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Blog Entries from August 2010

Secretary Locke Discusses Export Control Reform at 23rd Annual Bureau of Industry and Security Update Conference

Locke on podiumSecretary Gary Locke addressed the annual conference to discuss reforms to the U.S. export control system that will strengthen national security and improve the competitiveness of key U.S. manufacturing and technology sectors. In addition, President Barack Obama delivered a recorded statement about the administration’s efforts to reform the export control system.  Remarks  |  BIS 2010 Update website

Secretary Locke Meets with Music Industry Representatives in Nashville to Discuss Piracy and Global Intellectual Property Protection

Secretary Locke Meets with Music Industry

Locke emphasizes protection of creativity and innovation as vital to jobs and the economy

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke met with artists and representatives from the music industry today to discuss the administration’s commitment to global enforcement of laws against intellectual property piracy. Locke was joined by Congressman Jim Cooper and Nashville Mayor Karl Dean for a tour of “Music Row.” After the tour, Governor Phil Bredesen joined the group for a discussion with musicians, including Big Kenny from Big & Rich, songwriters, students and other industry representatives at Belmont University.

“This administration is committed to tackling the challenges facing the music industry, because it is a fundamental issue of economic security and jobs,” Locke said. “We are continually looking for new ways to protect the creativity that is the lifeblood of Nashville and America’s economy.”

As “America’s Music City,” Nashville is an important hub in the U.S. music industry and has been impacted by the recent rise in online intellectual property piracy. With the advent of the Internet and file-sharing technologies, consumers are spending less on recorded music in all formats, and total revenues for recorded music in the U.S. have dropped from a high of $14.6 billion in 1999 to $7.7 billion in 2008. This has affected the local economy, which supports thousands of jobs and a $4 billion industry annually.  |  More  |  Remarks  |  More photos 

Secretary Locke Addresses Exports, Economic Growth and Job Creation with Minority Businesses

Secretary Locke talks at MED Week

On the final day of the National Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week Conference hosted by the Commerce Department’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke addressed minority business owners, government officials and corporate representatives and officially opened a Business-to-Business Expo Hall.

Locke discussed President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI) and how minority businesses can become more competitive and increase job creation and economic growth by participating in the global marketplace. Minority businesses already export twice as much as the average business, as they often have existing cultural, family or business ties to foreign countries. The NEI seeks to build on that, with a goal of increasing the number of small-, medium- and minority-owned businesses exporting to more than one market by 50 percent over the next five years.

Following his remarks, Locke officially opened and toured the Business-to-Business Expo Hall, which includes exhibit booths and one-on-one matching services with more than $20 billion in opportunities for minority businesses. The expo also offers 20-minute power-learning sessions conducted by public- and private-sector partners.

The MED Week Conference wraps up Friday night with the Awards Gala. U.S. Commerce Deputy Secretary Dennis Hightower will highlight the impact of minority-owned firms on the global economy and thank the MED Week award winners for their hard work.   Remarks

Minority Business Development Agency Kicks Off National Minority Enterprise Development Week Conference

Conference to help expand global reach for minority-owned firms

Alternate TextToday Commerce's Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) kicked off the 28th annual National Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week Conference in Washington, D.C.  The week-long conference focuses on “Strategies for Growth and Competitiveness in the Global Economy.”

The MED Week conference helps minority-owned firms grow domestically and globally through a series of educational, training and business-to-business networking events. Throughout MED Week, nearly 1,500 minority business owners, government officials and corporate representatives will hear about President Obama’s National Export Initiative and develop the skills to become export-ready. They will also have the chance to participate in sessions on opportunities for minority-owned firms in federal contracting and Haiti reconstruction, among others. The week will wrap up with an awards gala to honor excellence in minority-owned firms.

MBDA and National Director David Hinson will welcome several speakers to this week’s conference, including: U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Administrator of the Small Business Administration Karen G. Mills, U.S. Deputy Commerce Secretary Dennis Hightower, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office David Kappos, and Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez.

MBDA is focused on helping minority-owned firms grow their businesses domestically and globally to foster job creation and economic growth. For more information about the conference and a video of National Director Hinson at MED Week, visit  |  Conference details and more  | USPTO Kappos's remarks

Scientists Release the First Rescued, Rehabilitated Sea Turtles Back into the Gulf

Photo of Kemp’s ridley sea turtleCommerce's NOAA administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco and Adm. Thad Allen joined state, federal, and partner biologists today as they released 23 Kemp’s ridley sea turtles back into the Gulf of Mexico near Cedar Key, Fla., after the turtles were successfully rescued and rehabilitated from the effects of the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill.

“I'm pleased that Admiral Allen and I were able to assist with the release of these turtles. And we thank all of our partners in this rescue and rehabilitation effort,” said Dr. Lubchenco. “This is a wonderful day for all involved--but especially for the turtles.”

“This area near Cedar Key provides excellent habitat for Kemp’s ridley sea turtles and has long been known as an important habitat area for this species,” said Barbara Schroeder, NOAA’s national sea turtle coordinator. “Thanks to the efforts of our rescue teams and rehabilitation facility partners all of the turtles we released today have an excellent chance of surviving in the wild and contributing to the recovery of this species.”  Read full NOAA release

Vice President Biden, Secretary Locke and Senior Administration Officials Announce $1.8 Billion in Recovery Act Broadband Projects

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today joined Reps. Jay Inslee and Brian Baird at the Seattle Central Library in announcing a $54.5 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) investment to help bridge the technological divide, boost economic growth, create jobs, and improve education and healthcare in difficult terrain both east and west of the Cascade mountain range in Washington state.

“This critical investment will lay the groundwork for sustainable economic growth by connecting difficult terrain both east and west of the Cascades that have been without the full economic, educational and social benefits of high-speed Internet,” Locke said.

Following the announcement in Seattle, Secretary Locke joined Reps. Dennis Cardoza and Jim Costa in a news conference call to announce six grants totalling more $200 million to expand high-speed Internet access and adoption in California. In addition, U.S. Department of Commerce Senior Adviser and Deputy Chief of Staff Rick Wade joined U.S. Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor, and U.S. Reps. Mike Ross and Vic Snyder in Little Rock in announcing a $102 million Recovery Act investment that will help improve economic opportunity and support job creation in Arkansas.

Earlier today, Vice President Joe Biden announced approximately $1.8 billion in new projects that will create jobs and expand economic opportunities within 37 states across America.  Remarks  |  Read more  |  White House release

NIST to Frame 1297 Magna Carta

Image of historic Magna Carta, courtesy David M. Rubenstein and NARAFabrication specialists at Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are joining forces with conservators at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to protect and display a document that influenced our nation’s foundation, the 1297 Magna Carta. Only four originals of the 1297 Magna Carta survive, and the one at the Archives is the only original on display in the United States.

The famous charter is on exhibit in the West Rotunda Gallery in the National Archives Building on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.

The Magna Carta harkens back to 1215 when King John of England was forced by an assembly of barons to write down the traditional rights of the country’s free persons. By so doing, he bound himself and his heirs to grant “to all freemen of our kingdom” the rights and liberties described in the great charter, or Magna Carta. Each subsequent ruler did the same. The 1297 Magna Carta represents the transition from a brokered agreement to the foundation of English law, upon which U.S. law is based.  Read more  |  NARA release

Space Coast Task Force Delivers Economic Strategies Report to President Barack Obama

Secretary Locke and NASA Administrator Bolden provide blueprint for job creation and innovation to propel regional economy

Obama at NASA giving remarks; NASA photoThe President's Task Force on Space Industry Workforce and Economic Development, co-chaired by U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr., today released its report to the president with recommendations to enhance economic development strategies along Florida’s Space Coast. The Task Force was charged with developing a plan for how best to invest $40 million in transition assistance from the federal government in the Space Coast region as the Space Shuttle program winds down.

Locke, Bolden, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, and several other senior administration officials have visited the region multiple times since the creation of the Task Force to meet with area workers and experts.

“Over the past few months, we have worked diligently with local government officials, economic development agencies, and affected corporations and employees to develop a comprehensive plan that will create high-skill, high-wage jobs and a strong economic base in the Space Coast,” Locke said. “Space is a key driver of the 21st century American economy and that’s why the president believes so strongly in empowering NASA to pursue new avenues of discovery.”  Release  |  Report  |  NASA Space Coast Task Force

Secretary Locke Announces $31.3 Million in Restoration and Recovery Grants for Louisiana, Gulf

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke visited Louisiana today to hear from local business owners and community members who have been directly affected by the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill. At an economic roundtable in Metairie, La., Locke announced $31.3 million in coastal restoration and economic development grants for Louisiana and the Gulf Coast.

“These grants are another sign of this administration’s commitment to help the Gulf Coast’s economy and environment recover in the wake of the BP oil spill,” Locke said.

A $30.7 million restoration grant, awarded to the Louisiana Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration by Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will fund the restoration of a critical barrier headland near Port Fourchon, La. The headland, which experiences some of the highest shoreline retreat rates in the nation, protects vital bay and wetland habitat and property from storm surge and erosion. Louisiana’s coastal habitat is the state’s first line of defense during storms, reducing the devastating effects of wind, waves, and flooding.

In addition, Locke announced a $600,000 effort by Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to fund the deployment of 21 Assessment and Evaluation teams to communities affected by the BP oil spill in the Gulf.  Read more

Back to School 2010-2011 Stats from Census

Image of front of yellow school busBy August, summertime is winding down and vacations will be coming to an end, signaling that back-to-school time is near. It's a time that many children eagerly anticipate—catching up with old friends, making new ones and settling into a new daily routine. Parents and children alike scan the newspapers and websites looking for sales to shop for a multitude of school supplies and the latest clothing fads and essentials. This edition of the Census Bureau's Facts for Features highlights the many statistics associated with the return to classrooms by our nation's students and teachers. Facts for Features.

NOAA: Second-Warmest July and Warmest Year-to-Date Global Temperature on Record

Map of U.S. temperaturesThe combined global land and ocean surface temperature made this July the second-warmest on record, behind 1998, and the warmest averaged January–July on record. The global average land surface temperature for July and January–July was warmest on record. The global ocean surface temperature for July was the fifth-warmest, and for January–July 2010 was the second-warmest on record, behind 1998.

The monthly analysis from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, which is based on records going back to 1880, is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides government, business and community leaders so they can make informed decisions.  Read more here

NOAA Reopens More Than 5,000 Square Miles of Closed Gulf Fishing Area

Map of Gulf WatersToday NOAA reopened 5,144 square miles of Gulf waters to commercial and recreational finfish fishing. The reopening was announced after consultation with FDA and under a reopening protocol agreed to by NOAA, the FDA, and the Gulf states.

Since July 3, NOAA data have shown no oil in the area, and United States Coast Guard observers flying over the area in the last 30 days have also not observed any oil. Trajectory models show the area is at a low risk for future exposure to oil and, most importantly, fish caught in the area and tested by NOAA experts have shown no signs of contamination.

“Consumer safety is NOAA’s primary concern, which is why we developed rigorous safety standards in conjunction with the FDA and the Gulf states to ensure that seafood is safe in the reopened area,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “We are confident that Gulf fish from this area is safe to eat and pleased that recreational and commercial fisherman can fish these waters again.”  Read more

Secretary Locke Announces $1.6 Billion in 2010 Census Savings

Secretary Locke gestures with his hands on podium

Effective public outreach campaign and careful management save taxpayer dollars

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced today that the Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau is returning $1.6 billion in 2010 Census operational savings.

In the first full year of Census management by Obama administration officials and in a time of tightened federal resources, the Census came in 22 percent under budget. The savings occurred primarily because contingency funding set aside for disasters or major operational failures was not tapped and because the Census questionnaire mail-back response rate and workforce productivity across field operations both beat expectations.

In the years leading up to the 2010 Census, operations had been beset by a costly IT systems development. Upon taking office in 2009, Locke and Census Bureau Director Robert Groves heard warnings from Congress and Census watchdogs about the many high-risk operational challenges ahead and about the numerous systems failures in the years preceding the 2010 count. Importantly, response rates to surveys had been declining for years, and if that trend had held true for this decade’s census, it would have added hundreds of millions to the cost of the door-to-door follow-up effort.

“In early 2009, the 2010 Census was in need of top-notch operational and fiscal management,” Locke said. “The Census is a massive undertaking with great risk for operational problems and cost overruns. We appointed Dr. Groves to execute the 2010 Census with a directive to run a successful, non-partisan Census that counted everyone. Just as importantly, the President and I directed Dr. Groves to run a comprehensive review of the Census plan and find ways to cut costs and enumerate the population more efficiently. Over the last 17 months, we have worked tirelessly to ensure American tax dollars were being spent wisely.”  Read more   |  en español  |  RemarksWhite House blog  |  Census Director's blog

MBDA Unveils First U.S. Global Construction Program for Minority-Owned Firms

Secretary Locke with participants at National Press ClubProgram to provide minority-owned firms with education, mentoring and ability to compete for $1 billion in global construction procurement opportunities

U.S. Commerce Deputy Secretary Dennis Hightower, Commerce's Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), the International Trade Administration (ITA), the Tutor Perini Corporation, and the University of Southern California’s School of Policy, Planning and Development today announced the nation’s first program created to globalize the U.S. minority-owned construction industry by providing education, mentoring and procurement opportunities to minority-owned firms. Firms that complete the program will have the opportunity to compete for a minimum of $1 billion in Tutor Perini contracts, primarily international contracts, over a four-year period.

“This program could not be more relevant in today’s economy, where global competition is tougher than ever before,” said Hightower. “President Obama has set a goal of doubling exports over the next five years though his National Export Initiative and we need every stakeholder in America actively engaged in re-building our economy to create new jobs.”

An unprecedented public-private program spearheaded by MBDA, the Global Construction Program will prepare 150 high capacity, minority-owned and operated general contractors, subcontractors and suppliers to compete for construction opportunities worldwide. Participating firms will receive training, education and mentoring, as well as a new, broader source of contracting opportunities. Tutor Perini Corporation is one of the nation’s largest global construction conglomerates and a leader in supplier diversity within the construction industry. 

Pictured are Ralph Moore, President and CEO, Ralph G. Moore & Associates, Jennifer Grodsky, Executive Director, Federal Relations, University of Southern California,  Richard Rizzo, Executive Vice President, Tutor Perini Corporation, Deputy Secretary Dennis Hightower, and MBDA National Director David Hinson.  Read more

Secretary Locke Announces $10 Million Investment in Louisa County, Iowa

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today announced a $10 million U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant to Louisa County, Iowa, to help rebuild the Oakville Bridge and assure businesses that vital transportation routes will remain open in the event of future severe weather events.

“The 2008 floods severely impacted infrastructure in Iowa,” Locke said. “This EDA grant will ensure that an important link for regional commerce remains open during future floods, letting businesses continue to operate and workers continue to work.”

“These funds will not only create good paying jobs immediately, but also will spur economic development in the region for years to come,” said U.S. Representative Dave Loebsack. “Oakville has shown a steadfast commitment to flood recovery and response and these funds will help the community recover stronger and better than before.”  Read More

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Names New Members of Manufacturing Council

Image of members of 2010 Manufacturing CouncilToday on Capitol Hill, Secretary Locke announced his appointment of 24 members to the 2010 Manufacturing Council. The Council is directed by the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration and was established in 2004 and recently re-chartered. Locke was joined by members of the Senate Manufacturing Caucus, including Senators Debbie Stabenow (MI), Sherrod Brown (OH), Jeff Merkley (OR) and Tom Udall (NM). The Council advises the Secretary of Commerce on matters in the competitiveness of the manufacturing sector, and government policies and programs that affect U.S. manufacturers. The Commerce Department will schedule the Council’s first meeting in the coming weeks.

“A vibrant manufacturing sector isn't just critical for the millions of Americans whose jobs depend on it,” Locke said. “Manufacturing is absolutely central to driving the innovation that fuels the American economy.”

Manufacturing is a key industry in the revitalization of the U.S. economy and the growth of U.S. jobs. The United States is the world’s largest manufacturing economy, employing nearly 12 million Americans in the production of $1.6 trillion in manufactured products, representing 18 percent of the world’s manufactured goods.

President Obama’s Recovery Act included more than $100 billion dollars worth of grants, tax cuts and incentives devoted to manufacturing investments.  |  Remarks | Read more

NOAA Still Expects Active Atlantic Hurricane Season; La Niña Develops

Image of Hurricane Alex, the first named storm of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season, hits northeast Mexico on June 30. From Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): The Atlantic Basin remains on track for an active hurricane season, according to the scheduled seasonal outlook update issued today by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service. With the season’s peak just around the corner – late August through October – the need for preparedness plans is essential.

NOAA also announced today that, as predicted last spring, La Niña has formed in the tropical Pacific Ocean. This favors lower wind shear over the Atlantic Basin, allowing storm clouds to grow and organize. Other climate factors pointing to an active hurricane season are warmer-than-average water in the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean, and the tropical multi-decadal signal, which since 1995 has brought favorable ocean and atmospheric conditions in unison, leading to more active seasons.  Read more here

Secretary Locke Visits Kennedy Space Center Lab, Meets with Displaced Workers on Florida's Space Coast

Phot of Locke in labSecretary Locke visited Florida’s Space Coast today to tour a world-class laboratory at Kennedy Space Center and meet with displaced workers to discuss what the Obama administration, the Commerce Department and NASA are doing to improve the local economy as the Space Shuttle program winds down, and to hear from them about the challenges they’re facing during the transition. Locke stressed the administration’s continued commitment to getting people back to work and preserving the region as a hub for innovation.

During his third visit to the region, Locke toured the Space Life Sciences Laboratory at Exploration Park, a research and technology facility at Kennedy Space Center, and met with recently laid off NASA contractors. He was joined by Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas, Commerce’s Assistant Secretary for Economic Development John Fernandez, NASA Associate Deputy Administrator Charles Scales, and Kennedy Space Center Director Robert Cabana.

Locke and NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr., are co-chairing the President’s Task Force on Space Industry Work Force and Economic Development, a $40 million, multi-agency initiative that is building on and complementing ongoing local and federal economic and workforce development efforts. The Task Force is leading the effort to grow the Space Coast economy and prepare its workers for the opportunities of tomorrow. Its report to the president is due in mid-August. 


Federal Science Report Details Fate of Oil from BP Spill

Alternate TextThe vast majority of the oil from the BP oil spill has either evaporated or been burned, skimmed, recovered from the wellhead or dispersed  much of which is in the process of being degraded. A significant amount of this is the direct result of the robust federal response efforts.

A third (33 percent) of the total amount of oil released in the Deepwater Horizon/BP spill was captured or mitigated by the Unified Command recovery operations, including burning, skimming, chemical dispersion and direct recovery from the wellhead, according to a federal science report released today.  See NOAA release

NIST Researchers Measure High Infrared Power Levels from Some Green Lasers

Photo from an ordinary camera shows light from a green laser diffracted into several spots. The green laser pointer is visible in the foreground. (Bottom) The same vignette photographed by a webcam with no infrared-blocking filter reveals intense diffraction spots from 808nm infrared light, invisible to the eye. Green laser pointers have become a popular consumer item, delivering light that’s brighter to the eye than red lasers, but stories have circulated on the Web about the potential hazards of inexpensive models. Now, a team led by physicist Charles Clark at Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) puts some numbers to the problem. In one case, the group found that a green laser pointer emitted almost twice its rated power level of light—but at invisible and potentially dangerous infrared wavelengths rather than green. A new NIST technical note* describes the nature of the problem as well as a home test using an inexpensive webcam that can detect excess infrared light from green lasers.  Read more