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The Commerce Blog

Autodesk Promotes Increasing Infrastructure Investment and Use of Technology During Latin America Trade Mission

Photo of Amar Hanspal

Autodesk Promotes Increasing Infrastructure Investment and Use of Technology During Latin America Trade Mission

Guest Blog Post by Amar Hanspal, Senior Vice President of Information Modeling products, Autodesk Inc.

Ed note: Autodesk is a $2 billion design and engineering firm with tens of millions of customers around the world. Autodesk’s portfolio of software empowers organizations of all sizes, creative visionaries, students and consumers to conceptualize, analyze, simulate and communicate their ideas and make them real. Autodesk’s software has been used to create the world’s most compelling media and entertainment, including the last 18 Academy-award winning films, and solve the most complex global design, engineering and sustainability challenges.

Autodesk is honored to be a part of this trade mission to Latin America.  As a company, we are committed to helping this region build, or rebuild, its critical infrastructure. This mission affords us an opportunity to meet with government and private sector leaders and develop long-term, strategic relationships with the Embassies and U.S. Foreign Commercial Service representatives. We are proud of the early progress already made in just a couple days of meetings.  Working together we have been able to identify near and long-term opportunities and connect with key leaders and decision makers to drive critical, infrastructure-related discussions forward. 

So, why is Autodesk involved?

Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank Commemorates the Anniversary of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement

One of the Commerce Department’s top priorities is to strengthen the economic ties between the United States and our trading partners. One year ago today, the ties between the United States and Colombia became much stronger with the implementation of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement, which Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank marked during her remarks today at a luncheon hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce and the Counsel of American Companies (CEA) in Bogotá, Colombia. 

Prior to the implementation of the Trade Promotion Agreement, also known as the U.S.-Colombia FTA, the average tariff rate on U.S. industrial exports to Colombia was higher than 10 percent. The agreement immediately eliminated tariffs on more than 80 percent of U.S. consumer and industrial exports to Colombia when it took effect last year, with the remaining tariffs being phased out within 10 years. This makes it easier for U.S. firms to export to Colombia. In fact, from June 2012 through March 2013, U.S. goods exported to Colombia have increased 19 percent compared to the same period in the year before. In 2012, U.S. goods exports to Colombia reached $16.4 billion and made up nearly a quarter of all Colombia’s imports of goods. 

Colombian firms have also benefited from the Trade Promotion Agreement, which experts estimate could create hundreds of thousands of Colombian jobs over the next few years. Under this agreement, more than 600 Colombian companies have started exporting to the United States for the first time, and Colombia continues to experience a trade surplus with the United States, its largest trading partner. 

Due in part to the Trade Promotion Agreement, U.S. businesses are increasingly interested in exploring trade with Colombia. The 20 firms accompanying Acting Secretary Blank on her trade mission this week represent just a snapshot of the U.S. business community that is looking for new opportunities to invest in Colombia. 

The U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement is one tool helping the United States work toward the goals of President Obama’s National Export Initiative, a government-wide strategy to promote American exports and support an additional 2 million export-related jobs by the end of 2014. By working together, the United States and Colombia have successfully fostered economic growth and strengthened the relationship between both countries. The Commerce Department is committed to further strengthening this relationship by encouraging increased trade and creating more economic development opportunities for businesses in both countries. 

For more information about the U.S.-Colombia FTA, visit http://www.trade.gov/press/press-releases/2013/colombia-factsheet-051513.pdf

Greeley and Hansen Plans to Increase Infrastructure Export Opportunities in Latin America

Alternate Text

Guest post by John C. Robak, Executive Vice 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 nearly 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.

I’m honored to represent Greeley and Hansen on this trade mission with Acting Secretary of Commerce Dr. Rebecca Blank to promote U.S. exports related to infrastructure in Latin America.  While Greeley and Hansen has previously completed water infrastructure projects throughout the region, we’re looking at these high-growth areas as key markets for additional expansion of our business.  Steve Knode, Deputy Senior Commercial Officer, and his team have done an outstanding job in bringing together world-class U.S. companies for this mission.  Specifically for our firm, the local Commercial Officers have arranged meetings with many leading organizations to help connect our firm with high-level government officials and business leaders in our areas of interest. 

I’ve participated in two previous Department of Commerce trade missions, including a mission to southern Africa last November, led by Under Secretary of Commerce Francisco Sánchez, which provided many valuable business contacts in South Africa and Zambia.  To date, Greeley and Hansen has made several follow-up trips to Africa to meet with these contacts to further discuss specific potential business opportunities for our firm.  We also are planning a follow-up visit to Egypt after a recent trade mission there.  I’m certain that this mission to Latin America will be equally successful for establishing beneficial business leads.

Already, this mission has allowed us to make several key connections.  For example, I’ve met with senior municipal utility leaders at SABESP, the Brazilian waste management company owned by São Paulo state; along with other civil engineering firms in Brazil.  Prior to the one-on-one meetings, the delegation has had several briefings led by Brian Brisson, Minister Counselor for Commercial Affairs (Brazil), Nathan Younge, Regional Director, Latin America for USTDA, along with an informative presentation from Brian O’Hanlon of OPIC.  Further, the networking opportunities with Dr. Blank (who has been very accessible to the delegates for comments and questions) and Embassy and Commercial Services staff have provided invaluable information about the range of potential opportunities and barriers for any U.S. firm interested in doing business in the region.

In talking with these experts directly, I’ve been able to better assess the market for our services relative to the country’s planned development of water infrastructure.  It’s clear that Brazil offers tremendous opportunities for U.S. businesses looking to expand internationally, and, as was stated during the briefings, it’s hard to think of a global company of the future that will not have a presence in Brazil.

I’m looking forward to the rest of the trip in Colombia and visiting Panama, as these other growing Latin American economies also represent tremendous potential export opportunities for U.S. companies directly involved in infrastructure.  I’m confident that, for Greeley and Hansen, this Department of Commerce trade mission to Brazil, Colombia, and Panama will be fruitful for us and all involved.

Aviation Partnership Reaping Benefits for America and Brazil

Aviation Partnership Reaping Benefits for America and Brazil

Guest blog post by Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank

Yesterday, as part of my infrastructure business development trade mission to Brazil, Assistant Secretary Susan Kurland of the U.S. Department of Transportation and I took a tour of the facilities at Embraer -- a Brazilian aircraft manufacturer. Embraer is one example of a Brazilian company making substantial investments in the United States, and employs more than 1,000 U.S. workers to support its U.S. operations in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida; Melbourne, Florida; Jacksonville, Florida; Nashville, Tennessee; Mesa, Arizona; and Windsor Locks, Connecticut. At the Commerce Department, one of the core components of our mission is to increase foreign investment in the United States, and Embraer continues to realize the benefits of choosing the U.S. as a place to do business. It was gratifying to hear from Embraer’s senior leadership about their plans for further investments in America, because of the United States’ strong aviation industry.

As we toured the 190 Model Airplane with the company's CEO, Frederico Fleury Curado, I was impressed by the quality and innovation in Embraer's product. And, like many companies doing business with and in the United States, Embraer continues to develop strategic partnerships with U.S. companies that create jobs and advance new technologies. In fact, Embraer imports more than $2 billion in U.S. aircraft components into Brazil each year to support its operations.  Embraer has built partnerships with American suppliers  like Rockwell Collins and GE, as well as, companies like Rolls Royce and BAE, which have major manufacturing facilities in the U.S.  These companies export from the U.S. to Embraer facilities in Brazil.  These cross border supply chains demonstrate the ways in which the private sector is deepening commercial ties between our two nations.

Connecting U.S. companies with opportunities in Latin America is what this trade mission is all about. The 20 U.S. firms that are joining me on this infrastructure business development trade mission to Brazil, Colombia and Panama offer a broad range of products and services that enable them to serve as partners on the ambitious infrastructure modernization projects that all three countries are undertaking. Strengthening the connections between the U.S. private sector and Latin America is a win-win for all parties, and I look forward to the continued progress that will be realized as a result of our trip this week.

Acting Secretary Blank Meets with Brazilian CEOs, Promotes SelectUSA Investment Summit

Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank is joined by Josué Gomes Da Silva, Chairman and CEO, Coteminas and Marcelo Bahia Odebrecht, President of Construtora Norberto Odebrecht S.A. at a Roundtable with Brazilian CEOs

Yesterday, Acting Secretary Blank met with a group of Brazilian CEOs to hear their priorities for doing business with the U.S. and to propose possible areas for close collaboration with American businesses. One area in which U.S. and Brazilian firms can work together is on infrastructure development, which is one reason why Acting Secretary Blank is currently leading a trade mission of 20 U.S. firms in a wide range of infrastructure industry sectors to Brazil, Colombia and Panama. These companies offer everything from cutting-edge technologies to top-notch services in engineering, management consulting, and more -- and they are well equipped to help Brazil meet its robust goals for infrastructure improvements.

Acting Secretary Blank emphasized the importance of a strong bilateral investment relationship -- many global manufacturers, including some in Brazil, are now looking to return manufacturing operations to the U.S., to expand operations here, or to invest in the U.S. for the first time. That´s because there are a host of factors that make America a very attractive place to do business: low domestic energy costs and a stable supply of energy, high labor productivity, strong research institutions that can serve as partners in developing new products, intellectual property protections, and a stable business investment environment.

Infrastructure Business Development Trade Mission to Brazil, Colombia and Panama Begins Today

This week, Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank will lead an infrastructure business development trade mission to Brazil, Colombia, and Panama, countries that have created robust infrastructure development plans for the coming years. This mission directly supports President Obama’s National Export Initiative, which set the goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014 and creating an additional 2 million jobs supported by exports. Throughout the course of the mission, 20 U.S. firms will join the Acting Secretary, with the goal of expanding their business opportunities in Brazil, Colombia, and Panama.

Today is the first full day of the trade mission and Acting Secretary Blank will participate in a roundtable with Brazilian CEOs to discuss possible areas for collaboration with U.S. businesses, particularly in the area of infrastructure. This discussion serves as a follow-up to the U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum, which Acting Secretary Blank co-chaired along with Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs Michael Froman in Brasilia in March.

On Tuesday, Acting Secretary Blank will meet with members of the Federation of Industries of Sao Paulo (FIESP), a Brazilian industry association that includes more than 130,000 companies representing a wide range of industrial activities. The Acting Secretary will highlight U.S. businesses’ efforts to support Brazil’s infrastructure development goals and connect U.S. and Brazilian firms to explore further procurement opportunities. She will also visit Embraer while in Sao Paulo, to highlight a Brazilian company that has invested in America and created U.S. jobs. Embraer has also worked with many suppliers in the U.S. and has strong partnerships with a variety of U.S. companies.

Rapiscan Hopes to Facilitate Trade and Enhance Security in Latin America

Peter Kant, President, Rapiscan Americas

Guest post by Peter Kant, President, Rapiscan Americas

ED Note: Rapiscan Systems is the largest US manufacturer and supplier of security inspection systems and services.  Rapiscan specializes in airport, cargo and major event security systems and provides high-technology security scanners and scanning operational services.

Rapiscan is honored and excited to join Acting U.S. Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank on the infrastructure trade mission to Brazil, Panama and Colombia next week. Having participated in trade missions in the past, we have always found these opportunities to be extremely beneficial and, given the mission’s focus on infrastructure, I’m sure this one will prove to be no different.

Rapiscan is focused on expanding our efforts extensively in the Latin American market. Brazil’s economy is growing at a rate second to only China, providing ample opportunities for partnerships and trade with U.S. companies. Given the numerous events Brazil will be hosting over the coming years–including the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics–security is a concern, something we hope to discuss next week. Rapiscan will actually have the opportunity to secure some of the stadiums in Brazil that will be used for the FIFA Confederations Cup next month – the same stadiums that will later be used for the World Cup.

Latin America Presents Growing Opportunities for American Companies

Upcoming trade mission to promote U.S. exports and job creation

Guest blog post by Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank

With 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside U.S. borders, helping U.S. companies find partnerships and customers in fast-growing markets is crucial to creating a strong and vibrant economy built on good middle class jobs.

As a part of our overall goal to increase American exports, next week, 20 U.S.-based companies will join me on an infrastructure-focused trade mission to Sao Paulo, Brazil; Bogota, Colombia; and Panama City, Panama.  Each of the governments of these fast-growing countries have ambitious infrastructure expansion and improvement plans for the years ahead. 

This trade mission will allow U.S. companies to highlight their cutting-edge technologies and world-class engineering services. The trade mission will also allow them to make the personal connections they need to expand their businesses and it will build on President Obama’s National Export Initiative, a government-wide strategy to promote American exports and create 2 million export-supported jobs by the end of 2014. Last year, U.S. exports hit another all-time record, reaching $2.2 trillion.  Between 2009 and 2012, exports have supported 1.3 million additional jobs.

Obama Administration Seeks Applicants for First Phase of ‘Investing in Manufacturing Communities’ Partnership

Effort will encourage an improved approach to economic development around the country

The Obama Administration today announced that it is accepting applications for the first phase of the “Investing in Manufacturing Communities” Partnership, a new initiative outlined in the President’s fiscal year 2014 budget that will help accelerate the resurgence of manufacturing and create jobs across the country.

Phase One of the “Investing in Manufacturing Communities” Partnership: In the first phase of this effort, the Departments of Commerce and Agriculture as well as the Small Business Administration and Environmental Protection Agency will award at least 25 grants of up to $200,000 each to help regions develop long-term economic development strategies intended to create a globally competitive environment that will attract, retain and expand investment and spur international trade and exports. These “Implementation Strategies” will encourage collaboration at the local level to identify the region’s comparative advantages and assets, and plan investments to expand the area’s appeal to manufacturers.  In addition, these grants can be used to help communities prepare for the second phase of this initiative, IMCP “Challenge” grants. 

Phase Two of the “Investing in Manufacturing Communities” Partnership: President Obama’s fiscal year 2014 budget includes funds for the Department of Commerce to award five to six IMCP “Challenge” grants, expected to be up to $25 million each.  These funds are intended to be supplemented by coordinated investments from several other federal departments and agencies. The 2014 challenge will reward communities for having the best long-term strategies for attracting private investment and increasing exports, and should combine many of the elements companies seek when they are deciding where to locate or expand, such as: specialized research centers at local universities; business incubators focused on targeted technology sectors; community college programs to train workers in targeted industries; public works projects to upgrade infrastructure or enhance energy efficiency; viable export promotion plans; well-integrated supply chains; and an engaged community of local government, education, workforce, and business leaders.  Full release

International Visitors Spent $14.4 Billion in the United States in March 2013

Firs-quarter U.S. Travel and Tourism exports contribute $43 billion to the U.S. economy

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank highlighted new data today that shows spending by international visitors to the United States in March 2013 totaled more than $14.4 billion, an increase of nearly 3 percent when compared to last year. International visitors spent $43 billion on travel to, and tourism-related activities within, the United States during the first quarter of 2013. The data release coincides with National Travel and Tourism Week, celebrated each year to recognize the positive impact the industry has on our economy.


“International travel and tourism represents our country’s largest services export,” said Deputy Secretary Blank. “So far this year, international visitor spending in the United States has markedly outpaced U.S. spending abroad by more than $13 billion, which continues our momentum from 2012’s record-setting year. Likewise, last week’s jobs report showed continued strong job growth in the leisure and hospitality industry.  Travel and tourism is an important sector of our economy, which is why we are continuing to increase our efforts to attract more international tourists to vacation in the United States.” 

Purchases of travel and tourism-related goods and services by international visitors traveling in the United States totaled $11 billion during March. These goods and services include food, lodging, recreation, gifts, entertainment, local transportation in the United States, and other items incidental to foreign travel. Fares received by U.S. carriers (and U.S. vessel operators) from international visitors also increased by nearly 3 percent to $3.4 billion for the month, an increase of $70 million when compared to March 2012. Overall, the United States enjoyed a favorable balance of trade for the month of March in the travel and tourism sector, with a surplus of $4.2 billion. Full release

USPTO Honors Inventors Hall of Fame Inductees

The National Inventors Hall of Fame 2013 Class of Inductees (seated) with living inductees attending the 41st Annual Induction Ceremony held at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Alexandria, Virginia. USPTO photo by Amando Carigo

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) had the exciting privilege of honoring 17 of America’s greatest innovators Wednesday night, when they were inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in ceremonies held at the USPTO’s Alexandria, Va., headquarters. Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Acting Director of the USPTO Teresa Stanek Rea conferred induction medals to visionary inventors whose patented innovations include the electronic synthesizer, flat panel plasma display, iris recognition technology, and the code providing the foundation for 3G cellular systems.

Garret Brown was honored for inventing the Oscar-winning Steadicam camera stabilizer, which made Rocky Balboa’s run up the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum one of the most iconic moments in movie history. Emmy award winners Don Bitzer, Gene Slottow, and Robert Willson were recognized for their invention of the flat-panel plasma display, which revolutionized home entertainment. Samuel Alderson was honored posthumously for developing the crash test dummy. From its beginnings, the dummy has proven invaluable to designing and testing advances in fields of automobile safety, aviation, and medical technology.

A complete list of the honorees and their revolutionary patented inventions is located on USPTO's website.

The National Inventors Hall of Fame is the premier non-profit organization in America dedicated to honoring legendary inventors whose innovations and entrepreneurial endeavors have changed the world. Founded in 1973 by the USPTO and the National Council of Intellectual Property Law Association, the Hall of Fame has 470 inductees with its 2013 induction. You can visit the National Inventors Hall of Fame and Museum in the atrium of the Madison Building on the USPTO campus in Alexandria, Va., Monday through Saturday. Admission is free.

Celebrating World Trade Throughout May

Cross post from Tradeology, the official blog of the International Trade Administration

The following blog post was written by Francisco J. Sánchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

May brings warmer weather, longer days, and, most importantly for us at the Department of Commerce, World Trade Month. For years, this has been a special time to reflect on the importance of trade to our nation’s economic well-being.

Over the past few months, we’ve discussed what an important year 2012 was for exports and our  economy: a record-setting $2.2 trillion in overall exports, 10 percent annual growth in tourism-related exports, and 9.8 million U.S. jobs supported by exports.

World Trade Month is an occasion to recognize the past year’s successes while looking ahead to new ways to expand exports and build a stronger economy. It’s a month for us to recognize what we know all year long: that exports are a key to our long-term economic health.

The month of May will provide many opportunities to do just that. Events and observances to look out for include:

  • National Travel and Tourism Week, a celebration of that industry’s contributions to the U.S. economy, will take place from May 4-12.
  • On May 16, the Small Business Administration and Denver U.S. Export Assistance Center will co-sponsor the 40th Annual World Trade Day.
  • May 19 will bring the start of World Trade Week, a tradition dating back to 1927 and marked by a Presidential proclamation.
  • During that week, the President’s annual “E” Awards will be presented to leading U.S. exporters.

Have a question about getting started in exporting? Twitter chats throughout the month will offer chances to learn about exporting and pose questions to government agencies involved in President Obama’s National Export Initiative.

We invite you to check this post or our World Trade Month category for regular updates on these and other events. You can also visit our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter.

As we kick off World Trade Month 2013, our team looks forward to continuing to support our nation’s exporters as they build things here and sell them everywhere.

Commerce Renews Commitment to Environmental Stewardship with Awards Ceremony and New Green Store

Celebrate Earth Day Every Day Sign (photo credit: Dana Paul Franz)

As part of administration-wide efforts this week to commemorate Earth Day, the U.S. Department of Commerce held an award ceremony to recognize the 22 winners and runners-up of the Department's sixth annual Energy and Environmental Stewardship Awards yesterday. In accordance with President Obama’s Executive Order 13514, the awards recognize individual employees and teams across 13 categories for energy and environmental stewardship, including those that exemplify exceptional energy and/or environmental performance within their program, career field, or organization. Winners are selected by an award selection committee appointed by the Associate Director of the Office of Sustainable Energy and Environmental Programs, and then forwarded to Commerce's Senior Sustainability Officer for approval. The committee used degree of difficulty, cost-effectiveness, innovation, and results as criteria to evaluate the record 37 nominations received this year, up from 26 last year. Ellen Herbst, Senior Advisor to the Deputy Secretary performing the duties of the Chief Financial Officer, presented the award certificates to the winners in the Herbert C. Hoover Building (HCHB) auditorium.

Some examples of this year’s award winners include the U.S. Patent and Trademark’s Telework Team for aggressively implementing a telework program that has cumulatively saved 6,247 employees from driving over 51 million miles, avoided nearly $6 million in fuel costs, and eliminated 30,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, all just in fiscal year 2012. The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Net Zero Team won for outstanding organizational achievement in design and construction of a net-zero energy residential test facility that attains net-zero energy consumption. Another individual with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service won for leading by example in minimizing his carbon footprint around the office and in commuting by bicycle in all weather, inspiring numerous colleagues throughout his nearly 20 years with NOAA’s Fisheries Service.

The Department of Commerce also held the grand opening and ribbon cutting for a Green Store at HCHB, as part of its ongoing commitment to both environmental and financial stewardship. The store will operate under the concept that excess office supplies can be re-used by other offices. The concept came from a member of the HCHB Green Team, which led to a toner cartridge recycling program that has saved over $120,000 since it was implemented approximately a year ago. Following the success of the cartridge recycling program, the Green Team expanded to start collecting other unused but still good office supplies from offices Department-wide. All office supplies will be free to all Commerce offices within HCHB and offices are being encourage to donate their excess supplies to the Green Store. Volunteers from HCHB’s Green Team will initially staff the Green Store, but the longer term vision is for area high school student interns to operate the store to gain valuable work and business experience, while maintaining the zero net cost of operating the store.

Deputy Secretary Blank Announces 20 Companies Joining Infrastructure Business Development Trade Mission to Brazil, Colombia and Panama

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank today announced the 20 companies that will join her on an infrastructure business development trade mission to Sao Paulo, Brazil; Bogota, Colombia; and Panama City, Panama from May 12-18, 2013. The governments of these countries have each outlined ambitious infrastructure development plans for the years ahead, and this trade mission will help U.S. companies in a broad range of infrastructure industry sectors make the connections they need to expand their business opportunities in Brazil, Colombia and Panama.

The trade mission will support President Obama’s National Export Initiative, a government-wide strategy to promote American exports and create 2 million export-supported jobs by the end of 2014. Last year, exports hit another all-time record, reaching $2.2 trillion. And, between 2009 and 2012 exports have supported 1.3 million additional jobs.

The mission will also highlight the successes in the U.S. trade relationships with Colombia and Panama, specifically, since free trade agreements with each country have taken effect. The Deputy Secretary and the business delegation will be in Colombia on the one-year anniversary of the implementation of that Free Trade Agreement (FTA), May 15.

The mission will include export-ready U.S. firms in a broad range of leading U.S. infrastructure and industrial sectors, with an emphasis on project management (including construction, architecture and design), transportation (including road/highways, rail, airports, and intelligent transportation systems), energy (including distribution, transmission, and smart grid), water resources management (including water treatment, distribution and collection), and safety and security. The mission will help U.S. businesses in initiating or expanding exports to Brazil, Colombia and Panama by making business-to-business introductions, providing market access information, and facilitating access to government decision makers.

See the entire list of 20 companies and learn more about the opportunities in each of these three export markets.

Deputy Secretary Blank Highlights "Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership" Initiative

Deputy Secretary Blank Highlights "Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership" Initiative at Hexcel Corporation

Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank today highlighted the newly-announced “Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership,” an Obama Administration initiative that will help accelerate the resurgence of manufacturing and create jobs in cities across the country.

This effort rewards communities that demonstrate their plans to attract and expand manufacturing in their area, using targeted investments in workforce training, infrastructure, research, and other key assets.

Deputy Secretary Blank unveiled the initiative this week and visited Hexcel Corporation today, which is located in an area of Utah that has leveraged the resources of the public sector, private firms, and educational institutions to achieve a successful model of economic development that the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership encourages. During her visit, Deputy Secretary Blank took a tour of Hexcel’s Salt Lake City facility and participated in a roundtable with local business, government and educational leaders.

Deputy Secretary Blank Announces New Federal Partnership to Promote Manufacturing Investment in American Communities, Create Jobs

Mayor Scott Smith, Able Engineering President and CEO Lee Benson and Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank During a Tour of the Able Engineering Facility in Mesa, Arizona

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank today announced the launch of the “Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership,” an Obama Administration initiative that will help accelerate the resurgence of manufacturing and create jobs in cities across the country.

This effort rewards communities that demonstrate their plans to attract and expand manufacturing in their area, using targeted investments in workforce training, infrastructure, research, and other key assets.

Deputy Secretary Blank unveiled the initiative at the new, 200,000-square foot Able Engineering facility in Mesa, Arizona, a community that has leveraged the resources of the public sector, private firms and educational institutions to achieve a successful model of economic development. Mesa was hard-hit when Williams Air Force Base closed in 1993, leaving many aerospace engineers unemployed. The city took over the site, converted it to the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, and came up with a plan to attract aerospace companies to the area, where they could capitalize on the existing workforce and benefit from being located near similar firms and nearby colleges. In just fifteen years, Able has grown into a multi-million dollar conglomerate, servicing aircraft from around the world.  Its continued growth and support for its workforce demonstrate the benefits of operating within a community like Mesa’s.

Fact Sheet | Press Release

U.S. Department of Commerce Announces Patents for Humanity Winners

Deputy Secretary Blank Speaking during the Patents For Humanity Awards Event

The U.S. Department of Commerce announced the winners of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) Patents for Humanity pilot program during an awards ceremony on Capitol Hill supported by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Launched by the USPTO in February 2012 as part of an Obama administration initiative promoting game-changing innovations to solve long-standing development challenges, Patents for Humanity is a competition recognizing patent owners and licensees who address global challenges in health and standards of living.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank, U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Special Assistant to the President and National Security Council Senior Director Gayle Smith and Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property Teresa Stanek Rea delivered remarks at the awards ceremony.

“A strong patent system is crucial to supporting our continued economic growth, and its benefits don’t stop at our borders. Patented inventions are bringing longer, healthier, fuller lives to people across the globe,” said U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank. “As part of the President’s global development agenda, the Patents for Humanity program is a great example of how American innovation is helping solve critical global challenges and creating prosperity in emerging economies.”

Deputy Secretary of Commerce Blank Announces Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Request

Budget request cover

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank today released the Department of Commerce’s fiscal year 2014 budget request, which supports President Obama’s plan for an economy built to last with crucial investments in advanced manufacturing, innovation, trade promotion and enforcement, and research and development. These investments are designed to help grow the economy, create jobs and strengthen the middle class. The $8.6 billion budget request is an increase of $1 billion over the fiscal year 2012 level. The Department also identified a total of $195 million in administrative savings.

“The Department of Commerce has a vital mission to help American businesses thrive so they can create jobs here at home and maintain a competitive edge abroad,” said U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank. “The Department’s fiscal year 2014 budget reflects our commitment to our core priorities, including revitalizing American manufacturing, spurring innovation by investing in world-class research, science and technology, and driving export growth. Overall, this budget proposes targeted investments that will enable us to carry out our responsibility to help grow American businesses and the economy, while also spending federal dollars wisely.”

Read the key investments in the FY 2014 Department of Commerce budget.

ACE Tool Helps U.S. Businesses Fully Assess the Advantages of Manufacturing and Sourcing In America

Assess Costs Everywhere Logo

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

I have the pleasure of meeting frequently with business owners from across the country.  They talk about where their challenges are in growing and sustaining their businesses, and they also talk about how locating production abroad hasn’t always turned out as well as they had hoped.  Not surprisingly, during our current economic recovery and expansion, news reports and private consultants have repeatedly echoed that thinking.  Increasingly we hear that U.S. companies that previously took their operations or supply chains overseas are now reshoring or insourcing─bringing operations and supply chains back home to America.

To help continue that momentum, the Department of Commerce today published a new tool to help inform manufacturing firms’ location decisions.  The Assess Costs Everywhere (ACE) tool outlines the wide range of costs and risks associated with offshore production, and provides links to important public and private resources, so that firms can more accurately assess the total cost of operating overseas.  ACE also shares case studies of firms that reversed their decisions to locate offshore once the full range of costs became clear.

ACE counts as its sponsor and most ardent champion, U.S. Representative Frank R. Wolf (R-VA), who directed the Department of Commerce to build an online tool for businesses to use in assessing hidden costs to manufacturing offshore. Congressman Wolf saw ACE as a much-needed resource in the federal government’s efforts to help achieve our goals of boosting U.S. economic growth and ensuring that America remains competitive in manufacturing. 

ACE identifies and discusses 10 cost and risk factors that firms should weigh in their decision making, such as labor and shipping costs.   Although some of these factors may seem obvious, companies may not always take all of them into full account.  Over the coming weeks, the Commerce Department’s blog will examine each of the areas, and although I hate to be a spoiler, it does turn out that the United States tends to compare quite favorably.  Having said that, there are many areas in which the U.S. needs to make critical investments.  The Competitiveness and Innovative Capacity of the United States, a report  published by the Commerce Department’s Economic and Statistics Administration in January 2012, examined three key components of our nation’s competitiveness—research, education, and infrastructure.  The report concludes that in the manufacturing sector, the federal government has historically played an important role in providing a level playing field and must do so with renewed vigor to ensure that U.S. manufacturing continues to thrive.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank Honors Four Organizations for Excellence in Performance and Innovation

Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank presenting the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s highest Presidential honor for organizational performance excellence and innovation

Today, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank presented four U.S. organizations with the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s highest Presidential honor for organizational performance excellence and innovation. The recipients of the award, which is commemorating its 25th anniversary, will share their best practices as part of a national effort to improve America’s performance and competitive standing in the world. 

Deputy Secretary Blank lauded the Baldrige Award winners for being leaders in their fields and committed to the value of performance and quality. Studies have shown that Baldrige winners grow their revenues, create jobs, maintain healthy finances, and produce superior results.

At the awards ceremony, President Obama also delivered a video message to the recipients, saying that the United States’ “free market is the greatest engine of prosperity the world has ever known, and that engine is powered by our dreamers, our risk takers and our innovators.” Further, he said, “These honorees exhibit the kind of job creating innovation that’s always kept our economy growing and vibrant and prosperous.”

Honoring the Memory of Ron Brown

Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown

Cross post from the White House Blog

The following blog post was written by U.S. Commerce Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank and Special Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation Jonathan Greenblatt.

Today, we honor the anniversary of the passing of former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown. Secretary Brown was a dedicated public servant whose untimely death during a trade mission to Croatia on April 3, 1996 ended his life far too soon. His vision continues to be important and today’s work at the Department of Commerce builds on his legacy. 

Secretary Brown served his country in Korea as a soldier in the U.S. Army and in the halls of Congress as chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee. He also broke down barriers – becoming the first African American chairman of the Democratic National Committee and the first African American to serve as U.S. Secretary of Commerce. In this latter role, he made perhaps his largest impact.

During his tenure at Commerce, Secretary Brown pioneered a focus on exports that helped to boost the U.S. economy in the 1990s and contributed to one of the largest periods of economic expansion in our nation’s history. During a time when emerging markets in Asia and Latin America were opening up to trade, Secretary Brown led a concerted effort to support this advancement and to secure access for U.S. goods and services. He was a proponent of free trade, seeing business as a powerful force to create good jobs at home and to accelerate prosperity around the world. He also was an advocate of fair trade, seeking to ensure that U.S. workers would be helped and not harmed by new trading arrangements that would increase flows of capital and commerce.

2012 Peace Through Commerce Medal Award Recipients Announced

Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez announced the nine individuals and organizations that are recipients of the International Trade Administration’s 2012 Peace through Commerce Medal Award.

The award recognizes an individual, group, or organization, either domestic or abroad, whose actions have significantly promoted and developed U.S. export initiatives, encouraged innovative approaches, and improved overall U.S. trade relations.

The Peace through Commerce Medal dates back to the first Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson, who commissioned the medal in 1790. Jefferson gifted the medal, formerly known as the Diplomatic Medal, to foreign diplomats who aided the Continental Congress during the American Revolution. The medal is most renowned for its inscription, To Peace and Commerce, centered along the top. Read more about the entire list of award winners.

Spotlight on Commerce: Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan, Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Acting NOAA Administrator

Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan, Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Acting NOAA Administrator

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 Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan, Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Acting NOAA Administrator

NOAA transforms scientific data about our complex and ever-changing Earth into environmental information that touches every American, protecting their lives and livelihoods against natural hazards, informing their personal and business decisions and supporting wise management of natural resources in our coastal and marine environments. We operate the nation’s weather satellites, and our National Weather Service is the source of all your weather forecasts. Other NOAA units produce the Nation’s nautical charts, manage our marine fisheries and operate America’s underwater national parks, known as National Marine Sanctuaries. As Acting Administrator, I oversee the agency’s work to understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans and coasts, to provide timely, reliable ‘environmental intelligence’ to inform sound decision-making by citizens, businesses and public officials, and to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources.

I was lucky to grow up in Southern California at a time when an adventurous young girl could safely roam the open hills and valleys nearby, whetting her appetite for the grander expeditions she hoped to make someday. I was also inspired by the daring feats of America’s first astronauts and the exotic adventures of oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, which filled our TV screens and magazines regularly and reinforced just how exciting a life of exploration could be. It never bothered me that everyone I was watching was male. My brother and I were raised with the view that every person has unique talents and interests and should pursue them as they see fit, regardless of what someone else thinks is ‘right’ for girls or boys. This attitude, plus my parents’ unwavering trust and support, inoculated me against the peer pressure I encountered at school and with my neighborhood friends and helped me steer my own course.

A Chance to Comment on Commerce’s Report on Cybersecurity Incentives

Cybersecurity (keyboard with a key silhouette on it)

As part of the Executive Order  signed by President Obama last month directing agencies to use their existing authorities and work with the private sector to better protect our nation’s power, water, and other critical systems, the Commerce Department is preparing a report on ways to incentivize companies and organizations to improve their cybersecurity.  To better understand what stakeholders –  such as companies, trade associations, academics and others – believe would best serve as incentives, the Department has released a series of questions to gather  public comments in a Notice of Inquiry published today.

The national and economic security of the United States depends on the strength of our nation’s critical infrastructure. The cyber threat to critical infrastructure is growing, and represents one of the most serious national security challenges that the United States must confront. As the President stated in the Executive Order, “repeated cyber intrusions into America’s critical infrastructure demonstrate a need for improved cybersecurity.”

As a first step toward protecting critical infrastructure, the Executive Order tasks the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to identify the systems that could be affected by a cybersecurity incident which could in catastrophic regional or national effects on public health or safety, economic security, or national security.  Second, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will develop a framework consisting of a set of standards, methodologies, procedures, and processes that align policy, business, and technological approaches to address cyber risks. This Cybersecurity Framework will provide a prioritized, flexible, repeatable, performance-based, and cost-effective approach to improving cybersecurity, which will help owners and operators of critical infrastructure identify, assess and mange cyber risk. Third, DHS will work with sector-specific agencies to develop the Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity Program to promote voluntary adoption of the Framework.

Spotlight on Commerce: Geovette Washington, Deputy General Counsel

Geovette Washington, Deputy General Counsel

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 Geovette Washington, Deputy General Counsel

Serving as Deputy General Counsel in the Department of Commerce has been one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences in my career. The people with whom I have worked over the last three years are outstanding. The issues I have dealt with are interesting, challenging, and critical to the Department’s work. Most important, being Deputy General Counsel has presented a wonderful opportunity to fulfill my lifelong commitment to service. 

As Deputy General Counsel, my job is to provide legal advice to the various parts of this Department. However, my role, and the role of all of the attorneys within the Office of the General Counsel, goes well beyond simply providing legal advice to our clients. We work to make sure that the people of the Department do not simply get a review of the legal sufficiency of their work, but also a partner in their mission. That partnership between OGC and the rest of the Department has been a point of emphasis for me during my time at Commerce and is vital to the execution of the President’s vision for creating an America Build to Last. The creativity and dynamic engagement of OGC attorneys helps Commerce agencies execute their plans to build a 21st century America that has the tools, infrastructure, and expertise to thrive.  

Encouraging partnership between OGC and its clients is critical to fostering a ethos of service within OGC, and service–particularly of public service–is something I value highly and was a central tenant of my upbringing.  

Spotlight on Commerce: Denise Yaag, Director, Office of Executive Resources

Denise Yaag, Director, Office of Executive Resources

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 Denise Yaag, Director, Office of Executive Resources

Having been born and raised in Takoma Park, Maryland, it could perhaps seem unsurprising that I ended up working for the federal government.  In fact, I made a very deliberate choice 26 years ago to dedicate my career to serving my country and I do not regret that decision to this day. 

As Director of the Office of Executive Resources, I support the Secretary in managing executive and senior professional employment throughout the Department of Commerce. I’ve helped to ensure alignment and cascading of Departmental and organizational goals with performance goals of the executive and senior professional cadre in order to enhance organizational and individual performance, accountability, and results. One of the most enjoyable and satisfying responsibilities of my position is working with the Office of White House Liaison to coordinate bringing new political appointees on our rolls. Over the years I’ve had the pleasure and privilege to get to know some truly brilliant and accomplished individuals who have served our president and our nation, helping execute the administration’s agenda and the programs that help America compete in the global economy. 

While government service always seemed appealing, the field of human resources was not always part of the plan. I have had a lifelong interest in science. In elementary school, when given the choice of an elective course to take, I chose geology, finding myself the only girl in a classroom full of boys. In high school, I was one of only a few female students in the Chemistry Club. And at the risk of dating myself, this trend continued into college, where I was regularly one of a just a small number of women in labs. I was on track to enter what we now call a “STEM” (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) career field.

Spotlight on Commerce: Mary Saunders, Associate Director of Management Resources, National Institute of Standards and Technology

Mary Saunders, Associate Director for Management Resources, 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 Mary Saunders, Associate Director of Management Resources, National Institute of Standards and Technology

In my 26-year career at the Department of Commerce, I’ve found that the most interesting things in life generally happen at the intersections. It’s the connections between people, places, and things where true forward progress is often made.

I was born in Washington, D.C. and have lived in Northern Virginia most of my life. I guess given my beginnings, it’s not surprising that I chose to study politics, economics, and public policy. What’s more surprising is that I’ve ended up using that knowledge to support the nation’s scientific infrastructure.

Some background helps explain the links that led me to my current position as the Associate Director of Management Resources, one of three deputies to NIST Director Patrick Gallagher.

Building on the Strength of U.S.-Brazil Economic Relationship

Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank traveled to Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro for the U.S.-Brazil CEO

Last week Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank traveled to Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro for the U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum and other events aimed at strengthening the economic and commercial ties between the two nations.

The U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum was created in 2007 to bring private sector leaders from both countries together to develop joint recommendations on how to deepen our commercial ties, and to present those recommendations to the U.S. and Brazilian governments. The Forum has identified five areas as priorities: tax and trade issues; education and innovation; infrastructure; energy; and aviation.

Deputy Secretary Blank served as the U.S. Government’s co-chair for the CEO Forum along with Michael Froman, the Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs at the White House.  They were joined by their Brazilian co-chairs, Minister of Development, Industry, and Foreign Trade Fernando Pimentel and Presidential Chief of Staff Gleisi Hoffman.  

The meeting was led by about 20 CEOs from both countries, whose priorities for improving the economic and commercial relationship between Brazil and the U.S. set the agenda for the meeting.  As one of the U.S. Government’s co-chairs, Deputy Secretary Blank gave an update to the members of the CEO Forum on the progress that the two governments made to implement the recommendations that the CEOs made at their previous meeting last year.  The CEOs then led the main discussion and came up with several new recommendations that will be formally released in the coming weeks, including:

  • Calling upon the governments to take advantage of the momentum from the recently-approved Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) to take on additional tax issues that could eventually pave the way for a Bilateral Tax Treaty.
  • Continuing to make progress on Brazil’s participation in the Global Entry Program, making it easier for Brazilians traveling to the United States on business to get through immigration at U.S. airports.
  • Continuing efforts to increase cooperation in the area of infrastructure and take advantage of the U.S. infrastructure trade mission, scheduled for May, to create opportunities for U.S. and Brazilian companies to partner on infrastructure improvements.
  • Continuing to cooperate on education and workforce development issues by supporting programs like President Obama’s “100,000 Strong in the Americas” initiative and Brazil’s “Scientific Mobility Program.”
  • Building upon the work of the Strategic Energy Dialogue and involve the private sector in energy infrastructure and policy discussions.
  • Building on cooperation between the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and Brazil’s National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) to engage in more formal worksharing efforts to support innovation.
  • Continuing work begun under the Aviation Partnership Agreement to advance aviation cooperation and use the Aviation Partnership as a model for other sectors.

In Rio de Janeiro, Deputy Secretary Blank met with more business leaders and also delivered remarks at a Columbia University event focused on innovation and economic development which was part of the launch of the university’s new Global Center in that city.   She emphasized the importance of U.S.-Brazil collaboration in areas such as infrastructure development, clean energy, student exchanges, and more.  Finally, she announced that U.S.-Brazil partnerships would continue to grow in the near future due to a high-level, infrastructure-focused trade mission to Brazil – as well as Colombia and Panama – that will take place in mid-May. 

Spotlight on Commerce: Katina Rojas Joy, Deputy Director, Office of Business Liaison

Katina Rojas Joy, Deputy Director, Office of Business Liaison

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 Katina Rojas Joy, Deputy Director, Office of Business Liaison

As Deputy Director in the Office of Business Liaison, my primary goal is to execute the Secretary's international trade missions. Our office executed an infrastructure trade mission to New Dehli, India last year, and we are currently planning a transportation and infrastructure trade mission to Colombia, Brazil, and Panama. The President wants to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014, and I am proud to play in role in meeting the President’s established export goal. During trade mission promotion and planning, much of my time is spent interfacing with US companies, small and medium sized businesses, U.S. embassies, and trade associations.  I have also served on several White House interagency and Commerce policy initiatives:  Summer Jobs +, Doing Business in Africa, the Affordable Care Act, Hurricane Sandy response and recovery and the expansion of Commerce’s patent and trademark field offices. These new field offices will speed up the patent process and help American businesses innovate, grow, and create jobs.

I grew up in the Bronx and Puerto Rico. My grandmother migrated to New York City in the 1950’s and found work in the garment industry, which at the time, along with manufacturing, was a booming industry in NYC. My mom, was born in Puerto Rico and raised my brother and I on her own and worked in clerical jobs at Local 1199 SEIU and Bronx Lebanon Hospital until she retired last October.

NOAA Predicts Mixed Bag of Drought, Flooding and Warm Weather for Spring

Cherry blosssoms (Photo: National Park Service

Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued the three-month U.S. Spring Outlook, stating that odds favor above-average temperatures across much of the continental United States, including drought-stricken areas of Texas, the Southwest and the Great Plains. Spring promises little drought relief for most of these areas, as well as Florida, with below- average spring precipitation favored there. Meanwhile, river flooding is likely to be worse than last year across the country, with the most significant flood potential in North Dakota.

"This outlook reminds us of the climate diversity and weather extremes we experience in North America, where one state prepares for flooding while neighboring states are parched, with no drought relief in sight," said Laura Furgione, deputy director of NOAA's National Weather Service. "We produce this outlook to help communities prepare for what's likely to come in the next few months and minimize weather's impacts on lives and livelihoods. A Weather-Ready Nation hopes for the best, but prepares for the worst."

The U.S. Spring Outlook identifies the likelihood of spring flood risk and expectations for temperature, precipitation and drought. The outlook is based on a number of factors, including current conditions of snowpack, drought, soil moisture, streamflow, precipitation, Pacific Ocean temperatures and consensus among climate forecast models. Full release

Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank Announces New Manufacturing Council Members

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank today announced the appointment of 26 members to the 2013 Manufacturing Council (Council). The Council, established in 2004 and directed by the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, helps to ensure that there is regular communication between the U.S. government and the manufacturing sector.

The Council is comprised of up to 30 members that represent a diverse cross section of the manufacturing industry, including steel, textile, semiconductor, and medical manufacturers.  Their products support a wide range of industries such as the auto, apparel, aerospace, and energy efficiency sectors.

The Council advises the Secretary of Commerce on government policies and programs that affect U.S. manufacturing and provides a forum for proposing solutions to industry-related problems. The Council also works to ensure that the United States remains the preeminent destination for investment in manufacturing throughout the world. The Secretaries of Labor, Energy, and Treasury serve as ex officio members of the Council to better collaborate on cross-cutting issues the Council will address. See the complete list of members of the 2013 Manufacturing Council.

Two Civil War Sailors from the Ironclad USS Monitor Interred at Arlington National Cemetery

USS Monitor with sailors standing on board

151st anniversary of Battle of Hampton Roads

The remains of two unknown USS Monitor sailors, recovered by NOAA and the U.S. Navy in 2002 from the ship’s gun turret, were buried today, with full military honors, at Arlington National Cemetery. The USS Monitor sank in a New Year’s Eve storm just over 150 years ago, carrying 16 crew members to their deaths. 

“Just as the crew of the Monitor fought tirelessly to keep their ‘old-time knight in armor’ afloat, so have many worked tirelessly since her loss to keep their commitment to her, and to the 16 sailors who answered the call-to-arms of a young nation in peril, and paid the ultimate price,” said Kathryn D. Sullivan, Ph.D., Acting Under Secretary of Commerce  for Oceans and Atmosphere and acting NOAA administrator, in remarks at the memorial service. “One major step toward that was taken some 40 years ago, when the nation designated the place where Monitor lies as America’s first National Marine Sanctuary, marking it forever as a place of special national significance. We are gathered here today to take another major step, laying two of her sailors to rest in the hallowed ground of Arlington National Cemetery. As we do so, let us all reaffirm our own commitment to forever remember the work of the Monitor and insure her story is told to our children’s children.

“As keepers of the USS Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, NOAA is committed to protecting the final resting site of this ‘little boat’ and her valiant crew, and to assuring that the memory and the legacy of the Monitor and her crew are preserved and passed on to future generations,” she added. Full release.

Women in Silicon Valley Leading the Way

Deputy Secretary Blank speaks with female leaders at top venture capital firms in Silicon Valley

Guest blog post by Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank

Yesterday, I met with women who are fostering entrepreneurship and innovation in our economy through their leadership at top venture capital firms in Silicon Valley.

We discussed the need for more girls and women to be able to find opportunities in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, where women comprise less than one-fourth of the workforce. We also discussed how women are investing in and leading startups and businesses in key areas that support U.S. competitiveness, such as clean energy, healthcare, telecommunications, bioscience, and other fast-growing fields.

It's clear that women investors play a crucial role in helping ensure that the best private-sector ideas - including those coming from women entrepreneurs - get the resources they need to help build companies and create jobs.

Strengthening the role of women in business and technology is an important goal of the Obama Administration, supported by the White House Council on Women and Girls. The Commerce Department, for its part, offers post-doctoral research opportunities, scholarships, and unique experiences aimed at encouraging girls to consider fulfilling and rewarding careers in STEM fields. 

Businesses Need Common Sense Immigration Reform to Keep Growing, Creating American Jobs

Dr. Blank and members of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (photo: Colin Buckner, Silicon Valley Leadership Group)

Guest blog post by Dr. Rebecca Blank, Deputy Secretary of Commerce

Yesterday, I was in California to talk with business executives who are part of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. We discussed key issues facing them as they continue to grow, create jobs, and drive both innovation and competitiveness here in the U.S.

They just completed an annual survey of their own membership. The biggest business challenge that they identified was their ability to attract and retain a skilled workforce.

I let them know that President Obama understands that we are in a global competition for talent and we want the best people right here in the U.S.

Prepare for Severe Weather, Urge NOAA and FEMA

WWeather Preparedness Week logo

Be a Force of Nature: Know your risk, take action, be an example

NOAA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have partnered again this year for National Severe Weather Preparedness Week. Severe weather is far more common than most realize. The five most dangerous severe weather hazards -- tornadoes, hurricanes, lightning, floods and winter storms, can be powerful and damaging. While spring is considered the height of season, severe weather occurs in every month of the year and in all 50 states. In 2012, there were more than 450 weather related fatalities and more than 2,600 injuries.

“Severe weather can happen anytime, anywhere,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “We urge everyone to take steps in advance and to pledge to prepare, take action and share what you have done with others. You can find information on how to prepare for severe weather at Ready.gov.”

Be a Force of Nature - Every one of us can help our communities prepare for extreme weather by following these guidelines:

  • Know Your Risk:  The first step to becoming weather-ready is to understand the type of hazardous weather that can affect where you live and work, and how the weather could impact you and your family. Every state in the United States has experienced tornadoes and severe weather, so everyone is exposed to some degree of risk. Check the weather forecast regularly and visitReady.gov/severeweather to learn more about how to be better prepared and how you can protect your family when severe weather strikes.

  • Take Action, Pledge to Prepare: Be a Force of Nature by making sure that you and your family are prepared for severe weather. Pledge to prepare at Ready.gov. Fill out your family communications plan that you can email to yourself, put together an emergency kit, and keep important papers and valuables in a safe place.

Stay informed by having multiple sources for weather alerts such as a NOAA Weather Radio, Weather.gov, and Wireless Emergency Alerts. And, sign up for localized alerts from emergency management officials.

  • Be an example: Once you have taken action Be a Force of Nature by telling family, friends, and co-workers to do the same. Share the resources and alert systems you discovered through your social media network. Create a preparedness video and post on a video sharing site; post your story through your social media network and comment on a blog. Technology today makes it easier than ever to be a good example and share the steps you took to help us achieve the vision of a Weather-Ready Nation.

Join us today and pledge to prepare for the severe weather in our area.  More 

New Data Shows 29 States Hit Record Export Levels In 2012

State Export Data

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank today announced new state export data that shows 29 states set new records for export sales in 2012. In total, 35 states achieved merchandise export growth in 2012, and 20 of those states experienced growth of at least five percent or more.

Total merchandise exports from all 50 states helped contribute to the record-setting value of goods and services exports in 2012, which reached $2.2 trillion. Nationally, jobs supported by exports increased to 9.8 million in 2012, up 1.3 million since 2009. This puts us ahead of schedule to meet the President’s goal of adding two million export-supported jobs by the end of 2014.

More information about individual state contributions to national exports is available through the International Trade Administration’s Office of Trade and Industry Information web page, www.trade.gov/mas/ian/statereports, which includes individual fact sheets for all 50 states. An interactive map with national and state merchandise trade data is available here: http://tse.export.gov/TSE/.

Doing Business in Africa Forum Presents Opportunities for American Businesses in Sub-Saharan Region

Francisco Sánchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade and Minority Business Development Agency National Director David Hinson Address the Doing Business in Africa Forum

Guest blog post by Francisco Sánchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade and David Hinson, National Director, Minority Business Development Agency

Earlier this week, we attended the Doing Business in Africa Forum at the White House. This was the first forum of the Doing Business in Africa campaign that the Commerce Department launched three months ago in Johannesburg, South Africa. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank gave the opening remarks and focused on strengthening commercial ties between the United States and Sub-Saharan Africa. She emphasized that as the continent’s wealth increases, so does the demand for improved infrastructure, energy services, and high-quality consumer and agricultural products – all of which American companies are well positioned to provide. In fact, Sub-Saharan Africa is home to six of the ten fastest-growing countries in the world, which helps explain why over the past decade, U.S. trade to and from Africa has tripled, with U.S. exports now topping $21 billion.  Michael Strautmanis, Deputy Assistant to the President and Counselor for Strategic Engagement, welcomed the group of federal government officials, African-born U.S. business and financial leaders, and African-American entrepreneurs, corporate executives, fund managers and investment advisors. Mr. Strautmanis emphasized the need for a collective approach from federal agencies to provide expanded investment and trade financing support to help U.S businesses become more effective global competitors, particularly in the Sub-Saharan region.

Amplifying that message, both of us, along with representatives from government entities including the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, Export-Import Bank, Small Business Administration, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, U.S. Trade and Development Agency and Millennium Challenge Corporation, described for the assembled group how all of our services are structured under the Doing Business in Africa campaign to help them seize opportunities in the Sub-Saharan Africa region. 

NIST, DOJ Form Commission to Develop Guidelines for Forensic Labs

Image of fingerprint

Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and National Institute of Standards and Technology Director Patrick Gallagher today addressed a group of forensics experts at the American Academy of Forensic Science’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C. 

Gallagher was there with Elana Tyrangiel, acting assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Policy at the Department of Justice, to explain each agency’s role in a new National Commission on Forensic Science, announced Friday, Feb. 15.

The National Commission on Forensic Science will be composed of approximately 30 members, bringing together forensic science service practitioners, academic researchers, prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges and other relevant stakeholders to develop policy recommendations for the Attorney General. The commission will consider guidance on practices for federal, state and local forensic science laboratories developed by groups of forensic science practitioners and academic researchers administered by NIST. 

Commerce Invests $15 Million to Help Protect Businesses in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, from Flooding

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce Matt Erskine speaks at Autoneum plant in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania.

U.S. Senators Casey, Toomey and Congressman Barletta applaud disaster recover investment

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank has announced a $15 million Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant to Columbia County, Pennsylvania, to help build control systems that will help protect vital business infrastructure in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, from floods. The grant announcement was applauded by U.S. Senators Bob Casey, Pat Toomey and U.S. Representative Lou Barletta, who worked with the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation to support the grant. Bloomsburg was severely impacted by flooding as a result of Tropical Storm Lee in 2011.

"Protecting and improving the infrastructure that is critical to our businesses is a top priority for the Obama administration," said U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank. "By working with local organizations to fund this project, EDA and the Department of Commerce are helping businesses in Bloomsburg and the surrounding areas save jobs and grow." Full release

Building Exports in the Bluegrass State

Under Secretary Sánchez (center left) and Senior Trade Specialist Brian Miller (center right)poses for a photo with employees of Universal Woods during a tour of their manufacturing facility

Guest blog post by Francisco Sánchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

Cross-post from the International Trade Administration's blog, Tradeology

“We should remember that today’s world presents not just dangers, not just threats—it presents opportunity.” This statement from President Obama’s State of the Union speech confirms the belief that free trade and open markets are a benefit in our globalized world.

In Louisville, Ky., this belief is nothing new, as the town has been growing its economy by focusing on exporting to foreign markets.

That is why I joined Mayor Greg Fischer in Louisville to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the International Trade Administration (ITA) and the City of Louisville in a team effort to improve local exports. Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) also joined us to celebrate this exciting new partnership and highlight what this means for the community.

Our new MOU extends the success we have seen through the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement (BEAM), a joint venture between the mayors of Louisville and Lexington, designed to support the growth of high-quality jobs in advanced manufacturing throughout a 22-county region.

BEAM is a particularly exceptional achievement because it is the realization of the National Export Initiative (NEI) localized through the Brookings Institute’s Metropolitan Export Initiative (MEI). It represents a way in which cities and towns can engage in international trade to reap the benefits of increased exports.
Together, these initiatives are all working in concert to increase U.S. exports.

And there is no better place to talk exports than Kentucky.

The Department of Commerce's Role in Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity

Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank at Cybersecurity announcement

Last week, President Obama signed an Executive Order to strengthen the cybersecurity of this nation’s critical infrastructure. Threats from cyber attacks that could disrupt our power, water, and other critical systems are one of the most pressing risks facing both our nation’s security and our nation’s economy in the 21st century. So, in the absence of legislation to mitigate these threats to our infrastructure, the Executive Order directs federal agencies to use their existing authorities and work with the private sector to better protect our nation’s critical systems. 

We at the Commerce Department have an important role to play when it comes to strengthening the nation’s cybersecurity. In accordance with the president’s Executive Order, Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will be leading the development of one of the Executive Order’s principle outcomes: a voluntary Cybersecurity Framework to reduce cyber risks.

Deputy Secretary Blank Travels to BMW in Spartanburg, SC to Highlight Revitalization of American Manufacturing

Deputy Secretary Blank is joined by Brian Barron, Department Manager for X3 Assembly and Josef Kerscher, the President of BMW Manufacturing, on the Spartanburg assembly floor

Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank visited BMW Manufacturing today and delivered remarks on the President’s plan to make America a magnet for jobs and manufacturing. The Deputy Secretary highlighted the President’s proposals for a new Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership, the SelectUSA program, and the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation.  Blank’s visit comes on the heels of President Obama’s State of the Union Address, in which he outlined a broad agenda for revitalizing U.S. manufacturing, spurring innovation, and accelerating export growth.

During her remarks, Blank emphasized key Commerce programs that will drive President Obama’s “Make America a Magnet for Jobs by Investing in Manufacturing” plan. For example, Commerce is going to lead a team of federal agencies in the new Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership.  The President has proposed a new program to support communities that do the hard work and analysis to identify key projects that will bolster their ability to attract investment.  A competitive process will select communities that have done effective planning but need a little help to build additional assets.  For instance, the program could provide matching funds to co-invest in things like a business park or a new tech transfer program with local universities. Local leaders will need to show that they’ve put together a strong plan to attract investments from a particular industry where their community has a comparative advantage.  That means they’ll need to collaborate closely across the public and private sectors, local foundations, and local research and teaching institutions. By supporting communities that are actively working to become investment hubs, the program will help entice both manufacturers and their supply chains to come to a particular area. 

Spotlight on Commerce: Antwaun Griffin, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Domestic Operations

Antwaun Griffin, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Domestic Operations, 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 Antwaun Griffin, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Domestic Operations

As the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Domestic Operations within the International Trade Administration's (ITA) U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, I help oversee all aspects of the Department of Commerce's trade promotion and export assistance services. This includes the management of 109 U.S. Export Assistance Centers (USEAC’s) around the country as well as oversight of the government’s efforts to recruit U.S.-based exhibitors and foreign buyers to domestic and international trade shows. In addition, my office also oversees the planning and execution of most government-led trade missions.

Often times this work involves critical analysis of our internal business operations to ensure that they are aligned with staff needs and those of our various clients—small businesses, industry associations, state and local governments and other federal agencies involved in trade promotion. Other times, it involves traveling to meet with business owners and groups to encourage them to export—thus creating or retaining more jobs here in the United States.

Federal Triangle Partnership Hosts Gwendolyn Boyd to Celebrate National Black History Month

Gwendolyn Boyd

Earlier this week, the Federal Triangle Partnership, consisting of the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Agency for International Development, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, hosted its annual program commemorating the 2013 National Black/African American History Month. The 2013 national theme is “At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington.”

The keynote speaker was Ms. Gwendolyn Boyd, appointed by President Obama to serve as a Member of the Board of Trustees, Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. Ms. Boyd was the 22nd National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the nation’s largest African American public service sorority. She is also an engineer at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) and Executive Assistant to the Chief of Staff. She has been a prominent advocate for women's equality and for the recruitment of African Americans into science and engineering. In addition to her current responsibilities at APL, she is responsible for the coordination and development of Historically Black Colleges and University (HBCU) initiatives, which include the implementation of the APL Technology Leaders Summer Internship Program. That program identifies students who aspire to careers in Engineering and Computer Science from HBCU/Minority Serving Institutions and Hispanic Serving Institutions.


Spotlight on Commerce: Izella Mitchell Dornell, Deputy Chief Information Officer

Izella Dornell, Deputy Chief Information Officer, 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 Izella Mitchell Dornell, Deputy Chief Information Officer

As Deputy Chief Information Officer for the Department, I am responsible for leading the effort that provides Department Information Technology (IT) program and project oversight for all major IT investments all appropriately aligned with the Department and mission objectives and goals. My responsibilities also include facilitating the current shared service initiatives for the Herbert C. Hoover Building resident bureaus (Commerce headquarters), which include email cloud migration, web hosting, IT security, a tier one service/help desk call center, and video teleconferencing capability. I employ a combination of leadership and management skills to provide our team members with the necessary resources to enable their individual and collective professional growth. I also implement effective fiscal strategies, performance assessments, healthy customer service focus, and the management and operations for the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO).

I consider myself a Texan, but I grew up in Alabama, graduating at the top of my high school class in Birmingham, Alabama, with a keen interest in science and mathematics. I earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics from Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tennessee, and a master’s of business administration degree from the University of Houston. Because I am a firm believer in education, I completed several Executive Leadership programs at Harvard, Simmons College, and Penn State University.

Spotlight on Commerce: Dr. Willie May, Associate Director for Laboratory Programs and Principal Deputy, NIST

Dr. Willie May, Associate Director for Laboratory Programs and Principal Deputy, NIST

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 Willie May, Associate Director for Laboratory Programs and Principal Deputy, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Sometimes even the most difficult circumstances lay the foundation for very positive outcomes. I grew up in Birmingham, Ala., in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It goes without saying that any aspirations for becoming a scientist and  a senior leader of a world class scientific agency with a $1 billion dollar budget and four Nobel Prizes would never have occurred to me. 

But like most people I had some advantages hidden among the more visible obstacles to success.Advantage number one: my mother and father. They made sacrifices for me and my two younger sisters and expected us to rise above our surroundings and  go to college. I was also expected to get good grades even though in my community it was more important to be a good athlete than it was to be a scholar. I actually was able to do both.

Advantage number two: I had excellent, smart, and very committed teachers. Opportunities were limited for people of color in mid- 20th century Alabama. Most African Americans like me were laborers in the mines and steel mills. Professional jobs were teacher, preacher, lawyer, doctor and undertakers; and their client base was limited to the black community. The best minds of my neighborhood went to college and became teachers. And they came back to teach us everything they possibly could.  

In my case that included college-level chemistry in high school. Mr. Frank Cook, my high school chemistry teacher, selected five of us for his own experiment. Starting in 10th grade he taught us the same material he had learned just the summer before at Alabama A&M University. That head start gave me the confidence I needed for college. Besides me and my lifelong friend, Marion Guyton (former Attorney with the Justice Department), others who benefitted from  these highly regarded public school teachers include  former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, University of Maryland Baltimore County President Freeman Hrabowski, chief of the Census Bureau’s Statistical Research Division, Tommie Wright and  Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute president, Shirley Jackson. 

Advantage number three started with heartbreak. Guyton and I were always competing with each other. As high schoolers, we both applied to Howard University, the Harvard of the black community. Marion got a full scholarship and he was more than happy to flaunt and badger me about it. When no letter came for me, I inquired about my application. It was nowhere to be found.  I later learned from my principal, R.C. Johnson (Colin Powell’s father-in-law) that the application had been lost in his office. To make up for the error, he personally arranged for me to get a scholarship to Knoxville College.

Spotlight on Commerce: Tené Dolphin, Chief of Staff, Economic Development Administration

Tené Dolphin

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 Tené Dolphin, Chief of Staff, Economic Development Administration

February is always a special time for our nation to remember the contributions of African Americans, but I never limit my celebration of Black History to just one month. As a child growing up in the historically rich city of Philadelphia, I learned about the men and women who made remarkable contributions to not only our community, but to our country and to the world. Certainly the significance of the election of the first African American President of the United States is particularly noteworthy during this time of reflection and introspection. I am filled with pride and deep emotion when I recall the struggles and triumphs of the past, and observe the advances we continue to make together as Americans.

Over the last four years, I have served in two leadership positions within the U.S. Department of Commerce. Today, as Chief of Staff at the Economic Development Administration, I am encouraged by how Commerce’s priorities align with the administration’s goals and by how we are uniquely positioned to play a significant role in implementing the president’s economic agenda to put more Americans back to work and invest in the industries of the future that will increase our nation’s competitiveness. In my role, I work to lead program operations, staff development, and other general management efforts. I routinely serve as management liaison for agency labor management council, departmental labor management council, other Commerce bureaus, federal agencies, and the White House. 

Commerce’s USPTO Joins NSF and NBC Network in Launching Educational Series on Innovation

Science of Innovation banner

The U.S. Commerce Department’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) joined the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NBC Learn today in launching an 11-part “Science of Innovation” series to coincide with the 165th birthday of American inventor Thomas Edison. The program represents the latest intellectual property (IP) education efforts by the USPTO and serves as a public-private partnership leveraging the best strengths of federal agencies, industry, and educators to demonstrate the connection between IP and the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Narrated by NBC News’ Ann Curry, the series features innovators from across the country, including scientists and engineers working on projects in industries as diverse as healthcare, energy, transportation, agriculture, and more. “Science of Innovation” looks beyond the popular concept of innovation as the result of a single event or brilliant idea. Instead, it examines the processes and steps that anyone from a garage tinkerer to a federally-funded scientist can take to discover new solutions to pressing problems or to add value in new ways to existing products, services or technologies.

“The USPTO has promoted the progress of science and invention since 1790,” said Teresa Stanek Rea, Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Acting Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. “Education is the key to encouraging today’s children to become tomorrow’s innovators. These videos and lesson plans are great tools for teachers everywhere to help students learn about intellectual property, while inspiring them to connect the process of innovation with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education.”

Segments feature innovators working on cutting-edge innovations, including bionic limbs, biofuels, anti-counterfeiting devices, and 3-D printing. A full list of videos can be found online at http://www.nbclearn.com/innovation/

Spotlight on Commerce: James Smith, Chief Administrative Patent Judge

James Smith, Chief Administrative Patent Judge

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 post by James Smith, Chief Administrative Patent Judge, United States Patent and Trademark Office

It is my privilege to serve as Chief Judge of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. I was appointed to the position in May of 2011 by then Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke. Prior to taking this position I served as the Chief Intellectual Property Counsel for Baxter International, a Chicago-based healthcare company that develops medical devices and treatments for a wide range of human medical conditions. At the company, I led the part of its operations concerned with its patent, trademark and copyright matters. In the current role at the Board, I am part of – actually lead -- a 300-person team, which includes about 170 administrative patent judges who hear appeals from decisions in which the USPTO denies patent rights to applicants. The Board also hears trials which resolve disputes between patent owners and other parties seeking to have patents revoked. All of our cases bring some element of closure to outstanding patent legal issues, thus helping advance the use and protection of inventions in the United States. Our mission is squarely centered on helping innovative businesses bring about an America with great well-being for all.

For me, taking the position at the USPTO allowed me to return to Washington, DC, after being away for more than 20 years. I grew up in DC, and was a big beneficiary of the many educational things it had to offer, such as its historical sites, museums and wonderful cultural offerings. My parents, who taught in the area schools for decades, made regular use of Washington’s cultural richness in their wider instruction of all three of their children. They were big proponents of education, and always insistent that their children learn and appreciate history, including by knowing of the substantial contributions of African-American citizens to the development of our country.

U.S. Recognizes Another Year of Export Growth

Bar chart: U.S. exports in millions

Guest blog post by Francisco Sánchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade and Mark Doms, Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs

Last year was another record-setting year for U.S. exporters.

Data released today shows that in 2012, American exports totaled $2.2 trillion, eclipsing the previous record of $2.1 trillion in exports in 2011.

This represents more than just numbers on a spreadsheet; it’s further proof that “Made in the USA” products are in demand all over the world.  It also means that more U.S. businesses are seizing the great opportunities in the global markets, continuing to help pave our nation’s road to economic recovery. 

The increase in U.S. exports in both goods and services continues an upward trend that began in 2009. This trend has contributed to the creation of 6.1 million American private-sector jobs during the last 35 months. It is a direct result of President Obama’s National Export Initiative, part of a government strategy to strengthen our economy, support the creation of American jobs, and ensure long-term growth.

New Smart Phone App Lets Public Report Rain, Hail, Sleet and Snow to NOAA

New Smart Phone App Lets Public Report Rain, Hail, Sleet and Snow to NOAA

Public reports will aid weather research

It’s now easier than ever to be a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) weather research. The NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory, in partnership with the University of Oklahoma, has launched a free app for users to anonymously report precipitation from their Apple or Android mobile device.

With the mPING app,anyone can send a weather observation on the go. The user simply opens the app, selects the type of precipitation that is falling at his or her location, and presses submit. The user’s location and the time of the observation are automatically included in the report.

All submissions will become part of a research project called PING – Precipitation Identification Near the Ground. NSSL and OU researchers will use the mPING submissions to build a valuable database of tens of thousands of observations from across the United States.  Full press release

Help America’s Businesses by Becoming a Presidential Innovation Fellow

Presidential Innovation Fellows logo

Guest blog post by Dennis Alvord, Executive Director of BusinessUSA

Today is a very exciting day for American businesses because the Administration has just launched Round 2 of the Presidential Innovation Fellows program.  This high-profile White House-sponsored program brings top innovators, entrepreneurs, and change agents into government for 6-12 months to develop game-changing solutions that benefit the American people in all kinds of ways – saving lives, saving taxpayer money, and helping to fuel job growth. 

Under the BusinessUSA initiative, the Department of Commerce and the Small Business Administration are pleased to support the MyUSA presidential innovation fellow project that helps American businesses access the information and services that will help them grow, hire American workers, and export to foreign markets.

Building on the work of the inaugural class of Presidential Innovation Fellows, motivated by President Obama's call for a smarter, leaner government, and inspired by innovative models of collaboration in the private sector, the Round 2 MyUSA Fellows will take government customer service to a new level. In particular, small businesses and exporters have a fundamental problem navigating the Federal Government’s myriad resources.  It can be difficult to locate information about government assistance programs or find and complete the correct forms for taxes or business operations.  MyUSA is working to solve these problems.  The project team will build and beta-test new features and tools for entrepreneurs and businesses with the purpose of cutting red tape, increasing efficiency, and supporting American businesses and American jobs.

Deputy Secretary Blank Joins President Obama in Honoring National Medal of Technology and Innovation Winners

President Barack Obama presents Dr. Frances H. Arnold (left), California Institute of Technology, the Medal of Technology and Innovation for her pioneering biofuels-related research that could eventually lead to the replacement of pollutant-causing material.

Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank joined President Barack Obama Friday, February 1 at a White House ceremony honoring the recipients of the 2011 National Medals of Science and National Medals of Technology and Innovation. These medals are presented each year by the President of the United States.

The Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) administers the National Medal of Technology and Innovation honoring those that deliver technologies that are changing society and improving the quality of life. The National Medal of Technology and Innovation is this country’s highest award for technological achievement.

The medal is awarded annually to individuals, teams, companies or divisions of companies for their outstanding contributions to America’s economic, environmental and social well-being. By highlighting the national importance of technological innovation, the medal also seeks to inspire future generations of Americans to prepare for, and pursue technical careers to keep America at the forefront of global technology and economic leadership.

Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank Visits Washington, D.C. Auto Show

Deputy Secretary Blank Inspects a Display Model at the Washington, D.C. Auto Show

Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank visited the Washington, D.C. Auto Show. While there, she visited various exhibits including Ford, Toyota, Chrysler, GM, Honda, and Volkswagen. At each exhibit, Blank spoke with representatives of each car maker and “kicked the tires” of the models on display.

Many of the Commerce Department’s bureaus support the auto manufacturing industry. For example, the International Trade Administration works hard to increase exports of domestically-produced autos and auto parts. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has numerous ongoing partnerships with automotive manufacturers and their suppliers on advanced technologies, such as alternative fuel sources, advanced materials and automation. NIST also provides advanced measurements, standards, and calibrations for the manufacturing of vehicles and for the automotive components themselves. To improve the next-generation of automotive safety, NIST works with automobile manufacturers and suppliers to provide the underlying measurement infrastructure.

Since GM and Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy, the American auto industry has added more than 290,000 jobs – the best growth since 1997 and U.S. passenger vehicle sales reached approximately 14.4 million units in 2012, up 13.4 percent from 2011’s 12.7 million, marking the highest level since 2007.

Deputy Secretary Blank Highlights Workforce Skills Development as Key to Attracting Investment, Creating Good Jobs

Yesterday, Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank delivered keynote remarks at an event focused on the importance of developing a skilled workforce in order to attract more investment and create more good jobs.

The event, hosted by German Ambassador Peter Ammon, attracted CEOs of German-owned companies that have invested in the United States (such as STIHL, BMW, Volkswagen, and Siemens) as well as leaders of U.S. community colleges, universities, and think tanks. 

Blank cited key Obama administration programs that are strengthening the links between colleges and employers–ensuring that more graduates are ready to fill jobs that are open right now in areas such as advanced manufacturing. She also praised the German Embassy’s newly-announced “Skills Initiative,” an effort to help more German companies form partnerships to train American workers and expand their operations in the U.S.

Blank emphasized that education and training are crucial not only for helping individual workers find good jobs, but also for fostering a deeper pool of talented and skilled citizens throughout society. She noted that the U.S. has historically led the way to establish free public education and world-class public universities. She also cited Germany’s unique “dual system”–a model that blends education with hands-on training–which is well-known for helping young people who have graduated high school but who are not pursuing four-year degrees.

Blank stressed the importance of continued leadership and partnership between the U.S. and Germany overall, noting that hundreds of thousands of Americans go to work each day at German companies that operate in the U.S., and vice versa.

Commerce’s PTO Wins Award for Program Encouraging Patent Holders to Address Global Humanitarian Challenges

Patents for Humanity

The Commerce Department’s Patent and Trademark Office was honored yesterday for its Patents for Humanity initiative, a pilot program designed to encourage the use of patented technology to address humanitarian challenges. USPTO Director Kappos launched Patents for Humanity in February 2012 as part of a series of Obama administration initiatives to promote game-changing innovations to solve long-standing development challenges. The program is an awards competition recognizing patent owners and licensees who address humanitarian needs around the globe.

“We are honored to be recognized for our Patents for Humanity initiative, which recognizes those who use patented technology to aid the less fortunate,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos. “In an increasingly interconnected world, the ability of technology to transform lives is real and powerful. This program plays a key role in advancing President Obama’s global development agenda.”

Entrants compete in four categories: medical technology, food and nutrition, clean technology, and information technology. Winners receive accelerated processing of select matters at the USPTO. Applications to the pilot were accepted through Oct. 31, 2012, with winners to be announced at an awards ceremony later in 2013.

The non-profit Licensing Executives Society International (LESI) presented the National IP and Technology Transfer Policy Award to the USPTO at a ceremony in Geneva Switzerland at LESI’s annual Global Technology Impact Forum (GTIF).

“Our People. Our Future.” Helping One Another Through Service

National Day of Service logo (Learn. Serve. Pledge.)

Guest blog post by Dr. Rebecca Blank, Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce

As we head into the inaugural weekend, I’m looking forward to the National Day of Service on Saturday. Four years ago, President-elect Obama asked all of us to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by participating in a National Day of Service. We’ve made this a tradition in every year since then. The president believes that the strength of our country comes from our people. That’s why the theme of this year’s inauguration is “Our people. Our future.” It is through the combined hard work of Americans in the four years since the president first took office that we’re getting back on track. But our work isn’t done. There is still plenty of work to be done in our nation and in our communities and the president is asking for our help.

That is why on Saturday, I will be visiting a local elementary school in Washington, D.C. to lend a hand in beautifying the building and improving the learning environment for children who will be America’s next generation of leaders. Thousands of fellow Americans in all 50 states will be helping their neighbors by:

  • Rebuilding homes destroyed by natural disaster
  • Providing guidance on how to start a business or get a job
  • Mentoring students
  • Cleaning up their local parks
  • Providing for the less fortunate among us
  • Educating members of their community on medical concerns and resources available
  • Serving our veterans and military families in return for their service to us.

To participate in the National Day of Service, go to www.2013pic.org/service and learn about ways to participate. Then, sign up to serve on Saturday, January 19, to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and pledge to serve in your community in the future.

Once you have selected your project, continue the conversation with others in your community and across America on Twitter. The Day of Service hashtag is #iserve and we’d love to hear what you are doing to make our future a brighter one.

You Are Invited To Commerce's Open House Tomorrow

Tomorrow, Friday, January 18th, the U.S. Department of Commerce will be opening our doors as part of the administration’s inauguration activities so that you can learn more about the available resources and work being done by the Commerce team. If you are in the area, please stop by for our two panels. These are all free and open to the public.

“Building it Here, Selling it Everywhere”

The U.S. Department of Commerce will host an open house panel discussion on “Building it Here, Selling it Everywhere.” The program will be built around Commerce’s key priorities, including manufacturing, innovation and exports. Department officials will be on hand to talk about how our work on these initiatives plays a key role in creating jobs here at home and making us more competitive abroad.

  • Bruce Andrews, Chief of Staff, Office of the Secretary of Commerce
  • Phillip Singerman, Associate Director for Innovation and Industry Services at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
  • Francisco Sánchez, Under Secretary for International Trade (ITA)
  • Matthew Erskine, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Development (EDA)

Where:  U.S. Department of Commerce
When:  1:00pm – 2:30pm
RSVP


“Technology, Innovation, and Job Creation”

Learn more about administration initiatives that drive technological progress and job creation at an open house hosted by the U.S. Department of Commerce. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will discuss key activities that help bolster the economy, including open data initiatives, tech transfer, patent reform and internet policy.

  • Todd Park, U.S. Chief Technology Officer
  • Larry Strickling, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and Administrator, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)
  • Patrick Gallagher, Under Secretary of Standards and Technology and Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
  • Terry Rea, Deputy Under Secretary for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

Where:  U.S Department of Commerce
When:  3:00pm – 4:30pm
RSVP

NOAA Satellites Aid in 263 Rescues in 2012 After Detecting Distress Signals

Satellites vital to search and rescue operations

The same NOAA weather and climate satellites that accurately tracked Hurricane Sandy’s path in October also played a key role in rescuing 263 people in 111 emergencies in the United States and surrounding waters in 2012.

Since NOAA’s seven operational satellites circle the globe or sit above the United States, they also carry instruments to detect distress signals from emergency beacons carried by downed pilots, shipwrecked boaters and stranded hikers.

In addition to their role in weather prediction, these polar-orbiting and geostationary satellites are part of the international Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking System, called Cospas-Sarsat. This system uses a network of satellites to quickly pinpoint the location of the distress signals. Release

State-of-the-Art Sonar Map Reveals New Details of Sunken Civil War-era Warship

Top: The USS Hatteras as depicted in a drawing by Civil War artist Francis H. Schell that he titled, “The Destruction of the USA gunboat Hatteras.” Below:  This three-dimensional sonar scan shows remains of the USS Hatteras protruding above the seabed as surveyed in late 2012.

A new, 3-D state-of-the-art sonar map released January 11 by NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, ExploreOcean, Teledyne Blueview, and Northwest Hydro shows never-before-seen details of the USS Hatteras, the only Union warship sunk in combat in the Gulf of Mexico during the Civil War.

One hundred and fifty years ago this month, approximately 20 miles off the coast of Galveston, Texas, the Hatteras, an iron-hulled steamship the U.S. Navy converted into a gunboat, was sunk during a battle with the famous Confederate commerce raider CSS Alabama. The battle was one of the skirmishes that saw the key southern port of Galveston change hands twice and remain one of the last bastions of the Confederacy.

Today, the wreck of the Hatteras is largely intact, resting 57 feet underwater in sand and silt. Recent hurricanes and storms have removed some of the sediment and sand that once encased the vessel like a time capsule. Given shifting sands may once again rebury the Hatteras, the team used a short window of opportunity for a two-day mission last fall to create 3-D photo mosaics of the Hatteras for research, education, and outreach purposes.  Read more  |  Photo gallery

By a Wide Margin, 2012 was the United States’ Warmest Year on Record

Map of U.S. showing temperature anomoly

According to the latest statistics from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, the average temperature for the contiguous United States for 2012 was 55.3° Fahrenheit, which was 3.2° Fahrenheit above the twentieth-century average and 1.0° Fahrenheit above the previous record from 1998. The year consisted of the fourth-warmest winter, a record-warm spring, the second-warmest summer, and a warmer-than-average autumn.

The map shows where the 2012 temperatures were different from the 1981–2010 average. Shades of red indicate temperatures up to 8° Fahrenheit warmer than average, and shades of blue indicate temperatures up to 8° Fahrenheit cooler than average—the darker the color, the larger the difference from average temperature. Full release  

Census Bureau Projects U.S. Population of 315.1 Million on New Year's Day 2013

Map of U.S. with Jan 1, 2013 and population projection overlay

As our nation prepares to begin the New Year, the Commerce Department's U.S. Census Bureau projects that on January 1, 2013, the total United States population will be 315,091,138. This represents an increase of 2,272,462, or 0.73 percent, from New Year's Day 2012 and an increase of 6,343,630, or 2.05 percent, since the most recent Census Day (April 1, 2010).

Component Settings for January 2013:

  • One birth every 8 seconds
  • One death every 12 seconds
  • One international migrant (net) every 40 seconds
  • Net gain of one person every 17 seconds

U.S. POPClock Projection  |  NIST photo of U.S. Smart Grid 

The U.S. Department of Commerce wishes you a Happy 2013!


The 2012 Holiday Season Facts and Features from the U.S. Census Bureau

Commerce headquarters, Herbert C. Hoover Building with holiday decorations

The holiday season is a time for gathering to celebrate with friends and family, to reflect and to give thanks. At this time of year, the Department of Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau presents holiday-related facts and statistics from its data collections, including details about mail, retail sales, toys, trees and decorations and much more. The nation's projected population as we ring in the New Year is estimated to be more than 315 million.  Happy holidays from the U.S. Department of Commerce! 

U.S. Census Bureau Facts for Features, 2012

2012 Economic Census Mailings Sent to U.S. Businesses to Create a Snapshot of the American Economy

2012 Economic Census

The Commerce Department's  U.S. Census Bureau is mailing nearly 4 million forms to American businesses, as the official twice-a-decade measure of the economy continues rolling out. Economic census forms began being mailed in October. The majority of the forms were mailed Monday of this week. Most U.S. businesses with paid employees will receive a form in the coming weeks. The Census Bureau will collect responses until the Feb. 12 deadline, unless an extension is filed.

The 2012 Economic Census covers more than 1,000 industries in all sectors of the private, nonfarm economy. To create a snapshot of the American economy, the census asks businesses to provide basic information on revenue, employment and payroll, and industry-specific topics such as the products and services they provide.

Every five years—in years ending in “2” and “7”—the economic census collects reliable business statistics that are essential to understanding the American economy. The economic census is the only source providing information on industry revenues and other measures of American business performance that are consistent, comparable and comprehensive across industries and geographic areas.  Press release

Contiguous U.S. Warmer and Drier Than Average for November, Autumn

Map: Contiguous U.S. warmer and drier than average for November, autumn

Drought persists, causing water resource issues for central U.S.; 2012 virtually certain to become warmest year on record for the nation

The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during November was 44.1°F, 2.1°F above the 20th century average, tying 2004 as the 20th warmest November on record. The autumn contiguous U.S. temperature of 54.7°F was the 21st warmest autumn, 1.1°F above average.

The November nationally-averaged precipitation total of 1.19 inches was 0.93 inch below the long-term average and the 8th driest November on record. The autumn precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 5.71 inches, 1.0 inch below average.

  •  November brought warmer-than-average conditions to the western half of the country. The largest temperature departures from average were centered near the Rockies where Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming had November temperatures among their ten warmest.
  • The Eastern Seaboard, Ohio Valley, and Southeast were cooler than average during November. North Carolina tied its 10th coolest November on record, with a statewide-averaged temperature 3.5°F below average.
  • A large area of the country experienced below-average precipitation in November. Drier-than-average conditions stretched from the Intermountain West, through the Plains, into the Midwest, and along the entire East Coast. Twenty-two states had monthly precipitation totals ranking among their ten driest.
  • According to the November 27 U.S. Drought Monitor report, 62.7 percent of the contiguous U.S. was experiencing moderate-to-exceptional drought, larger than the 60.2 percent observed at the end of October. Drought conditions improved for parts of the Northern Rockies, which were wetter-than-average during November, while conditions worsened for parts of the Southwest and Mid-Atlantic.

Full release

New Monster.com Collaboration with Joining Forces Initiative Is a Win for America’s Veterans and Companies

Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank Speaks at the National Veteran Employment Summit

Guest blog post by Dr. Rebecca Blank, Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce

Yesterday, I spoke at the National Veteran Employment Summit hosted by Monster and Military.com. I announced that Monster has signed up to participate in the Joining Forces effort to help hire or train 250,000 veterans and military spouses. The companies participating in Joining Forces know that hiring veterans is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also good business. America’s veterans have the leadership, the character, and the team-oriented approach that employers want and need.

Under the president’s leadership, the administration is working hard to make sure veterans find job opportunities. We’re making improvements in how the military transitions service members from the battlefield to the workplace. We're also ensuring that the post-9/11 GI Bill stays strong. And, through Joining Forces—led by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden—we're ensuring that veterans and military families have the support they need to land a job when they return to civilian life.

The Commerce Department is particularly proud to support the efforts of companies who are hiring men and women who have bravely served our nation. 

Moving forward, the Department will encourage even more businesses to make hard commitments to hire veterans and we will actively share the "best practices" we find in veteran hiring. More broadly, we will continue to give veteran-entrepreneurs, veteran business owners, and veterans in the workforce the tools they need to succeed.

I believe that America’s capacity to innovate and compete in the 21st century is tied to our commitment to unleash the full potential of our veterans. We must continue to do everything we can to provide them with paths to good jobs that will help our nation maintain and strengthen its global leadership.

NIST and Forest Service Create World’s First Hazard Scale for Wildland Fires

Wildland Ember Exposure on a Community Using the WUI Fire Hazard Scale

Two federal agencies have teamed to create the first-ever system for linking accurate assessments of risk from wildland fires to improved building codes, standards and practices that will help communities better resist the threat. The proposed Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) Hazard Scale addresses fires that occur where developed and undeveloped areas meet, and is described in a report released by the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's U.S. Forest Service (USFS).

"Structures in areas susceptible to other natural hazards, such as earthquakes, hurricanes and tornados, can be built to address the potential risks from these disasters because we have measurement scales that define that risk—the Richter for quakes, the Saffir-Simpson for hurricanes and the Enhanced Fujita for tornados," says NIST's Alexander Maranghides, who created the new wildfire hazard assessment tool with William Mell of the USFS. "Now, we have proposed a scale specifically for wildland fires that will allow us to link exposure to improved codes and standards, and as a result, save lives, property and dollars."

The problem of WUI fires, particularly in the western and southern regions of the United States, has been growing more prevalent as housing developments push into wilderness areas. According to the Bureau of Land Management's National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), the 10 years since 2002 saw an annual average of nearly 71,000 WUI fires recorded and 1.9 million hectares (4.7 million acres) burned. Through the end of October 2012, the number of WUI fires for the year is below the average at slightly more than 54,000, but the amount of damage is nearly double with 3.7 million hectares (9.1 million acres) having burned—approximately 1,000 times the total area of Rhode Island. The monetary toll from the destruction is staggering; the NIFC estimates that federal agencies spend an average of $1.2 billion per year on WUI fire suppression alone, with state and local agencies contributing millions more.  Full NIST release

NOAA: Arctic Continues to Break Records in 2012

Arctic iceberg

Becoming warmer, greener region with record losses of summer sea ice and late spring snow 

The Arctic region continued to break records in 2012—among them the loss of summer sea ice, spring snow cover, and melting of the Greenland ice sheet. This was true even though air temperatures in the Arctic were unremarkable relative to the last decade, according to a new report released today.

“The Arctic is changing in both predictable and unpredictable ways, so we must expect surprises,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator, during a press briefing at the American Geophysical Union annual meeting in San Francisco, Calif. “The Arctic is an extremely sensitive part of the world and with the warming scientists have observed, we see the results with less snow and sea ice, greater ice sheet melt and changing vegetation.”

Lubchenco participated in a panel discussion that presented the annual update of the Arctic Report Card, which has, since 2006, summarized the quickly changing conditions in the Arctic. A record-breaking 141 authors from 15 countries contributed to the peer-reviewed report.  Full NOAA release

Presidential Proclamation—Minority Enterprise Development Week, 2012

This week the Minority Business Development Agency will be hosting the 30th Anniversary National Minority Enterprise Development Week and on Friday, November 30, 2012, President Barack Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation about Minority Enterprise Development Week, 2012.

MINORITY ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT WEEK, 2012

- - - - - - -

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

At the core of who we are as a Nation is a fundamental belief: that no matter who you are, no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, if you have an idea and a willingness to work hard, you can succeed. It is this belief that leads a worker to leave a job to become her own boss, propels a basement inventor to sell a new product, or drives an amateur chef to open a restaurant. It is this belief that has drawn millions to our shores and spurred America's prosperity for centuries.

The belief in tomorrow's promise is guiding minority entrepreneurs across our country to start the kinds of businesses that make up the backbone of our economy. With a combined economic output of $1 trillion, minority-owned firms are key producers in an array of industries, hubs of innovation and new technology, and engines of job creation in our communities.

Because the continued growth and success of minority enterprises is essential to our economic recovery, my Administration has taken steps to help bolster these businesses. Through the Minority Business Development Agency, we are providing access to capital, consulting, contracts, and markets to minority entrepreneurs seeking to expand their businesses at home and overseas. We are also making it easier for business owners to find Federal resources with www.BusinessUSA.gov, a centralized, one-stop platform for businesses to access services to help them grow and hire.

As the number and size of minority-owned firms continue to expand, we must harness the diversity and power of these businesses to help strengthen our economy and put people back to work. As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of Minority Enterprise Development Week, let us honor the role America's minority-owned businesses play in spurring our prosperity and recommit to equipping them with the tools for success in the 21st century.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim December 2 through December 8, 2012, as Minority Enterprise Development Week. I call upon all Americans to celebrate this week with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities to recognize the many contributions of our Nation's minority enterprises.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.

BARACK OBAMA

Expanding Access to New Markets in Sub-Saharan Africa for American Businesses

Part of week-long trip to expand access to new markets in Sub-Saharan Africa for American businesses

Guest blog post by Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank

During the last week I’ve been in South and East Africa to advance key elements of President Obama’s “Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa,” focusing on the promotion of economic growth, trade and investment in the continent.

On Wednesday in Johannesburg, we launched the “Doing Business in Africa” campaign at an event hosted by Business Unity South Africa and the Corporate Council on Africa. Among other things, I announced our commitments to train more of our business counselors and to organize Africa Global Business Summits in order to increase the visibility of opportunities in Africa for American entrepreneurs and business owners  

Then, on Thursday and Friday, I traveled to Nairobi, Kenya, to meet with heads of state and senior trade ministers from the East African Community (EAC), a regional organization that includes Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. We signed an agreement to launch the Commercial Dialogue between the EAC and the U.S., the first of its kind in Africa. Our goal is to create an environment where American businesses can both invest in the region and sell their products and services to meet the increasing demand from the growing middle class in East Africa.

Overall, the mutual economic growth of the U.S. and Africa is dependent on strong and growing person-to-person relationships. That’s why I highlighted the fact that Under Secretary for International Trade Francisco Sánchez was simultaneously leading a delegation of 14 U.S. businesses on a trade mission to South Africa and Zambia. (Read more here about how this is already expanding markets for some American businesses). Also, I was pleased to hear that–next week–the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Terrence McCulley, will lead a Nigerian business delegation to a number of U.S. cities to see some of our biggest trade shows.  

The Obama administration will continue to build bridges with Sub-Saharan Africa as we look to the future. Clearly, people both here in the U.S. and in Sub-Saharan Africa will continue to work with each other, learn from each other, and build on each other’s growing prosperity.

NOAA: Busy 2012 Hurricane Season Continues Decades-long High Activity Era in the Atlantic

Satellite view of Superstorm Sandy, 10-29-12

Four U.S. land-falling storms include devastating Sandy and Isaac

November 30 marks the end of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane season, one that produced 19 named storms, of which 10 became hurricanes and one became a major hurricane. The number of named storms is well above the average of 12. The number of hurricanes is also above the average of six, but the number of major hurricanes is below the average of three. 

Based on the combined number, intensity, and duration of all tropical storms and hurricanes, NOAA classifies the season as above-normal. 2012 was an active year, but not exceptionally so as there were 10 busier years in the last three decades.

This season marks the second consecutive year that the mid-Atlantic and Northeast suffered devastating impacts from a named storm. Sandy, and Irene last year, caused fatalities, injuries, and tremendous destruction from coastal storm surge, heavy rainfall, inland flooding, and wind. Storms struck many parts of the country this year, including tropical storms Beryl and Debby in Florida, Hurricane Isaac in Louisiana, and post-tropical Cyclone Sandy in New Jersey.  Full NOAA release   |  Animation: The 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season in 4.5 Minutes (You Tube)

New York Taps NIST's Sunder for Post-Sandy Review of Critical Systems and Services

S. Shyam Sunder

S. Shyam Sunder, director of the Engineering Laboratory at Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), has agreed to serve on the New York State Ready Commission, formed by Governor Andrew Cuomo to recommend ways to ensure critical systems and services are prepared for future natural disasters and other emergencies.

The expert commission is one of three that Cuomo launched in the aftermath of recent major storms, including Hurricanes Sandy and Irene, that devastated parts of the state and revealed weaknesses in New York’s transportation, energy, communications and health infrastructures. The Ready Commission will review critical systems and services and recommend measures to prepare for future natural disasters and other emergencies.  Full release

Acting Secretary Blank Launches Doing Business in Africa Campaign

Map of Africa with text "Doing Business in Africa"

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank today announced the launch of the “Doing Business in Africa” campaign at an event in Johannesburg, South Africa. This campaign is part of a larger U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa, which President Obama issued in June. The “Doing Business in Africa” campaign will promote economic growth, trade and investment in Africa.  In her remarks, the Acting Secretary emphasized the United States’ ongoing commitment to deepening economic ties with these nations. She also shared a message from President Obama (PDF) in support of the campaign.

The United States is pursuing four objectives in Sub-Saharan Africa: strengthening democratic institutions; spurring economic growth, trade and investment; advancing peace and security; and promoting opportunity and development. The new Doing Business in Africa campaign is a key part of this effort. It leverages the federal government’s strengths as assets in trade promotion, financing, and more. Goals of the campaign include helping U.S. businesses identify and seize opportunities in Africa, and helping them overcome any challenges they face to establishing business relationships with Africa.

Also as part of her trip to South Africa, Dr. Blank met with a multi-sector trade mission led by the Department of Commerce’s Under Secretary for International Trade, Francisco Sánchez. This delegation is comprised of representatives from 13 U.S. firms who were traveling to Lusaka, Zambia; and Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa.

Sub-Saharan Africa presents enormous opportunities to the American private sector. According to the World Bank, its GDP totaled approximately $1.25 trillion in 2011, and six of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world are in Sub-Saharan Africa. U.S. total merchandise exports to Sub-Saharan Africa tripled between 2001 and 2011.

Spotlight on Commerce: Timi Vann, NOAA Regional Coordinator

Timi S. Vann

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 by Timi Vann, Western Regional Collaboration Coordinator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

I serve as one of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) eight regional coordinators. In this capacity, I am responsible for coordinating the collaborative activities of a 17-member team of scientists, engineers and program managers representing NOAA’s four service branches (Weather, Fisheries, Environmental Satellite, Data and information, and Ocean Services) and Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research in the eleven state region of the Western United States. This team works together to exchange information, leverage resources, and collaborate to address priority regional issues and deliver improved science and services to regional stakeholders.

I was born and raised in Seattle, Wash., and I am Cherokee Indian, as is my husband. After undergraduate studies at The Evergreen State College and graduate studies at the University of Oklahoma, I completed further coursework in satellite remote sensing, image processing, and physics from the University of New Orleans.  After college, I worked with the US Army at Fort Lewis as a cultural resources specialist working to support the military training mission through effective and efficient environmental compliance as it pertained to historic buildings and landscapes, historic and prehistoric archeological sites, traditional cultural properties, and tribal government relations. I then went on to a successful career at NASA working to develop "real world" applications of NASA's satellite data for environmental health tracking and disease surveillance. These experiences enabled me to successfully take on many new challenges at NOAA.

Spotlight on Commerce: Rolena Chuyate, Information Technology Specialist, U.S. Census Bureau

Rolena Chuyate, Information Technology Specialist, U.S. Census Bureau

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

Guest blog post by Rolena Chuyate, Information Technology Specialist, Administrative and Management Systems Division for the U.S. Census Bureau

I work as an Information Technology (IT) Specialist in the Administrative and Management Systems Division (AMSD) for the U.S. Census Bureau. My key responsibilities include supporting the applications software within the AMSD Division as well as supporting the Commerce Business Systems (CBS). My job requires a combination of trouble shooting and problem solving as well as providing customer support. My entire professional career has been in public service of which 25 years have been at the Census Bureau. At the Census Bureau, I have worked in different IT fields – as a UNIX, Linux, and VAX/VMS System Administrator, as a Systems Analyst responsible for installing/configuring SAS software, and as a C programmer. Prior to that, I worked for the USDA in Austin, TX as a Mathematical Statistician.

From 2003 to 2006, I was given an opportunity to serve as a liaison to the Census Bureau’s Advisory Committee on the American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) population. The AIAN Committee is one of the Census Bureau’s Five Race and Ethnic Advisory Committees (REAC) which provide a continuing channel of communication between the AIAN community and the Census Bureau. Serving as a liaison, gave me an opportunity for better understanding of the Decennial operations at the Census Bureau. It also provided an insight of how the Census Bureau worked with the AIAN Committee in obtaining an accurate count of the American Indian population.

Supporting Small Business on Saturday and All Year Round

Small Business Saturday

Guest blog post by Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank

Tomorrow is Small Business Saturday, a day to celebrate and support small businesses across the country.

Small businesses play a vital role in creating jobs and economic opportunities nationwide. Making certain that small businesses thrive is a goal we support through many of our efforts here at the Commerce Department: from the Small Business Innovation Research awards, to tools that help small businesses protect their intellectual property, to informative sites that help small businesses export or access the broad array of all federal government tools

Over the last two decades, small businesses and startups have been responsible for creating two out of every three net new jobs in the U.S. Today, over half of all working Americans own or work for a small business. It’s clear that when small businesses succeed, so do our communities.

I want to encourage you to shop at your local small businesses when you can. Check out the participating businesses at www.shopsmall.com.

Whether you live in a big city or a rural area… from coast to coast… Small Business Saturday is an opportunity to support your local businesses and your communities. Happy shopping!

 

Thanksgiving Day: November 22, 2012

Image of colorful Fall fruits and vegetables (Photo: Westmont.IL.gov)

In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims, early settlers of Plymouth Colony, held a three-day feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest, an event many regard as the nation's first Thanksgiving. Historians have also recorded ceremonies of thanks among other groups of European settlers in North America, including British colonists in Virginia in 1619. The legacy of thanks and the feast have survived the centuries, as the event became a national holiday in 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a national day of thanksgiving. Later, President Franklin Roosevelt clarified that Thanksgiving should always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month to encourage earlier holiday shopping, never on the occasional fifth Thursday. 

Thanksgiving Day by the numbers:

  • 254 million:  The number of turkeys expected to be raised in the United States in 2012. That is up 2 percent from the number raised during 2010.
  • 1.1 billion pounds:  Total production of pumpkins in the major pumpkin-producing states in 2011. Illinois led the country by producing an estimated 520 million pounds of the vined orange gourd. Pumpkin patches in California, Pennsylvania and Ohio also provided lots of pumpkins: Each state produced at least 100 million pounds. The value of all pumpkins produced in the United States was $113 million.
  • 768 million pounds:  The forecast for U.S. cranberry production in 2012. Wisconsin is estimated to lead all states in the production of cranberries, with 450 million pounds, followed by Massachusetts (estimated at 210 million).
  • 64,380:  The number of grocery stores in the United States in 2010. These establishments are expected to be extremely busy around Thanksgiving, as people prepare for their delightful meals.
  • 37:  Number of places and townships in the United States named Plymouth, as in Plymouth Rock, the landing site of the first Pilgrims. Plymouth, Minn., is the most populous, with 71,561 residents in 2011; Plymouth, Mass., had 56,767. There is just one township in the United States named Pilgrim. Located in Dade County, Mo., its population was 131 in 2011. And then there is Mayflower, Ark., whose population was 2,298 in 2011, and Mayflower Village, Calif., whose population was 5,515 in 2010.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau’s Facts for Features

Acting Secretary Blank Visits New Jersey to Meet Business Owners Impacted by Sandy

Acting Secretary Blank and Acting Assistant Secretary Erskine survey a map of the Port of Newark

On Wednesday, Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank traveled to New Jersey where she met with local business leaders for discussions about ongoing efforts to rebuild the region in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. During these conversations, she conveyed that the Commerce Department, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the administration are focused on providing businesses and communities affected by Hurricane Sandy with all available federal support. 

In Elizabeth, New Jersey, Acting Secretary Blank met with a group of businesses that were impacted by the storm. Dr. Blank then visited the Port of Newark in Port Newark, New Jersey, where she was briefed by officials on the status of port operations and the challenges moving forward. She heard from some of the port’s tenants, trucking companies, and freight mobility experts about the impact that the storm has had on their businesses, customers, and employees. Dr. Blank then took a tour of the port to observe the progress of recovery work that is currently underway. 

NOAA: U.S. Temperature and Precipitation in October Were Near Average

Map of U.S. showing significant areas of weather activity in October 2012

Sandy breaks records in East as severe drought continues in West, Great Plains

According to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center scientists, the average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during October was 53.9°F, 0.3°F below the long-term average. This ends a 16-month streak of above-average temperatures for the Lower 48 that began in June 2011.

The October nationally averaged precipitation total of 2.19 inches was slightly above the long-term average. The Northwest, Midwest, and Northeast were wetter than average, while below-average precipitation was observed across the Southern Rockies and the Central and Southern Plains. As of October 30, 60.2 percent of the contiguous U.S. was experiencing drought conditions with the most severe conditions in the Great Plains. Full report

Acting Secretary Blank Supports Joining Forces Veterans Hiring Initiative

Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank and Honeywell CEO David Cote at a Joining Forces Veterans Hiring Event

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank today participated in a Joining Forces Veterans Hiring Event that recognized Veterans Day and the contributions of our men and women in uniform. The event, sponsored by Honeywell and their military recruitment partner Orion International, aimed to identify and match veteran job candidates with open positions at Honeywell and recognized Honeywell’s efforts to provide veterans with more career opportunities. Honeywell’s Chairman and CEO Dave Cote and Joining Forces Executive Director Todd Veazie also attended.

“The Department of Commerce takes this administration’s commitment to hiring veterans very seriously, and we will do our part to support the Joining Forces initiative and the good work of companies like Honeywell and Orion International that are connecting members of our military with the quality private-sector jobs they have earned,” said Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank. “Through the Department’s strong relationship with private sector companies all over the country, we will be encouraging other firms to commit to hiring veterans, and we will do all we can to help them make that goal a reality.”

Acting Commerce Secretary Blank Announces 2012 Winners of Nation’s Highest Presidential Honor for Performance Excellence

Acting Commerce Secretary Blank Announces 2012 Winners of Nation’s Highest Presidential Honor for Performance Excellence

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank today named four U.S. organizations as recipients of the 2012 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s highest Presidential honor for performance excellence through innovation, improvement and visionary leadership. The winners in this, the 25th anniversary year of the award, represent four different sectors, one repeat recipient and a health network recognized for the same honor earned previously by its flagship hospital.       

The 2012 Baldrige Award recipients—listed with their category—are:

  • Lockheed Martin Missile and Fire Control, Grand Prairie, Texas (manufacturing)
  • MESA Products, Tulsa, Okla. (small business)
  • North Mississippi Health Services, Tupelo, Miss. (health care)
  • City of Irving, Irving, Texas (nonprofit)

"The four organizations recognized today with the 2012 Baldrige Award are leaders in the truest sense of the word and role models that others in the health care, nonprofit and business sectors worldwide will strive to emulate,” said Acting Secretary Blank. “They have set the bar high for innovative practices, dynamic management, financial performance, outstanding employee and customer satisfaction, and, most of all, for their unwavering commitment to excellence and proven results.”

This year marks the silver anniversary of both the award and the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program (BPEP) that supports it. To date, more than 1,500 U.S. organizations have applied for the Baldrige Award, and there are Baldrige-based award programs in nearly all 50 states. Full Release

Veterans Day 2012: November 11

Tomb of the Unknowns, Arlington National Cemetery

Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation in 1954 to change the name to Veterans Day as a way to honor those who served in all American wars. The day honors military veterans with parades and speeches across the nation. A national ceremony takes place at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Veterans Day by the numbers:

  • 21.5 millionthe number of military veterans in the United States in 2011;
  • 9.2 millionthe number of veterans 65 and older in 2011;
  • 1.8 million—the number of veterans younger than 35;
  • 3—the number of states with one million or more veterans in 2011 (California, Florida and Texas);
  • 9.1 millionthe number of veterans 18 to 64 in the labor force in 2011.

Source: Census Bureau's Facts for Features

Resources Available to Help You Recover from Hurricane Sandy

Click Here: Resources Available to Help You Recover from Hurricane Sandy

Here are federal resources available to you and your family as we all work together to recover from Sandy. These links will help connect you with assistance for yourself, your family and your business, health and safety guidelines, ways you can make donations and volunteer, and information about what the government is doing to help.



In Sandy's Aftermath: NOAA Operations Underway to Re-Open Shipping Lanes, Assess Coastal Damage

As the sun comes up in New York this morning, Ensign Lindsey Norman retrieves the side scan sonar that NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson used to survey the Hudson River, so fuel barge traffic could resume.

NOAA post-storm response operations are underway in the aftermath of Sandy. NOAA vessels are now conducting surveys to speed the re-opening of waterways and aircraft are flying missions to capture detailed imagery of coastal storm damage along affected portions of the U.S. East Coast. 

NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey began mobilizing to respond to Hurricane Sandy before the storm reached U.S. waters by preparing vessels, personnel, and equipment to conduct hydrographic surveys of hard-hit areas to locate underwater debris and shoaling that can paralyze shipping at the nation’s ports.

The morning after the storm passed, teams began surveying waterways in Chesapeake Bay. By the morning of Nov. 1, eight NOAA vessels were involved in the effort, surveying waterways in New York, New Jersey, Chesapeake Bay, and Delaware Bay, where shipping had been halted.  

Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank Urges Hurricane Preparedness

U.S. flag over Commerce headquarters

As you know, Hurricane Sandy is making its way up the East Coast of the United States, but the large size of the storm means heavy rain and strong winds will begin affecting the National Capitol Region tonight, and parts of New York and Pennsylvania tomorrow and Wednesday, and New England by Friday.

Make no mistake--this is a large and dangerous storm that needs to be taken seriously, especially by the millions of people who live, work or travel in Sandy’s projected path.

According to our meteorologists at Commerce/NOAA’s National Hurricane Center and National Weather Service, Sandy will make landfall overnight Monday into Tuesday in the mid-Atlantic region. The storm is forecast to have significant and widespread impacts over most of the northeastern United States, both in coastal and inland areas. To follow the latest on Hurricane Sandy, please visit NOAA’s National Hurricane Center on the Web at www.hurricanes.gov, on Facebook and on Twitter at twitter.com/NHC_Atlantic. Monitor local media or listen to NOAA Weather Radio (www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/listcov.htm) for the latest developments and check your local National Weather Service forecast at www.weather.gov.

Now is the time to finalize your preparations for the coming storm. We strongly urge all potentially affected Commerce employees, their families and loved ones to take the appropriate steps to make certain they can meet their basic needs for a minimum of 72 hours. For more information on preparedness, please visit Ready.gov www.ready.gov/hurricanesandwww.listo.gov for tips on how you can make an emergency kit and put an emergency plan in place. We also encourage you to consult our Tropical Cyclone Preparedness Guide: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/os/hurricane/resources/TropicalCyclones11.pdf.

Individuals in the region should continue to monitor NOAA Weather Radio and their local news for updates and directions provided by their local officials. State and local officials make determinations and announcements about evacuations. We urge the public to listen to the instructions of officials, and if told to evacuate - evacuate.

The FEMA smartphone app provides safety tips and displays open shelter information at www.fema.gov/smartphone-app. To find an open Red Cross shelter, download the Red Cross Hurricane app or visit redcross.org.

We’re ready. Please be ready, too.

Commerce and NOAA have been actively mobilizing: Our National Hurricane Center and additional weather service meteorologists have been issuing forecasts, watches and warnings to the media, emergency managers and the public. At the same time, we’re also preparing to respond to Sandy’s aftermath in the event that the National Weather Service local forecast offices need to issue a variety of severe weather alerts for inland high winds, flooding and other severe weather.

On a final note, I want to thank all the NOAA staff who have been working hard to ensure that Americans have the most accurate and timely storm updates, watches and warnings—as well as those who will be working to see this storm through and assist in the response phase. Your service to Commerce and the nation is deeply appreciated.

Spotlight on Commerce: Michael C. Camuñez, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance

Guest blog post by Michael C. CamuÑez, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance, 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 Michael C. Camuñez, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance, International Trade Administration

As Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access & Compliance, I have the great privilege of working each day to advance the President’s trade policy agenda to grow U.S. exports and help American industry compete in foreign markets under the President’s National Export Initiative. In a world where 95 percent of consumers and 80-90 percent of world GDP growth will exist in coming years outside of the United States, our work to grow U.S. exports has never been more important. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to work with my talented colleagues at Commerce and throughout the government on efforts to keep the United States globally competitive and to help to increase our access to these dynamic and emerging global markets.

I am a fourth-generation American, born and raised in southern New Mexico, not far from the U.S.-Mexico border. I am the descendant of Mexican farmers and ranchers, who settled in northern Mexico and what is today the States of New Mexico and Texas. My family left New Mexico for sunny California just as I entered high school. I spent my high school years in California’s San Joaquin Valley, one of our nation’s most productive agricultural regions. 

I was the first in my family to attend college and was lucky enough to earn a spot at Harvard College. While at Harvard, I became deeply involved in organizing and running community service programs aimed at working with at-risk populations. That led to an opportunity following college to help advocate for the creation of a nation-wide system of national service—like a domestic Peace Corps.  In fact, my first political job was in the Clinton Administration, where I was an integral part of the team that established the AmeriCorps program. 

Spotlight on Commerce: Carly Montoya, Director of Advance, Office of the Secretary

 Carly Montoya, Director of Advance, 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 Carly Montoya, Director of Advance, Office of the Secretary

I grew up in Pueblo, Colorado.  My father, Jim, started off as a migrant farm worker and later put four children and my mom through college.   My mother, Pat, started off as a beautician and later went to college when I was in middle school while still raising four kids and helping my father provide for my family.  They did everything they could to support my family so that my brother, sisters and I would have opportunities that they never had.  Because of their sacrifices and their relentless determination, I graduated from Tufts University with a world of opportunities before me.  I chose a career in public service.  

There are a lot of different fields in public service, but advance is a field I was drawn to for one big reason:  Advance is a team effort.   Like my parents taught me, if one person fails, everyone fails.  If one person succeeds, we all succeed. 

Advance is the spoke in the wheel and where everything comes together.   It involves coordinating the objectives of the various departments and bureaus at the Department of Commerce so that the Secretary can engage people who are on the front lines of job creation across America and around the world.  It’s about communicating how the work that we do here at Commerce can nurture an environment where businesses and innovators can create jobs by building things here and selling them everywhere. 

Characters Featured at the USPTO’s Trademark Expo Visit the Children’s National Medical Center

Dr. Bear ® and T.Markey, the USPTO's trademark mascot, at 2011 visit to Children's National Medical Center.  Photo by Roberto Ortiz.

The costumed characters featured at the USPTO’s upcoming Trademark Expo visited the Children’s National Medical Center today.  Volunteers passed out Trademark Activity Guides, helped children complete activities involving characters that are registered trademarks, and taught children about familiar trademarks.  The visit included an introductory statement by Commissioner for Trademarks Deborah Cohn, a musical parade of costumed characters, a presentation challenging children to identify the goods and services for which characters are registered, and visits by some of the characters to children on the hospital floors.  The children’s faces lit up with joy as they watched the characters parade around and dance to music!  T.Markey, the Trademark Expo’s own mascot, was  joined by Spuddy Buddy, Crayola “Tip,” Chester Cheetah, and GEICO’s Gecko. 

An even larger cast of costumed characters will parade in front of the USPTO’s Madison Building at 10 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 19, to begin the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 National Trademark Expo.  Representatives from Mattel, NASCAR, Inc. and the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital will join Deputy Under Secretary and USPTO Deputy Director Teresa Stanek Rea, Alexandria Mayor William Euille, and Commissioner Cohn in giving brief remarks. 

Spotlight on Commerce: Danny Meza, Senior Adviser to the Under Secretary for Industry and Security

Danny Meza, Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary for Industry and Security in the Office of Congressional and Public Affairs

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

Guest blog post by Danny Meza, Senior Adviser to the Under Secretary for Industry and Security in the Office of Congressional and Public Affairs

As Senior Adviser to the Under Secretary for Industry and Security in the Office of Congressional and Public Affairs, I advise the Under Secretary on legislative matters that impact the administration of export controls under the Commerce Department’s jurisdiction.

I was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. I grew up during a time when local community leaders like former San Antonio Mayor and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros, voter registration activist William C. Velasquez, and Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez worked to galvanize the Hispanic community by encouraging greater civic participation. Today, that same call to public service can be seen in leaders like Mayor Julian Castro and State Representative Joaquin Castro. The same call to public service led me to the Commerce Department in November of 2009.

How New Legislation will Support Our Textile Industry

Deputy Assistant Secretary Kim Glas and Under Secretary Francisco Sanchez tour Unifi’s sewing thread manufacturing facility in Yadkinville, North Carolina on October 9, 2012.

Ed. note: Cross-posted from ITA's Tradeology blog. Kim Glas is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for textiles and apparel within the International Trade Administration’s Import Administration division.

I am visiting North Carolina today with the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez to see first-hand two state of the art textile companies–Unifi and A&E. Recently, President Obama signed into law an important set of technical fixes to the U.S.-Dominican Republic-Central America (CAFTA-DR) Free Trade Agreement that will have a direct impact on jobs at these two companies and sewing thread manufacturers across this state and country.

When the Agreement with our Central American neighbors was negotiated in 2003, there was a definitional loophole that incentivized the use of non-U.S. sewing thread in the assembly of textile and apparel products. As a result of this loophole, U.S. sewing thread manufacturers have seen their business and employment shrink. The Obama administration immediately set out to address a problem that severely impacted U.S. sewing thread manufacturers.

After years of hard work, President Obama recently signed legislation to close a loophole that has jeopardized businesses and jobs in the U.S. As a result, on Saturday, October 13, these fixes will be implemented and will have a direct impact on many sewing thread manufacturers in North Carolina. We have every expectation that once the legislation is implemented that U.S. sewing thread producers like Unifi and A&Ewill be able to recapture market share in the critical market.

This is a prime example of what can be accomplished when industry, Congress, and the administration work toward a common goal.

Spotlight on Commerce: Ana Valentin, Statistician, NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service

Ana Valentin, Survey Statistician, Fisheries Statistics Division of the Office of Science and Technology, NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service.

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 Ana Valentin, Survey Statistician, Fisheries Statistics Division of the Office of Science and Technology, NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service.

My dearest friend Albert Einstein said, "The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable receiving." Giving is the driver that motivated me to pursue a public service career.  My parents, who proudly retired from the Puerto Rico government, encouraged me to enter public service for our country. Being educated in the Puerto Rico public system and graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a bachelor in Secondary Math Education and a Masters in Public Health in Biostatistics, I prized the significance of professional education in the workplace. Today, as a doctoral candidate in Information Assurance, I embrace how diversity presents innovative solutions for the challenges of our competitive world market.

My career started in academia, where I worked as a clinical researcher in a School of Medicine, and mathematics, statistics and computer science professor for undergraduate and graduate programs in public and private universities. My experience in academia led me to accept a position as a survey statistician at the Census Bureau, where I revised statistical and mathematical protocols and the translation of census materials written in Spanish to assure the Agency’s mission. Through the observation of Spanish field interviews, I valued the contribution of Hispanics population into United States’ economy.  Currently, I work for the NOAA Fisheries Service, where I manage a survey that produces catch-effort estimates of recreational fishing activities and help oversee the budget allocated for recreational and commercial survey operations. As a Hispanic woman, I cherished the importance of a diverse workforce to outreach growing minority populations in accountability of fishery stock assessment and management in the United States and its territories.

10 Partnerships Selected through the Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge to Support American Manufacturing and Encourage Investment in the U.S.

Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge

The Obama administration announced that 10 public-private partnerships across America will receive $20 million in total awards to help revitalize American manufacturing and encourage companies to invest in the United States. These Investments will promote job creation and economic growth in local industry clusters in Arizona, California, Michigan, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Washington.

The 10 partnerships were selected through the Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, which is a competitive multi-agency grant process announced in May 2012 to support initiatives that strengthen advanced manufacturing at the local level. These public-private partnerships consist of small and large businesses, colleges, nonprofits and other local stakeholders that “cluster” in a particular area. The funds will help the winning clusters support local efforts to spur job creation through a variety of projects, including initiatives that connect innovative small suppliers with large companies, link research with the start-ups that can commercialize new ideas, and train workers with skills that firms need to capitalize on business opportunities.  

The Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge is a partnership between the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and the National Science Foundation.

As part of President Obama's commitment to creating an economy built to last, the administration has invested more than $200 million promoting regional innovation clusters. The administration created an interagency task force, known as the Taskforce for the Advancement of Regional Innovation Clusters, to develop and administer interagency grant competitions. This is the third round of the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge and, in addition to the six partnering agencies, this initiative also leverages technical assistance from up to eight other federal agencies.

See the full list of winners.

Spotlight on Commerce: Cristina Bartolomei, Equal Employment Opportunity Specialist and Hispanic Employment Manager

Phot of Cristina Bartolomei with Video equipment

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 by Cristina Bartolomei, Equal Employment Opportunity Specialist and Hispanic Employment Program Manager at the Office of Civil Rights, Office of the Secretary

As an Equal Employment Opportunity Specialist and Hispanic Employment Program Manager for the Office of Civil Rights at the Office of the Secretary, I work every day to serve the Hispanic community and other minorities in and outside of Commerce to identify policies, practices and procedures that may enhance or hinder their equal representation within the Department.

Growing up in San Juan, Puerto Rico as the third child of four, my father often called me the defensora de los oprimidos or “defender of the oppressed,” as I always attempted to dissect and analyze sibling disagreements until the parties involved made peace with one another. My siblings didn’t seem too fond of me doing this and, looking back, I don’t blame them. It was in those days that I found myself daydreaming about being part of something bigger than myself, about doing something truly meaningful in the lives of others. 

Many years later, I find myself working for a Cabinet department in the Nation’s Capital, proudly serving the President of the United States. Every day I work with internal and external organizations to educate about and improve Hispanic-American representation at the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Sometimes it feels as if I’m still daydreaming–but real it is, and this reality is ingrained in the choices we make.

NIST's David J. Wineland Wins 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics

Photo of Wineland

David J. Wineland, a physicist at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), has won the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics. The honor is NIST’s fourth Nobel prize in physics in the past 15 years.

Wineland shared the prize with Serge Haroche of the Collège de France and Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, France. In announcing the winners today, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences cited Wineland and Haroche "for ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems."

Wineland got the call at about 3:30 a.m. today at his home in Boulder, Colo. “I was a little sleepy. My wife got the call. I haven’t actually asked her yet what they said, but she gave the phone to me,” Wineland recalled shortly afterwards. “It’s kind of overwhelming. This could have gone to a lot of other people. It’s certainly a wonderful surprise. The fellow I shared it with–he and I have been friends for a long time, so it’s nice to share it with him.”  NIST release  |  Nobel citation

ITA Under Secretary Promotes Manufacturing During Three-State Tour

Under Secretary Francisco Sanchez (center) meets with Jet Inc.’s President Ron Swinko (far left) and other staff at their manufacturing facility in Cleveland, OH as part of the “Made in America Manufacturing Tour.” in October 2012.

Ed. note: Cross-posted from ITA's Tradeology blog. Sophia Lu is a Fellow at the International Trade Administration Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs

On October 2Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez commenced a four-city tour of American manufacturing cities to promote the benefits of strengthening America’s manufacturers and expanding U.S. exports to create jobs. This “Made in America Manufacturing Tour” supports President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI), which seeks to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014. Just last year, exports supported 9.7 million American jobs, an increase of 1.2 million American jobs from 2009.

On his first stop in Toledo, Ohio, Under Secretary Sánchez met with company officials and toured the manufacturing facility of Bionix Development Corporation. Bionix was recently honored with the President’s “E” Award, which was created by Executive Order of the President in 1961 to give recognition to person, firms, or organizations who contribute significantly in the effort to increase U.S. exports.

Sánchez then traveled to Cleveland, Ohio and held a forum at the City Club of Cleveland on the “Resurgence of American Manufacturing.” There he also met with the Northeast Ohio District Export Council and the local business community for a roundtable discussion on the role of exporting and manufacturing in the NEI. While in Cleveland, he also toured the manufacturing facilities of Jet, Inc. and Codonics, Inc., both of which are also “E” Award winners.

Commerce Announces Partnership with Cornell NYC Tech to Help American Entrepreneurs Innovate, Grow, and Create Jobs

Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank announces a first-of-its-kind campus collaboration that will provide Commerce resources directly to students, faculty and industry (photo credit: Lindsay France/University Photography, Cornell)

First-of-its-kind campus collaboration will provide USPTO and Commerce resources directly to students, faculty and industry, help accelerate commercialization of new technologies

Today Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank was joined by Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) David Kappos and Cornell University President David J. Skorton to announce a groundbreaking agreement between the Commerce Department and Cornell University that will promote growth for American businesses and entrepreneurs. U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), and New York City Deputy Mayor Robert Steel also participated in the event.

Acting Secretary Blank announced that for the first time, the resources of a U.S. government agency and a major research institution will join forces to give students and researchers at Cornell’s New York City Tech Campus (Cornell NYC Tech) direct access to resources that will help them bring their ideas to market and grow their businesses.

By installing a permanent staff member of the U.S. Commerce Department at Cornell’s NYC Tech campus, the department will be bringing its full suite of resources to the university community, helping connect students, faculty and mentors to early-stage investors, intellectual property strategies, export assistance tools, government grants, and academic partners. The partnership will help Cornell’s new academic institution break down the traditional boundaries that exist between graduate education and the research and development of technology products.  Press release

ITA and EPA Launch Environmental Export Initiative at WEFTEC

Attendees at the 2011 FCIB Annual Global Conference (Photo FCIB)

Ed. note: Cross-posted from ITA's Tradeology blog by Maureen Hinman, Environmental Technology Trade Specialist in ITA’s Office of Energy and Environmental Industries

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and Commerce Under Secretary Francisco J. Sánchez launched the Environmental Export Initiative today at the Water Environment Federation Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC), the largest environmental industry event in North America and largest annual water exhibition in the world with more than 900 exhibitors and 18,000 water professionals in attendance.

The Environmental Export Initiative is the result of a renewed partnership between the International Trade Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency that seeks to promote environmental exports by leveraging EPA’s unparalleled expertise in environmental management with ITA’s export promotion and market development skills. The Trade Policy Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC) initiative was announced on May 14, 2012 at American University by then Commerce Secretary Bryson, EPA Administrator Jackson, U.S. Trade Representative Kirk, and Secretary of Agriculture Vilsak and signifies a government-wide effort to enhance environmental technology exports. Today’s event gave the leading agencies a chance to formally launch the initiative and outline for environmental companies some of the key deliverables under the initiative that will help facilitate increased environmental technologies exports.

Department of Commerce Goes Live with FOIAonline

Image of opening page of FOIAonline website

Guest blog post by Joey Hutcherson, Deputy Director of Open Government

Today, as part of administration-wide efforts to ensure public trust through transparent, efficient, and effective government, the Department of Commerce launched a new online tool through which the public can submit Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The interface, FOIAonline, will enable the public and departmental FOIA professionals to access an automated online tracking and records management system for the first time. Additionally, the system will eliminate the need for individuals to search for contact information when submitting requests for multiple agencies, thereby speeding up the FOIA process.

FOIAonline will also automatically provide tracking numbers for requests much like consumers use to track packages online. The requester can then view the status of the request online, eliminating the wait time for manual replies from agencies. Further, FOIAOnline will enable Commerce to publish FOIA documents in electronic format with the request, which will decrease the duplicate requests workload while allowing the public access to more information. This availability of additional information will allow greater detail for researchers, journalists and the public.

Acting Secretary Blank Speaks With Council of Foreign Relations on Increasing the Level of Business Investment in the U.S.

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank Answers Questions After Her Remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations

This afternoon, Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank spoke before the Council on Foreign Relations about the Obama administration's initiatives to help businesses expand their investment in the United States and bring jobs back home. The Commerce Department works to attract investment across all sectors, but in her remarks Blank focused on manufacturing because that sector has added more than half-a-million new jobs since 2009, compared to the previous decade in which six million manufacturing jobs were lost. In addition after decades of watching American companies take jobs to other countries, more and more manufacturers are making the decision to keep factories and production facilities here in the United States and are bringing jobs back to the U.S. from overseas through insourcing.

Blank mentioned that the renewal of the manufacturing sector is driven by America’s quality infrastructure, skilled labor, and advanced research and innovation that are critical for manufacturers to thrive. Business leaders list a number of reasons why the U.S. looks so attractive to them right now, including the fact that domestic energy production is lowering the cost of oil and natural gas needed in manufacturing. A second reason for investing in the U.S. is a competitive edge in labor productivity. America’s manufacturing workers now produce about nine percent more each hour than they did in 2008.

Blank noted that the list of reasons that CEOs give for investing here is longer still. America has a strong rule of law and a good regulatory environment. Additionally, the U.S. has the strongest level of intellectual property protection–and our patent system is only getting better due to the 2011 passage and implementation of the America Invents Act. America has the best universities in the world, producing graduates that drive entrepreneurship and feed innovation into our private sector.

With EDA Assistance, Communities Have a New, Resource-Rich Tool to Help Them Recover from Disasters

RestoreYourEconomy.org

Guest blog post by Matt Erskine, Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

To coincide with National Preparedness Month, the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) has just launched the newly redesigned RestoreYourEconomy.org website.

Developed with funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), the website is a one-stop resource for economic development organizations and chambers of commerce seeking to assist businesses after a disaster, rebuild their local economy, and encourage resiliency among local businesses and government.

Since it was first established, EDA has played an important role in helping communities across the country recover from disasters by assisting them in reestablishing their local economies and implementing long-term economic recovery efforts. Earlier this year, EDA announced the availability of $200 million to help communities that received a major disaster designation in fiscal year 2011 with long-term economic recovery and infrastructure support.  Within the context of the administration’s National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF), EDA serves as the Coordinating Agency on behalf of the Department of Commerce for the Economic Recovery Support Function (RSF) to coordinate the activities of a diverse group of partner agencies supporting recovery in disaster-impacted communities. The activities consist primarily of improved information sharing and leveraging existing resources to make a positive impact for communities affected by disasters.