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Blog Entries from October 2010

Secretary Locke Speaks with Silicon Valley Leadership Group on Obama Administration's Efforts to Foster Innovation

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke delivered remarks at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG)’s annual luncheon today, emphasizing the steps the Obama administration has taken to turn around the U.S. economy and create jobs. Locke stressed the administration’s efforts to build a stronger foundation for long-term growth and prosperity by investing in research and development, a 21st century infrastructure and manufacturing, and underlined Silicon Valley’s role as the epicenter of technological innovation.

Sec. Locke wanted it to be known that “when it comes to new ideas, our only criterion is efficacy. It doesn’t matter if they come from the left or the right, the boardroom or academia. We simply will not rest until every American who wants a job can find one.”

Locke emphasized that President Obama’s proposed 2011 budget, while freezing domestic discretionary spending overall, actually increases funding for civilian R&D by nearly 6 percent. Also, he noted President Obama’s support a new business tax cut that will allow small businesses to deduct the full amount of new capital investments immediately.

Locke also highlighted President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI), which aims to double U.S. exports over the next five years in support of several million American jobs. The NEI will provide more funding, more focus and more Cabinet-level coordination to increase U.S. exports, and represents the first time the United States will have a government-wide export-promotion strategy with focused attention from the president and his Cabinet.


NOAA and FDA Announce Chemical Test for Dispersant in Gulf Seafood

Building upon the extensive testing and protocols already in use by federal, state and local officials for the fishing waters of the Gulf, NOAA and FDA have developed and are using a chemical test to detect dispersants used in the Deepwater Horizon-BP oil spill in fish, oysters, crab and shrimp. Trace amounts of the chemicals used in dispersants are common, and levels for safety have been previously set.

Experts trained in a rigorous sensory analysis process have been testing Gulf seafood for the presence of contaminants, and every seafood sample from reopened waters has passed sensory testing for contamination with oil and dispersant. Nonetheless, to ensure consumers have total confidence in the safety of seafood being harvested from the Gulf, NOAA and FDA have added this second test for dispersant when considering reopening Gulf waters to fishing.

Using this new, second test, in the Gulf scientists have tested 1,735 tissue samples including more than half of those collected to reopen Gulf of Mexico federal waters. Only a few showed trace amounts of dispersants residue (13 of the 1,735) and they were well below the safety threshold of 100 parts per million for finfish and 500 parts per million for shrimp, crabs and oysters. As such, they do not pose a threat to human health.  NOAA release

NIST Study on Charleston Furniture Store Fire Calls for National Safety Improvements

NIST Official at Podium Discussing ReportA report released today by the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) on the June 18, 2007 fire at the Sofa Super Store in Charleston, S.C., calls for national safety improvements and provides 11 recommendations for enhancing building, occupant and firefighter safety. The Sofa Super Store fire trapped and killed nine firefighters, the highest number of firefighter fatalities in a single event since 9/11.

NIST experts traveled to Charleston to gather data within 36 hours of the Sofa Super Store fire. Along with building design documents, video and photographic images, and other records, the study team developed a computer model to simulate and analyze the characteristics of the fire. Based on their study, they were able to outline the major factors that contributed to the rapid spread of fire, which included large, open spaces with furniture providing high-fuel loads; the inward rush of air following the breaking of windows; and a lack of sprinklers.

Specific recommendations in the report call for national model building and fire codes to require sprinklers for all new commercial retail furniture stores regardless of size and for existing retail furniture stores with a display area larger than 2,000 square feet. Other recommendations include ensuring proper fire inspections and building plan examinations, and encouraging research for a better understanding of specific fire situations. Release

Commerce Officials Address Privacy and Innovation at International Conferences

Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information Lawrence E. Strickling today addressed privacy and innovation at the 32nd International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners. In his keynote address, Strickling stressed that preserving trust in the Internet is imperative for its sustainability and continued growth. He noted, for example, that “if users do not trust that their personal information is safe on the Internet, they will worry about using new services. If content providers do not trust that their content will be protected, they will threaten to stop putting it online.”

Strickling called for technologists and entrepreneurs, privacy and consumer advocates, business interests, and the government to work together to develop a privacy policy. He envisions “a strong role for voluntary but enforceable codes of conduct, which must be developed through open, multi-stakeholder processes."

Stressing the importance of engaging the international community on privacy, Strickling added, “The time for greater international cooperation is here. All nations, including the United States, must be ready to work together and begin a proactive and productive dialogue on privacy reform efforts.” (Full Remarks)

Earlier this week, Department of Commerce General Counsel Cam Kerry participated in the keynote panel of the 30th Annual OECD Privacy Guidelines Conference and expressed a desire to create a global environment that protects privacy. (Full Remarks)

Locke Honors Pennsylvania Company for Life-Saving Efforts in Chilean Mine Rescue

Secretary Locke presented a Certificate of Appreciation today to Vice President of Schramm, Inc. Fred Slack, whose Philadelphia company’s products were instrumental in rescuing the 33 miners who were trapped 2,300 feet underground after the collapse of the San Jose Mine in Copiapo, Chile.

“The entire world watched on Oct. 13 as the 33 trapped miners were rescued in less than 22 hours,” Locke said. “Thanks in large part to Schramm’s T-130 rig – now dubbed ‘the rig heard ‘round the world’ – the miners were rescued two months earlier than originally planned.”

Locke was in Detroit speaking at the International District Export Council Conference about the administration’s efforts to grow jobs, the economy and U.S. exports through the National Export Initiative.

He also participated in a roundtable discussion with U.S. Rep. Gary Peters and local business owners, where he heard how the recently passed Small Business Jobs Act is improving the outlook for small businesses throughout Michigan. The passage of the bill – long-encouraged by President Obama – was the most significant step on behalf of U.S. small businesses in more than a decade and accelerates more than $55 billion in tax relief to businesses over the next year.  Press release  | Remarks

Commerce's EDA Announces Winners of the Innovation in Economic Development Awards

U.S. EDA Innovation Awards 2010 logoU.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez today announced the winners of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) 2010 Innovation in Economic Development Awards during the Southeast Workforce and Economic Development Conference co-hosted by EDA and the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration. The recognition contest is in its 10th year.

"The 2010 Innovation Award winners showcase some of the nation’s best practices for promoting economic development through collaborative initiatives and highlight outstanding examples of regional success in the global marketplace," said Fernandez.  "I congratulate all the winners for their tremendous contributions to strengthen our nation's economy."

Formerly known as the Excellence Awards, this year's awards encompass four categories: Innovation in Regional Innovation Clusters (RICs); Innovation in Commercialization; Innovation in Global Export Promotion; Innovation in Green Technology. Winners included CONNECT, La Jolla, Calif.; Bluegrass Business Development Partnership (BBDP), Lexington, Ky.; Pennsylvania Center for Trade Development "Envoy Program," Harrisburg, Pa.; University of Arizona Tech Park's "Solar Zone"; Tucson, Ariz.  Release

Secretary Locke and U.S. Rep. Scott Murphy Highlight New York Project Bringing Jobs and Economic Development to the Region

Secretary Locke listens to Rep. Scott Murphy speak about the importance of the GlobalFoundries new facilityCommerce Secretary Gary Locke joined U.S. Rep. Scott Murphy today in Malta, New York to hear from executives at GlobalFoundries, one of the world's largest independent semiconductor foundries. Locke and Murphy highlighted the impact GlobalFoundries has had on economic development in New York’s Tech Valley and heard firsthand about the company’s progress on the development of its new factory – the largest project of its kind in the United States.

The Fab 8 project is the result of a public-private partnership and will create thousands of jobs in the local community and throughout New York state. The factory will be the most advanced semiconductor fabrication plant in the world, helping to position the United States as a leader in the technology-based economy.

Founded in 2009, GlobalFoundries is creating good-paying jobs in New York through the construction and development of its new facility. The company is also committed to growing U.S. exports, a key component of President Obama’s National Export Initiative, which aims to double U.S. exports over the next five years in support of several million American jobs.

White House Council Launches Interagency Subcommittee on Privacy & Internet Policy

As part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to promoting the vast economic opportunity of the Internet and protecting individual privacy, the National Science and Technology Council has launched a new Subcommittee on Privacy and Internet Policy. Populated by representatives from more than a dozen Departments, agencies and Federal offices, and co-chaired by the two of us, the subcommittee will develop principles and strategic directions with the goal of fostering consensus in legislative, regulatory, and international Internet policy realms.

In this digital age, a thriving and dynamic economy requires Internet policies that promote innovation domestically and globally while ensuring strong and sensible protections of individuals’ private information and the ability of governments to meet their obligations to protect public safety.   

Recognizing the global nature of the digital economy and society, the Subcommittee will monitor and address global privacy policy challenges and develop approaches to meeting those challenges through coordinated U.S. government action.  The Subcommittee is committed to fostering dialogue and cooperation between our Nation and its key trading partners in support of flexible and robust privacy and innovation policies. Such policies are essential to the health of competitive marketplaces for online goods and services.

Senior Commerce Department Official Visits Haiti for Opening of First School Built Since January Earthquake


Commerce Department Senior Adviser and Deputy Chief of Staff Rick Wade traveled to Haiti this week for the opening of the L’Ecole Nouvelle Royal Caribbean School in Labadee, the first school to be built in Haiti after the devastating January earthquake. American businesses, with the help of the Commerce Department, spearheaded the effort to build the school, which is a project between Royal Caribbean International and InnoVida, a Miami-based producer of residential and commercial buildings. 

“The Commerce Department has been actively involved in encouraging U.S. businesses and the Haitian Diaspora to help in Haiti’s recovery, which will create jobs in Haiti and support jobs in America,” Wade said. 

Over the past few months, Wade has been traveling across the United States to help promote opportunities for U.S. businesses to get involved in Haiti’s reconstruction. The U.S. private sector has an indispensable role to play in spurring investment in Haiti and providing innovative solutions to help Haiti grow and rebuild its communities.

Read more about Rick Wade’s involvement in Haiti’s recovery in his recently-authored opinion editorial. | Release

Efforts to Support American Women Highlighted in Commerce and White House Reports

Sec. Locke Meets with Economic Team This week the National Economic Council released a report on the impact of the recession on women and how the Obama administration’s economic policies benefit American women. Some of these policies include a tax credit for college for working families, expanded and increased student aid, and more manageable loan repayment so women can get the education they need to succeed. The report lays out the economic landscape facing women today and details some of the many ways the administration is committed to making sure the government is working for all Americans, especially American women.

The Commerce Department’s Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) further explored the state of American women and Women-Owned Businesses in the 21st Century in a report issued earlier this month for the White House Council on Women and Girls.  According to the report, women-owned businesses are steadily expanding and account for $1.2 trillion in economic output. Yet they continue to lag behind other companies in several key indicators.

To help reverse this trend, the Obama administration has invested in women’s education and expanded the capital available for women to start a business. The White House has already given out more than 12,000 Small Business Administration Recovery Act loans totaling more than $3 billion to women-owned small businesses.

Learn more about what the administration is doing on behalf of women and the economy and women-owned businesses, or read the reports.

Secretary Locke Commends the Nation’s Strong Participation in the 2010 Census as Final Numbers Come In

Census 2010 logoSecretary Locke congratulated the nation today on its strong participation in the 2010 Census after the U.S. Census Bureau released the final mail participation rate of 74 percent, matching the final mail participation rate achieved in the 2000 Census. More than 22 states, 1,553 counties, and 278 cities and other geographies met or exceeded their 2000 Census participation rates. 

“I’d like to thank the American people for their cooperation and participation in the 2010 Census,” Locke said. “With their help, we were able to match the participation rates of 2000 in a time of declining survey participation and save taxpayer money by reducing the need for costly door-to-door follow up.”  

America’s strong mail participation is part of the reason the U.S. Census Bureau was able to announce $1.6 billion in 2010 Census operational savings in August.  More than 250,000 partner organizations and a far-reaching communications campaign helped alert people across the country about the importance of mailing back their 2010 Census form.

Find your area’s final mail participation rate on the 2010 Census’s interactive “Take 10” Map at   Release  |  Census release

Secretary Locke Keynotes AdvaMed 2010 Conference

Locke on podium during remarksSecretary Gary Locke addressed national and international medical device and technology leaders today at the AdvaMed 2010 Medical Technology Conference at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. In his keynote remarks, he discussed the Commerce Department's efforts to expand exports of medical devices and technologies and grow U.S. jobs.

“Each new medical discovery creates and sustains demand for further innovations, which fuel our national health, prosperity and productivity, and contribute to global well-being,” Locke said.

He also acknowledged the important work being done to cultivate industries and lines of scientific discovery that provide long-term benefits to society, spur sustainable innovation and create jobs and new businesses.

AdvaMed is the world’s largest medical technology association, with diverse member companies that produce medical devices, diagnostic products and health information systems.  Other conference keynote speakers included U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen of Minnesota, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Dr. Donald Berwick, and U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg. Remarks

Celebrating World Statistics Day, Oct. 20, 2010

The United Nations General Assembly designated Oct. 20, 2010, as the first-ever World Statistics Day to highlight the importance of official statistics and the many achievements of national statistical systems.  Statistical organizations throughout the world will celebrate World Statistics Day today at the national and regional level. The Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Economic Analysis and 12 other principal federal statistical agencies together have been collecting statistics about the nation’s people, economy and society since the first national census in 1790. Check out the Census Bureau’s Facts for Features special edition on World Statistics Day. 

Census Facts for Features | Facts for Features en español | World Statistics Day videos

Secretary Locke, Ambassador Kirk Meet With Turkish Counterparts to Discuss Progress of U.S.-Turkey Commercial Relationship

Secretary Locke, Ambassador Kirk, Deputy Prime Minister Babaca and Trade Minister CaglayanU.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk held a press conference today along with their Turkish counterparts, Foreign Trade MinisterZafer Çağlayan and Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan, following the inaugural meeting of the U.S.-Turkey Framework for Strategic Economic and Commercial Cooperation. The Framework establishes an annual forum for senior-level officials from both countries to discuss commercial and economic issues and work towards enhancing the bilateral relationship.

The Framework stems from a meeting President Obama and Turkish President Gul held in April 2009.  In response to a request from President Gul, President Obama pledged to work towards enhancing our commercial and economic relationship with Turkey. | Joint statement  |  Press release  |  Fact sheet

Secretary Locke Delivers Keynote Address at U.S. Chamber of Commerce U.S.-Israel Summit, Live Webcast

Photo of Locke and Ben-EliezerToday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke delivered the keynote address at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural summit, “The United States and Israel: Building Business through Innovation.” Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the U.S.-Israel Free Trade Agreement, the event brought together leading innovators, entrepreneurs, and policymakers from the United States and Israel. Prior to the summit, the secretary met with Israel’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, to discuss the U.S.-Israel trade relationship. The summit featured a live webcast and is available hereRemarks

Secretary Locke Keynotes Annual GridWeek Conference

Secretary Locke at lecternSecretary of Commerce Gary Locke delivered the opening keynote address today at the 2010 GridWeek Conference at the Washington Convention Center. The annual conference brings together key leaders and stakeholders from the energy industry to explore the Smart Grid’s impact on the economy, utility infrastructure, consumers and the environment.

The 2010 Conference focused on international Smart Grid policies, programs, collaborations and standards-harmonization efforts. Locke discussed increased global cooperation among industry and government leaders on Smart Grid standards and highlighted U.S. industry leadership in advancing the harmonization and deployment of these standards. He also acknowledged the Commerce Department’s George Arnold, who won this year’s GridWeek International Award for his work in advancing international Smart Grid cooperation and standards. Arnold is the national coordinator for Smart Grid interoperability at Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

"If a Smart Grid is built here in the United States, it can help reduce power demand by more than 20 percent," Locke said in his remarks. "If Smart Grids are rolled out around the world, the reduction in global energy demand and the corresponding reduction in CO2 emissions will be transformative."

The Obama administration has allocated $11 billion in investments through the Recovery Act for Smart Grid technologies, transmission system expansion and upgrades, and other investments to modernize and enhance the electric transmission infrastructure.  Remarks

Secretary Locke Joins President Obama in Announcing the 2009 National Medal of Technology and Innovation Laureates

Image of the National Medal of Technology and InnovationSecretary Locke today joined President Barack Obama in announcing and congratulating the 2009 winners of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. The medal is the nation’s highest honor for technological and scientific achievement and was awarded to three individuals and one team, who will receive their awards later this year at the White House.

“Innovation is a key driver of economic growth, and the technological advances of the 2009 medalists are truly awe-inspiring,” Locke said. “These innovations have revolutionized communications, medicine and numerous other industries, and exemplify American ingenuity and leadership at its best. The American people greatly appreciate the contributions of these men and women. I look forward to joining President Obama in honoring our winners at the White House.”

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. A distinguished, independent committee appointed by the Secretary of Commerce evaluates the merits of all candidates nominated through an open, competitive process. Committee recommendations are forwarded to the Secretary, who makes recommendations to the President for a final decision.

The Medal program is administered by the Commerce Department’s United States Patent and Trademark Office. For additional information, visit See the related White House announcement here. Commerce press release

New U.S. Census Bureau Data on Retail Sales and Business Inventories Show Solid Gains

File photo of Secretary Locke seated at conference tableToday, the U.S. Census Bureau released retail sales data for September 2010 and data on manufacturing and trade inventories and sales for August 2010. Both retail sales and business inventories rose 0.6 percent, exceeding private-sector expectations. Monthly sales for retail and food services in September increased 7.3 percent from September 2009, and business inventories in August rose 4.7 percent from August 2009.

“Retails sales have shown strong growth over the last three months,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. “This rising trend signals that consumer spending is expanding and that the recovery is broadening. The outlook for sustained growth remains positive, and this administration remains focused on continuing the economic turnaround that has now seen four straight quarters of GDP growth and nine straight months in which the private sector has added jobs.”  Statement  |  Report on retail sales  |  Report on manufacturing and trade

USPTO Kicks Off 2010 National Trademark Expo

Image of costumed trademark charactersThe Commerce Department’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will hold its annual National Trademark Expo Friday, Oct. 15, and Saturday, Oct. 16, at its Alexandria, Va., headquarters.

The Expo will highlight the vital role trademarks play in our global economy as well as efforts to combat counterfeiting.  Event features include children's workshops, story time and guided tours, and educational lectures for adults.  Many of last year's Trademark Expo guests such as the Pillsbury Doughboy, Betty Boop, and Popeye and Olive Oyl will be joined by new guests including the Berenstain Bears, Clifford the Big Red Dog, and GEICO's Gecko, transforming the USPTO’s campus into a “Trademark Theme Park.”  

Adults and children alike can learn about:

  • Anti-counterfeiting efforts
  • Shape, sound and color trademarks
  • 100-year-old registered trademarks
  • The evolution and history of trademark

Classic and new characters in costume with childrenThe National Trademark Expo is free and open to the public and runs from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday at the Alexandria campus at 600 Dulany Street.  For more information, visit USPTO's NTE webpage.

Secretary Locke Meets with Manufacturing Council and One Member Announces 600 New Jobs in the U.S.

Secretary Locke swears in the Manufacturing CouncilThis morning, Secretary Gary Locke met with the 24 members of the recently-appointed Manufacturing Council.

“Today’s meeting is an example of the public-private partnership needed to restore our manufacturing sector in the United States,” said Locke. “I look forward to working with the members of the Council to present President Obama with solutions to revitalize this critical sector, grow our economy and put Americans back to work.”

The Council advises the Secretary of Commerce on matters relating to the competitiveness of the manufacturing sector, and government policies and programs that affect U.S. manufacturers. The Council’s new charter increased membership from 15 to 25 members and now includes more diverse and expansive industry representation in the manufacturing sector.  The appointees represent a broad cross section of the industry and include steel, supercomputer, solar panel, medical device and superconductor manufacturers, both large and small. Their products support a diverse range of industries such as the auto, aerospace, apparel and energy efficiency sectors.

Statement from Secretary Locke on August 2010 U.S. International Trade

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke issued the following statement on the release of the August 2010 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 in August 2010 increased by 0.2 percent to $153.9 billion from their July 2010 level. Imports in August increased 2.1 percent over July to $200.2 billion. U.S. exports so far in 2010 are up nearly 18 percent compared to the same period last year.  Report  |  Statement  |  Fact sheet

Secretary Locke and USTR Ambassador Kirk Travel to Memphis to Discuss Exports and the Economy

Secretary Locke shaking a Fed Ex worker's hand

Locke, Kirk joined by FedEx officials and local businesses to highlight President Obama’s National Export Initiative

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk are visiting the Memphis, Tenn. area this week to meet with local businesses and discuss the opportunities and challenges of exporting. Locke and Kirk toured the FedEx Express Super Hub on Tuesday night where each day, millions of packages are moved through the hub to reach over 220 countries and territories around the world.  They also held a rountable discussion on exports and the economy with small- and medium-sized businesses today to discuss President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI) and how it can help U.S. companies sell more of their goods and services overseas and support the creation of American jobs.

The NEI aims to double U.S. exports over the next five years while supporting two million American jobs. It will provide more funding, more focus and more Cabinet-level coordination to grow U.S. exports, and represents the first time the United States will have a government-wide export-promotion strategy with focused attention from the president and his Cabinet.  Remarks

NOAA Establishes Supercomputing Center in West Virginia

Image depicting new state-of-the-art NOAA supercomputer center in Fairmont, W. VaNOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco today announced a $27.6 million American Reinvestment and Recovery Act investment to build a new state-of-the-art supercomputer center in Fairmont, W. Va. Lubchenco was joined by U.S. Rep. Alan B. Mollohan for a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the NOAA Environmental Security Computing Center (NESCC), which is geared to develop and improve the accuracy of global and regional climate and weather model predictions.

“This state-of-the-art supercomputer will not only give NOAA a powerful new tool in climate and weather modeling and service delivery, it will also cement north central West Virginia's reputation as a growing high-tech center,” said Rep. Mollohan. “This facility will help anchor the I-79 Technology Park for decades to come.”  Read more

Commerce Department Reopens Tuesday After Building Closure Due to Fire

Commerce Herbert C. Hoover Building headquarters with U.S. flagA fire occurred in the Department of Commerce's Herbert Clark Hoover Building headquarters, in the 3rd floor 8th corridor between corridors 1 and 2, at approximately 8:15 pm, Thursday, October 8th.  This area is in the section of the building being renovated.

The building was safely evacuated with everyone accounted for, with no complaints of injury or ill-effect reported. Air sampling was conducted throughout the building, and all areas of the building have been cleared for occupancy.  The building can be accessed by employees and contractors with PIV badges over the weekend, and will officially reopen Tuesday morning, October 12, 2010.  Update release

NOAA Unveils Special Collection of Civil War Maps and Nautical Charts

Map of ChickamaugaIn honor of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in 2011, Commerce's Nationasl Oceanic and Atmospheric Administation (NOAA) has assembled a special historical collection of maps, charts, and documents prepared by the U.S. Coast Survey during the war years. The collection, “Charting a More Perfect Union,” contains over nearly 400 documents, available free from NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey website.

“People are planning now for their visits to Civil War sites next year, and we want to give them an opportunity to visualize the terrain, ports, and coasts as they were from 1861 to 1865,” said Meredith Westington, NOAA’s chief geographer. “Most people wouldn’t think of turning to NOAA for historical Civil War documents, but the agency has an amazing legacy.”

Coast Survey’s collection includes 394 Civil War-era maps, including nautical charts used for naval campaigns, and maps of troop movements and battlefields. Rarely seen publications include Notes on the Coast, prepared by Coast Survey to help Union forces plan naval blockades against the Confederacy, and the annual report summaries by Superintendent Bache as he detailed the trials and tribulations of producing the maps and charts needed to meet growing military demands. | The Civil War special collection is accessible through a searchable database at |  Read more 

Secretary Locke visits USPTO, thanks employees for their work supporting innovation and the economy

Secretary Locke, left, and USPTO Director Kappos, right, with PTO employee

Secretary Locke visited the Commerce Department's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in Alexandria, Va., October 6 to congratulate USPTO Director David Kappos and the agency's staff on its accomplishments during the 2010 fiscal year, which ended September 30. 

Locke thanked employees for their efforts toward reducing the patent backlog and recognized the agency’s innovative approaches to help bring the USPTO into the 21st century to foster innovation, ingenuity and creativity.  Read more

Obama Administration Official Promotes U.S. Commercial Interests in Iraq

Under Secretary Sánchez (left) and U.S. Ambassador James Jeffrey (right) with interpreterUnder Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez today emphasized President Obama’s commitment to promoting strong bilateral, economic, cultural, and educational ties with Iraq during his meeting with Iraq’s Minister of Trade Dr. Safa Al-Din Muhammad Al-Safi. Sánchez and Al-Safi discussed key policy changes that could improve the commercial climate and promote U.S. commercial interests in Iraq. Sánchez was joined in Iraq by representatives from 14 U.S. companies that traveled to Baghdad for the first U.S. trade mission to Iraq since the end of combat operations.

“The American and Iraqi private sectors are rich and diverse, brimming with knowledge and a strong work ethic,” Sánchez said. “The U.S. companies on this delegation will interact with the Iraqi public and private sectors, and walk away from this historic trade mission knowing what opportunities exist for them in Iraq.”

Iraq’s GDP has more than doubled since 2006, soaring from $57 billion to $112 billion in 2009. Iraq’s government has budgeted more than $80 billion for infrastructure development, focusing on a number of large projects relating to construction, highways, railways, telecommunications, and security and defense. This trade mission provides U.S. participants with first-hand market information and forms the basis for future economic cooperation.  Release  |  White House blog on trade mission  |  More on the Iraqi trade mission

Commerce Department Awards $9.1 Million to Enhance the Global Competitiveness of U.S. Manufacturers

Image of MEP logoCommerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today announced $9.1 million in cooperative agreements through its Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) for 22 projects designed to enhance the productivity, technological performance and global competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers.  

Granted through competitive processes to nonprofit organizations, the funding will help encourage the creation and adoption of improved technologies and provide resources to develop new products that respond to changing market needs.

"A vibrant manufacturing sector drives American innovation and is central to our economic growth and global competitiveness," U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. "With the right investments, we can continue to create highly valued manufacturing jobs building great products and sell them around the world."

The proposals selected represent a variety of compelling ideas for helping small and medium-sized U.S. manufacturers tackle a complex set of needs with cost-effective and innovative solutions.

For more details on the award recipients and the MEP program, visit  Read more

Commerce Seeks Comment on Protecting Copyrighted Works on the Internet

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Internet Policy Task Force today issued a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) seeking comment from all interested stakeholders on the protection of copyrighted works online and the relationship between copyright law and innovation in the Internet economy. 

Considering the vital importance of the Internet in today’s society, the Department of Commerce has made it a top priority to ensure that the Internet remains open for innovation.  The initiative on Copyright Policy, Creativity and Innovation in the Internet economy seeks to identify policies that will: 

  1. Generate benefits for rights holders of creative works accessible online and make recommendations with respect to those who infringe on those rights;
  2. Enable the robust and free flow of information to facilitate innovation and growth of the Internet economy; and
  3. Ensure transparency and due process in cooperative efforts to build confidence in the Internet as a means of distributing copyrighted works.

The comments gathered through this NOI will be used by the Internet Policy Task Force in preparing a report that will contribute to the administration’s domestic policy and international engagement in the area of online copyright protection.

Commerce Makes Comments Publicly Available on How Government Can Support the Advancement of Innovation and Technologies

Each year, the federal government makes substantial investments in research and development that takes place at our nation’s colleges and universities.  In 2008, federally funded university investments totaled over $31 billion.  Together with academia and the private sector, the Obama administration is working to support research and development and drive new innovations and technologies to market to create U.S. jobs and economic growth.

Recently, the Commerce Department hosted several University Innovation Forums in collaboration with university presidents addressing the roles of universities in innovation, economic development, job creation and the commercialization of federally funded research.  These forums built upon a national dialogue Secretary Locke began in February when he engaged university leaders and key stakeholders in a discussion about how the Obama administration can help move ideas from the lab to the marketplace. From these efforts, the Commerce Department is gathering input on best practices in university technology commercialization and making recommendations for federal government policy.

Commerce Department Releases Report On Women-Owned Businesses in the 21st Century

Six women working in various careers

Commerce's Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) today released a report on Women-Owned Businesses in the 21st Century that analyzes the changing role of women-owned businesses in the U.S. economy.  The report, prepared at the request of the White House Council on Women and Girls and released today during a White House Entrepreneurship Conference, looks at trends in women-owned businesses from the late 1990s through 2007, explores the characteristics of businesses owned by women as compared to those owned by men, and discusses potential reasons why these firms look different.

“Here’s the good news: women-owned businesses are steadily expanding and now account for $1.2 trillion in economic output,” said Commerce Department Under Secretary for Economic Affairs Rebecca Blank.  “Considering the recent economic environment, this growth shows the important potential of women-owned businesses for future economic growth.”