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Blog Entries from September 2009

Statement from Chief Economist Doms on Third Estimate of GDP

Portrait of Mark Dom.

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis today released the third estimate of real gross domestic product (GDP) for the second quarter of 2009. The drop in real GDP was revised modestly to 0.7 percent at an annual rate from the second estimate of 1.0 percent. Most analysts had expected a decrease of 1.2 percent. The modest revision primarily reflected an upward revision to non-residential fixed investment. “Today's revision of real GDP in the second quarter indicates that the economy has begun to stabilize,” Mark Doms, chief economist at the U.S. Commerce Department, said. (More) (Release)

Secretary Locke, Mayor Franklin Announce 2010 ACF to be Held in Atlanta

Americas Competitiveness Forum 2009 logo. Click to visit ACF Web site.

At the closing of the 2009 Americas Competitiveness Forum (ACF) in Chile, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin announced that the United States will host the next ACF in Atlanta in the fall of 2010. “I look forward to working with the city of Atlanta, the state of Georgia, the local business community and other stakeholders to convene the 2010 ACF in the Peach State,” Locke said. “The ACF is a unique opportunity for the Americas to work together on issues critical to the economic prosperity of the region.” (More) (ACF 2009 Web site)

States and U.S. Territories Receive $40 Million in Grants to Improve 911 Services

NTIA logo.

The Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced more than $40 million in grants to30 states and U.S. territories to help 911 call centers across the country improve the ability to locate people calling from wireless and Internet-connected telephones. “A majority of emergency 9-1-1 calls are now coming from wireless and Internet-connected telephones,” said Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. “These grants will help first responders locate where these calls are made and to ensure that help arrives quickly.” (More)

Locke Urges Western Hemisphere to 'Resist the Protectionist Temptation' at ACF in Santiago

Secretary Locke with ACF logo behind him. Click for larger image.

As economies around the world continue to deal with the effects of the global economic slowdown, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke urged countries of the Western Hemisphere to resist temptations to turn inward and erect trade barriers during a keynote address at the third Americas Competitiveness Forum (ACF) in Santiago, Chile. “The United States is committed to resisting the protectionist temptation because protectionism simply does not work,” said Locke. “I came to Chile this week to affirm that the Obama administration will be your strongest ally in your efforts to revive economic growth in the Americas.” (More) (Remarks) (Release)

Secretary Locke Conducts Swearing In Ceremony for Deputy Secretary Dennis F. Hightower

Locke shakes hands with Hightoweras Dori Bye Hightower looks on. Click for larger image that includes more family members.

Secretary Gary Locke conducted the ceremonial swearing in ceremony for U.S. Commerce Deputy Secretary Dennis F. Hightower. Hightower will lead the charge to improve the Department’s efficiency, effectiveness and performance management. As deputy secretary, he will play a key role in ensuring that the United States continues to advance its direction as a global leader in innovation, growth and job creation. Hightower is a decorated Vietnam War veteran, a graduate of Howard University and Harvard Business School, and has established an accomplished business-centric career in the private sector for more than 20 years. (Secretary’s remarks) (Deputy Secretary’s remarks)

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Launches Twitter Account

Twitter logo.

Image Credit: Twitter

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke has launched a Twitter account in an effort to connect with Americans from all walks of life, especially U.S. businesses and entrepreneurs that use the microblogging service. “Really excited to start tweeting! Innovation is the growth engine of the American economy & this is a great place to talk about that,” Locke's first tweet, from the Inc. 500/5000 conference, read. At the conference, attended yesterday by representatives of successful start-up businesses, Locke also announced the Commerce Department's new Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. To follow Locke, visit (More)

Commerce Department Invests $6 Million in Recovery Act Funding to Spur Innovation, Create Jobs in Bethlehem, Pa.

Secretary responds to questions from the media. Click for larger image.

Photo © Kenny Ek

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and White House Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra will visit Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania at Lehigh University today to discuss job creation, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and the administration’s strategy to spur American innovation. Locke and Chopra also announced a significant new Recovery Act grant for Ben Franklin Technology Partners to expand Ben Franklin TechVentures, its incubator/post-incubator facility. (More) (Remarks)

Locke to Lead U.S. Delegation to Chile for the Americas Competitiveness Forum

ACF logo. Click to visit ACF Web site)

U.S.Commerce Secretary Gary Locke will travel to Santiago, Chile, September 27-29, to participate in the third Americas Competitiveness Forum (ACF). The ACF brings together representatives from the public and private sectors to discuss ways to spark innovation, create jobs and expand trade among the countries of the Western Hemisphere. The U.S. Department of Commerce hosted the first two ACFs in Atlanta in 2007 and 2008. Secretary Locke will be joined by the Presidents of Chile and Guatemala, as well as ministers of trade and economy from throughout the region and senior representatives from business and academia. (More) (ACF Web site)

Secretary Locke Announces New Commerce Initiatives to Foster Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Department of Commerce seal.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced his plans to create a new Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship within the Department of Commerce and launch a National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Both substantial new initiatives will help leverage the entire federal government on behalf of promoting entrepreneurship in America. The new office is expected to announce additional initiatives in the coming months. (More)

Secretary Locke Stresses Importance of Comprehensive Energy Plan for American Business

Image of Locke on podium with large-screen image to the left. Click for larger image.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke spoke at the National Energy Summit & International Dialogue to address the sustainable energy industry and convey the importance of the industry to the creation of new, good-paying jobs. Locke stressed that a comprehensive energy plan is central for American innovation and manufacturing, offering an opportunity for American business. The National Energy Summit, put on by the Council on Competitiveness, is a coalition of sectors with more than 350 leaders, including CEOs, university presidents, labor leaders and other luminaries from across the U.S. and around the world.

Secretary Locke Unveils Plan for "Smart Grid" Interoperability

NASA Satellite Photo

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke unveiled an accelerated plan for developing standards to transform the U.S. power distribution system into a secure, more efficient and environmentally-friendly “Smart Grid” and create clean-energy jobs. Produced by Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the document identifies approximately 80 initial standards that will enable the vast number of interconnected devices and systems that will make up the nationwide “Smart Grid” to communicate and work with each other. The draft report, the first phase of NIST’s three-phase approach to develop Smart Grid standards, will be available for public comment and review for 30 days. (More) (Report) (Remarks)

Therapeutic Nanoparticles Offer Potential as Cancer-Killers

NIST logo. Click for image: An iron-centered nanoparticle (left) has a coating of the sugar dextran, whose tendrils prevent groups of the particles from clumping. When tumor cells ingest them (right), the particles still congregate closely enough to share heat when stimulated by a magnetic field, killing the cells. White arrow indicates a red blood cell.

A research team at Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) studying sugar-coated nanoparticles for use as a possible cancer therapy, has uncovered a delicate balancing act that makes the particles more effective than conventional thinking says they should be. In cooperation with The Johns Hopkins University, Dartmouth College, the University of Manitoba and two biopharmaceutical companies, the NIST team has demonstrated that the particles are potent cancer-killers because they interact with one another in ways that smaller nanoparticles do not. Click on NIST logo above for image and description or here. (More)

Secretary Locke Announces Nearly $60 Million in New ARRA Funding to Create Jobs, Boost Development in 18 States

EDA logo.

Since Sept. 14, Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) has invested nearly $60 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds for job creation and boosting economic development in 18 states. “The Obama administration is committed to creating jobs, encouraging innovation and improving our nation’s economic competitiveness,” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke said, in making the announcements. (Releases) (EDA Recovery Web site)

Commerce Secretary Locke Meets with Defense Secretary Gates on Export Controls and Business Visa Reform

Secretaries Locke and Gates talking while seated at desk. Click for larger image.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke met with U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates at the Pentagon. Their meeting centered on export controls and business visa reform and the importance of considering improvements to these systems that will make United States exporters more competitive, leading to more U.S. jobs and economic growth. Locke and Gates met for an hour and agreed to continue to work together with their counterparts at other cabinet agencies toward these important reforms. The secretaries plan to meet again in the next few weeks with fellow administration officials to address their progress. (More)

USPTO Annual Independent Inventors Conference Set for November 5-6

Photo of USPTO headquarters at Alexandria campus

The Commerce Department’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) headquarters will be the site of the 14th annual Independent Inventors Conference on Nov. 5-6. The two-day event will include a pre-conference for first-time attendees on the evening of Nov. 4. The USPTO’s new director, David Kappos, will deliver the keynote address on Nov. 5. The conference will provide information about patents, trademarks and intellectual property protection. Experts from the USPTO will conduct breakout sessions and be available for one-on-one meetings. (More)

Secretary Locke Joins President Obama in Announcing National Medal of Technology and Innovation Laureates

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke today joined President Barack Obama in announcing and congratulating the 2008 winners of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. The medal is the nation’s highest honor for technological and scientific achievement. The National Medal of Technology and Innovation was created by Congress in 1980 and has been presented by the President of the United States since 1985. President Obama will present the medals at a White House ceremony on October 7. (More) (White House Press Release)

Secretary Locke Joins President Obama for Health Insurance Reform Rally in Maryland

Screen capture image of White House video showing Obama with students and faculty behind him.

Image courtesy White House Web site video

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke joined President Barack Obama at the University of Maryland for a rally on health insurance reform. Locke described how health insurance reform will impact American businesses, the economy, and ultimately the job market students will enter after graduation. President Obama discussed what’s at stake for the American people in this debate, why we need health insurance reform and why we need to act now. The president’s plan has two goals: to bring stability and security to Americans who have insurance today, and affordable coverage to those who don’t. (More event coverage) (Presidential remarks)

NOAA Administrator Comments on Release of Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force Interim Report

Portrait of Lubchenco

Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA administrator, commented on the release of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force interim report to the President. “Today is a historic day. For the first time, we as a nation say loudly and clearly that healthy oceans matter. . . . The interim report of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force lays out a national ocean policy that upholds our stewardship responsibilities, ensures accountability for our actions, and serves as a balanced model of efficient and sustainable ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes management and conservation.” (More) (White House Press Release)

Statement from Secretary Locke on August 2009 New Residential Construction

Photo of Secretary Locke.

File Photo

The Commerce Department’s U.S. Bureau of the Census released data on new residential construction in August 2009. Permits rose 2.7 percent in August and have increased 16.3 percent from their low in April, after plummeting a total of 78.0 percent between September 2005 and April 2009. Starts have followed a similar pattern, increasing 1.5 percent in August. “The upturn in housing activity and the recent gains in retail sales and industrial production demonstrate considerable progress toward recovery. More stimulus spending in the coming months should help spread growth to other sectors of the economy,” Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. (More) (Release)

Secretary Locke Hosts U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, Receives Recommendations to Promote Economy

Secretary Locke seated at table with Board  participants. Click for larger image.

Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke participated in a U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board (TTAB) meeting to discuss recommendations key to growing the economy and boosting tourism. The travel and tourism industry, which accounts for 2.6 percent of U.S. GDP, has been adversely impacted by the economic downturn. Locke asked the TTAB for its views regarding issues facing the travel and tourism industry. The Board was established in 2003 and consists of up to 15 private-sector industry leaders who are appointed by the Secretary of Commerce. (TTAB Web site)

Secretary Locke meets with France's Minister of State for Foreign Trade

Ildrac and Locke seated. Click for larger image.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke hosted a meeting with France’s Minister of State for Foreign Trade, Anne-Marie Idrac, at the Commerce Department. This was their first meeting. Secretary Locke and Minister of State Idrac shared views on the importance of increasing trade and economic growth. Locke affirmed, “The U.S. government is committed to expanding trade and avoiding protectionist policies.” The Secretary suggested that the Doha Round must be balanced and ambitious. “The United States and France would benefit from increasing trade with developing nations,” he said. (More)

NOAA: Warmest Global Sea-Surface Temperatures for August and Summer

NOAA Visualization

The world’s ocean surface temperature was the warmest for any August on record, and the warmest on record averaged for any June-August (Northern Hemisphere summer/Southern Hemisphere winter) season according to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. The preliminary analysis is based on records dating back to 1880. NCDC scientists also reported that the combined average global land and ocean surface temperature for August was the second-warmest on record, behind 1998. For the June-August 2009 season, the combined global land and ocean surface temperature was the third-warmest on record. (More)

Secretary Locke Breaks Ground on Major San Diego-Area Recovery Act Project

Shown with shovels in their hands: NIST Deputy Director Patrick Gallagher, Scripps Institution of Oceanography Directo Director Tony Haymet, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, NOAA Chief of Staff Margaret Spring. Click for larger image.

Photo: Robert Monroe/Scripps

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and Mayor Jerry Sanders led a groundbreaking ceremony in La Jolla, Calif., for two new buildings dedicated to ocean science on the campus of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. The project is a major groundbreaking in California under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The buildings are supported by two federal agencies—the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)—and will feature state-of-the-art marine life tanks and cutting-edge science labs. (More) (Remarks)

Statement From Undersecretary Blank on August 2009 Retail Sales

Department of Commerce seal.

The Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau today released retail sales for August 2009.Retail sales rose 2.7 percent in August, well above the increase of 2.0 percent private analysts had expected. Motor vehicle sales jumped 10.6 percent, while sales excluding motor vehicles increased 1.1 percent, and sales excluding motor vehicles and gasoline rose 0.6 percent. These data come after four straight quarterly declines in retail sales. (Statement) (Census Release)

NIST Submits Master Plan for Gaithersburg Campus

View of Gaithersburg campus. Click for larger image.

Courtesy HDR Architecture, Inc./Steve Hall
© Hedrich Blessing

Planned and potential expansions and new facilities across campus, the addition of 400-500 kilowatts in power from solar panels, and increasing already-heavy employee use of alternative transportation to a daily rate of 40 percent are among the highlights of an updated Master Plan for the Gaithersburg, Md., campus of the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). NIST has delivered its plan to the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), the central planning agency for federal land and buildings in the National Capital Region. (More)

Secretary Locke Statement on President Obama's Intent to Nominate Hirschhorn as Under Secretary for Industry and Security

Bueau of Industry and Security logo.

President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate attorney Eric Hirschhorn to be the Under Secretary of the U.S. Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS). Hirschhorn is currently a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Winston & Strawn LLP. "Eric Hirschhorn has a wealth of experience working with export controls and I look forward to having him onboard as we implement President Obama's vision to reform the export control system and increase competitiveness of U.S. companies by facilitating the sale of our goods while protecting national security," Locke said. (More) (White House press release)

USPTO to Hold Live Online Chat for Independent Inventors

Photo of inventors with large-screen monitor.

File Photo

Senior officials of the Commerce Department’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will be available live online Wednesday, September 16, 2009 from 2 to 3 p.m. (EDT). They will be answering questions and offering tips for independent inventors. Instructions for taking part in the online chat will be posted on the home page of the USPTO Web site at 10 a.m. (EDT) Wednesday. Inventors can begin logging on for the chat at 1:30 p.m. The independent inventor on-line chat is part of the USPTO’s continuing effort to promote and protect America’s independent inventor community. (More)

Secretary Locke Statement on President Obama's Intent to Nominate Gallagher as Director of NIST

Portrait of Patrick Gallagher.

President Barack Obama today announced his intent to nominate physicist Patrick Gallagher to be the 14th director of the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Gallagher, 46, is currently the NIST deputy director. “NIST is a unique agency with a strong culture of world-class scientific achievement,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. “Pat Gallagher has come up through the ranks and his continued leadership will be critical to an agency that is central to the nation’s ability to innovate and compete in global markets.” (More) (White House Press Release) (Bio)


Secretary Locke Statement on Census Bureau Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Report

Portrait of Secretary Locke.

The U.S. Census Bureau today announced that real median household income in the United States fell 3.6 percent between 2007 and 2008, coinciding with the recession that began in December 2007. Additionally, the number of people covered by private health insurance decreased from 202 million in 2007 to 201 million in 2008. (More) (Census Bureau Release) (Full Report-PDF)

Secretary Locke Statement on July 2009 Trade Numbers

Department of Commerce seal.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke issued the following statement on the release of the July 2009 U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services report by the Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Today’s report showed that U.S. exports increased by 2.2 percent to $127.6 billion since June 2009. Imports increased 4.7 percent to $159.6 billion. (More) (Fact Sheet)

New NIST Trace Explosives Standard Slated for Homeland Security Duty

Bottle of SRM 2905 seen under blue crime scene light and spot of tagged SRM on test paper. Click for larger image.

To aid in searches for explosive materials and persons who have been in contact with them, Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), with support from the Department of Homeland Security, has developed a new certified reference material, Standard Reference Material (SRM) 2905, Trace Particulate Explosives. Compatible with field and laboratory assay methods, the SRM will be helpful in calibrating, testing and developing standard best operating procedures for trace-explosives detectors. (More)

Deputy Secretary Hightower: 'Keep Trade Flowing Freely and Fairly Across Our Borders'

Portrait of Deputy Secretary Hightower.

In his first public speech as Deputy Secretary of Commerce to the Trade North America Conference in Detroit, Dennis F. Hightower identified four key trade priorities of the Commerce Department: visa reform, export controls review, intellectual property protection, and intergovernmental cooperation and trade promotion. Hightower also emphasized the need for enforcement of existing trade agreements among the three countries to ensure free and fair trade across the Canadian and Mexican borders, and to resist any impulses toward protectionism. (Remarks)

Climate Effects of Atmospheric Haze Better Understood, NOAA Researchers Report

Image of hazy sky at sunset. Click for larger image.

Scientists have used a new approach to sharpen the understanding of one of the most uncertain of mankind’s influences on climate—the effects of atmospheric “haze,” the tiny airborne particles from pollution, biomass burning, and other sources. The new observations-based study led by Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) confirms that the particles (“aerosols”) have the net effect of cooling the planet—in agreement with previous understanding—but arrives at the answer in a completely new way that is more straightforward, and has narrowed the uncertainties of the estimate. (More)

Secretary Locke Joins Virginia First Lady Holton and Richmond Mayor Jones to Promote Department of Education Initiative

Students and officials watch President's broadcast speech. Click for larger image.

As children across America went back to school today, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, joined by First Lady of Virginia, Anne Holton and Mayor Dwight C. Jones, visited the Linwood Holton Elementary School in Richmond, Va., to participate in “We Are What We Learn,” a U.S. Department of Education initiative launched to challenge students to work hard, set educational goals and take responsibility for their learning. Locke, Holton and Jones joined students to watch a live broadcast of President Obama’s national education address. (Video of President’s Address) (Remarks)

NOAA Administrator Lubchenco, Head of U.S. Delegation, Concludes World Climate Conference-3 in Geneva, Delivers Closing Statement

Lubchenco on podium. Click for larger image.

Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) administrator, led a U.S. delegation to Geneva, Switzerland, Aug. 31-Sept. 4 for the World Climate Conference-3 in efforts to establish a Global Framework for Climate Services. This framework is intended to help meet accelerating demands for useful information on the impacts of climate change (Closing Delegation Statement) (Sept. 3 Lubchenco Statement)

Labor Day 2009 Stats from the Census Bureau

U.S. Census Bureau seal.

The first observance of Labor Day is believed to have been a parade of 10,000 workers on Sept. 5, 1882, in New York City, organized by Peter J. McGuire, a Carpenters and Joiners Union secretary. By 1893, more than half the states were observing a “Labor Day” on one day or another, and Congress passed a bill to establish a federal holiday in 1894. President Grover Cleveland signed the bill soon afterward, designating the first Monday in September as Labor Day. This edition of Facts for Features highlights the many statistics associated with the annual observance of Labor Day. (More)

NIST Deploys Experts to Assist In California Fires

Image of tree and house afire. Click for larger image.

File photo

The Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has sent two experts to California to assist in collecting data on structural fire damage in the ongoing Los Angeles Basin fires, also known as the “Station” fire. This fire is a Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) fire, a type that is growing more prevalent as housing developments push into former wilderness areas. Fire researchers are working to understand WUI fire behavior and the effectiveness of current strategies for best reducing risks from such fires. (More)

Secretary Locke Discusses Goals for a Clean Energy Economy with Governors Granholm and Doyle

Locke and participants at clean energy forum. Click for larger image.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Executive Director of the White House Council on Auto Communities and Workers Ed Montgomery, and Assistant Secretary of Energy for Policy and International Affairs David Sandalow joined Governors Jennifer Granholm (D-Mich.) and Jim Doyle (D-Wisc.) in hosting a Clean Energy Economy Forum with local and regional stakeholders in Saginaw, Mich. The group discussed the administration’s vision for a comprehensive energy plan to jump-start the American clean energy sector and create millions of new jobs developing technologies that will cut pollution while producing alternative sources of energy. (More)