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Blog Entries from January 2011

Startup America Kickoff at the White House

Secretary Locke participated in the White House launch of the “Startup America” initiative today in Washington, D.C. with U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Small Business Administration Administrator Karen Mills, Director of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors Austan Goolsbee, and a number of America’s top entrepreneurs and business leaders.

“Startup America” is a national campaign to promote high-growth entrepreneurship across the country with new initiatives to help encourage private sector investment in job-creating startups and small firms, accelerate breakthrough research, and address barriers to success for entrepreneurs and small businesses. The launch follows President Obama’s State of the Union commitment to winning the future by out-innovating, out-educating, and out-building the rest of the world.

To support this effort, the Department of Commerce plans to build on the success of last year’s inaugural i6 Challenge with i6 Green, a second competition this year focused on both regional economic development and environmental sustainability. The program aims to accelerate technology-led economic development in pursuit of a vibrant, innovative clean economy. The department is also developing the Three Track program at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which would give innovators more control over application processing and support a more efficient market for innovation.  

Today’s event was one of a number of events the White House will hold this week to focus on innovation and how we can create the jobs and industries of the future by investing in the creativity and imagination of the American people. Learn more about Startup America by viewing the complete fact sheet, and learn about the independent and private-sector led campaign to mobilize private-sector commitments at Startup America Partnerships.  |  Remarks

The Commerce Department’s Latest Privacy Initiative on Data Privacy Day

Today is Data Privacy Day, an annual international celebration to raise awareness and generate discussion about information privacy designated by both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives in 2009. In honor of Data Privacy Day, here’s an update on the latest Commerce Department initiative to protect the privacy of the American people.

On Jan. 7 at a discussion forum with business and academic leaders at Stanford University, Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard A. Schmidt unveiled plans to establish a National Program Office at the Commerce Department to help implement the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, an administration initiative that aims to foster private-sector development of new technologies that can improve both the privacy and the security of sensitive online transactions.

Cybercrime and identity theft cost U.S. consumers hundreds of millions of dollars annually. So the idea is that the private sector would lead the development of better technologies for consumers and businesses to establish their identities before they conduct sensitive transactions like banking, shopping or downloading health care records. The Commerce Department would facilitate the process by building consensus on standards and managing collaborative efforts with other federal agencies.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Meets with Colombia’s Vice President

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Meets with Colombian Vice President Angelino Garzon

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke met today with Colombia’s Vice President Angelino Garzon to discuss various trade issues including the pending trade agreement.

“President Obama understands that implementing the U.S.-Colombia Trade Agreement is a key component in our trade agenda – creating jobs and forging new business ties between our countries.  Colombia is an important market for U.S. companies, and the Trade Agreement is a key component of our National Export Initiative.”

Locke also expressed his deepest sympathy to the Colombian people in the wake of the disastrous flooding that killed over 300 people.

New Markets, New Jobs: The National Export Initiative Small Business Tour

Beginning the TPCC Meeting

On the one-year anniversary of the launch of President Obama’s National Export Initiative, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Small Business Administration Administrator Karen Mills and Export-Import Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg announced today the launch of a year-long, interagency, multi-city outreach campaign designed to help connect small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) with the resources they need to sell more of what they make overseas.

“For America to win the future, more small and medium sized businesses must export, because the more small businesses export, the more they produce; the more they produce, the more workers they need, and that means good-paying jobs here at home,” Locke said.

The first of these New Markets, New Jobs events is scheduled for February 17th in Minneapolis, Minn. Locke is expected to be joined by Kirk, Mills, Hochberg, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, among others. The Minnesota stop will be followed by events in Los Angeles, Calif., Louisiana and Wilmington, Del. in the coming months. The conferences, which were called for in September’s Report to the President on the National Export Initiative, are intended to reach more than 3,500 small and medium sized companies interested in exporting.

Secretary Locke visits Arc Energy in Nashua, New Hampshire

Secretary Locke speaks during a question and answer session

Yesterday, Secretary Gary Locke traveled to New Hampshire and met with regional business leaders and toured Arc Energy, a renewable energy equipment manufacturer that specializes in solid state lighting technologies.

One day after President Obama delivered his State of the Union address, Locke reinforced the importance of strengthening America’s competitiveness by out-innovating, out-educating and out-building the rest of the world.  He discussed how a more competitive America will help rebuild the economy, create more jobs and prepare the country for challenges ahead.

Locke also discussed how the recently-passed tax cut package, which reduces the payroll tax, expands the Earned Income Tax Credit and allows businesses to temporarily expense 100% of their capital investments in 2011, benefits companies like Arc Energy.  The tax cuts package provides tax relief to 800,000 people in New Hampshire and extends unemployment benefits to 12,627 residents whose benefits would have otherwise expired.

Arc Energy develops cutting-edge technologies that substantially reduce the cost of LED lighting.  It exports products to several countries, including China and Korea, and has signed multiple contracts worth several hundred million dollars in 2011.  President Obama visited Arc one year ago and since then the manufacturer has experienced significant growth – expanding its workforce by 300 percent.  Because of the industry’s expansive supply chain, for every person Arc Energy hires, roughly four to five additional jobs are created elsewhere in the United States.

Laying a Foundation to Double Our Exports, Increase Competitiveness

Today Secretary Locke wrote an op-ed posted in The Hill with a focus on how the administration and the Commerce Department are working to increase America's global competitiveness and create U.S. jobs by selling more American-made goods and services around the world.

Cross posted at The Hill


As 2011 begins, the American economy is stronger than at any time since the Great Recession began in December 2007.

Retail sales just had their strongest quarterly gain since 2001. Private sector employment grew every single month in 2010, with the manufacturing sector posting its first increase in annual employment since 1997.

These are strong indications that the steps President Obama took to foster economic recovery are working — beginning with the Recovery Act and continuing through the December 2010 tax-cut package.

But that’s not to suggest that anyone within the administration or the Commerce Department is satisfied — not with unemployment still over 9 percent.

As we move forward, policymakers should remember that the most important contest is not between Democrats and Republicans, but between America and countries around the world that are competing like never before for the jobs and industries of the future.

Making the U.S. more competitive will require us to focus on two things: supercharging innovation and selling more American-made goods and services around the world, so that U.S. firms can hire more workers and reinvest in the research and development they need to keep growing.

Although the private sector will take the lead on innovation, we can’t forget that the government has always had an important, supportive role to play, and the Commerce Department is engaged in a variety of areas.

U.S. Commerce Department, NIST Host Standards Setting Forum

The three principal speakers at forum table

Secretary Locke opened a discussion with thought leaders from industry and academia today at the Commerce Department on the federal government’s role in setting, developing, using and adopting standards for critical national needs.

Together with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the department hosted the panel discussion led by Phil Weiser, senior advisor on technology and innovation at the White House National Economic Council. U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and NIST Director and Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology Patrick Gallagher also participated.

Achieving national priorities – which include a smart grid for electricity distribution, electronic health records, cybersecurity, cloud computing and interoperable emergency communications –depends upon the existence of sound technical standards. The standards being developed through public-private partnerships for these new technology sectors are helping to drive innovation, economic growth and job creation.

The roundtable provided key insights for the National Science and Technology Council's Sub-Committee on Standards, administered by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. NIST, on behalf of the subcommittee, recently published a Federal Register notice seeking input on effective federal participation in standards and conformity assessment activities related to technology.  Learn more at

Department of Commerce Takes Steps to Implement Export Control Initiatives to Facilitate High-Tech Trade with India

Today Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security published a Federal Register Notice which updates the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) in several ways, including:

  • Removing several Indian space- and defense-related companies from the Entity List.  Removal from the Entity List eliminates a license requirement specific to the companies, and results in the removed companies being treated the same way as any other destination in India for export licensing purposes.
  • Removing India from several country groups in the EAR resulting in the removal of export license requirements that were tied to India’s placement in those country groups.
  • Adding India to a country group in the EAR that consists of members of the Missile Technology Control Regime, to recognize and communicate India's adherence to the regime, the U.S.-India strategic partnership, and India's global non-proliferation standing.  .

These are the first steps in implementing the export control policy initiatives announced by President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Singh on November 8, 2010.

“Today’s action marks a significant milestone in reinforcing the U.S.-India strategic partnership and moving forward with export control reforms that will facilitate high technology trade and cooperation,” said Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. He is preparing to lead 24 U.S. businesses on a high-tech trade mission to India in early February.  |  Release

Commerce Department Highlights the Role of Intellectual Property in U.S. Innovation, Competitiveness

Kappos on podium at the Newseum in Washington with U.S. Capitol in background

The Commerce Department’s David Kappos, Under Secretary for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), stressed intellectual property’s vital role in the innovation economy and its importance to increasing America’s global competitiveness today at a Patents, Innovation and Job Creation conference at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

Patent-related industries make up the most dynamic parts of our economy, he said, and as a share of gross economic value, the United States invests more in intangible assets than any of its major trading partners.

As our country seeks to regain the jobs lost during the recession, inventions that could spark new businesses and jobs are waiting in the USPTO’s backlog. The Harvard Business Review recently described the USPTO as “the biggest job creator you never heard of.”  Reducing the time it takes to examine those applications is one of the highest priorities for Director Kappos and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.

Kappos and the USPTO have launched several initiatives to shorten patent pendency and improve patent quality, and the agency will soon outline yet another plan that would give applicants the option to accelerate examination of a patent application. In his remarks today, Kappos also applauded the efforts of Congress to continue pushing for bipartisan legislation that would help the USPTO improve the patent system, expressing the agency’s strong support for patent reform.  |  Director's remarks

Commerce Secretary Locke Delivers Opening Remarks at the U.S.-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum in Chicago

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke delivered the opening address at the U.S.-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum with the Chinese Minister of Commerce, Chen Deming.  The Forum is jointly hosted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade. 

Representing the Obama administration for Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to Chicago, Locke highlighted the progress that the United States and China have made to strengthen the bilateral relationship, emphasizing the benefits of Chinese foreign direct investment in the U.S. on the American economy.  He also reiterated the concerns that American business leaders continue to express about the commercial environment in China. 

While in Chicago, Locke also attended a dinner hosted by Chicago Mayor Richard Daley in honor of President Hu.  Remarks

Commerce Department Invests $4.4 Million in Green Energy Growth in Southern Idaho

This week the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced a $4.4 million grant to the College of Southern Idaho (CSI) in Twin Falls to help build an Applied Technology and Innovation Center that will provide training for local technicians in wind, solar, hydro and geothermal energy; green construction; and the biofuel industry.

Driving the demand for skilled employees in green energy are recent energy development projects in the region, including the construction of more than 450 wind turbines, the development of the Raft River geothermal electrical power project, and the planned installation of a 150,000 panel solar energy array.

The Center will be a 29,600-square-foot, high-technology LEED certified facility located on CSI’s campus that will help CSI meet the ever-increasing demand for a trained workforce to fill the region’s jobs in alternative energy and applied industrial mechanics.  The building will have green energy components such as exposed mechanical systems, measurement and verification equipment, solar photovoltaic and wind energy components, day lighting, natural ventilation, and geothermal heat.

The grant is one of many investments EDA makes in support of regional competitiveness and growth. The agency focuses on economically distressed communities to help create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.  EDA Release

Repealing Health-Care Law Will Hurt American Competitiveness

This guest column by Secretary Locke was published in the Seattle Times Friday, January 14.
Secretary's Statement on U.S. House of Representatives Vote to Repeal Affordable Health Care Act (1-19-11)


When Republicans vote next week to repeal the Affordable Care Act, they are voting to repeal a new level of control that American families have over their health-care decisions.

They are also voting to make American businesses less competitive in the global economy.

Because just 10 months after its passage, the act has brought badly needed change to the American health-care system. The law:

  • Prevents children with pre-existing conditions from being denied coverage;
  • Eliminates lifetime caps on the dollar amount insurance companies will spend on enrollees' benefits, like cancer treatment;
  • Allows children to stay on their parents' insurance plans until they are 26;
  • Gives tax credits to small businesses to help them afford health care for their employees; and
  • Takes meaningful steps to lower costs and improve the quality of health care for all Americans

But from my perspective as U.S. Commerce secretary, one of the most important benefits of the law is that it will make American businesses more competitive by reining in rapidly increasing health-care costs.

As President Obama has noted: "We are in a fierce competition among nations for the jobs and industries of the future."

The Affordable Care Act will allow American businesses, large and small, to improve their performance against foreign competitors, most of whom have significantly lower health-care costs.

The cost savings are real, and they will grow over time.

Secretary Locke to Lead 24 U.S. Businesses on High-Tech Trade Mission to India

Twenty-four U.S. businesses will join Commerce Secretary Gary Locke for a business development mission to India on February 6-11.  The businesses joining the trade mission are based in 13 states across the country and more than half of them are small- and medium-sized companies.

The delegation, which also includes senior officials from the Export-Import Bank (EX-IM) and the Trade Development Agency (TDA), will make stops in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, where Locke will highlight export opportunities for U.S. businesses in the advanced industrial sectors, of civil-nuclear trade, defense and security, civil aviation, and information and communication technologies. Locke accompanied President Obama to India in November, where they witnessed more than $10 billion in business deals between U.S. companies and Indian private sector and government entities, supporting 50,000 American jobs.

“Exports are leading the U.S. economic recovery, spurring future economic growth and creating jobs in America,” Locke said. “The business leaders joining me on this mission see the great potential to sell their goods and services to India, helping drive innovation and create jobs in both countries.”

The India business development mission will help build on the exporting success U.S. companies had 2010 – up 17 percent compared to the same period in 2009. It will be Locke’s second trade mission as Commerce Secretary; in May, he led a clean energy business development mission to China and Indonesia.

Secretary Locke Delivers Key Policy Speech on U.S.-China Commercial Relations

 Secretary Locke addresses the U.S.-China Business Council about the path to unlock the full potential of the U.S.-China commercial relationship

At a luncheon today hosted by the U.S.-China Business Council, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke laid out a path to unlock the full potential of the U.S.-China commercial relationship.  Locke discussed how leveling the playing field for U.S. businesses in the Chinese market will help spur global innovation and economic growth and create jobs in America.  

Locke applauded steps China has taken to open its markets since its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and progress made at the recent Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade meeting. And he cited examples of American and Chinese companies working together to solve big, global challenges. |  Remarks

NOAA: 2010 Tied for Warmest Year on Record

Graphic of temperature anomolies

According to scientists from Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2010 tied with 2005 as the warmest year of the global surface temperature record, beginning in 1880. This was the 34th consecutive year with global temperatures above the 20th century average. For the contiguous United States alone, the 2010 average annual temperature was above normal, resulting in the 23rd warmest year on record.

This preliminary analysis is prepared by scientists at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., and is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides government, business and community leaders so they can make informed decisions.  Release  |  State of the Climate Annual Report

Secretary Locke Meets with Indian Ambassador to the U.S. Meera Shankar

Photo of Locke and Shankar

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke met today with India’s Ambassador to the United States, Meera Shankar, to discuss bilateral trade and investment issues.

The meeting took place as Secretary Locke prepares to lead a high technology business development trade mission to India on February 6-11. Over 70 companies applied to participate in the upcoming mission, which will make stops in New Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore, in order to promote U.S. exports of high technology products and services in key economic sectors: civil-nuclear trade, defense and security, civil aviation, and information and communications technology.

Secretary Locke, White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt to Discuss Next Steps in Cybersecurity

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard A. Schmidt are in Stanford, Calif., today at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research to discuss the Obama administration’s efforts to enhance online security and privacy and next steps in meeting the challenges of a growing cyber world, with local industry and academic leaders in Silicon Valley.

The public and private sectors have critical roles to play in creating a system that allows people to complete online transactions with greater confidence that their personal information is safe. Through its forthcoming National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC), the administration aims to support private-sector cybersecurity innovations by focusing on establishing identity solutions and privacy-enhancing technologies that will make the online environment more secure and convenient for users and consumers. E-commerce worldwide is estimated at $10 trillion of business online annually.  Release | Remarks  |  Video  |  FAQ

See video

Secretary Locke Delivers Remarks at CES to Highlight Administration’s Efforts to Promote Innovation, U.S. Exports

Locke at booth inspecting new devices and equipment

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke visited the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) today, where he delivered remarks on the Obama administration’s efforts to foster innovation and the President’s National Export Initiative (NEI), which seeks to double U.S. exports by 2015, supporting several million American jobs. 

Locke also discussed Commerce’s International Buyer Program (IBP), a key component of the Department’s export promotion effort. The IBP matches international buyers with U.S. companies that want to export. The Program recruited 34 delegations, consisting of 700 delegates from key markets such as China, Brazil, Vietnam, and Indonesia, to this year’s show – an increase of over 30 percent from the 2010 show.

During the CES, Locke also visited the booths of some small- and medium-sized businesses that have increased their sales to foreign markets with the help of the Commerce Department.

The CES is an annual event hosted by the Consumer Electronics Association, the preeminent trade association that represents more than 2,000 businesses to promote growth in the consumer technology industry.  This year’s CES has more than 2,500 small- and medium-sized businesses showcasing their products and services, as well as presentations by key industry leaders, such as Microsoft, Ford and Verizon.  Remarks

What the America COMPETES Act Means for the Department of Commerce

This week, President Obama signed the America COMPETES Act, signifying the importance of science, education and technology to America’s ability to innovate and remain competitive in the 21st century. The America COMPETES Act reauthorizes spending across the federal government on a variety of programs at agencies like the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy and here at the Department of Commerce.

The act authorizes our National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to receive funding that would double its core science and technology budget by 2017, and elevates the position of the director of NIST to include the additional title of Under Secretary for Standards and Technology. It better equips our National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to conduct cutting-edge research and further innovation in oceanic and atmospheric technology development. And it establishes a new Regional Innovation Program to be administered by our Economic Development Administration that encourages and develops regional innovation strategies like clusters and science and research parks that help businesses grow and take advantage of regional strengths. Finally, the new legislation reaffirms the mission of our Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship – first announced in September 2009 – which works to unleash and maximize the economic potential of new ideas by more quickly moving them from the research lab to the marketplace.

This renewed commitment to science, education and technology illustrated through bipartisan Congressional support for the America COMPETES Act will greatly benefit the work done at the U.S. Commerce Department, and help fuel U.S. job growth, economic development and global competitiveness. |  Locke statement | White House blog | NIST release


Secretary Locke Meets with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi

Locke and Minister Yang

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke met today with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi at the Commerce Department to discuss a variety of bilateral trade issues, as well as President Hu Jintao’s upcoming visit. Locke and Minister Yang had a positive meeting, discussing the U.S.-China commercial relationship, as well as the implementation of commitments made from last month’s Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT). JCCT issues that were touched upon included beef market access, software asset management, indigenous innovation and government procurement. Locke said he looks forward to President Hu’s visit, and continuing to strengthen the U.S.-China commercial relationship.

Secretary Locke to Visit the Consumer Electronics Show

Photo Credit: Consumer Electronics Show

Secretary Gary Locke will visit the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas Thursday where he will discuss the Obama administration’s efforts to foster innovation and the President’s National Export Initiative (NEI), which seeks to double U.S. exports by 2015, supporting several million American jobs.

The Consumer Electronics Show is taking part in Commerce’s International Buyer Program – a key component in reaching President Obama’s exports goal. Jointly created by the Commerce Department and industry groups, the International Buyer Program (IBP) matches international buyers with U.S. companies that want to export.  In Las Vegas, the IBP has recruited to the show's 34 delegations, consisting of 700 delegates, from key markets such as China, Brazil, Vietnam, and Indonesia – an increase of over 30 percent from the 2010 show.

Here’s how it will work: Foreign trade specialists work with both the Consumer Electronics Association and Department of Commerce domestic trade specialists to identify U.S. companies exhibiting at the show whose technology is attractive to foreign buyers.  These specialists then set up meetings at the show between the buyers and American sellers.  Additionally, U.S. companies will be able to meet with the foreign trade specialists to get information about doing business in markets abroad.