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Blog Entries from March 2011

NIST Breaks Ground on New Green Technology and Fire Safety Facilities

Government and industry officials break ground at NIST headquarters

New facilities showcase best in green technology and fire-safety funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has begun construction on three new facilities at its Gaithersburg, Md., campus that will help to advance green technology and fire safety building practices with funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The National Fire Research Laboratory, the Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility, and structures supporting more than 2,500 new solar energy panels that will supply electricity to the NIST campus were unveiled at a ceremony with U.S. Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD-8), Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Nancy Sutley, and other industry and government officials.

The National Fire Research Laboratory will be expanded to include a National Structural Fire Resistance Laboratory, a 21,400-square-foot space that will provide a unique capability for testing full-scale structural elements, subassemblies and systems under realistic fire conditions.

Resembling a typical suburban Maryland single-family home, the Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility will serve as a test bed for new home-scale energy technologies, showing that a residence can produce as much energy from renewable resources as it consumes over the course of a year.

NIST will also launch a new solar energy system as part of its commitment to implementing renewable energy sources. The Grid-Connected Photovoltaic System will feed directly into the existing electrical grid, generating more than 700 MWh of electricity annually – enough to power 67 homes – and offsetting a portion of NIST’s electrical power needs.

For more information on these state-of-the-art initiatives at the NIST campus, visit

EDA Awards Christian Evangelistic Economic Development Grant That Will Make Entrepreneurial Dreams Come True for Many in Pittsburgh Region

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced a $300,000 grant to Christian Evangelistic Economic Development (CEED) of Pittsburgh, Pa., to provide technical assistance to economically distressed microenterprises in the Pittsburgh region.

“Providing technical assistance to enthusiastic entrepreneurs ready to achieve the American Dream and strengthen local economies is a key component of Christian Evangelistic Economic Development efforts. Already, efforts have seen the creation of a number of successful neighborhood businesses and its expansion will provide opportunity to 75 new microbusinesses,” said Rufus Idris, Executive Director of the Christian Evangelistic Economic Development.
This project, an example of the important partnership between the federal government and faith-based organizations, is expected to facilitate the creation of new jobs and generate private investment in microenterprises that are a key building block in the repositioning of challenged areas.

The EDA investment will support local efforts to address the challenges faced by start-up and existing underserved and disadvantaged entrepreneurs, by providing pragmatic technical assistance to immigrant-owned, refugee-owned, minority-owned, veteran-owned, microenterprises in the Pittsburgh region. Assistance may include business review and planning, training and counseling, market analysis, current business technology, and on-going mentoring, case management and capacity building.

Commerce Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships works to engage community groups in the national economic development process by promoting awareness of funding opportunities in order to ensure faith-based community groups, such as Christian Evangelistic Economic Development can play a role in helping to increase competitiveness.

Commerce Department to Deploy Economic Assessment Teams to Six Northeast Fishing Ports

The U.S. Commerce Department announced today that economic development assessment teams will deploy next month to conduct a two-day analysis of six Northeast fishing communities. The teams will visit Portland, Maine, Seabrook, N.H., New Bedford, Mass., Gloucester, Mass., Point Judith, R.I., and Montauk, N.Y. The assessment teams will conduct meetings with local leaders to help identify economic development challenges and opportunities facing local industries and communities. 

“The Department of Commerce is committed to supporting a vibrant and profitable fishing industry in the United States. The assessment teams will help communities identify and begin to address the economic difficulties they are facing,” Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. “We know that by rebuilding stocks, we will improve economic conditions for fishermen and coastal communities, but we recognize that transition is difficult. We are committed to help identify proactive solutions during these challenging economic times.”

“Supporting fishermen and fishing communities with economic assessment and planning assistance is a top priority for the Department of Commerce and the administration,” said Brian McGowan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “The Northeast economic development assessment teams will play an important role in providing technical expertise to local leaders as they develop strategies to increase economic and job opportunities.”

The goal of the visits is to provide customized technical assistance for fishing communities that experienced  reductions in groundfish fishing revenues in recent years.  The Economic Development Administration (EDA), in partnership with other federal agencies, will meet with local leaders to assess current and emerging economic issues. EDA, with the assistance of the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), evaluated economic and fisheries industry data, including groundfish landing revenues and the percentage of groundfish landed at a port relative to the state totals, in order to select ports for the interagency assessments.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Takes New Markets, New Jobs Export Tour to Los Angeles

Secretary Gary Locke Addresses Small Business Owners at APBO about the Resources that the Government is Providing to Connect Small- and Medium-sized Businesses with Foreign Buyers,

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke traveled to Los Angeles, Calif., today for the second stop of the New Markets, New Jobs small business outreach tour.  Joined by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and USC Marshall School of Business Dean James G. Ellis, Locke discussed the importance of exports to America’s economic recovery and job creation, and the resources that the government is providing to connect local small- and medium-sized businesses with foreign buyers, especially those from the Asia-Pacific markets, in order to help them sell more overseas and hire more at home.  

Announced on the one-year anniversary of President Obama’s National Export Initiative, New Markets, New Jobs is a year-long, interagency, multi-city outreach campaign designed to proactively bring government services to businesses across the country that are interested in exporting.  The tour was launched in Minneapolis in February, and will continue on to New Orleans, Louisiana in April and Wilmington, Delaware in May.

See video
Read the transcript: 
Exporting: A Personal Tale

NTIA Administrator Strickling Addresses Broadband Program Progress

Administrator Stricking on podium
At an event in Washington, D.C. today, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling described the progress of broadband stimulus projects, noting that Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grantees have thus far installed more than 4,000 computers for public use and provided computer training to more than 65,000 people.
“These Recovery Act projects are already providing an essential link to economic and educational opportunities for thousands of Americans,” said Strickling. 

Winning the Future Through Education and Commerce

Undersecretary Sanchez

Guest blog post by Francisco J. Sánchez who is Under Secretary for International Trade in the Commerce Department's International Trade Administration.

When we think about the vast work the Commerce Department does with exports, what do we picture? Food, perhaps. Textiles. Cutting-edge technologies. But what many don’t consider are the legions of international students who attend American colleges and universities. It might sound odd, but they are considered “exports.” Indeed, education plays a critical role in the work we do every day in the International Trade Administration.

That’s why I’m so pleased to announce that starting April 2, 2011, I will lead the largest education and services trade mission in the history of the U.S. Department of Commerce.  Accompanied by 56 U.S. colleges and universities, we will travel to Indonesia and Vietnam to expand U.S. educational opportunities for international students.

America is home to the best opportunities for higher education in the world.  More students come to the U.S. to study than any other country on the planet. International students’ tuition and living expenses alone brought almost $20 billion to the U.S. economy in the 2009-2010 academic year.

Our goals for this trip are extensive. Expanding U.S. educational opportunities for international students will have some direct benefits to our national economy.  By increasing domestic jobs and aiding innovation and research while strengthening our relations and ties abroad, the fact is that sharing our colleges with foreign-born students will make America that much more rich and robust.

U.S. Census Bureau Completes Delivery of State 2010 Census Population Totals for Legislative Redistricting

The U.S. Census Bureau announced this week that 2010 Census population totals and demographic characteristics have been released for communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico – ahead of the April 1 deadline. The data have provided the first look at population counts for small areas and race, Hispanic origin, voting age and housing unit data released from the 2010 Census. With the release of data for all states, national-level counts of these characteristics are now available.

In April, the Census Bureau will release the National Summary File of Redistricting Data, providing the same population, housing unit counts and demographic characteristics for the United States and other cross-state geographies, such as regions, divisions, metropolitan areas and American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian areas.

Census data are now being used by state officials to realign congressional and state legislative districts in their states, taking into account population shifts over the last decade.

Find more information about the redistricting data program or to find news releases and data for your state.

Secretary Locke and the Department of Commerce Celebrate the Accomplishments and Legacy of the Late U.S. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown

Secretary Locke and Others Watch the Unveiling of Ron Brown Way

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke participated in a ceremony this morning dedicating a stretch of 14th Street in front of the U.S. Commerce Department building as Ron Brown Way.

With Secretary Brown’s wife, Alma, his children Michael and Tracy and their families as honored guests, Locke joined in paying tribute to the late Secretary who, with 34 others, lost his life while on a trade mission to Croatia 15 years ago.

“This is a fitting tribute to a man who was born in Washington, D.C. and spent his life working to deliver economic and social justice for people in this city, across America and, indeed, around the world,” Locke said. “The dedication of Ron Brown Way will help ensure that what Ron Brown did and what he stood for won’t ever be forgotten.”

Speakers at the celebration of Brown’s legacy included Ron’s son Michael, who is D.C. Councilmember at Large, and D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray.

Following the dedication ceremony, the Brown family joined Locke at the Commerce Department for a presentation of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) flag that was flown aboard the NOAA ship Ronald H. Brown, and a ceremonial wreath laying. Locke spoke of Brown’s trailblazing efforts to extend economic opportunity to all, and of his fierce advocacy for the Department and the great people who work here.

Locke said that Brown’s work endures through the hundreds of dedicated Commerce employees who still believe in his mission for the department and work hard each day to continue his legacy of service.

Spotlight on Commerce: Michelle O'Neill, Deputy Under Secretary for International Trade

Michelle O'Neill, Deputy Under Secretary for International Trade

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series, which highlights members of the Department of Commerce who are contributing to the president's vision of winning the future through their work.

Michelle O'Neill has been serving as Deputy Under Secretary for International Trade since November 2005.

I started my career in ITA as an intern in 1983 -- looking up tariff rates in Latin American countries for companies that called in.  Many of you are probably amazed that anyone could spend so many years in one organization, but during this course of time, I have moved around quite a bit across ITA – at least eight official jobs spanning our five business units.  These experiences have given me a deeper appreciation of what we can do as an organization to advance U.S. business interests globally.  Five Administrations, 11 Secretaries of Commerce, and 12 Under Secretaries of International Trade later, I am still as passionate for advancing fair and free trade today as when I first arrived in Washington.  (And I never imagined that I would be part of the organization’s leadership team!)

When I started my career in international trade, U.S. exports were $205 billion. Today, we export more than five times that amount, totaling more than $1 trillion worth in goods and services exports.  While we remain the number one exporter of goods and services, the volume of global trade has grown substantially over this period of time, and with that comes some challenges – and in many ways, the same challenges.  Back in the 1980s, the big concern was the $58 billion trade deficit and what we could do about it; today our trade deficit is nearly $380 billion – still a concern.  It’s been very interesting for me as a career civil servant, implementing and shaping trade policy across five Administrations. In many ways, I think the importance of international trade has stood the test of time with bipartisan support for increased trade liberalization, to varying degrees, across every Administration in my career. When I officially started ITA in 1987, the Uruguay Round had just begun; now we are in the midst of trying to bring a close to the Doha Round.  There was only one Free Trade Agreement in place with Israel. Now we have 17 FTAs in force – and hopefully three more in the horizon.  While the issues we debated have evolved -- reflecting changes in industry, new business models, and future technologies -- there has been general agreement that an open and competitive global marketplace is good for citizens, consumers, businesses, and governments.

Secretary Gary Locke visited NOAA's Science Center to Highlight Education as a Key Pillar for Enhancing American Competitiveness

Secretary Locke Talks with a Student at NOAA's Science Center in Silver Spring, MD about His Research

Secretary Gary Locke visited the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Science Center in Silver Spring, MD today, to highlight the importance of education in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields in enhancing the United States’ global competitiveness.  He emphasized President Obama’s strategy of results-driven education investments, which will allow the U.S. to out-educate, out-innovate and out-build the rest of the world. 

Locke participated in the NOAA Education Partnership Program’s Annual Cooperative Science Center Directors meeting, where he heard a presentations by NOAA-sponsored undergraduate, Master’s and Ph.D. STEM students about their latest research and findings.  He also held a roundtable discussion with the NOAA Science Center Directors and some of the NOAA Cooperative Institute Directors to exchange ideas about how to bolster STEM education programs for undergraduate and graduate students across the country.  Graduates of these programs are the workforce of the future and will contribute to the recovery and growth of America’s economy. 

The NOAA Education Partnership Program supports five Cooperative Science Centers, housed in Minority Serving Institutions in Washington D.C., Maryland, New York, Florida, and North Carolina.  These Cooperative Science Centers have awarded over 800 Bachelors, Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in the STEM fields in the last 10 years; over 600 of these graduates are from under-represented minorities.

U.S. Census Bureau Releases New Race and Population Data Based on Findings from 2010 Census

2010 Census Population Distribution

New U.S. Mean Center of Population Announced for 2010

Today the U.S. Census Bureau released the first two of a series of 2010 Census briefs that offer a closer look at race and population in the United States: Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010 and Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin: 2010.

Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010 analyzes the nation’s population change for the United States as a whole as well as its regions, states, metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas, counties and places. It shows that over the past decade, the U.S. population increased by 9.7 percent – a rate slower than recent decades – but surpassing the 300 million mark to reach 308.7 million people. The South and West accounted for 84.4 percent of the U.S. population increase from 2000 to 2010, enough for the population of the West to surpass that of the Midwest during the decade. Between 2000 and 2010, all 10 of the most populous metro areas grew, and almost two-thirds of the nation’s counties and nine of the 10 most populous cities gained population.

Looking at our nation’s changing racial and ethnic diversity, Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin: 2010 shows that the Hispanic and Asian populations in the United States have experienced the fastest growth over the past decade. While the non-Hispanic white population is still numerically and proportionally the largest major race and ethnic group in the United States, it is growing at the slowest rate. The rise in the Hispanic population accounted for more than half of the 27.3 million increase in the total U.S. population. But more than any other race group, the Asian population grew the fastest, increasing by 43 percent.

The new mean center of population for the United States was also announced today; as of April 1, 2010, it is near Plato, Mo. The Census Bureau calculated this point as the place where an imaginary, flat, weightless and rigid map of the United States would balance perfectly if all 308,745,538 residents counted in the 2010 Census were of identical weight. The center of population tells the story of America, following a trail across the country ─ across Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Missouri ─ that reflects our history of settling the frontier, manifest destiny, waves of immigration and regional migration.

Spotlight on Commerce: Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Under Secretary and Administrator for NOAA

Dr. Lubchenco Oversees Seafood Sampling After the Deepwater Horizon Spill

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series, which highlights members of the Department of Commerce who are contributing to the president's vision of winning the future through their work.

Dr. Jane Lubchenco is the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

At NOAA, science underpins all that we do. One reason that I am so proud to serve as the under secretary for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator is the track record of excellent science at our agency, our focus on delivering essential services based on that science, and the Obama Administration’s commitment to making policy and management decisions informed by the best science available.  

When I first met with then President-elect Obama in mid-December 2008, we discussed ways that NOAA could provide America the best climate change science, restore her ocean’s vitality, provide the best possible weather forecasts and disaster warnings, and help our nation transition to more sustainable ways of living. After asking some very perceptive questions, his comment was simply, “Let’s do it!” Now, how refreshing is that?

As NOAA administrator, my responsibilities include promoting and enabling the science of oceans and the atmosphere; using science to provide services to save lives and property and enable the creation of jobs; and using science in our mission to be good stewards of oceans, coasts, the atmosphere and the planet.  

Spotlight on Commerce: Dr. Rebecca Blank, Acting Deputy Secretary and Undersecretary for Economic Affairs

Acting Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank speaks to Census 2010 crowd

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series, which highlights members of the Department of Commerce who are contributing to the president's vision of winning the future through their work.

Dr. Rebecca Blank is the Acting Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce and Undersecretary for Economic Affairs

As the Acting Deputy Secretary, I focus on matters of management and policy for the Commerce Department’s 12 bureaus, functioning as the department’s chief operating officer.  In this role, I oversee the central departments that coordinate DOC’s work on budgets, acquisitions, human resources, facilities, and other management issues.  I also retain my role as Undersecretary for Economic Affairs and head of the Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA), in which I oversee a talented staff of demographers, statisticians, and others at the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The statistical agencies within Commerce collect and analyze data that help to give us an accurate and complete picture of America and guide social and economic policy in the United States.

Since taking the role of Acting Deputy Secretary at the department, I feel even more responsible for helping America to “Win the Future.” This will require effective work by Commerce’s agencies to assist in growing U.S. exports, promoting domestic economic development, encouraging innovation, collecting and disseminating vital economic data, and advancing a sustainable environment in America’s oceans and atmosphere.  In the midst of tight budgets, we all recognize the need to make responsible choices about the services and programs that government provides.  But we also recognize that many of these services and programs are central to helping America’s businesses and consumers grow and stay competitive.

Last Day to Apply for Commerce Department Trade & Investment Program to HANNOVER MESSE 2011

Hannover Messe

From April 3-8, 2011, the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration (EDA) and International Trade Administration (ITA) will travel to Hannover, Germany to help lead a U.S. Trade & Investment Program to HANNOVER MESSE 2011, the world's largest industrial technology showcase.  By leading regional business clusters abroad, the Department of Commerce is supporting the Obama administration’s National Export Initiative (NEI) and working to attract U.S. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), by giving participating communities the opportunity to promote their regions as ideal locations to do business.

HANNOVER MESSE 2011 will provide the industrial community the opportunity to promote business initiatives in 13 industries – Industrial Automation; Motion, Drive & Automation; Energy; Power Plant Technology; Wind; MobiliTec; Digital Factory; ComVac; Industrial Supply; CoilTechnica; SurfaceTechnology; MicroNanoTec; and Research & Technology.

U.S. program participants will consist of state and local government officials focused on economic development, university officials engaged in economic development, and other non-profit economic development practitioners.  Today is the last day to apply to participate in the program. 

Get additional information about registration fees and how to apply for the U.S. Trade & Investment Program to HANNOVER MESSE 2011.

Spotlight on Commerce: April Boyd, Assistant Secretary for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs

April Boyd, Assistant Secretary for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series, which highlights members of the Department of Commerce who are contributing to the president's vision of winning the future through their work.

April Boyd is the Assistant Secretary for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs for U.S. Department of Commerce.

As Assistant Secretary for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs at the Commerce Department, I have the privilege to serve as Secretary Locke’s principal advisor on legislative issues, congressional relations and outreach to the nation’s governors and mayors.  I manage these efforts and the Department’s relationships with its 19 congressional committees of jurisdiction across the Department’s 12 bureaus.

During my tenure, the Department and Congress have collaborated on a range of measures, such as the bipartisan America COMPETES Act, which aims to boost the innovation on which our economic growth depends.  Lately, I’ve been focusing on two key administration legislative priorities:  comprehensive patent reform legislation, and Congressional implementation of the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement.  

Given that Members of Congress come to Washington to be a direct voice for their states and districts, and understanding that the Commerce Department exists to be the voice for American businesses, my job gives me the perspective that, together, we can be a powerful force for helping America win the future.  That’s what drives me to connect with members of Congress and local governments on Secretary Locke’s goals and the Commerce Department’s resources for American businesses, including those owned and led by women.  

Commerce Secretary Locke Delivers Keynote Address on U.S.-Brazil Relations at the American Chamber of Commerce in Brazil and Visits Cummins Production Facility

Secretary Locke Tours Cummins's Brazilian Production and Research Facility with Fred Hochberg, Ambassador Shannon and Luiz Pasquotto, VP for Cummins for Latin America

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke delivered the keynote address at the American Chamber of Commerce in São Paulo today where he discussed how Brazil and the United States can partner to expand trade and investment, and strengthen each other's ability to compete in the global economy.

Earlier, Locke met with Federação das Indústrias do Estado de São Paulo (FIESP), a prominent trade association comprised of local businesses, as well as Brazilian and American executives at a American Chamber of Commerce board meeting.

Later in the day, Locke toured the Brazilian production and research facilities of Cummins Inc., which produces engines and related components, and emissions solutions technology. Locke was joined by Tim Solso, Chairman and CEO.

Cummins, Inc., headquartered in Columbus, Ind., has invested in the local São Paulo community in which they built their facility.  They created a day care center, built a school and a health clinic, as well created a job training program that teaches unemployed women how to sew.

Spotlight on Commerce: Ellen Moran, Chief of Staff

Ellen Moran, Chief of Staff, Department of Commerce

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series, which highlights members of the Department of Commerce who are contributing to the president's vision of winning the future through their work.

Ellen Moran is the Chief of Staff for Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.

As Chief of Staff I run the office of the Secretary, and ensure Secretary Locke’s priorities and initiatives are executed by the Department. I work with the Secretary daily managing his workload and departmental staff to assist him with carrying out the President’s vision for “Winning the Future.” Whether it is through launching the National Export Initiative or completing the 2010 Census on time and under budget, I make sure the department works efficiently and effectively to strengthen America’s economy through the Secretary’s vision.  

Through our work we also have the unique opportunity to help American small businesses first hand, including those run by women.  Just this month, Acting Deputy Secretary Becky Blank and the Economics and Statistics Administration released the first comprehensive federal report in decades on the conditions of “Women in America.” (PDF) The Department works continuously to address the challenges faced by women and girls especially in regard to the economic struggles they face. Through awarding startup grants or making export information and guidance available to those businesses ready to expand, the Commerce Department provides guidance daily to women entrepreneurs and business owners in order to foster the growth of the U.S. economy. Women have dramatically reshaped their role in the workforce over the past several decades and the U.S. economy will only benefit as more women continue to grow their businesses.

Secretary Locke Tours Embraer to Highlight Importance of Trade Relationship Between U.S. and Brazil

Secretary Locke Tours Embraer 's Facility
Secretary Locke visited Embraer's Manufacturing Facility

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today encouraged stronger U.S.-Brazil commercial relations during a visit to Embraer manufacturing facility outside Sao Paulo. Embraer is a Brazilian manufacturer of commercial, general aviation, and defense aircraft.  Locke toured the facility and saw firsthand how the company incorporates significant U.S. aviation content into its supply chain.  He also applauded the company for it integrated supply chain and encouraged further integration with American small-medium-sized enterprises.

"Embraer is a shining example of partnership between U.S. and Brazilian manufacturing that is a "win-win" and creates jobs in both countries," Locke said.

According to Embraer, the company has imported over $6 billion in goods from U.S. companies over the last five years.  Embraer recently opened an assembly facility in Melbourne, Fla. and currently employs 660 people in the United States at 5 facilities.

Brazilian firms have made substantial investments in the U.S. worth billions of dollars during the past decade. Between 2003 and 2010, 47 projects were announced with a total capital investment of $2.5 billion dollars. Completed, these projects could create 4,806 new jobs, in a cross-section of industries ranging from information technology to steel making.

U.S. subsidiaries of Brazil-owned firms employed 42,200 people in the United States as of 2008.

Secretary Locke Advances U.S.-Brazil Trade Relationship During Presidential Trip

Secretary Locke chats with Fernando Pimentel, the Brazilian Minister of Development Industry and Foreign Trade

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke arrived today in Brazil, where he will accompany President Obama on his first trip to South America. Locke participated in number of meetings with key ministers leading up to the U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum tomorrow. 

Locke met with Fernando Pimentel, the Brazilian Minister of Development Industry and Foreign Trade to discuss ongoing cooperation on key commercial relationship issues and the short- and long-term priorities of the U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum.

Earlier in the day, Locke met with Antonio Palocci, President Dilma Rousseff's Chief of Staff and co-chair of the U.S.-Brazil CEO forum, to discuss increased commercial engagement between the two countries. He discussed improving cooperation on Intellectual Property Rights issues with Brazilian Minister of Culture Ana de Hollanda.

During the evening, Locke and other Administration officials met with more than a dozen U.S and Brazilian CEOs to set priorities and goals for tomorrow's U.S. Brazil CEO Forum.

Locke will co-chair tomorrow’s sixth meeting of the U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum where U.S. and Brazilian business leaders will discuss concrete recommendations to improve trade between the two countries.

[Press Release]

Commerce Department Supports Puerto Rico as part of President’s Interagency Task Force

Guest blog post by Rick Wade, senior adviser to Secretary Locke, deputy chief of staff, and member of the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status

Today the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status submitted a report to President Obama and Congress that provides recommendations for addressing Puerto Rico’s political status and economic climate. The report identifies specific proposals for boosting economic development, building competitive industries, and improving the quality of life for the people of Vieques – a Puerto Rican island-municipality in the northeastern Caribbean.

These recommendations, along with plans for their implementation, follow two public hearings held in San Juan, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., as well as meetings with island officials and other stakeholders to gather input directly from a broad cross section of voices on the issues of Puerto Rico’s status and economic development.

The report underlines the fact that Puerto Rico’s political status continues to be of great importance to its people. Its economy – like many others – has also faced significant challenges in recent years, driving the need for a greater focus on economic progress in the U.S. territory. Per capita income in Puerto Rico remains at less than one-third of that in the United States, due in part to its low employment rate and persistently low rate of labor force participation.

The U.S. Department of Commerce will be intensely involved in implementing the recommendations of the Task Force’s report. Six of the department’s 12 bureaus will lead projects in support of economic growth in Puerto Rico. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration will help develop an interagency team that works to connect Puerto Ricans to broadband Internet. The International Trade Administration’s U.S. Export Assistance Center in San Juan will help Puerto Rico increase its exports. And the department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis will help Puerto Rico update its methodology for calculating gross domestic product so it aligns with U.S. standards and better captures economic conditions there.

Protecting Consumers & Promoting Innovation Online: A Call for Baseline Privacy Legislation

Guest blog post by Cameron Kerry, General Counsel for the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The time has come for Congress to pass strong Internet consumer privacy legislation that provides clear rules of the road for businesses and consumers while preserving the innovation and free flow of information that are hallmarks of the Internet economy.

That’s the Obama Administration’s conclusion based on the work we have been doing on commercial data privacy.  Three months ago, the Commerce Department published its Green Paper, which contained preliminary policy recommendations to enhance consumer protection and strengthen online trust, while ensuring the Web remains a platform for innovation, jobs, and economic growth

In response, the Commerce Department received thoughtful and well-researched comments from over a hundred stakeholders representing industry, consumer groups, and academic sectors.  We carefully reviewed all them.  Through the Privacy and Internet Policy Subcommittee of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), which I co-chair with Assistant Attorney General Christopher Schroeder, we consulted with Federal agencies and key White House offices to develop a roadmap for moving forward on this important Administration priority.

Based our review, we have concluded that baseline consumer privacy legislation will strengthen the U.S. Internet privacy framework for consumers and businesses alike.  The Obama Administration is committed to working with Congress to pass a bill that provides a stronger statutory framework to protect consumers’ privacy interests in data that are collected and used or disclosed in commercial contexts in the Internet economy, while supporting innovation.  Consumer privacy legislation should have the following elements:

Secretary Locke Visits Research Triangle for Public Forum on Innovation, Entrpreneurship and Education

Steve Case, right, listens as Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke talks during a meeting of leading innovative thinkers and entrepreneurs who make up President Barack Obama’s National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke was joined by North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill today to participate in the first town hall-style public forum of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE) and discuss the importance of education to U.S. competitiveness.  Today's press release
At the meeting, NACIE subcommittees presented updates to Locke and the full Council on their work developing recommendations on how to better incentivize innovation and entrepreneurship to help America win the future by out-innovating, out-educating and out-building our economic competitors.

Incorporating a wide range of stakeholder input, reports included initiatives to develop new cross-college, cross-disciplinary educational programs that connect business with science, math, technology and engineering fields and extend these programs to young people in underserved and low-income areas by involving community colleges in consortia for training and mentoring in innovation and entrepreneurial activities.

Secretary Locke Discusses the U.S.-Turkey Trade Relationship

Secretary Locke Delivers a Keynote on Strengthening Turkish-American Economic Relations

Today, Secretary Locke delivered keynote remarks at an event jointly hosted by the Center for American Progress and the Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists of Turkey (TUSKON).  He discussed the U.S.-Turkey trade relationship and its importance for the strategic partnership between the two countries. Turkey and the United States conducted nearly $15 billion in bilateral trade last year – an almost 40% rise from the previous year, and the most trade ever between Turkey and the U.S. This trade was helped along by Turkey's impressive resilience in the wake of the global financial crisis. Last year, Turkey posted economic growth of over 7%.

To further our trade relationship, In December 2009, President Obama and Prime Minister Erdogan launched a new strategic framework to strengthen our economic bonds, the Framework for Strategic Economic and Commercial Cooperation. The framework elevates the responsibility for increasing our economic dialogue to the highest levels of both our governments.

That framework has focused on enhancing our business-to-business ties and how we can promote innovation in both Turkey and the United States.  Particularly on issues like:

  • Promoting renewable energy;
  • Incentivizing more entrepreneurship;
  • Helping Istanbul fulfill its role as a European and global financial center; and
  • Empowering small and medium-size enterprises

To help meet those goals, the Department of Commerce plans to schedule two trade missions to Turkey later this year – one with U.S. oil and gas companies and another with renewable energy companies.

Read Secretary Locke’s full remarks.

U.S. Commerce Department Launches i6 Green Challenge

Wind turbines on a wind farm (DIS photo)

Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) and its Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship today announced the opening of its $12 million i6 Green Challenge in partnership with the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, and Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. ‪

EDA will award up to $1 million to each of six teams around the country with the most innovative ideas to drive technology commercialization and entrepreneurship in support of a green innovation economy, increased U.S. competitiveness and new jobs. Its partner agencies will award more than $6 million in additional funding to i6 Green winners.

First announced at the White House launch of Startup America in January, i6 Green follows last year’s inaugural i6 Challenge to accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship in the United States.

“Initiatives like the i6 Green Challenge support the president’s vision for out-innovating the rest of the world by moving great ideas from the lab to the marketplace to spur the development of 21st century jobs and industries,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. “We know that in the last 30 years, nearly all net new jobs were created by startups, and they will continue to play a critical role in our nation’s economic prosperity.”  For application information on i6 Green, visit |  Release

President Obama Nominates Secretary Locke to be the New U.S. Ambassador to China

President Obama Nominates Secretary Locke to be the New U.S. Ambassador to China

At the White House this morning, President Obama announced Commerce Secretary Gary Locke as his choice to be the next Ambassador to China. As Commerce Secretary, Locke has earned the trust of business leaders across America, advocating on behalf of America’s businesses and U.S. exports all around the world. In 2010, Commerce led an unprecedented number of trade missions worldwide, promoting American businesses and products, and Locke has been a point person for the President’s National Export Initiative, which aims to double U.S. exports in five years, creating several million new jobs. Additionally, as Commerce Secretary, Locke has helped make progress on the critical partnership between the U.S and China, expanding opportunities for American companies and American workers, and negotiating the opening of the Chinese market to U.S. goods and services. Read Secretary Locke's remarks and watch the video of the announcement below. | Public reaction to announcement |  White House blog

NOAA: U.S. Temperature and Precipitation Near-Normal in February

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February 2011 was near normal for both temperature and precipitation averaged across the contiguous United States, according to the latest NOAA State of the Climate Report issued today. The February average temperature was 34.0 F, which is 0.7 F below the long-term (1901–2000) average. Last month’s average precipitation was 1.81 inches, 0.21 inch below the same average. February marked the end of the meteorological winter (December–February), which featured below normal temperature and precipitation for the three-month period.

This monthly analysis is based on records dating back to 1895, prepared by scientists at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.  |  Read more of today's report

Secretary Locke Addresses Asia-Pacific Patent Cooperation Forum

Secretary Locke Addresses the Asia-Pacific Patent Cooperation in the 21st Century Forum

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke joined Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and USPTO Director David Kappos today at the Asia-Pacific Patent Cooperation in the 21st Century Forum at the USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, Va. The event featured heads and deputies of Asian-Pacific economies’ patent offices assembled to discuss the urgency of moving forward with patent harmonization in a global process that includes both developed and developing countries.  

Patent harmonization will narrow differences among patent laws, simplify patent applicants’ requirements, and thereby achieve greater efficiency in the global patent system – in turn speeding the movement of innovation from the development phase to the marketplace where it can create new businesses and new jobs.

Locke highlighted the importance of building a better intellectual property infrastructure in our increasingly globalized world and applauded efforts to reduce patent backlogs and produce higher-quality patents, noting the progress made in the U.S. Senate on patent reform legislation that would further these efforts.

“Last week, the U.S. Senate started debating a patent reform bill that would give the patent office the tools it needs to significantly expand its reform efforts,” Locke said.  “Congress has been working for a long time on this issue, and there is strong bipartisan support to get patent reform done this year. So we remain optimistic.”
The forum, which began March 6 and runs through March 8, is being convened at an historic moment for intellectual property systems worldwide as patent filings and backlogs continue to increase. Differences among patent systems cause legal uncertainty, complexity and increased costs.  Remarks

Acting Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank Discusses New Women in America Report at Center for American Progress

Acting Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank Speaking at the Center for American Progress on White House "Women in America" Report

Acting Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank joined Tina Tchen, executive director of the White House Council on Women and Girls; Preeta Bansal, senior policy advisor and general counsel of the Office of Management and Budget; and a panel of experts at the Center for American Progress today to discuss the findings of a new White House report, “Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being.” The discussion focused on women’s present role in families, education, employment, health, and crime in American Society.

In support of the Council on Women and Girls, the Office of Management and Budget and the Commerce Department’s Economics and Statistics Administration worked together to create the report, which was released on the first day of Women’s History Month. 

Among the report’s key findings (PDF):

Secretary Locke Addresses APEC Events in Washington

 Jim Thomas, President of ASTM International and Locke study the agenda

Today, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke delivered remarks at the APEC Automotive Dialogue and the “Green Buildings for Green Growth” seminar, held in the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, as part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)’s Senior Officials’ Meetings of 2011. At the Green Buildings seminar, which seeks to improve trade and investment in the APEC region for green building products, materials and services, Locke spoke about the importance of standards for building efficiency. And at the Auto Dialogue, which seeks to help U.S. automotive companies gain wider market access in the Asia-Pacific region and to advance U.S. commercial and regional strategic interests in the sector, he  underlined the importance of green technology in the automotive industry.

The next key APEC meetings this year will be held in May in Big Sky, Montana, where the Commerce Department will host the APEC Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Ministerial and related meetings. In November, the United States will host APEC 2011 – the group’s annual meeting – in Honolulu.  |  Green Buildings, Green Growth remarks  |  Auto Dialogue remarks

Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration Invests in Advanced Manufacturing in the Midwest

The Economic Development Administration today awarded $2 million to the Council on Competitiveness, a non-partisan group of CEOs, university presidents and labor leaders that works to advance economic prosperity – to help small- and medium-sized manufacturers in the Midwest compete in the 21st century global economy. The grant will be matched by $2.5 million from private-sector partners and help to catalyze development of state-of-the-art technologies that accelerate the design process, allowing small- and medium-sized companies to become more competitive.

With the funding, the Council on Competitiveness will form the new National Digital Engineering and Manufacturing Consortium, which will develop software, purchase time on supercomputers, and train small- and medium-sized manufacturers in the use of this technology, enabling them to design their own advanced manufacturing processes and products. This will be done in close collaboration with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) customers of these companies, thus ensuring that this cutting-edge technology will help both OEMs and their supply-chain partners in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.

“As U.S. manufacturers work to keep their competitive edge, government and the private sector are working together to foster a vibrant advanced manufacturing sector in the United States,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez. “This important public-private partnership to strengthen manufacturing in the Midwest is an example of the type of investment that can help America win the future by out-innovating and out-competing the rest of the world.”

Today’s announcement was made at a meeting with small business and manufacturing leaders at the White House with Fernandez, Assistant to the President for Manufacturing Policy Ron Bloom, and U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra. The new public-private partnership was formalized with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in support of the project. |  Press release

Secretary Locke Testifies Before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation About the Future of American Manufacturing

Secretary Locke testifies before the Senate about the future of American manufacturing

Secretary Locke started his testimony about the Future of American Manufacturing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation by declaring, "The Obama administration believes that manufacturing is essential to America’s economic competitiveness. Manufacturing is a vital source of good middle-class jobs. And it is a key driver of innovation, with 70 percent of all private sector R&Dspending done by manufacturing companies. The United States is still the world’s largest and most productive manufacturer. On its own, U.S. manufacturing would rank today as the seventh-largest economy in the world. And just yesterday, it was reported that U.S. manufacturing activity hit its highest level since 2004.

But manufacturing productivity gains – which are so essential to growth – are partly responsible for millions of lost manufacturing jobs. Factories that once needed 1,000 people to build a product  can now do it with 100. Meanwhile, competitors abroad are consistently producing quality goods at less cost. America can’t escape this global competition. But we can win it, by leading the development of new industries and manufacturing higher value goods that the world's consumers demand.

See video

Secretary Locke Wants Your Questions on the Future of American Manufacturing

Today Secretary Locke will be testifying before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation about the Future of American Manufacturing: Maintaining America's Competitive Edge.  Secretary Locke will be answering questions from Senators during the hearing, but afterwards he wants to hear from you. We invite you to watch the hearing and submit questions about manufacturing via comments on this post, Twitter (use hashtag #LockeChat) and on our Facebook page. As the Secretary’s schedule permits, he’ll answer some of the questions throughout the day.

As a primer, watch the video below. In it U.S. companies from a wide range of industries from health care to plastics talk about why they manufacture their goods in America. The United States offers a highly educated workforce, strong intellectual property protections, and a business climate that supports and encourages innovation. For ET Water, Labcon, Supracor and others, manufacturing in America just makes smart business sense.  |  Senate testimony

See video

Secretary Locke, USPTO Director Kappos Highlight Support for Patent Reform Legislation

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and USPTO Director David Kappos hosted a conference call with reporters today to discuss the administration’s support for pending patent reform legislation and why the administration believes patent reform is critical to promoting innovation and creating jobs.

“Passage of this legislation is essential to America's economic competitiveness and our ability to innovate,” Locke said. “As President Obama said recently, we need to out-innovate the rest of the world if we’re going to win the future. An efficiently operating patent system is critical to this goal.”

On Monday, the Senate began consideration of S.23 – now known as The America Invents Act – and the administration released a Statement of Administration Policy expressing support for the proposed legislation.

While the USPTO has made significant strides in reducing its backlog of more than 700,000 unexamined patent applications and the time it takes to process a patent, reforming the patent system is critical to speeding the transformation of an idea into a market-making product that will drive the jobs and industries of the future.

White House Releases First Comprehensive Federal Report on the Status of American Women in Almost 50 Years

Cover of report

Report released on first day of Women's History Month

Today, the White House released a new report entitled Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being, a statistical portrait showing how women are faring in the United States today and how their lives have changed over time.  This is the first comprehensive federal report on women since 1963, when the Commission on the Status of Women, established by President Kennedy and chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt, produced a report on the conditions of women. Women in America Report.

Women in America focuses on five critical areas: people, families and income; education; employment; health; and crime and violence.  The administration will be honoring Women’s History Month throughout March, and will highlight a different section of the report every week.

“The Obama administration has been focused on addressing the challenges faced by women and girls from day one because we know that the success of women and girls is vital to winning the future,” said Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls Valerie Jarrett. “Today’s report not only serves as a look back on American women’s lives, but serves as a guidepost to help us move forward.”

“This collection of data from across the federal government offers the most comprehensive look at women in America since the 1960s,” Acting Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank said. “With this report, this administration can more effectively manage programs that support women and girls and America’s families, and foster the growth of the U.S. economy.” 

The Office of Management and Budget and the Economics and Statistics Administration within the Department of Commerce worked together with federal statistical agencies to create Women in America in support of the Council on Women and Girls. The information informs the efforts of the Council and is aimed at providing facts to a broad range of interested parties, including policymakers, journalists and researchers.  |  White House press release  |  Presidential proclamation