO will institute an annual competition to reward entrepreneurs and innovators who deploy patented technologies to address global challenges in five categories that reflect the President's development agenda: medicine, nutrition, sanitation, household energy, and living standards.

The USPTO expects to select about 10 winners this year who will receive public recognition and an acceleration certificate to expedite select proceedings at the USPTO. Honorable mentions will also be awarded with a more limited certificate to accelerate a patent application of the recipient's choosing. USPTO launched Patents for Humanity in February 2012 as part of an Obama administration initiative encouraging game-changing innovations to solve long-standing development challenges. In January 2013, Patents for Humanity received an award for Best National IP and Technology Transfer Policy of 2012 from Licensing Executives Society International (LESI), a leading non-profit that supports IP professionals.

For details on how to apply for a 2014 award, view the Federal Register notice or learn more about the Patents for Humanity program.

Commerce Participates in Business Sunday

Commerce Participates in Business Sunday

This weekend, the Commerce Department’s Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships joined forces with the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), BusinessUSA, the Small Business Administration (SBA) and 19th Street Baptist Church to host the first Business Sunday in Washington, DC. Business Sunday is a program focused on promoting local economic growth and job creation by connecting congregations and communities with the valuable business development resources offered by the Federal Government.

Close to 300 business owners, entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders came together for the first Business Sunday, packing the fellowship hall at 19th Street Baptist Church. The event included greetings from Melissa Rogers, Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, as well as presentations from SBA, MBDA and BusinessUSA on how to access important technical assistance, business counseling, loans and other practical resources. Participants also had the opportunity to sign up for health insurance for their business or themselves through the DC Health Benefit Exchange. Following the event attendees stayed for more than an hour to network and speak individually with Commerce and SBA staff.

Business Sunday is a reflection of President Obama’s and Secretary Pritkzer’s shared commitment to strengthening our economy by empowering our people – our business owners, entrepreneurs, community development organizations, faith-based groups and others – to effect positive change at the local level. We look forward to continued collaboration with our partners to keep this work moving forward.

Spotlight on Commerce: Kate McAdams, Senior Advisor, Department of Commerce

Kate McAdams, Senior Adviser to the Secretary

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.

Guest blog post by Kate McAdams, Senior Adviser to the Secretary, Department of Commerce

In addition to my role on the Secretary's senior management team, I lead the Department's effort to ensure a skilled workforce, one of the pillars of our Open for Business Agenda. For the first time, the Department of Commerce is focusing on the critical importance of a globally competitive workforce as part of the Department's mission to help set the conditions for economic growth and opportunity. In addition to developing strategic partnerships with the Departments of Labor and Education, we are building on the Department's existing assets, including access to business leaders; data tools; economic development planning expertise; and Manufacturing Extension Partnership centers that serve the needs of small and medium manufacturers. To date, I have been spending time developing partnerships and our internal "skills team" that focuses on expanding job-driven training that ensures employers find the skilled workers they need and workers access quality jobs and career paths.

Recognizing that more can be accomplished through a team effort is inherent in my approach to solving problems and achieving outcomes due to a lifelong passion for playing competitive sports. Growing up playing ice hockey on a team of all boys, to playing women's ice hockey in college, to even "old man's hockey" as an adult, I am hard-wired to think about how to accomplish goals by utilizing my strengths in combination with those of my teammates. This is the case in my new position at Commerce and past positions in city government, and even when I was the sole employee of an organization I found a way to be more impactful through strategic partnerships. Particularly in public service positions, the fast pace and limited resources require creativity when building and utilizing teams.  I am lucky to have worked for two respected mayors and now I view it as a true honor to work for Secretary Pritzker and President Obama.  

I often say I am lucky for the professional opportunities I’ve experienced, but was recently chided for saying so, as if it was out of my control. What I actually mean is better described by the quote “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” I believe that hard work is noticed and is the best preparation for the next opportunity, and as I learned from coaches at a very young age, "keep your head on a swivel" to attempt to prepare for the unexpected. This is my advice for young people starting a career – seek out leaders you want to work for and projects to which you want exposure. Keeping your head on a swivel was my hockey coach’s term to be looking forward, backwards, left and right – to be cognizant of your strengths, weaknesses and the position of your teammates who will help you achieve your goals.

NIST Gives Astronomers a Better Ruler in the Search for Extrasolar Planets

A thorium emission lamp’s violet glow, when viewed through a spectroscope, is split into a spectrum of thousands of bright lines. New measurements of these lines could help astronomers search for earthlike planets around distant stars.

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have rejuvenated a technique for finding planets near distant stars. New measurements of light from special lamps could help astronomers find planets hidden in data from more than a decade's worth of extrasolar planet searches, as well as improve telescopes' current capabilities.

Finding extrasolar planets is tricky. Seen through a telescope, planets in the "habitable zone"—a region close to a star, where liquid water could exist on a planet's surface—usually get lost in their star's glare. But as a planet orbits, its gravity makes its parent star wobble a tiny bit, resulting in slight color changes in the star's light due to the Doppler effect. These changes can only be spotted if the light is first broken into a spectrum of thin lines, which are then compared to an unchanging reference spectrum.

The NIST team made extensive new measurements of thorium, a heavy element often used in emission lamps that help provide that fixed ruler. Scientists have detected more than 400 planets using the Doppler technique but have yet to discover a solar system similar to ours. 

Stephen Redman, a postdoctoral fellow working at NIST, worked with NIST physicist Gillian Nave and physicist Craig Sansonetti to update the most recent thorough measurement of thorium's spectrum, published in 1983. The more than 8,000 spectral lines it lists are a bit fuzzy by today's standards—good enough to reveal the larger wobble caused by a Jupiter-sized gas giant's gravity, but not the small one an Earth-like world would cause. Redman spent a year combining observations he made on a spectrometer at NIST with data culled from other researchers' work. The result is a set of nearly 20,000 spectral lines of far greater clarity.

In addition to finding systems similar to our own, the new data should aid the search for planets around dwarf stars. These have been hard to find using the Doppler method, in part because dwarfs are so faint, but Nave says the new data include good lines in the near infrared, which is the region of the spectrum in which many of these cool stars give off the most light.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Touts Importance of Workforce Development at Clemson University's International Center for Automotive Research

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Touts Importance of Workforce Development at Clemson University's International Center for Automotive Research

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today toured the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR), a campus where academia, the private sector, and government organizations are working together to research and develop leading-edge technologies, and educate and train students for jobs in the automotive industry.

Ensuring that America has a strong and skilled workforce is essential to our economic competitiveness, and that is why Secretary Pritzker has made workforce development a key pillar of the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda.”  In fact, she is the first Commerce Secretary to focus on how we can best prepare workers with in-demand job skills. The Commerce Department is playing a key role in this effort by partnering with businesses and other federal agencies to facilitate industry-driven training programs.

CU-ICAR is one example of an educational institution working directly with the private sector to conduct research and training that meets the needs of industry. Since collaboration between academia, the private sector and government started in 2003, CU-ICAR has grown into a 250-acre campus educating students and conducting research that is relevant to the global automotive community. CU-ICAR is studying advanced and highly efficient engine concepts that utilize a variety of fuels, developing technologies that increase vehicle electrification and efficiency, developing and utilizing advanced materials and processes that can reduce vehicle weight and decrease manufacturing costs. CU-ICAR is also working on identifying opportunities and technologies to reduce energy consumption in factories, and addressing issues of safety by designing improved human-machine interfaces and vehicle-to-vehicle communications.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Celebrates BMW’s Investment in U.S. Manufacturing

Secretary Pritzker Speaks with Workers While Touring the BMW Facilities in Spartanburg, South Carolina

Foreign direct investment (FDI) fuels U.S. economic growth and creates good, high-paying jobs, which is why the Commerce Department is so focused on attracting more FDI to the United States. At an event today at the BMW manufacturing facility in Spartanburg, South Carolina, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker applauded the German automaker for announcing an investment of approximately $1 billion in a new X7 production line at the plant.

BMW’s announcement, which is expected to create 800 new jobs by 2016, builds upon the company’s substantial commitment to production in the United States. BMW has made investments of $6.3 billion since coming to South Carolina in 1992. In 2012, the company announced that it would be expanding its Spartanburg facility to make it the largest plant in the BMW Group production network, a move that is expected to bring 1,000 new jobs to South Carolina by the end of 2014.

Secretary Pritzker delivered remarks at the announcement, focusing on the importance of FDI to the U.S. economy and job creation. The United States is both the largest recipient and source of FDI in the world. As of 2011, the most recent data available, majority-owned subsidiaries of multinational firms with U.S. operations employ more than 5.6 million workers and pay an average annual compensation of $77,600. These firms also spent more than $45 billion in R&D in the United States and accounted for 20.5 percent of U.S. goods exported in 2011. Through the SelectUSA program, which Secretary Pritzker described in her remarks, the Department of Commerce is working to attract increased investment to the United States.

Clemson University’s Public-Private Partnerships Help Create Next-Generation Workforce

Secretary Pritzker and John Ballato, Clemson University vice president for economic development, toured the Clemson University-International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR)

Guest blog post by Dr. John Ballato, Clemson University vice president for economic development, and Kris Frady, director of operations for the Clemson University Center for Workforce Development
 
We had the privilege today of showing U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker the cutting-edge research and education that are helping South Carolina play a leading role in the nation’s economic revival.
 
She toured the Clemson University-International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) and then participated in a roundtable discussion with education and business leaders about how to develop a well-qualified workforce.
 
Her visit put a spotlight on the public-private partnerships that are helping create the next generation of engineers, scientists and technicians that America needs to remain competitive.
 
CU-ICAR in Greenville, S.C. is one of four Clemson University innovation campuses placed strategically across the state where businesses and communities need them most. It is an excellent example of what higher education, government and industry can accomplish when they work synergistically for the common good. It creates win-win partnerships.

Fostering Innovation through Strong, Sustainable Regional Partnerships

Fostering Innovation through Strong, Sustainable Regional Partnerships

Guest blog post by Matt Erskine, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Development

Earlier this week, I was honored to provide the keynote address at the International Economic Development Council’s (IEDC) 2014 Federal Economic Development Forum. Dr. Pat Gallagher, NIST Director performing the duties of Deputy Secretary and Mark Doms, Under Secretary for Economic Affairs, also participated in the forum. Both applauded the important work of the IEDC in fostering economic growth in communities across America.

The work that IEDC members are doing in communities here and around the globe is critical, timely and mirrors our philosophy at EDA: only by working together in effective, strong, and sustainable regional partnerships will we realize our collective economic vision. 

In fact, the three guiding themes of this year’s IEDC Federal Forum – Learn, Teach, and Collaborate – reflect EDA’ core mission to establish a foundation for sustainable job growth through innovation and regional collaboration.

Through our flexible grant programs, EDA provides construction, technical assistance, financing, strategic planning and network building tools that local and regional entities can use to support their communities’ unique economic development strategies and objectives. 

Our model of competitive, merit based co-investment in support of strong regional economic development strategies is a proven approach – an approach that always looks to maximize the return on investment and the impact of our assistance in communities.

Today, we are focused on synchronizing federal programs to both maximize federal taxpayer returns and maximize the impact in the communities we serve.  By breaking down Washington’s bureaucratic silos, we can be a more effective partner.

Spotlight on Commerce: Jeannette P. Tamayo, Chicago Regional Director, Economic Development Administration

Spotlight on Commerce: Jeannette P. Tamayo, Chicago Regional Director, Economic Development Administration

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.

Guest blog post by Jeannette P, Tamayo, Chicago Regional Director, Economic Development Administration

I am both honored and humbled to have been asked to share my experience in the DOC Spotlight as part of Women’s History Month as so many extraordinary women, and their sons, contribute to our collective achievements.

As the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Chicago Regional Director, I am truly privileged to touch lives in extraordinary ways through the catalytic investments EDA funds and the hope and economic impact these investments bring to economically distressed communities across the nation.  As the only federal agency with economic development as its exclusive mission, EDA promotes the economic ecosystems in which jobs are created. EDA strives to advance global competitiveness, foster the creation of high-paying jobs, and leverage public and private resources strategically.

I am fortunate to work with creative, dedicated and energetic colleagues who use their specialized knowledge and skills to help communities transform ideas into a competitive application that, once implemented, results in initiatives that create jobs and leverage private investment.  No two ideas or communities are the same, and, as the competitive needs of regional economies change to be globally competitive, EDA is constantly presented with unique asset-based, innovative concepts that test our imagination and compel us to “push the envelope” – trying new approaches to foster economic sustainability and resiliency.  Grant making requires an understanding of communities and regions, risk management, and the ability to translate visionary goals into measurable activities.  It also requires building partnerships and creating opportunities for collaboration.  While ensuring that federal funds  for transformational projects flow to communities in my six-state region (IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, and WI), my specific role involves leading a regional staff, fostering creativity, finding solutions, managing change, engaging in negotiations and mediation, analyzing applications, marketing programs, and building coalitions. 

Spotlight on Commerce: Lisa Casias, Deputy Chief Financial Officer, Department of Commerce

Spotlight on Commerce: Lisa Casias, Deputy Chief Financial Officer, Department of Commerce

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.

Guest blog post by Lisa Casias, Deputy Chief Financial Officer, Department of Commerce 

As the Deputy Chief Financial Officer and Director for Financial Management, I work with all of the bureaus CFOs and financial management teams to provide support to the Department’s program managers in meeting their missions.  As a community we ensure that we meet the many requirements of the federal government’s financial reporting mandates, maintain robust internal control environments, and maintain the systems to produce financial information.  Perhaps, the most important aspect of our work is to ensure program managers have the information needed for decision making.  I am also responsible for the Office of Secretary’s budget operations and most recently the travel, fleet and personal property offices. 

I have worked in the Department for over 22 years in both the Office of Secretary and Office of Inspector General. I have held different positions within these organizations and added new areas to my portfolio over that time.  While some choose career paths that cross into many federal agencies, the opportunities to continually learn new things and ability to work with outstanding financial and administrative communities have kept me in the Department.

One of the most interesting aspects in working at the Department level is the ability to engage with all of the bureaus and learn their missions as we support their financial management needs.  As demonstrated in the Department’s Strategic Plan, the Department plays a critical role in the nation’s economy and the financial and administrative management communities are an integral part of mission success. 

I attribute my ability to follow my dreams (yes, I always wanted to be an accountant) and my career successes to the support of my parents.  I grew up in Dumont, New Jersey where my parents had migrated from England. They taught by example instilling in both my sister and me the importance of having strong work ethic, integrity and belief in oneself. They stayed in the United States as they believed we would have more opportunities to achieve our dreams, including obtaining a college education.  We were the first in our family to graduate from college. 

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker Supports IP Protection at Commemoration of 700,000th Design Patent

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and a student at the Langdon Education Campus explore a LeapFrog handheld device, the 700,000th design patent awarded by the United States Patent and Trademark Office

Intellectual property protections are essential to helping unlock American innovation. Patents and trademarks give entrepreneurs the confidence and security they need to invest in new R&D, new businesses, and new employees. That confidence and security translates into $5 trillion of economic output at year -- a 2012 Commerce Department study found that industries that rely most heavily on IP protections support 40 million U.S. jobs and more than one-third of GDP. In order to help create the conditions for economic growth, the Commerce Department is making the country’s IP laws work even better.  

As part of these efforts, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker joined USPTO Deputy Director Michelle Lee and Commissioner for Patents Peggy Focarino today for a ceremony commemorating the 700,000th design patent. The patent was assigned to LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc. for the design of “Leapster Explorer,” a hand-held learning and play device for 4-to-9-year-olds, featuring a touch screen and 3D graphics.  At the ceremony, which took place at the Langdon Education Campus in Washington, DC, Secretary Pritzker and Deputy Director Lee presented the patent to Leapfrog Senior Vice President and General Counsel Robert Lattuga. 

Every day, USPTO is awarding more utility and design patents to entrepreneurs and businesses to help them grow, innovate, and compete. Last year alone, USPTO issued 22,000 applications for design patents, an 8 percent increase over the previous year.  A design consists of the visual, ornamental characteristics embodied in or applied to an article of manufacture. Applications in this area cover designs of computer equipment, cell phones and other handheld electronic devices, such as the Leapfrog Design Patent Number 700,000. 

The Obama Administration has been a strong supporter of efforts to make the patent system works more efficiently. President Obama recently announced a number of new executive actions to increase transparency in patent ownership, provide more training to patent examiners, and help inventors and small business owners who unexpectedly find themselves facing patent litigation. 

At today’s ceremony, USPTO also announced a new Intellectual Property patch for Girl Scouts in the National Capital Region (GSCNC). The new patch was developed as a joint project between the GSCNC and the USPTO, in collaboration with the Intellectual Property Owners Education Foundation (IPO). The patch is designed to support curriculum and activities that increase understanding of IP, especially as it relates to the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Spotlight on Commerce: Kim Glas, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Textiles, Consumer Goods, and Materials, International Trade Administration

Spotlight on Commerce: Kim Glas, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Textiles, Consumer Goods, and Materials, International Trade Administration

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.

Guest blog post by Kim Glas, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Textiles, Consumer Goods, and Materials, International Trade Administration

Serving as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Textiles, Consumer Goods, and Materials, my job is to improve the domestic and international competitiveness of the broad product range of U.S. textiles, footwear, consumer goods, metals and mining, forest products, and chemicals and plastics manufacturing sectors and industries. This position requires strong negotiation and problem-solving skills and the ability to work with a broad array of stakeholders with divergent opinions in order to find solutions on a whole host of issues. 

Over the last 3 years, I have spent significant time at the negotiating table for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement to ensure opportunities under the agreement for U.S. textile and footwear producers.  I coordinate within the ITA and across agencies to ensure we can deliver results for companies and the workers they employ.  While the job has been challenging, it has been an incredibly rewarding opportunity.  I have worked with top-notch staff across the Department and in the Administration who are driven to expanding opportunities for U.S. industries and workers.

Having worked in two Administrations and on Capitol Hill, I have always been driven by a mission to serve the American people and have been fortunate to do so throughout my career.  Growing up, my parents, extended family, teachers, and mentors were incredibly supportive of me and instilled in me to work hard, serve others, and have a strong sense of self. I grew up in the close-knit community of Lockport, NY located near Buffalo during a time when many industries in the area were facing enormous economic hardships.  Layoffs all too often were the front page news of the local paper.  My high school experience reflected what was happening in the community – and I knew that I wanted to make it better.

The Commerce Department’s Strategic Plan: The Value of Government Data

The Average Daily Cost, Per Person, of the Principal Statistical Agencies is Three Cents

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

Last week, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker unveiled the Department’s America is Open for Business:  Strategic Plan, Fiscal Years 2014-2018.  One of the plan’s five priority areas is a redefinition of how we manage, optimize and enable public access to our treasure trove of data.  The Commerce Department is fortunate to have numerous agencies that provide data that are critical to the information economy, such as:

  • The U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) demographic and economic statistics;
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather, ocean and climate information; 
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) scientific data;
  • National Technical Information Service (NTIS) information; and
  • U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) patent databases. 

Specifically, the plan pledges to “improve government, business, and community decisions and knowledge by transforming Department data capabilities and supporting a data-enabled economy.”  Success has three dimensions.  First, everyone in our country should have easy access to reliable information about their communities, about their climate, and about how these are changing.  Second, every business should have easy access to reliable information on their market, potential markets, scientific information, and changing economic conditions.  Further, new data-based businesses should be able to easily pull our data, combine it with other information, and make new products to compete in the private marketplace.  Third, and finally, every government should have easy access to the information they need to better serve their communities and to assess the efficacy of their programs.  More simply put, success is making our data accessible in ways that make our businesses more competitive, our governments smarter, and our citizens more informed.

How will that be achieved?  The first component is to transform DOC’s data capacity to make our data more accessible and usable.  The second component of the data strategic plan is for us to use data to make government smarter.  The third objective of our plan is to develop better collaboration and feedback loops with the private sector; to create timely, relevant, and accessible products and services.  Many specific initiatives are well underway.  For example, NOAA already is seeking private-sector input on new public-private partnership models to make more weather and climate data available.  NIST is spearheading the development of Big Data standards. <--break->

NOAA’s Modeling and Mapping Data Enhance Nation’s Ability to Provide Tsunami Warnings Along U.S. Coastlines

NOAA Kicks Off Tsunami Preparedness Week

As we kick off Tsunami Preparedness Week, we pause to remember the 124 Americans who prematurely lost their lives without warning 50 years ago, when a powerful earthquake sent several tsunami waves crashing into coastal towns in Alaska, Oregon and California. On March 27, 1964, a 9.2 magnitude earthquake – the largest recorded earthquake in U.S. history and the second largest in world history – occurred in Alaska’s Prince William Sound. In addition to the lives lost, the tsunamis caused an estimated $1 billion in damage.

Since 1964, we’ve been reminded about the power and danger of tsunamis. The devastation and heartbreak of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami remains with us a decade later, and images from the Japan tsunami are still fresh in our minds three years later. These events should serve as a reminder that a powerful tsunami can strike anywhere in the world, any time of year, and the U.S. is no exception.

Coastal populations and infrastructure have increased significantly over the past 50 years, making the U.S. even more vulnerable to the impacts of a tsunami. However, the nation also has made substantial advancements in earthquake science and the ability to prepare for, detect, forecast, and warn about tsunamis. While we cannot stop a tsunami from happening, we can minimize loss of life and property through preparation.

Today, NOAA leads the U.S. Tsunami Warning System, which includes operating two, 24/7 tsunami warning centers; managing a network of tide gauges and tsunami buoys, and monitoring seismic stations throughout the world’s oceans; administering the TsunamiReady program; and leading the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program, a state-federal partnership that works together to prepare America for a tsunami. 

Effective preparedness depends on accurate hazard assessments. In recent years, NOAA and its state partners have made significant progress in modeling and mapping the tsunami hazard along U.S. coastlines, which has enhanced the nation’s ability to forecast and provide warnings for tsunamis. One key aspect of a hazard assessment is the accurate prediction of where coasts will flood during a tsunami. NOAA builds and updates high-resolution coastal digital elevation models, which depict Earth’s solid surface to further the understanding of ocean processes, like tsunamis, and inform decision-making. The models are incorporated into tsunami models, which simulate tsunami movement across the ocean and the magnitude and location of coastal flooding caused when the tsunami reaches the shore. The results of these simulations enable tsunami warning centers to issue more accurate forecasts, as well as support state-level evacuation mapping, preparedness and mitigation planning. 

Innovating Our Way to a Smoother, Safer Ride

Visitors watch a Rutgers bridge repair robot go through its paces at a NIST meeting

Guest blog by Marc Stanley, National Institute of Standards and Technology (Ret.)

When someone says “innovation,” what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? 3D printing? Smart phones? Smart phone apps?

Last Thursday I took a break from retirement to address a small but inspiring gathering of innovators at the Civil Infrastructure Showcase hosted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). These are people who think about distinctly unglamorous things that are not usually associated with innovation. Like filling potholes or watching bridges rust.

Unglamorous, but really important. You can't have missed coverage of the disastrous bridge failure in Minneapolis in 2007 that killed 13 people and injured over a hundred more, but headlines like that are just the lowlights of a bad situation. Roadbed deterioration — things like potholes — cost U.S. motorists an estimated $67 billion a year in car repairs and costs. California’s farmers are suffering a disastrous drought, but nationwide we lose about 6 billion gallons of clean water a day to leaky pipelines. These are failures of infrastructure maintenance.

The hard-pressed municipal, county and state transportation agencies face many challenges, not the least of which is constrained budgets. They absolutely need to prioritize repair work, but how do you best do that? The most recent U.S. Department of Transportation figures show well over 28,000 “structurally deficient” bridges currently in use.

Several of the 12 research groups that gathered at NIST last week have some ideas about that. How about small instrument packages that can be mounted around questionable bridges to monitor strain and other key values and report back wirelessly to a data monitoring system? Rural bridges usually don’t have wall outlets, so engineers from Mistras Group, Virginia Polytechnic, and the Universities of South Carolina and Miami sweated to get power requirements down to where the boards could be run by little bridge-mounted windmills—which they also developed.

Census Bureau’s API Continues Commitment to Innovation

Census Bureau’s API Continues Commitment to Innovation

By Lisa Wolfisch, U.S. Census Bureau

In July 2012, the U.S. Census Bureau launched its first-ever application programming interface, allowing developers to design Web and mobile apps to explore or learn more about America's changing population and economy. The API allows developers more direct access to statistics and easier customization of their applications.

The API serves data from across the decades from the 1990 Census through the 2012 American Community Survey.  These programs offer statistics for every neighborhood in the U.S. and delivers on the Census Bureau’s commitment to create a platform for innovation by “opening up its data.”  Just last month, the Census Bureau updated the API with 13 monthly and quarterly economic indicators.

This information-centric approach promises to be the new default for all public data. Users of all varieties will benefit by creating new ways and tools to explore the data they want, rather than through restrictive PDFs and impossible to download formats.

Developers can use the statistics available through the API to create a variety of apps and tools, such as ones that allow homebuyers to find the latest new residential construction statistics. By combining Census Bureau statistics with other data sets, developers can create tools for researchers to look at topics such as school quality, toxic waste or restaurant locations and how they affect a community.

The Census Bureau not only created the API but is using it to create tools for you to access statistics, such as Easy Stats, a Census Bureau data access program, and dwellr, a mobile app released last November and since refreshed with the latest data.  Both of these tools offer easier access to American Community Survey statistics.

Over 6 Months, NIST Zero-Energy House Gives Back to the Grid

Over 6 Months, NIST Zero-Energy House Gives Back to the Grid

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology recently announced results from the first six months of a virtual family of four living in an energy efficient home and how the house has performed.  During the first six months, a prototypical family of four earned about $40 by exporting 328 kilowatt hours of electricity into the local grid, while meeting all of their varied energy needs. The goal of this experiment is to demonstrate that a net-zero energy house—one that produces as much energy as it consumes over the course of a year—can fit into any neighborhood. Following the year-long experiment, the facility will be used to test existing and new energy efficient technologies and develop methods of test that better reflect how those technologies will perform in a real home, rather than a laboratory.  

To date, these virtual residents of the Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility (NZERTF) located on the campus of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), about 20 miles north of Washington, D.C., didn't have to skimp even a bit on any of the creature comforts of 21st century living. Their amenities ranged from indoor temperatures maintained between 21.1 and 23.8 degrees Celsius (70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit) to a complete array of modern-day kitchen and laundry appliances, and from personal computers, a video gaming system, and two TVs to a pair of stereos, a hairdryer, and curling and clothes irons.

Both a laboratory and a home, the 2,700-square-foot (252-square-meter) NZERTF is a two-story, four-bedroom, three-bath house that incorporates energy-efficient construction and appliances, as well as energy-generating technologies such as solar water heating and solar photovoltaic systems. There, NIST scientists and engineers and their collaborators will develop and validate measurement and test methods for evaluating energy-efficient designs, materials and technologies.

Breaking Down Silos to Foster Innovation

Regional Innovation Strategies Map

Communities understand what their needs are better than any outside organization. They understand that in order to affect real change, they need to work collaboratively with businesses, non-profits, and other government agencies. The Obama administration has been utilizing public-private partnerships in numerous initiatives, as well as promoting interagency groups and supporting collaboration across agencies. EDA is one of the agencies leading this charge, and, since fiscal year 2010, has invested in 65 collaborative investments throughout the country.

EDA has teamed with ARC, the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development, and the Delta Region Authority on the Rural Jobs and Accelerator Challenge, which has resulted in $9 million in coordinated investments to support 13 partnership and innovation clusters across rural America. Today, the winners of the competition are providing entrepreneurs and businesses with research and development support to foster innovation, build supply chains, and hire and train workers here in the United States.

In 2012, EDA led the Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, a partnership among several federal agencies, to support initiatives that strengthen advanced manufacturing and accelerate innovation in technology at the local level. Challenge winners like AMP! – The Advanced Manufacturing & Prototype Center of East Tennessee – are creating a collaborative environment where manufacturers work together with economic development resources, workforce development organizations, and research institutions. Read more about AMP! in NIST’s Manufacturing Innovation Blog.

NOAA Data Supports Coastal Resilience and Preparedness Efforts; White House to Announce Launch of Climate Data Initiative

Coastal Intelligence takes many NOAA resources

As part of the United States government’s efforts to make its data more accessible to the public, entrepreneurs, researchers and others as fuel for innovation and economic growth, today, NOAA Administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan will  help announce the launch of the President’s Climate Data Initiative climate.data.gov. A new climate-focused section of Data.gov, climate.data.gov will make federal data about our climate more open, accessible, and useful to citizens, decision-makers, researchers, entrepreneurs, and innovators.  It will initially focus on coastal flooding and sea level rise and aims to strengthen preparedness and resilience to the effects of climate change through new products and services.

NOAA, part of the Department of Commerce, which has also made supporting a data-enabled economy a priority, is the quintessential big data agency.  Each day, NOAA gathers billions of observations about the health of our planet and then analyzes this data to predict changes in climate, weather, oceans, and our coasts. 

NOAA’s National Ocean Service is one prime example.  Whether it is the nation's nautical charts, environmental monitoring and assessment, or socioeconomic tools, NOAA’s Ocean Service turns data into actionable information. NOAA’s goal is to increase environmental intelligence that many times relates to our coasts. This term refers to the information that is used by governments, businesses, and citizens to make decisions that support healthy ecosystems, strong economies, and resilient communities along our coasts. NOAA’s Ocean Service goes beyond collecting observations, analyzing data, and conducting research to translating that science into information to support good decisions.

Views of the Trade Mission: A Learning Experience and Wealth of Opportunity

Kurt Bergman, Chief Executive Officer, Michael Baker International

Guest blog post by Kurt Bergman, Chief Executive Officer, Michael Baker International

As the CEO of Michael Baker International, I was honored when we were selected to accompany U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker on an infrastructure related trade mission to the UAE, Qatar and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. After eight whirlwind days, I look back and reflect on what I learned and felt about the trip and the wealth of opportunity in our future: 

  1. The Middle East continues to be one of the most exciting infrastructure markets on the planet, with well thought, visionary initiatives across the infrastructure spectrum of water, power, surface transportation, aviation and others as well as developments of incredible forethought about the environment, including how we will live and work in the future.
  2. The U.S. and Middle East relations continue to be strong and there is a distinct desire for American companies to participate in this market.
  3. As a global company, the U.S. Embassy Commercial office staff are an incredible asset to assist you.
  4. No matter how long you have worked in the global market, there is always something new to learn.

As we traveled from Abu Dhabi to Dubai, Riyadh and Doha, I was in awe of the size, scope and magnitude of the projects that were being conceived, planned, designed and constructed. The projects we were briefed on included the Qatari Supreme Council for Legacy's FIFA World Cup 2022 program investing over $100 Billion USD to create a fan experience based on sustainability, access and enjoyment with an eye to the future. Another program was the Saudi Arabian metro initiatives in Riyadh and Jeddah where 100 of kilometers of innovative, futuristic public light rail valued at over $50 Billion USD are being installed with a four year completion goal. The Emirati Al Satiyya island development was a wonder to contemplate with over 148 square kilometers of environmentally sensitive towns centered around a world class school, entertainment and culture containing three museums being designed by different work class Pritzker prize winning architects. Nowhere else in the world is there such a desire and drive across an entire region for sustainability, cultural and environmental stewardship and quality. Michael Baker International is excited to continue our  legacy of support in the region that goes back to the 1950s and our support to the Saudi Royal Family and to supporting the U.S. State and Defense missions throughout the region today.

US Department of Commerce Middle East Trade Mission 2014 - a Startup's Perspective

Paul Doherty, President and Chief Executive Officer, the digit group, inc.

Guest blog post by Paul Doherty, President and Chief Executive Officer, the digit group, inc.

We read that the Middle East market was exploring Smart Cities as part of their strategic growth and knew our Smart Cities solutions would be a good fit there, but being a small startup technology company from Silicon Valley, we knew we needed assistance to enter the dynamic Middle East market. Being chosen to be a delegate for the 2014 Middle East Infrastructure Trade Mission led by Secretary Penny Pritzker, gave us an opportunity to showcase American innovation, explore a dynamic market and discover opportunities.

Upon arriving in the United Arab Emirates, the digit group was immediately immersed into a journey of discovery that did not stop. Secretary Pritzker and her talented staff created the environment for us to succeed by getting to know what we do, who we wanted to meet and then making it happen. The dynamic “Lightning Rounds” of meetings with decision makers and influencers for Smart City projects was thrilling and effective (including the Dubai World Expo 2020), the keynote speeches engaging and direct while the presentations and Q&A with government agencies and officials brought transparency, frank talk and paths forward for the entire delegation to consider. Both in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the digit group was met with genuine interest and desire by government agencies and private companies, to not only learn what we do, but to immediately engage in pilot projects that showcase our Smart City solutions.

In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, our delegation was treated to clear and frank discussions on government strategy on large scale infrastructure projects and private sector aspirations, including the world’s tallest building, the Kingdom Tower in Jeddah. In fact, the digit group verbally agreed to 3D model the entire Kingdom Tower complex in our gaming engine, Orbi, during the Lightening Round in Riyadh. It was about this time during this mission that the camaraderie between the delegates roared into full swing as opportunities were shared, ideas exchanged and the mission became bigger than itself.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Wraps Up Successful Trade Mission with Visit to Qatar

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Business Delegation Wraps Up Successful Trade Mission with Visit to Qatar

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker wrapped up her Middle East trade mission in Qatar, where there are many opportunities for U.S. businesses due to the country’s growing economy as well as investments in infrastructure and transportation. As part of the National Vision 2030, Qatar’s broad strategy for growth and development, the country is focused on making meaningful advances in education, sustainability, and economic diversification. Qatar is currently preparing to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and is therefore undertaking numerous new construction projects, renovations and upgrades to prepare for the games and the influx of visitors they will bring. With more than $150 billion in infrastructure investments needed before 2022, U.S. companies are well-positioned to help Qatar meet its development goals. 

Twenty-one such companies are accompanying Secretary Pritzker on her trade mission to the Middle East, and they have been meeting with Qatari leaders to explore business opportunities. On Thursday, Secretary Pritzker and the business delegation met with His Excellency Eng. Essa Bin Hilal Al-Kuwari, President of the General Water and Electricity Corporation (Kahramaa). They discussed how U.S. companies can get more involved in future Kahramaa water, power, and smart grid projects. They also met with Nasser Al Mawlawi, President of the Public Works Authority (Ashghal), which is leading publically-funded road projects in advance of the 2022 World Cup. Ashgal has already selected several U.S. engineering and construction firms, including AECOM Technology Corporation, a member of the trade mission’s business delegation, to lead major projects. 

Secretary Pritzker also met with Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, who is in charge of preparations for the World Cup. Secretary Pritzker congratulated Al Thawadi on the successful bid to host the World Cup and highlighted the close collaboration between U.S. and Qatari companies on major infrastructure projects related to the event. 

Attracting Qatari investment to the U.S. was also a big focus of the visit. On Thursday, Secretary Pritzker met with Ahmed Al Sayed, CEO of the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), founded by the Qatari government to diversify the country’s economy. She talked about the United States as an investment destination and highlighted SelectUSA, a Commerce-led federal initiative to promote business investment, as a resource for Qatar as the country seeks to expand its investment portfolio. 

Secretary Pritzker reached out to government leaders on her visit as well, notably His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of Qatar, as well as Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani, Prime Minister and Minister of Interior. She emphasized the strong bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Qatar and the Commerce Department’s commitment to enhance our commercial relationship. 

Also on Thursday, Secretary Pritzker participated in an armchair discussion hosted by AmCham Doha and the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC). During the discussion, Secretary Pritzker expressed the Commerce Department’s strong support for U.S. companies working to help Qatar reach its development goals. 

This week’s trade mission has been a successful effort to connect U.S. businesses with export opportunities in the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. It demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a sustained economic partnership in the Gulf region.

Secretary Penny Pritzker Meets with Saudi Entrepreneurs About Challenges and Opportunities in the Region

On Tuesday night, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker met with a dozen Saudi entrepreneurs in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as part of her trade mission to the Middle East. The entrepreneurs work in a variety of sectors, including retail, real estate, food services, and more.

Secretary Pritzker briefly discussed her experiences as an entrepreneur with more than 27 years in business. Then, the male and female participants shared their own stories of entrepreneurship, and discussed challenges and opportunities for entrepreneurs in the region.

The attendees ranged from: a hamburger chain owner who built his first restaurant in 2009 with four employees and now has 17 franchises and 130 employees across the country; an entrepreneur who created a new real-estate-development division at his family’s business; and, a serial entrepreneur who launched an electronic recycling facility, an investment company, and a design school.

The group discussed the importance of education and skills training for entrepreneurs. Secretary Pritzker highlighted the success of the King Abdullah Scholarship Program, which sends tens of thousands of students to study at U.S. universities each year.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Tours Solar Park in Dubai

Secretary Pritzker speaks to the Dubai Chamber of Commerce

On Monday in Dubai, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker toured the Mohammed bin Rashid Solar Park by helicopter, getting a firsthand look at how cooperation between the U.S. and Dubai can lead to tremendous opportunities for businesses in both countries.

The solar park was built by First Solar, a company based in Tempe, Arizona that is currently accompanying Secretary Pritzker as part of her trade mission to the Middle East. Completed in October of 2013, the solar park is a 13 megawatt power plant and the largest solar facility of its kind in the Middle East.This solar park proves U.S. businesses can serve as strong business partners to the Gulf region as UAE invests in its infrastructure and transportation systems.

After the tour, Secretary Pritzker and the business delegation met with Dubai Electricity and Water Authority  (DEWA) project specialists and DEWA CEO Al Tayer to further discuss DEWA’s investments in water, electricity and renewable energy projects, all of which offer additional opportunities for American companies to serve as partners.

In addition to her tour of the solar park, Secretary Pritzker held several meetings on Monday to support U.S. companies as they explore business opportunities in Dubai’s infrastructure expansion. She met with Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) officials and World Expo 2020 committee members to congratulate Dubai on winning the World Expo 2020 bid and to offer the Commerce Department’s support in preparation for the Expo. Held every five years, the World Expo attracts millions of visitors to the six-month long exhibition of trade, innovation and products from around the world. Dubai Expo 2020 will focus on sustainability, mobility, and opportunity, and will be a platform for connectivity to help pioneer new partnerships for growth and sustainability for the future.    

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Kicks Off Middle East Trade Mission in Abu Dhabi

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Kicks Off Middle East Trade Mission in Abu Dhabi

With rapidly growing economies and an expanding middle class driving demand for U.S. products and services, countries in the Gulf region are ramping up investments in transportation, renewable energy, and other infrastructure projects. That is why U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker is leading a trade mission to the region this week, her second since being sworn in last June. Along with a delegation of 21 export-ready U.S. companies, Secretary Pritzker started her trip in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, a country with which the U.S. has a growing trade relationship. As the UAE undertakes major investment in its infrastructure and transportation systems, there are tremendous opportunities for U.S. firms to serve as strong partners. 

On Sunday morning, Secretary Pritzker led the trade mission’s business delegation on visits to two government-established entities that are making investments in infrastructure, in order to help these U.S. companies explore possible export or investment opportunities in the UAE. First they met with Khaldoon Mubarak, the CEO of Mubadala, a development company that is investing in renewable energy, educational facilities, transportation, and logistics. Mubadala has already partnered with a number of U.S. companies, including General Electric, Boeing and Lockheed Martin. The delegation also visited the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority, which currently serves approximately 40 percent of the UAE’s population and is working to expand its capacity.
 
Secretary Pritzker then delivered remarks to business and government officials at a luncheon hosted by the United States–United Arab Emirates Business Council, the United States Chamber of Commerce, AmCham Abu Dhabi, and the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce & Industry. In her remarks, she highlighted the growing U.S.-UAE bilateral trade relationship, noting that U.S. exports to the UAE have more than doubled since 2009. Secretary Pritzker underscored that the companies on the trade mission are eager to do business in the UAE, and to serve as partners on a number of infrastructure projects the country has undertaken in areas such as renewable energy and transportation.

NTIA Brings Broadband Opportunities to Alaska

Chevak village elder Maggie Atcherian displays her native artwork for sale online

Guest Blog Post by Anne Neville, Director, State Broadband Initiative, National Telecommunications and Information Administration

Last week, I traveled to Anchorage for the annual economic summit hosted by the Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference, a non-profit regional economic development organization. The Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference is working to improve the quality of life and drive responsible development across the Alaska Peninsula, the Aleutian Islands, Bristol Bay, the Kodiak Archipelago and the Pribilof Islands. 

Last week’s summit had a packed agenda, covering everything from energy conservation to sustainable fishing practices. One big topic of conversation was broadband and the power of high-speed Internet to open up economic, educational and social opportunities in some of the poorest, most isolated communities in our nation. 

It’s no wonder that the Alaska state nickname is “The Last Frontier.” The state is more than double the size of Texas, with more than 3 million lakes, 34,000 miles of shoreline, and 29,000 square miles of ice fields. But with fewer than 750,000 residents, Alaska includes some of the most remote, sparsely populated pockets of the U.S. Many Alaska Natives reside in tiny villages with just a few hundred people and lead subsistence lifestyles. 

Broadband offers these communities a way to connect with the wider world and access everything from online classes to healthcare services to job opportunities. It also offers Alaska Natives a way to preserve their indigenous culture for future generations and share it with a global audience. 

At the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, we see first-hand evidence of this through our investments in several Alaska broadband projects:

With funding from NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rasmuson Foundation, the Alaska State Library established public computer centers at 97 public libraries across the state. The federal investment helped pay for computers and terrestrial and satellite Internet connections, as well as an innovative videoconferencing network. It also helped pay for digital literacy training to help local residents take advantage of everything from electronic commerce and e-government services to online job interviews and distance education offerings. 

The Online with Libraries – or Alaska OWL – project is using the new videoconferencing capability in all sorts of creative ways. The Juneau Library organized a virtual field trip for local children to see dinosaurs on display at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Alberta, Canada. The Unalaska City Library hosted a session for students in a local high school carpentry class to learn about a union apprenticeship program from the training coordinator for the Anchorage-based Local 367 of the United Association of Plumbers and Steamfitters Union. And libraries in Craig, Haines and Kenai have used the system to facilitate an interactive Shakespeare “Reader’s Theater,” with patrons at each of the libraries taking turns reading play passages. 

Department of Commerce releases FY 2014-2018 Strategic Plan

Plan priorities are in direct alignment with the Department’s “Open for Business Agenda”

Today the Department of Commerce released its Strategic Plan for fiscal years 2014 to 2018. The five-year plan, along with the recently released FY15 budget, provides the pathway for meeting the Department’s long-term goals and objectives. The plan, summarizes the key strategies and initiatives that will drive progress in the Department’s five priority areas:

  • Trade and Investment. Expanding the U.S. economy through increased exports and foreign direct investment that leads to more and better American jobs.
  • Innovation. Fostering a more innovative U.S. economy—one that is better at inventing, improving, and commercializing products and technologies that lead to higher productivity and  competitiveness.
  • Data. Improve government, business, and community decisions and knowledge by transforming Department data capabilities and supporting a data-enabled economy.
  • Environment. Ensuring communities and businesses have the necessary information, products, and services to prepare for and prosper in a changing environment.
  • Operational Excellence. Delivering better services, solutions, and outcomes that benefit the American people.

The creation of the strategic plan was a collaborative effort involving staff from every Department of Commerce bureau and serves as a foundation for economic growth and opportunity. The plan is in direct alignment with the  “Open for Business Agenda,” which reflects the Department’s role as the voice of business, and the Administration’s focus on economic growth and job creation. Department leaders and employees will use this plan to transform strategies into actions, and actions into results.

Read a summary of the plan or the entire plan.

Files

Secretary Pritzker Committed to Strengthening the Role of Women in Business and Technology

Penny Pritzker, Secretary of Commerce

Guest blog post by U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker

As President Obama declared in his State of the Union address, “When women succeed, America succeeds.” Here at the Department of Commerce, we are committed to strengthening the role of women in business and technology. Among the Department’s many initiatives aimed toward advancing this goal are the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) efforts to empower our country’s women to innovate and create good jobs.

The USPTO provides the training and tools to encourage more women to get involved in, and contribute to, our innovation and knowledge-based economy.

In fiscal year 2013 alone, USPTO worked with over 3,000 girls through targeted programming focused on intellectual property (IP) and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) opportunities, including workshops on 3D printing, invention concepts, engineering design, game development, product packaging, and patent and trademark protection.

One of USPTO’s many successful collaborations occurred this past November when they teamed up with representatives from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority to support the 2013 Girls Rock: Emerging Young Leaders Empowerment Conference, hosted at Woodson High School in Washington, DC. Over 300 girls spent the day learning about applied chemistry, coding, and robotics, and the USPTO workshop focused on encouraging girls to combine their STEM skills with IP knowledge and entrepreneurship skills.

In an effort to build regional clusters to spur creativity and entrepreneurship and to encourage more women and minorities to innovate, USPTO has also focused greater attention on programs with school districts including Alexandria City, District of Columbia, Prince Georges County, Howard County, Detroit, MI, and Los Angeles, CA.

USPTO’s outreach also includes their participation in many public-private partnerships, like supporting the Women Veterans Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship program and providing female veterans with the tools to become successful entrepreneurs.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Begins Trade Mission to Middle East

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker leaves today for the Middle East for her second trade mission. She will lead 21 U.S. companies on the trade mission, which is focused on export opportunities for U.S. businesses in the infrastructure sector.  This trade mission will mark the first time in 15 years a U.S. Commerce Secretary has taken a trade mission to the Persian Gulf.  The delegation will make three stops over the next week including the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.

In addition to export opportunities for U.S. businesses in the infrastructure sector, this trade mission will focus on areas such as project management and engineering (including construction, architecture and design), renewable energy (solar, wind, and waste-to-energy), smart grid and energy efficiency, and environmental technologies (including water/wastewater, air pollution control, and waste management). Each of these areas is critically important to growing and expanding U.S. business opportunities in the region.

Last week, Secretary Pritzker delivered remarks to the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council, the U.S.-Qatar Business Council, and the U.S.-Saudi Arabian Business Council where she discussed the decades-long security and commercial relationship between the United States and the Middle East and the growing opportunities for expanding business in the region. She stressed the importance of this trade mission as a demonstration of the United States’ commitment to a sustained economic partnership in the Gulf region.

Secretary Pritzker recently returned from her first trade mission to Mexico which provided 17 U.S. companies with opportunities to establish relationships and promote their technologies and services in Mexico’s advanced manufacturing, information and communications technology, health IT and medical device sectors. The mission also allowed Secretary Pritzker to focus on a key pillar of the Department's "Open for Business" agenda, helping U.S. businesses export goods and services and expanding investment opportunities in the U.S.

Greeley and Hansen Sees Trade Mission as Opportunity to Advance Aggressive International Growth Objectives

John C. Robak, President & Chief Operating Officer of Greeley and Hansen

Guest post by John C. Robak President & Chief Operating Officer, Greeley and Hansen

ED Note: Greeley and Hansen is a global leader in developing innovative engineering, architecture, and management solutions for a wide array of complex water, wastewater, and water-related infrastructure challenges.  The firm has built upon 100 years of proven civil and environmental engineering experience in all phases of project development and implementation to become a premier provider of comprehensive services in the water and wastewater sectors.

Greeley and Hansen is excited to participate in the upcoming Department of Commerce Trade Mission with Secretary Pritzker and other business delegates to the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. As the individual who directs the international business operations for Greeley and Hansen, I believe the projected growth in these countries is phenomenal, and can provide significant business opportunities for Greeley and Hansen’s water and wastewater engineering, architectural, and management consulting services. We have set forth an aggressive plan for international growth, and this important trade mission will allow us to further assess the long-range needs of these countries for water and wastewater infrastructure and to better identify potential long-term project opportunities for our firm.

Traveling with Secretary Pritzker will provide unprecedented access to high-level decision makers in each of these countries.  Having had the opportunity to be a delegate on previous infrastructure trade missions with the U.S. Commerce Department, I know first-hand that Greeley and Hansen will gain valuable information and insight into the market for water and wastewater services, but more importantly, we will also be able to establish valuable contacts that can help us launch the expansion of our operations in these potential high-growth markets for our firm. Participating in these past trade missions has led to real business opportunities for us in other emerging markets across the globe that are also interested in gaining access to U.S. technology and intellectual capital to help build sustainable infrastructure that will support continued growth and expansion.

NOAA Encourages Businesses and Organizations to Become Weather-Ready Nation Ambassadors During National Severe Weather Preparedness Week

NOAA Encourages Businesses and Organizations to Become Weather-Ready Nation Ambassadors During National Severe Weather Preparedness Week

As part of its commitment to build a Weather-Ready Nation, the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) launched the Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador initiative last month. NOAA’s National Weather Service is recognizing the first 100 Ambassadors during National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, March 2 to 8. NOAA urges more businesses and organizations to join the group of Ambassadors in working with NOAA to strengthen national resilience in the face of extreme weather. 

Among the new Ambassadors are weather industry partners, including AccuWeather, Raytheon, The Weather Channel and Vaisala, along with businesses, nonprofits, universities, and other organizations. These organizations bring a wide range of expertise, from community preparedness and safety to supercomputing and observations.

One Ambassador with recent weather-ready experience is the Moore Medical Center in Oklahoma. On May 20, 2013, an EF-5 tornado struck the Center. Fortunately, the hospital staff had a well-practiced emergency plan and carefully monitored the National Weather Service forecast that day.

When a tornado warning was issued, staff quickly relocated patients and others to windowless safe areas and used mattresses and blankets to protect them from flying debris. Damage to the hospital was extensive, but no lives were lost. More than 300 individuals who were at the center that day survived, due in large part to the planning and actions of the hospital administration and staff. 

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Announces Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Request

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today released the fiscal year 2015 budget request for the U.S. Department of Commerce. The FY15 budget request supports and builds on President Obama’s vision for creating economic opportunity for all Americans, and includes critical funding for key Commerce priorities: promoting trade and investment, spurring innovation, and fueling our data-driven economy. The $8.8 billion FY15 budget request directly aligns with the Department’s “Open for Business Agenda,” which reflects Commerce's role as the voice of business and the Obama Administration’s focus on economic growth and job creation. 

The Commerce Department’s fiscal year 2015 budget reflects the Department's role as the voice of business in the Administration by making critical investments in our long-term growth and competitiveness. The budget prioritizes high-tech manufacturing and innovation, U.S. trade and investment, infrastructure, skills training, unleashing government data and gathering and acting on environmental intelligence, while also cutting red tape to help businesses grow. 

The FY 2015 Department of Commerce budget includes key investments in the following areas:

Promoting Trade and Investment: To promote exports and greater foreign investment in the U.S., the budget includes $497 million for the International Trade Administration (ITA), an eight percent increase over the 2014 enacted level. Funding for ITA includes $15 million to accelerate operations of the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC), an interagency effort to address unfair trade practices and barriers to boost U.S. exports, and $20 million to expand SelectUSA, which promotes re-shoring and actively brings job-creating investment to the United States from around the world.

Spurring Innovation: To foster a more innovative U.S. economy, the budget will increase regional and national capacity for innovative manufacturing, be the principal defender and champion of the digital economy, continue to support research and development (R&D) that leads to transformative changes in technology, and promote intellectual property policy that supports innovation. 

Fueling a Data-Driven Economy: Data powers the 21st century economy, and Commerce Department data touches every American and informs business decisions every day.

Gathering and Acting on Environmental Intelligence: The Department’s environment agenda aims to help communities and businesses prepare for and prosper in a changing environment. The budget provides $2 billion to fully fund the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) next generation of weather satellites, which are critical to its ability to provide accurate information to decision-makers throughout the government and private sector, as well as time-sensitive weather forecasts and warnings that help protect lives and property.

Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative: The President is also proposing the Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative, which will be fully paid for with a balanced package of spending and tax reforms. It will demonstrate how, by simply changing a few tax provisions and reforming spending programs, Congress could achieve significant economic goals in research, education, manufacturing and skills training. The initiative is consistent with the model established in Murray-Ryan, providing equal dollar-for-dollar increases above the current law discretionary spending caps for both defense and non-defense. 

More information can be found at the Commerce Department's press release U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Announces Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Request. 

Secretary Pritzker Appears on Morning Joe To Discuss Ways the Administration is Working to Grow the Economy and Create Jobs

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker joined Morning Joe to discuss why she’s headed to Massachusetts Institute of Technology to deliver remarks on the impact of big data. Secretary Pritzker also discusses her recent trip to Silicon Valley and job creation.



Business Sunday

As we close out National African American History Month, the Commerce Department is proud to announce our participation in the launch of Business Sunday. This initiative is focused on connecting current and future business leaders from congregations and communities around the country with the federal resources they need to start and grow their companies. As a reflection of the President’s commitment to job creation and economic opportunity for all Americans, Business Sunday will help people access valuable technical assistance, grant information and other resources from the Minority Business Development Agency, BusinessUSA and the Small Business Administration. The initial Business Sunday program will take place on Sunday, March 30, 2014 following services at the 19th Street Baptist Church in Washington, DC.

Throughout his career, President Obama has continually worked to promote community development and expand access to opportunity. To this end, the President recently announced “My Brother’s Keeper,” a new White House initiative to empower boys and young men of color. The Commerce Department shares this commitment and, through Business Sunday and other programs, will work closely with faith-based and other community leaders to ensure they are equipped to help local businesses succeed. 

Spotlight on Commerce: LaJuene Desmukes,Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization

Categories:
Spotlight on Commerce: LaJuene Desmukes, Director, Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization

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.

Guest blog post by LaJuene Desmukes, Director, Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization

As the Director for the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, I am the Department of Commerce’s chief advocate for promoting the use of small business concerns to fulfill its contract and grant requirements. Helping small businesses navigate the complex Federal acquisition arena and successfully pursue opportunities is the most rewarding job I’ve held over the course of my 34-year career.  

I serve as a liaison between small businesses and the Department, seeking out and connecting quality firms with the necessary skills and expertise to meet the Department’s requirements. One of the more interesting aspects of my job is the opportunity to meet with individuals in both the government and private sector who work on projects and build solutions benefitting the nation and the world.  The more I learn about the Department’s programs and industries’ capabilities, the better able I am in helping small businesses pursue and compete for opportunities with Commerce. 

Small businesses, including disadvantaged, women-owned, service-disabled, veteran-owned, and small businesses located in Historically Underutilized Business Zones, are the backbone of the nation’s economy and the primary source of jobs for Americans.  I’m proud to help small businesses successfully pursue contracts and grants with the Department, and to use these opportunities to help small businesses grow and thrive. 

My desire to help others was impressed upon me by my parents. They met and married in Washington, DC, in the 1940s after migrating from the South in search of better paying jobs. Together they raised three boys and two girls. My parents wanted their children to have opportunities that were not available to them growing up in the segregated South. They stressed the importance of faithfully serving God, paying tithes, and honest work. These were the cornerstones of the Black community in which I grew up. My parents exemplified their beliefs by holding various church offices, paying off their mortgage, helping those in need, and serving in the federal government. My mother worked for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for over 40 years and retired as a clerical supervisor. My father retired as a Freight Rate Specialist from the General Accounting Office (now the Government Accountability Office) after 35 years.  

Spotlight on Commerce: Russell F. Smith III, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration

Spotlight on Commerce: Russell F. Smith III, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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.

Guest blog post by Russell F. Smith III, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration

As the deputy assistant secretary for international fisheries at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, I oversee the nation’s engagement in international fisheries. My responsibilities include providing general policy guidance on various aspects of NOAA’s international fisheries work, such as sustainable management of fisheries, the protection of marine resources, and supporting the export of U.S. fisheries products. I also represent the U.S. government at various international meetings. In carrying out these responsibilities, I work closely with other NOAA employees and government officials from other agencies, including the State Department, the Coast Guard and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. In addition, I frequently consult with various stakeholders, including representatives of the fishing industry, non-governmental organizations, and academia. I also regularly work with representatives of foreign countries. 

As Americans, we care about the global management of our oceans for a number of reasons. Seafood is an important and healthy source of protein in the diets of many Americans and many others in the world. The seafood industry provides many jobs for fishermen and women, as well as those that build their boats and gear, seafood processors, suppliers, and many others. Although many once thought that seafood was an endless resource, we now know it is not. Providing the world with this important source of food, jobs, and economic opportunity requires careful management. 

Some seafood is easily managed on the local level. However, other species, such as many of the tunas, travel far beyond national boundaries and their harvest can only be successfully managed when nations cooperate. Our mission is to work with these other nations for the sustainable management of global fisheries that is based on the best available science and that protects other non-target species and habitats from potential adverse impacts of fishing. We also work to ensure that nations are complying with adopted measures and working cooperatively with developing countries to support their ability to implement such measures. My position combines international relations with fisheries, employment, development and environmental policies. 

Secretary Pritzker Concludes “Commerce in the Valley” Tour

Secretary Pritzker Concludes “Commerce in the Valley” Tour

U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker concluded her two-day “Commerce in the Valley” tour on Tuesday showcasing the value and vast resources of the Commerce Department to entrepreneurs and business leaders in Northern California.  As the voice of business in the Administration, Pritzker met with innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders within Silicon Valley to discuss the Department of Commerce’s “Open for Business Agenda,” and the three key areas that will keep America competitive and strong: trade and investment, innovation, and data.

Secretary Pritzker made a number of site visits during her tour of Silicon Valley including Facebook, Google, eBay and PayPal showing the Department's strong commitment to spurring U.S. economic growth, through innovation, and competitiveness. On day two of her visit, Secretary Pritzker participated in an Innovation Ecosystem breakfast hosted by Tech for America, where she heard from budding entrepreneurs on the next generation of innovative ideas and discussed the importance of intellectual property (IP) protection and patent reform.

Following the breakfast, Secretary Pritzker traveled to Google where she met with executives and discussed trade and investment and ways the Commerce Department can further help companies export their goods and services abroad. 

Secretary Pritzker concluded her day at eBay and PayPal where she met with three eBay sellers, Chris Ko, Owner, Nationwide Surplus and ER2 Electronic Recycling; Nate Victor, CEO, Sonic Electrolux; and Nick Martin, Founder, The Pro's Closet. She discussed with each of these business leaders what global opportunities and resources we have at the Department of Commerce that can help them increase exports to foreign markets and expand their business footprint.  Secretary Pritzker later joined eBay Inc. CEO John Donahoe in announcing a partnership to promote U.S. exports and trade.  This partnership will advance the Obama Administration’s National Export Initiative, an ambitious plan to sell more American goods and services into foreign markets. 

Mr. Donahoe was appointed by President Obama to the President’s Export Council (PEC) in December 2013.  This partnership comes on the heels of a U.S. Department of Commerce announcement that U.S. exports in 2013 set a new record for the fourth straight year. U.S. exports reached $2.3 trillion in 2013, up nearly $700 billion since 2009.

Spotlight on Commerce: Charmaine Davis, Office of the Secretary

Spotlight on Commerce: Charmaine Davis, Office of the Secretary

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.

Guest blog post by Charmaine Davis, Office of the Secretary

Growing up in a single parent household, I learned the value of working hard to attain your goals. Watching my mother work hard and be selfless to provide for me and my siblings instilled a value of tenacity and integrity. She served in the federal government as a financial management specialist for 39 years. My mother’s love for her career has been truly inspiring and sparked an interest in me early on. 

I have worked in the federal government since 2001, beginning at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The Aspiring Leaders Program, coupled with great mentors, provided me with training and leadership opportunities that helped shape my career at the U.S. Department of Commerce.  

My career at Commerce began in 2005 in the Office of Financial Management (OFM), Office of Executive Budgeting. For the next four years, I learned the fundamentals of the Commerce budgeting process, and later served as the Budget Officer in the Office of the Secretary (OS). 

I am currently the Executive Officer, which means I am responsible for the management and execution of the Office of the Secretary’s budget. I work with OS staff to ensure that Secretarial initiatives and office needs are funded and supported. I also work with the Office of Administration to establish and enforce administrative policies and procedures for all OS offices.  

In the State of the Union Address, President Obama addressed three key principles, opportunity, action and optimism.  In tough budget circumstances, it is my job to work with the OS directors in creatively aiming to fulfill the Commerce Secretary’s mission using the funding we have. I am lucky to work with some incredibly enthusiastic individuals, and we strive as a team to get to the finish line. 

One of the persons who have influenced me to become who I am today would be my daughter Ciani, who I had at the age of 16!  What some considered being a mistake was a life lesson for me. Being a teen mom caused me to be extremely diligent to meet my objectives, to aim high, be resilient, and responsible.  It is important to me to provide her and her siblings with an example of what it means to dream big and overcome the roadblocks that may be set against you.  Because of that ambition, my daughter is in her freshman year at Virginia State University, obtaining her goals one by one and I couldn’t be prouder. 

New Manufacturing Institutes will Spur U.S. Innovation and Competitiveness

Across the country, communities are clamoring to land the next Manufacturing Innovation Institute, new “hubs” supported by the Obama Administration that are spurring the types of advanced technologies that will help grow the U.S. economy. Today, President Obama announced two new National Network for  Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) institutes, funded by the Department of Defense, which will focus on lightweight modern metals (Detroit) and digital manufacturing and design (Chicago). America’s leadership in cutting-edge technologies like these is exactly what we need to create high-quality jobs and opportunity here at home.

The whole idea behind the NNMI is to create public-private partnerships that bring together manufacturers, academics, and non-profits to bridge the gap between applied research and product development to ensure America remains globally competitive in the most exciting and promising emerging industries. In other words, NNMI institutes will help spur the technological advances needed to help the U.S. economy maintain its competitive edge. Here at Commerce, support for this network of industry-driven commercialization hubs is a key part of our “Open for Business Agenda.” 

Following the 2012 launch of a successful, additive manufacturing-focused NNMI pilot institute in Youngstown, Ohio, President Obama announced competitions in May 2013 to create three new institutes with a federal commitment of $200 million across five federal agencies – Commerce, Defense, Energy, NASA, and the National Science Foundation. With today’s announcement, all three institutes have now been selected. 

But we are not stopping here. The President also announced a new competition today for the next manufacturing innovation institute, which will focus on advanced composites. This is the first of the four additional institutes the President committed to launching this year in his State of the Union address, for a total of eight institutes nationwide.

The President has called for building out the initial network of 15 manufacturing innovation institutes to 45 over the next 10 years, which will require legislation from Congress. Getting this done is one of our top priorities at the Department of Commerce. With the enactment of current bipartisan and bicameral legislation, the “Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act of 2013,” we can open technology-neutral competitions that respond to much broader industry needs.

A strong manufacturing sector is critical to our intellectual and innovative capacity, and collaborative research between America’s leading manufacturers is essential to keeping our high-tech industries right here in the U.S. To learn more about NNMI and efforts to support advanced manufacturing, please visit:http://manufacturing.gov/nnmi.html.

Spotlight on Commerce: George E. Jenkins, National Institute for Standards and Technology

George E. Jenkins, National Institute of Standards and Technology

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.

Guest blog post by George E. Jenkins, National Institute of Standards and Technology

I was born in Savannah, Georgia to parents whose myriad personal sacrifices, strong sense of excellence, and loving devotion to our family were tremendous examples for how to succeed to me and my brothers.

I was the valedictorian of my high school class, captain of three sports teams, a member of the Georgia Allstate Chorus for three consecutive years and a selected participant in the Governor’s Honors Program for Music. I subsequently received an undergraduate degree in accounting from the University of Bridgeport and a Masters in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. I am also a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

Upon graduating from college, I was hired by the international accounting firm of Ernst & Ernst (now Ernst & Young). I was a senior accountant with responsibility for the audits of multibillion dollar Fortune 500 companies. Afterward, I joined the faculties of Cheney State University, Alabama State University and Alabama A&M University, where I taught accounting and finance courses. Teaching and mentoring students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) was an enriching and rewarding experience. In fact, I later hired several of my mentees within the CPA firm that my brother and I owned and operated in Montgomery, AL for many years.

Our CPA firm delivered accounting and auditing services to professional athletes in all of the major sports, as well as, to a variety of large private corporate and government clients.

I began my federal service with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS).  While working at CMS, I held the position of Deputy Director for the Financial Management Systems Group, which was responsible for over 40 financial management systems. I also played an integral part in the development and implementation of the Healthcare Integrated General Ledger Accounting System (HIGLAS), which was one of the largest Oracle implementations in the world at the time, processing approximately 5 million Medicare claims daily.  I was an Associate Regional Administrator for Financial Management in Seattle, WA with oversight responsibilities for five western states. I received numerous awards such as the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary’s Award and the CMS Administrator’s Award on several occasions. 

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Visits Silicon Valley to Highlight Administration Support for Innovation Economy

Innovation is the key driver of U.S. economic competitiveness and job creation. That is why it is a key pillar of the Department of Commerce’s innovation agenda. On Monday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker made her first trip as Secretary to Silicon Valley to advance the Obama Administration’s efforts to encourage innovation.

Secretary Pritzker made her first stop in Sunnyvale at the Plug and Play Tech Center, a business accelerator for tech startups. After touring Plug and Play, Secretary Pritzker delivered remarks at an event hosted by the Churchill Club, highlighting the Administration’s commitment to spurring U.S. economic growth, innovation, and competitiveness. She described the Commerce Department’s work to invest in digital infrastructure, strengthen intellectual property protections, and support advanced manufacturing, among other initiatives.

Secretary Pritzker also announced two new Commerce efforts to unleash more federal data for entrepreneurs and businesses, which are being spearheaded by the Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Census Bureau. NOAA has released a Request for Information to explore the feasibility of a public-private partnership to release more of the 20 terabytes of environmental and weather data that the agency collects each day. And the Census Explorer, an interactive map of demographics, is adding new tech workforce and payroll data, which will allow employers to see where the workers they need are living.

Noting the significant progress that the Administration has made to support science and technology, she even detailed how President Obama has done more for innovation than any other American President. “Simply put, I believe that President Obama has done more for innovation than any other President in history.”

Spotlight on Commerce: Joyce Ward, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Spotlight on Commerce: Joyce Ward, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

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.

Guest blog post by Joyce Ward, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

I have the honor of serving as the Director of the Office of Education and Outreach at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). I am fortunate to work with a dedicated, talented, and passionate team of people who believe deeply in the importance of educating, inspiring, and encouraging students and the people who educate them, whether they are teachers, parents, mentors, or members of the community.
 
Intellectual property (IP)—tangible ideas that can be bought and sold and traded—empowers people and has the potential to change society in ways both big and small. We’ve seen it over and over throughout our history with inventions such as the electric microphone, the artificial respirator, optical fiber, methods for storing blood, and countless other innovations that were developed by people with extraordinary ideas, vision, and sheer tenacity.
 
The Office of Education and Outreach is charged with developing, augmenting, and implementing education and outreach programming that increases knowledge and awareness of IP among stakeholders, and provides capacity building for future generations of inventors and innovators. To carry out that mission, we develop educational materials, build strategic partnerships, conduct professional development workshops for educators nationally, and provide hands-on experiences for students to help them make the connection between ideas and actualization.
 
I grew up in rural eastern North Carolina on Highway 58 between Wilson and Greene counties. The entrepreneurial spirit is in my DNA. Both of my parents were small business owners, and my great grandfather, first generation out of slavery, started his own business, which survived for close to 100 years. My father, a teacher by training, started a moving and storage company that evolved into a used furniture and antique shop. He also supported my mother in her business, which morphed from a gas station, convenience store, and used car lot to a restaurant and night club.

NOAA Moves to Unleash “Big Data” and Calls Upon American Companies to Help

Guest blog post by Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D., Acting Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Acting NOAA Administrator 

From the surface of the sun to the depths of the ocean floor, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), part of the Department of Commerce, works to keep citizens informed about the changing environment around them. Our vast network of radars, satellites, buoys, ships, aircraft, tide gauges, and supercomputers keeps tabs on the condition of our planet’s health and provides critical data that are used to predict changes in climate, weather, oceans, and coastlines. As we continue to witness changes on this dynamic planet we call home, the demand for NOAA’s data is only increasing. 

Quite simply, NOAA is the quintessential big data agency. Each day, NOAA collects, analyzes, and generates over 20 terabytes of data – twice the amount of data than what is in the United States Library of Congress’ entire printed collection. However, only a small percentage is easily accessible to the public. 

NOAA is not the only Commerce agency with a treasure trove of valuable information. The economic and demographic statistics from the Census Bureau, for example, inform business decisions every day. According to a 2013 McKinsey Global Institute Report, open data could add more than $3 trillion in total value annually to the education, transportation, consumer products, electricity, oil and gas, health care, and consumer finance sectors worldwide. That is why U.S. Secretary of  Commerce Penny Pritzker has made unleashing the power of Commerce data one of the top priorities of the Department’s “Open for Business Agenda.” 

Imagine the economic potential if more of these data could be released. Trillions more bytes of data from NOAA could help existing businesses, start-up companies, and even non-governmental organizations develop new and innovative products – products that might help us better understand our planet and keep communities, businesses, and ecosystems resilient from extreme events. 

It is a challenge that will take creative and unconventional thinking, and it is something we can’t tackle alone. 

Commerce Department Supports Efforts to Ensure American Workers Have the Necessary Skills for the In-Demand Jobs of Today and Tomorrow

As part of a government collaboration to prepare and place workers facing long-term unemployment into good jobs in high-demand industries, the Department of Labor announced yesterday the availability of approximately $150 million in grants as part of the “Ready to Work Partnership.”  Three weeks ago, President Obama signed a federal employer commitment and issued a Presidential Memorandum to address the issue of long-term unemployment and ensure that those who have been out of work for long periods of time are given a fair shot. The memorandum underscored the need for American workers to have the resources and training needed to acquire in-demand job skills.

The Commerce Department is playing a key role in this effort by partnering with businesses, as well as other federal agencies, to facilitate industry-driven workforce training programs. A strong and skilled workforce is a fundamental part of a competitive U.S. economy, driving economic growth and attracting foreign direct investment. That is why Secretary Pritzker has made workforce skills a top priority of the Commerce Department and is a key pillar of the “Open for Business Agenda.” In fact, she is the first Commerce Secretary to focus on skills training.

Before becoming Secretary of Commerce, Pritzker helped launch Skills for America’s Future, a national employer-led initiative to prepare workers for 21st century jobs, and Skills for Chicagoland’s Future, a local intermediary in Chicago focused on the long-term unemployed. These two public-private partnerships align employer needs with training to prepare workers for positions that are available and set them on a real career path.

At an event hosted by the White House on January 31, Secretary Pritzker co-led a panel with CEOs who signed the White House pledge to support the long-term unemployed. She emphasized the value of employer-led partnerships to better inform demand-driven training efforts and ensure that workers have the training they need to be competitive in the global marketplace. The strength of the American workforce drives our economic recovery, so it is critical that the federal government take a leading role in investing in workforce training efforts. For these efforts to be successful, government must collaborate with stakeholders from the business community, educational and training institutions, labor unions, and state and local governments to make sure our training programs are more job-driven, integrated and effective.

Encouraging Innovation, Not Litigation

Secretary Pritzker at the White House promoting the Administration's Patent Action

Importance of Patent Reform

America’s entrepreneurs, businesses, and workers are the primary source of new ideas that drive innovation. Patents, trademarks and copyrights–the main protections in our intellectual property (IP) system–are critical tools that help commercialize innovative, game-changing ideas, from advances in healthcare technology to improved consumer products. By creating a better environment for America’s private sector to capitalize on those ideas, IP protections help foster the innovation and creativity that leads to a stronger economy and more jobs.

In 2012, economists at the U.S. Department of Commerce studied industries that use patent, copyright or trademark protections most extensively, and found that these “IP-intensive industries” account for over one-third of our nation’s GDP, more than 60 percent of our exports, and nearly 28 percent of jobs. Clearly, IP protection is a pillar of the United States economy.

Department of Commerce’s Commitment

The Commerce Department is playing a major role in ensuring that the United States remains the world’s strongest ideas-driven economy with a 21st century patent system. A core part of the Commerce Department’s mission is to help American businesses build things here and sell them everywhere around the globe. That is why U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker made innovation a main pillar of the “Open for Business Agenda” that she launched in November to continue to serve entrepreneurs and businesses that drive innovation. 

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Supports Economic Cooperation at North American Leaders Summit

Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker joined President Barack Obama and the U.S. delegation to the North American Leaders Summit in Toluca, Mexico. The trilateral meeting between the Presidents of the United States and Mexico and the Prime Minister of Canada is an opportunity for the three leaders to discuss progress on a range of issues impacting North America, including trade and investment, economic competitiveness, and entrepreneurship. 

As part of the North American Leaders Summit, President Obama signed an Executive Order (EO) on Streamlining the Export/Import Process for America’s Businesses. This action directs the completion of the International Trade Data System (ITDS) by December 2016, in order to reduce the costs of trade and allow companies to ship American-made goods more quickly. Currently, when businesses want to import or export goods, they must submit information, often in paper form, to a number of government agencies. The process of gaining approval on these submissions can take days.  The International Trade Data System will instead allow businesses to electronically transmit the required data through a “single window.” This EO will cut red tape, speed up shipment of American goods overseas, eliminate duplicative and burdensome paperwork, and improve government efficiency. 

During the NALS official meeting, Secretary Pritzker provided an overview of her work with her counterparts, Mexican Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal and Canadian Minister of International Trade Edward Fast, on the North American competitiveness work plan. Since being sworn in last June, Secretary Pritzker has been focused on increasing economic integration between the United States, Mexico, and Canada and has specifically worked on a number of issues on the agenda at the North American Leaders Summit. These include: creating a North American Trusted Traveler Program, which would allow vetted individuals to travel more easily between the U.S., Mexico and Canada; harmonizing trade data, consistent with international standards, to make it easier for companies to do business in the three countries; working on joint investment and tourism cooperation initiatives, including exchanging best practices; and creating a Trilateral Research, Development and Innovation Council, which will support the development of a network of entrepreneurs across the North American region. Additional information about the key deliverables from the Summit can be found here.

The North American economic relationship is one of the strongest in the world. The United States and Canada share the world’s largest bilateral trading relationship, with more than $700 billion in two-way trade in goods and services annually and more than $600 billion in direct investment on both sides of the border. Mexico is the United States’ second-largest export market and third-largest trading partner, and bilateral trade between the United States and Mexico was almost half a trillion dollars in 2012. Earlier this month, Secretary Pritzker led 17 export-ready U.S. companies on a five-day business development trade mission to Mexico, focusing on promoting U.S. exports to Mexico and further strengthening the U.S.-Mexico commercial relationship.

Collaborating with State and Local leaders on Cybersecurity

Collaborating with state and local leaders on cybersecurity

Guest Blog Post by Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and National Institute of Standards and Technology Director Patrick D. Gallagher

Protecting our nation’s valuable information assets from hackers and other threats is often dependent on better collaborations—both public-private partnerships and state, local, and federal efforts.

NIST’s National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence is all about such partnerships. And that’s why I was honored to join U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski (Md.), Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, Montgomery County Maryland Executive Isiah Leggett and Maryland’s Secretary of Economic Development Dominick Murray Tuesday to celebrate a new agreement that  extends public collaboration on this important topic. These same organizations joined me in Feb. 2012 to launch the center’s efforts to address various industries’ cybersecurity challenges and to accelerate the adoption of technologies that are based on standards and best practices. Since that time, the center has been bringing together experts from industry, government and academia to demonstrate integrated cybersecurity that is cost-effective, repeatable and scalable.

Eighteen IT industry leaders have joined our efforts through the National Cybersecurity Partnership initiative. Additional companies—both large and small—have worked with us on specific projects focused on health IT, energy, and financial services, with more to come, including efforts to support the recently released Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity.

The agreement signed by NIST, Maryland and Montgomery County provides the center a new home with an expanded footprint, both physical and programmatic, not far from NIST’s Gaithersburg, Md., campus. It encourages technology transfer of government-developed technologies to companies for licensing and from one government agency to another. This collaboration also will help the state and county departments of economic development support new security technology companies and products, as well as to identify future workforce needs and provide opportunities for high school, college and graduate students.

Updating Guidance on Use of Voluntary Consensus Standards to Promote Smarter Regulation, Collaboration, and Technological Innovation

Editor's note: This has been cross-posted from the Office of Management and Budget

The computer, tablet, or smartphone you are using to read this blog is comprised of parts and components that were developed, manufactured, and assembled in different locations around the United States and the globe, yet was carefully designed to ensure that your device is safe and interoperable with other devices. We don’t spend much time thinking or worrying about how our electronics work or if they are safe, due largely to the ingenuity of the companies that make these products and their willingness to collaborate with each other to develop technologies that are safe, innovative, and interoperable. While these companies do an excellent job in designing our products, it is important to remember that governments also play a critical role in ensuring the products that impact our daily lives are safe, effective, and protective of the environment.

Since the enactment of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act in 1995, U.S. Federal regulatory agencies have been guided by the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Circular A-119, “Federal Participation in the Development and Use of Voluntary Consensus Standards and in Conformity Assessment Activities.” In 1998, OMB issued a revised version of Circular A-119, which has been guiding agencies on the use of voluntary consensus standards in regulation and on conformity assessment ever since.

Over the intervening years since those revisions, the scope of economic activity and technology innovation has become increasingly global, and its complexity requires governments to collaborate more closely with the private sector, other stakeholders, and each other. Many of the regulations that U.S. agencies issue every year rely on the work of standards developers and providers of conformity assessment services in the private sector. Many of these regulations impact companies, workers, and consumers both inside and outside the United States. As the worlds of regulation, standards, and trade increasingly intersect, and domestic and international interests increasingly overlap, close collaboration within the U.S. government on these issues has become critical, as has a more comprehensive approach.

Census Bureau Releases Valentine’s Day-Related Facts and Statistics

Census Bureau Release Valentine’s Day-Related Facts and Statistics

As we celebrate Valentine’s Day today, the Department of Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau released Valentine’s Day-related facts and statistics.  Expressing one's love to another is a celebrated custom on Valentine's Day.  Sweethearts and family members present gifts to one another, such as cards, candy, flowers and other symbols of affection.  Today, the U.S. Census Bureau released statistics on businesses that benefit from Valentine’s Day as well as statistics about married couples and the number of dating service establishments.

1,148:  Number of U.S. manufacturing establishments that produced chocolate and cocoa products in 2011, employing 35,538 people. California led the nation with 122 of these establishments, followed by Pennsylvania, with 109.

393:  The number of dating service establishments nationwide as of 2007. These establishments, which include Internet dating services, employed 3,125 people and pulled in $928 million in revenue.

29.0 and 26.6 years:  Median age at first marriage in 2013 for men and women, respectively.

23,394:  The estimated number of jewelry stores in the United States in 2011. Jewelry stores offer engagement, wedding and other rings to couples of all ages. In February 2013, these stores sold an estimated $2.8 billion in merchandise.

15,307:  The total number of florists' establishments nationwide in 2011. These businesses employed 66,165 people.

For more Valentine’s Day statistics, please go to the Census Bureau’s Facts for Features: Valentine’s Day 2014

Van Nuys-Based Louroe Electronics Travels with U.S. Secretary of Commerce to Mexico for First Trade Mission

Richard Brent, CEO of Louroe Electronics

Guest blog post by Richard Brent, CEO of Louroe Electronics

I remember getting the call from U.S. Department of Commerce extending an invite to my company, Louroe Electronics, to accompany Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker on her first-ever trade mission to Mexico. I was truly humbled and enthusiastic about this unique opportunity.

I’ve served as the CEO of Van Nuys-based Louroe Electronics, the world leader in audio monitoring technology, for more than 5 years now and was thrilled to receive the call. I was beyond excited to learn that Louroe was handpicked by the Department of Commerce - the only Southern California and sole security company- along with 16 other export-ready companies, to be a part of The Secretary’s historic trade mission. The mission specifically focused on promoting U.S. exports in key industry sectors including advanced manufacturing, information and communications technology, and security products.

From February 3-7, I personally traveled with Secretary Pritzker to Mexico City and Monterrey alongside other leading companies including: IBM Corporation, Motorola Solutions, Inc., Oracle Corporation, LexisNexis Risk Solutions, and Deloitte Consulting LLP.  Our mutual goal was to promote U.S exports. This trade mission helped facilitate introductions to key government and private sector decision makers in Mexico who shared with us key initiatives and how US companies can assist with development and growth.

As a result of my participation in the trade mission, I was able to successfully identify five new pilot projects for Louroe that will focus on improving public safety throughout Mexico City and Monterrey. This is great news not only for Louroe but also for the Los Angeles economy as the pilot programs will require us to increase our current staffing by approximately 10 percent, ultimately creating more jobs.

EFJohnson: Participation in Mexico Trade Mission was a Positive Experience

Categories:
 Rudy Torres, Director of International Business for all Government Public Safety Radio Communication for EFJohnson Technologies

Guest blog post by Mr. Rudy Torres, Director of International Business for all Government Public Safety Radio Communication for EFJohnson Technologies of Irving, Texas.

Established in 1923, EFJohnson has a long history of providing mission critical communication solutions and is one of only three companies in the land mobile radio industry today that has developed a full line of Project 25 products. EFJohnson focuses on delivering the highest quality, innovative, and cost-effective Project 25 solutions for public safety, military, and government entities.

Being a representative on the trade mission to Mexico was a very positive experience. The inclusion of small and medium business was very important to us. Secretary Pritzker provided equal access to all companies on the mission regardless of size. It was a great opportunity for a medium company like ours to show its agility and focus to an audience normally reserved for larger companies.

Secretary Pritzker’s commitment and presence at all functions brought out the higher levels of government officials and administrators. All participating companies were provided access to key policy makers and business leaders. Secretary Pritzker also opened her personal network of business associates and introduced the delegation to top leaders of the business community both in Mexico City and Monterrey.

Cities Launch Prize Competitions to Spur Economic Development Planning

SC2 Challenge logo

Last week, Greensboro, NC; Hartford, Connecticut; and Las Vegas, Nevada launched economic development competitions as part of the SC2 Visioning Challenge (SC2 Challenge). Created by the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), the SC2 Challenge selected the three cities to receive $1 million each to solicit innovative strategies that advance local economic development planning.

Through a fair and open process of participation, these competitions are expected to attract a wide range of new approaches to help the communities succeed in reaching their economic and job growth goals. Leveraging an extensive array of innovative ideas from a diverse field of participants is a key benefit of challenge initiatives. 

The SC2 Challenge is part of the Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative (SC2), launched by the Obama administration in June 2011. SC2 is aimed at creating new partnerships between federal agencies and localities to spark economic development in communities that have faced long-term development challenges. 

A Vision for Mexico’s Future

Anne Altman, general manager of IBM US Federal Government and Industries, and Dan Pelino, general manager of IBM's public sector business

Guest blog post by Anne Altman, general manager of IBM US Federal Government and Industries, and Dan Pelino, general manager of IBM's public sector business.

IBM believes in a vision of economic development and vitality where technology helps drive more active and engaged communities through citizen-based services, including health care, infrastructure, public safety, supply chain and education, all enabling "smarter" regions and societies.

The dominant cities, regions and countries around the world today are planning for long-term growth to build their economic competitive advantage.  They are doing this by collaborating across levels of government, industry and academia - working across political, social and technological divides to achieve bigger, better and more sustainable outcomes in jobs, business environments and citizen quality of life.

This is why we were honored to be part of the U.S. business delegation to Mexico - deepening our relationships with government and business leaders, some of which we’ve held for many years, since IBM first opened for business in Mexico in 1927.  We share Secretary Pritzker’s belief that Mexico is an important growth market on its own, a key trade partner to the USA and perhaps the world.  This is why we are investing in opening up a cloud computing data center in Mexico City later this year. We believe that Mexico can benefit from the adoption of new technology to enable their cities and States for the future.

As the general managers of IBM’s public sector and Federal business units, respectively, we are always looking for opportunities to share best practices in business and government and learn from the experience of others.  Mexico is our neighbor and partner, and it was rewarding to spend several days in such insightful discussions with the leaders in business, academia and government.

Uncovering History’s Black Women Inventors

Dr. Patricia E. Bath and a drawing of her patent

Editor's note: This has been cross-posted from Inventor's Eye, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Publication for the Independent Inventor Community

February and March are Black History Month and Women’s History Month, respectively. Inventors Eye takes a look at past and present to salute the many Black women inventors who have contributed to the growth of innovation in America.

Black women throughout American history have impacted and contributed to our nation’s culture of innovation. Patents offer a unique lens through which to view history. By tracing the technologies patents protect—or once protected—as well as the inventors listed on those patents, an image of the past emerges. The United States Patent and Trademark Office has granted patents for more than 200 years. That’s a lot of history, and it contains many stories of successful black women who have changed the technological face of America. Today, black women continue to ignite the spark of genius and make key and meaningful contributions to America’s inventive process. 

The trove of historical information locked in patents can be a challenge to extract, as patents do not record extensive personal details about inventors such as race. Adding to the difficulty is the common practice of early inventors to use initials as a way to conceal their identity or gender. There is ongoing debate about the first black woman inventor, but modern research tools have made it less difficult to assemble the pieces of the puzzle. Though we may never be able to tell the full story of black women inventors, the findings reveal that they have consistently conceived innovative ideas and aggressively filed patent applications throughout history.

Martha Jones of Amelia County, Va., might have become the first black woman to receive a United States patent. Her application for an “Improvement to the Corn Husker, Sheller” was granted U.S. patent No. 77,494 in 1868. Jones claimed her invention could husk, shell, cut up, and separate husks from corn in one operation, representing a significant step forward in the automation of agricultural processes. Five years later in 1873, Mary Jones De Leon of Baltimore was granted U.S. patent No. 140,253 for a novel cooking apparatus. De Leon’s invention consisted of the construction and arrangement of a device for heating food by dry heat and steam. The design of the apparatus shows that it was an early precursor to the steam tables now found often at food buffets.

Other documented 19th century black women inventors include Judy W. Reed and Sarah Goode. Reed, from Washington, D.C., was granted a patent in 1884 for a dough kneader and roller (U.S. patent No. 305,474) and Goode, from Chicago, was granted a patent in 1885 for a folding cabinet chair (U.S. patent No. 322,177).

U.S. Exports Set Records in 2013

U.S. Exports Set Records in 2013 infographic

The United States is the world’s largest exporter and importer of goods and services, and the world’s largest recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI). Trade and investment are critical to the prosperity of the world’s largest economy. They fuel our economic growth, support good jobs—and spread the delivery of ideas, innovation, and American values. Trade and investment are an important engine for U.S. economic growth and jobs. With nearly 14% of U.S. GDP in 2013 accounted for by exports, and 95% of potential consumers living  broad, promoting trade and investment helps more U.S. companies compete in the global marketplace.

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U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Concludes Her First Trade Mission in Mexico

Secretary Pritzker is joined by U.S. Ambassador Wayne and  Mexico's Secretary of Economy, Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal during her trade mission to Mexico City and Monterrey, Mexico.

On Friday, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker concluded her five-day trade mission in Monterrey, the largest business center in Mexico after Mexico City.

Among her many trade mission events, Secretary Pritzker met with Margarita Arellanes Cervantes, Mayor of Monterrey, and Jose Luis Pier Castello, President of Lowe's Mexico - one of the leading hardware chains in the world - to highlight the importance of promoting corporate social responsibility and to recognize Lowe's and other American companies doing business in Mexico for their focus on these efforts. At a Lowe's store in Monterrey, Secretary Pritzker expressed her appreciation for employee volunteerism and acknowledged the importance of companies' involvement in the communities in which they operate.

After Lowe's opened its first two stores in Monterrey in 2010, the company, began looking for ways to get involved in the Monterrey community. The company has since supported local schools with donations, volunteer time, and construction expertise. Secretary Pritzker said that Lowe's commitment to the Monterrey community reflects the values of many American companies that invest in Mexico, and that U.S. companies are committed to staying active in the region.

In addition to meeting with Mexican government officials in Monterrey, Secretary Pritzker met with employees at the U.S. Consulate in Monterrey as well as the Department of Commerce’s Monterrey team, thanking them for their public service and for their assistance in promoting Mexican investment in the United States.

Helping the Long-Term Unemployed Get Back to Work

President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden, delivers remarks at an event to outline new efforts to help the long-term unemployed, in the East Room of the White House, Jan. 31, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Editor's note: This has been cross-posted from the White House's Blog.

Guest Blog Post by Gene Sperling, Director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, and Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement

In this year’s State of the Union address, President Obama called attention to a stubborn legacy of the Great Recession that remains despite the progress we have made in creating new jobs: a historically high number of Americans who are ready and eager to work, but have found themselves among the ranks of the long-term unemployed.

Although many of these Americans could help employers fill their hiring needs if given the chance, they often face particular barriers in getting back to work. Research shows that the long-term unemployed are frequently overlooked and sometimes excluded from job opportunities – one study found that candidates who had been out of work eight months were called back for interviews only about half as often as candidates who had been out of work one month, even with an otherwise identical résumé.

"I've heard from too many of these folks," President Obama told a group of CEOs and business leaders the week of his State of the Union address. "They fill out 100 applications, 200 applications. They’re sending out résumés, still finding time to volunteer in their community, or helping out at church. Sometimes they have more experience and education and skill than newly unemployed Americans."

"They just need that chance," he said.

BusinessUSA Recognized for Leading Innovative Collaboration to Support Businesses

Categories:
BusinessUSA

BusinessUSA was named as one of six winners yesterday for the 2014 Igniting Innovation Award, which recognizes government and industry individuals and teams who bring innovative thinking through their IT products, services, systems and solutions that benefit federal government and citizens.

Managed by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Small Business Administration (SBA), BusinessUSA is the federal government’s official assistance resource for American businesses. The platform was launched in February 2012 to serve as a “one-stop-shop” that provides businesses and entrepreneurs with access to the full range of government services and resources available to them at every stage of development.

With thousands of federal, state and local resources, BusinessUSA makes it easier for businesses to locate, access, and utilize resources most relevant to their needs. The website also saves businesses valuable time by providing easy access to information and services through several customer service channels.

In fact, President Obama today called for the White House Rural Council, in coordination with the Commerce Department, SBA and other agencies, to utilize the BusinessUSA platform as part of a new “Made in Rural America” initiative. Specifically, the agencies were tasked with using BusinessUSA to better connect rural businesses with export and investment resources through coordinated support from across the government.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Tours Research and Technology Park In Monterrey, Mexico

Secretary Pritzker is joined by Secretary of Economic Development Rolando Zubiran and Institute for Innovation and Technology CEO Jaime Parada at  Monterrey’s Research and Technology Park

Yesterday, U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker toured Monterrey’s Research and Technology Park (Parque de Investigación e Innovación Tecnológica; PIIT in Spanish), a project that seeks to build competitiveness in the state of Nuevo Leon and northern Mexico by leading the transformation into an innovation and knowledge-based economy. 

PIIT is based on a model that aligns the government, universities, and the private sector to achieve economic growth through innovation. To that end, the PIIT serves both as a R&D Center and incubator, focusing on 10 industry clusters considered strategic by the state of Nuevo Leon – including IT and software, medical services, biotechnology, automotive and auto parts and advanced manufacturing among others.

Accompanied by Secretary of Economic Development Rolando Zubiran and Institute for Innovation and Technology CEO Jaime Parada, Secretary Pritzker praised PIIT and its staff for encouraging public and private partnerships and spurring innovation in Mexico.

Innovation is a major pillar of the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda,” and Secretary Pritzker saw how Monterrey utilizes R&D dollars and cutting-edge sites such as PIIT to  create dynamic clusters that accelerate economic growth and international competitiveness.

In fact, PIIT also includes university and public research centers, private research centers and incubators. Specific entities at PIIT include the University of Texas’ Global Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, as well as PepsiCo, General Electric and Motorola – each maintaining a facility in collaboration with a Mexican partner.

Another Year, Another Export Record

Editor's note:  This has been cross-posted from Tradeology, the Official Blog of the Internatational Trade Administration

Guest Blog Post by Ken Hyatt, Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade and Mark Doms, Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs

Four years ago, President Obama made export promotion a national priority, launching the National Export Initiative to renew and revitalize American exports.

That initiative is working.  Today, the Department of Commerce announced that for the fourth year in a row, the United States has set a record for annual exports. Total U.S. exports for 2013 reached $2.3 trillion.

There were record highs in both goods and services exports. Goods exports totaled 1.58 trillion, with records in a number of important sectors, including industrial supplies, consumer goods, and capital goods.

Service exports hit an all-time high of $682 billion, with records in several major service sectors. Travel and tourism was one record sector, as international visitors contributed $139 billion to the American economy.

Mexico was a particularly bright spot for U.S. exporters, as we saw a 4.7 percent increase to $226 billion in exports to our southern neighbor. Commerce Secretary Pritzker is currently leading a business development mission in Mexico, helping even more American companies find new opportunities and qualified business partners in one of our most important export markets.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Highlights Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Growth in U.S.-Mexico Relationship

Secretary Penny Pritzker Highlights Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Growth in U.S.-Mexico Relationship

As part of her first trade mission, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker spoke at a breakfast event focused on entrepreneurship, innovation, and overall growth in the U.S.-Mexico commercial and economic relationship.  The event was hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce and the Mexico-United States Entrepreneurship and Innovation Council (MUSEIC).  She was joined by Enrique Jacob Rocha, President of the Mexican National Entrepreneurship Institute (INADEM).

MUSEIC builds on the long history of U.S.-Mexico economic cooperation.  Founded shortly after President Obama’s visit to Mexico in May 2013, MUSEIC brings together stakeholders from both countries to strengthen regional economic competitiveness and support entrepreneurship. In 2013, MUSEIC sponsored a number of entrepreneurship-related activities, including an angel investment conference, a startup boot camp for young Mexican entrepreneurs, and an international forum on women’s entrepreneurship.

In her remarks, Secretary Pritkzer discussed the Commerce Department’s involvement in MUSEIC. For example, the Department is helping to map out the commercial and educational assets in the border regions of Tijuana-San Diego and Monterrey-Texas.  Also, in April, the Commerce Department will host government, business, and university leaders from Mexico and other countries to tour research, innovation, and entrepreneurship hubs in the Southern United States.  The event will spotlight public-private partnerships that accelerate new technologies, attract foreign direct investment, and more. Secretary Pritzker also announced that the next MUSEIC meeting will take place in April in San Antonio, Texas.

As the Chair of the President’s Committee on Global Entrepreneurship (PCGE), Secretary Pritzker is committed to working with leaders from around the world to help create an economic environment that encourages entrepreneurship in North America and around the world.  She said, "The United States and Mexico can set the stage for entrepreneurs on both sides of the border to come together, make breakthroughs, launch new firms, and strengthen our economic competitiveness."

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Meets with Government Leaders on Mexico Business Development Mission

Secretary Pritzker meeting with Mexico Secretary of Economy IIdefonso Guajardo Villarreal

It is the second day of U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker’s five-day business development mission to Mexico, and she has already met with several of her Mexican counterparts to discuss the countries’ bilateral commercial relationship and opportunities for U.S. businesses.

On Monday evening, Secretary Pritzker talked with Luis Videgaray, Secretary of Finance, about increasing efficiency at the border. Secretary Pritzker and Secretary Videgaray have met four times, including in September at the High-Level Economic Dialogue (HLED) in Mexico City.

On Tuesday, Secretary Pritzker met with three more Mexican leaders to discuss trade and investment between the United States and Mexico. In the morning, she sat down with Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, Secretary of Economy. Their conversation also focused on the progress of the HLED and the need to continue to do more to incorporate stakeholder input and regularly monitor progress. Before their meeting ended, Secretary Guajardo lead Secretary Pritzker on a quick tour of the “NAFTA at 20” exhibit, in celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the implementation of the free trade agreement. Negotiations are currently underway for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which updates some of the provisions of NAFTA and will cover trade between the United States, Mexico, Canada, and nine other countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

Later that morning, Secretary Pritzker joined Under Secretary for Communications Jose Ignacio Peralta, Under Secretary for Infrastructure Juan Murietta, and Under Secretary for Transportation Carlos Almada for a meeting with part of the U.S. business delegation. Under Secretary Peralta gave the companies an overview of Mexico’s recently-passed telecommunications reforms and shared further opportunities for U.S. companies  invest in Mexico’s telecommunications and IT sectors.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Begins First Official Trade Mission in Mexico

International Trade Between U.S. and Mexico. Trade in goods is eight times 1990 levels.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker officially began her five-day trade mission to Mexico today, starting the trip in Mexico City. She is joined by representatives from 17 U.S. companies looking to expand partnerships and develop effective strategies for accessing and doing business in the Mexican market.

The focus of this trade mission is to promote U.S. exports to Mexico by helping export-ready U.S. companies launch or increase their business in a number of key industry sectors including advanced manufacturing, information and communications technology, and health IT and medical devices. The companies joining the Secretary address the demand of these growing industries in Mexico.

“The 17 companies who have joined me on this important mission represent the best of American business. These outstanding and innovative companies understand that selling American products overseas is a crucial component to growing and creating jobs,” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said.  “I am delighted we can help these companies expand their presence in Mexico through this business development mission.”

The U.S.-Mexico bilateral relationship is among the United States’ closest and most extensive in the world and one of the reasons it was selected by Secretary Pritzker as the destination for her first trade mission. Mexico is the United States’ third-largest trading partner, and approximately $1.3 billion of merchandise trade and one million people cross the 2,000 mile shared border daily. In addition, deeply integrated supply chains in North America and an established free trade agreement make it easy for Mexico and the U.S. to do business with one another.

After State of the Union Secretary Lew Highlights Importance of U.S. Manufacturing and Workforce Training

Secretary Lew speaks to Virginia State University interns and research faculty during his visit to the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing in Prince George County, Virginia

Guest blog post by Marissa Hopkins Secreto, Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Public Affairs at the United States Department of the Treasury and Angie Martinez, Director Office of External Affairs at the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration.

Crossposted from Treasury Notes.

As part of President Obama’s call for creating more high-tech manufacturing jobs in his State of the Union Address last week, Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew visited the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM) in Prince George County, Virginia, on Friday. Secretary Lew toured CCAM’s facility and discussed the future of U.S. manufacturing and the importance of workforce training with CCAM’s business and university partners, as well as Matt Erskine, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development.

“To build on the progress we have made over the last five years, we have to continue to take action to help strengthen economic growth, create jobs, and restore opportunity for all,” Secretary Lew said in statement about his visit.  “CCAM is at the forefront of expanding opportunity by bringing researchers, students, and business together to drive innovation and develop advanced manufacturing technologies.  It is also a powerful example of why this Administration’s focus on increasing job training, modernizing our education system, and creating manufacturing institutes is so important."
 
CCAM is changing the game for how we can grow manufacturing in the U.S. Their approach bridges the gap between fundamental research typically performed at universities and product development routinely performed by companies. CCAM’s members guide the research, leveraging talent and resources within CCAM and at Virginia’s top universities, through a collaborative model that enables them to pool R&D efforts to increase efficiencies. Results can then be applied directly to the factory floor, turning ideas into jobs faster and more affordably than ever before.  CCAM is just one example of the federal government’s efforts to connect universities to businesses and strengthen American manufacturing and our economy through these partnerships.

Census Bureau Releases Trends and Facts for Super Bowl XLVIII

Census Bureau Releases Trends and Facts for Super Bowl XLVIII

As we approach Super Bowl weekend, the Department of Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau released Super Bowl-related facts and statistics examining the demographics of the host city, as well as the cities playing in the Super Bowl: the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks. Super Bowl XLVIII will be played Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. This will be the first time the Super Bowl has been held in the New York City metropolitan area, as well as being the first Super Bowl played outdoors in the northern United States.

  • 270:  How many more people lived in Seattle than Denver on July 1, 2012, making Seattle 0.04 percent larger than Denver. 
  • 22nd and 23rd:  Where Seattle and Denver ranked right next to each other on the list of the nation's most populous cities.  The estimated population of Seattle on July 1, 2012, was 634,535. The estimated population of Denver on July 1, 2012, was 634,265.
  • 8,978:  Population of East Rutherford, N.J., location of MetLife Stadium where Super Bowl XLVIII will be played.

For more statistics about these cities, go to the Census Bureau's Facts for Features: Super Bowl XLVIII