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Blog Entries from May 2011

Secretary Locke Outlines Administration’s Views on Patent Reform

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today issued a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith and Ranking Member John Conyers outlining the views of the Obama administration on patent reform legislation currently being considered in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The America Invents Act increases the certainty of patent rights by implementing a first-inventor-to-file system for patent approval, which reduces the need for cost-prohibitive litigation that often ties up new ideas in court, stifling innovation and holding back job creation. It will also allow the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to set and retain the fees it collects from its users. The USPTO is entirely fee-funded, and this fee-setting authority will ensure high-quality, timely patent review and address the backlog of patent applications that is currently preventing new innovations from reaching the marketplace.

Since the beginning of Locke’s tenure as Commerce Secretary, reforming the U.S. patent system to support the acceleration of American innovation and competitiveness and drive job creation and economic growth has been one of his top priorities. In meetings with CEOs and U.S. business leaders from companies of all sizes, the shortcomings of the U.S. patent system and the need for reform has almost always been a topic of conversation.

During the last two years, Locke has worked with bipartisan Congressional leaders as they have crafted legislation that is widely supported by industry experts, universities, independent inventors, and the business community, because it will make it easier for America‚Äôs innovators to produce new technologies that drive economic growth and create jobs.

Partnership with NTIA Bolsters Libraries' Leading Role in Digital Literacy, Workforce Development

Emily Sheketoff, Executive Director, American Library Association Washington Office

Guest blog post by Emily Sheketoff, Executive Director, American Library Association Washington Office

Research confirms that digital opportunity depends not only on access to computers and broadband, but the competencies necessary to successfully navigate the online world and be more competitive in the 21st century. America’s libraries are on the forefront of connecting learners of all ages with formal and informal digital literacy skills training, as well as access to a wide range of technology resources.

For these reasons, the American Library Association is pleased to collaborate with the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration to support DigitalLiteracy.gov. This new portal is an important first step in collecting and sharing class materials, research, and online learning tools. We look forward to greatly expanding the content available as librarians, educators and other practitioners engage with the website.

From their inception, libraries of all kinds have had the development, promotion, and advancement of literacy at the core of their mission.  Now libraries combine trained staff, technology infrastructure and robust electronic collections to meet diverse needs that continue to change and grow. School librarians teach the skills necessary to find and evaluate web resources, and they support use of online collaborative tools that help ensure our students leave school ready for higher education and the 21st century workforce. Information literacy is now considered by several accreditation associations as a key outcome for college students.

2010 Census Shows Nation’s Hispanic Population Grew Four Times Faster than the Total U.S. Population, While Overall Population is Aging

Official census taker pushing a doorbell

The U.S. Census Bureau today released two 2010 Census briefs summarizing important demographic trends on the Hispanic population and Age and Sex Composition in the United States over the past decade.

The Hispanic Population: 2010 looks at an important part of our nation‚Äôs changing ethnic diversity with a particular focus on groups of Hispanic origin, including Mexican, Dominican and Cuban. Between 2000 and 2010, the Hispanic population grew by 43 percent ‚Äď four times the 9.7-percent growth of the total U.S. population. The increase was a difference of 15.2 million people and accounted for more than half of the total population increase of 27.3 million people.

Age and Sex Composition: 2010 reports on our nation‚Äôs changing age and sex composition and shows that while Americans have gotten older, the male population has grown faster than the female population over the last decade. Of the total 2010 Census population, 157.0 million people, or 50.8 percent, were female and 151.8 million, or 49.2 percent, were male. 

For more information on today’s 2010 Census releases, visit www.2010.census.gov/news.

Commerce’s Commitment to Eliminating Regulatory Burdens in Support of Growth, Competitiveness and National Security

Guest blog post by Dr. Rebecca Blank, Acting Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

In January, President Obama issued an executive order outlining his plan to create a 21st century regulatory system that encourages job creation, economic growth and U.S. competitiveness. The idea was to make it simpler, smarter and more efficient, while still protecting the health and safety of the American people.  As a key part of that plan, he called upon government agencies to conduct a comprehensive review of the rules and regulations currently on the books and to remove those that are outdated, unnecessary or excessively burdensome.  

This review has led agencies, including the Department of Commerce, to identify initiatives that have the potential to eliminate tens of millions of hours in reporting burdens and billions of dollars in regulatory costs. Today, the results of each agency‚Äôs review is being made public and posted on Whitehouse.gov. 

Here at the Commerce Department, we focused our plan on those bureaus with the greatest regulatory activity: the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), the International Trade Administration (ITA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

NIST: New Software Tool Helps Evaluate Natural Cooling Options for Buildings

Image of Climate Suitability Tool graphic

A new, free software tool from Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) could prove to be a breath of fresh air for architects and designers of ventilation systems for "green" commercial buildings.

With the Climate Suitability Tool, building design teams can evaluate whether the local climate is suitable for cooling a prospective building with natural ventilation or requires a hybrid system that supplies supplemental cooling capacity. The tool is based on a model of the heat-related characteristics of a building configured to take full advantage of ambient climate conditions and natural air movement. It incorporates an algorithm‚ÄĒor problem-solving procedure‚ÄĒthat crunches hourly weather data (downloaded from annual datasets for U.S. localities) and uses standardized criteria for rating the comfort of building occupants.

"We think this tool will be useful during the early stages of design, when decisions on the form of a building and its components are being made," explains NIST mechanical engineer Steven Emmerich. "It provides estimates of ventilation rates for preliminary design calculations. You can approximate how many air changes per hour will be necessary to offset heat gains due to the occupants, equipment and lighting so that comfortable conditions are maintained."

The effects of direct natural ventilation and a nighttime cooling procedure are assessed using a method devised by James Axley, Yale University professor of architecture and engineering. When the outdoor temperature is below an accepted threshold, direct ventilation through open windows and by other means can deliver the cooling to maintain the comfort zone. When the outdoor temperature exceeds the threshold during the day but drops below it after sunset, the cooler nightime air can dilute heat gained during the day and build a reserve of cooling potential for the day to come.  Read NIST's Tech Beat story

U.S. Tourism is Big Business at International Pow Wow

Chart showing growth in travel and tourism

Guest blog post by Francisco S√°nchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

The U.S. Travel Association’s International Pow Wow is the travel industry’s premier international marketplace and the largest generator of USA travel.

The three-day event is action-packed and filled with pre-scheduled business appointments, with more than 5,000 attendees expected and international and domestic buyers and representatives from more than 70 countries will be attending. The business negotiations that take place result in the generation of more than $3.5 billion in future USA travel.  In other words, Pow Wow is a big deal. 

We at the Commerce Department have enjoyed a close relationship with Pow Wow for years and added the conference into the Department‚Äôs International Buyer Program in 2011. The International Trade Administration (ITA) recruited qualified buyers from all over the world to attend Pow Wow.  There are currently 1,135 international buyer delegates, including delegations from emerging markets like China and the Czech Republic, and 1,047 U.S. companies registered for the show this year.

U.S. Census Bureau Reports Housing is Top Reason People Moved Between 2009 and 2010

Graphic of pie chart

The U.S. Census Bureau reported today that among those who moved between 2009 and 2010, more than four out of 10 did so for housing-related reasons, including the desire to live in a new or better home or apartment.

Family concerns, such as a change in marital status, and employment needs were other factors cited as reason for moving in the new report, Geographical Mobility: 2010.

‚ÄúTracking mobility allows us to examine shifts in demographic trends in the population for the nation, regions and metro areas as a whole,‚ÄĚ said David Ihrke, survey statistician in the Census Bureau's Social, Economic and Housing Statistics Division.

In 2010, 37.5 million people 1 year and older in the United States had changed residences within the past year, a rate fairly similar to that in 2009. Among those who moved, 69.3 percent stayed within the same county, 16.7 percent moved to a different county in the same state, 11.5 percent moved to a different state, and 2.5 percent moved to the United States from abroad.

People in the Northeast were the least likely to move at a rate of 8.3 percent in 2010, followed by the Midwest at 11.8 percent, the South at 13.6 percent, and the West at 14.7 percent. While principal cities within metropolitan areas experienced a net loss of 2.3 million movers between 2009 and 2010, suburbs saw a net gain of 2.5 million movers. Release

EDA Helps Launch Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge to Promote Regional Growth, Competitiveness

Unprecedented initiative leverages resources of 16 federal agencies to create jobs and economic prosperity

UPDATE: Read Gene Sperling and Ginger Lew's post on this subject on the White House blog.

The Commerce Department‚Äôs Economic Development Administration (EDA), along with 15 other federal agencies within the Obama Administration, today announced a $33 million Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge to drive innovation-fueled job creation and global competitiveness through public-private partnerships in at least 20 regions around the country. 

The Challenge will award funds to regions with high-growth industries that support a wide range of economic and workforce development activities.

The Department of Labor‚Äôs Employment and Training Administration will invest up to $20 million for technical skills training; EDA will invest up to $10 million in Economic Adjustment Assistance funds; and the Small Business Administration will invest up to $3 million in technical assistance. 

The Obama administration is committed to smarter use of existing federal resources to foster regional innovation in support of sustainable economic prosperity. Strong industry clusters ‚Äď like the Research Triangle in North Carolina or Silicon Valley in California ‚Äď promote robust economic ecosystems and the development of a skilled workforce, both of which are critical to long-term regional success.

‚ÄúRegional innovation clusters bring together the knowledge and financial resources that America needs to compete in the global economy,‚ÄĚ said NationalEconomic Council Director Gene Sperling. ‚ÄúThe Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge will help regional innovation clusters produce the nextgeneration of innovative products and drive sustainable economic growth and job creation.‚ÄĚ

The deadline to apply to the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge is July 7, 2011. Details about the application process are available here.

Commerce's Patent and Trademark Office Announces Government-Wide Intellectual Property Training Database

Graphic of globe

New database to store and share intellectual property rights training materials across federal agencies to promote more effective international enforcement training

The United States Patent and Trademark Office, in cooperation with the Office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, today announced the launch of a new online database where U.S. government agencies can now post information about the intellectual property rights (IPR) training programs they conduct around the world. 

‚ÄúThe database is intended to facilitate more efficient use of limited IPR training resources by sharing training materials among U.S. government agencies, avoiding duplicative programs, and identifying IPR enforcement training deficiencies,‚ÄĚ said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos. 

Working closely with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other agencies that conduct international enforcement training, the USPTO established the database for storing and sharing training materials among federal agencies.  The database is fully searchable and includes each program‚Äôs title, location, description, participants by country, background, and more. To date, more than 100 training and technical assistance programs that relate to protecting intellectual property rights have been entered into the database. Release  Web site

Secretary Locke Lauds West Paw Design's Export Success at APEC 2011 Meetings

Secretary Locke Lauds West Paw Design's Export Success at APEC 2011 Meetings

On the heels of the APEC 2011 meetings in Big Sky, Montana, Secretary Gary Locke and Senator Max Baucus visited West Paw Design today, a Montana-based manufacturer of eco-friendly pet toys, beds and apparels.  Touring its sustainable manufacturing facilities, Locke praised West Paw for its green manufacturing methods and efforts to export its products to foreign markets.  Promoting green growth among businesses of the Asia-Pacific region is one of the key goals of APEC 2011.

‚ÄúWest Paw exemplifies the kind of green growth and aggressive exporting that we need from small- and medium-sized businesses to reinvigorate our economy,‚ÄĚ Locke said.  ‚ÄúIt is the export successes of companies like West Paw that are going to help our economy grow, create jobs and meet President Obama‚Äôs goal of doubling U.S. exports in five years.‚ÄĚ

West Paw, which exports its products to 28 foreign markets, showcased its best sustainable manufacturing practices to more than 70 participants during the tour, including APEC trade officials and private sector representatives from the 21 APEC economies.

West Paw Design integrated sustainability into its manufacturing processes and product design by using recycled and organic materials. The company has 46 employees and has more than doubled the size of its manufacturing facility in 2010 in order to handle the growing demand for its products.  It has utilized several federal government resources to help boost its exports, including the Commerce Department‚Äôs U.S. Commercial Service, Manufacturing Extension Partnership and loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Building Opportunities for Latino Businesses

Anna Gomez Addresses the Latin Tech-Net Initiative

Guest blog post by Anna Gomez, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

On Tuesday, I joined a group of Hispanic community development leaders in San Francisco to launch the Latino Tech-Net Initiative, a Recovery Act project spearheaded by the Mission Economic Development Agency, or MEDA, which is equipping 17 computer centers in 11 cities across the country with equipment, software, and training to help Latino entrepreneurs and small businesses build online skills, spur local economic development, and support job creation in their communities.

The ‚Äúdigital divide‚ÄĚ remains a serious issue for the Latino community, and MEDA is on the front lines of addressing this problem. Data from NTIA‚Äôs Digital Nation report show that the broadband adoption rate among Hispanic households is only 56.9 percent - more than ten percent lower than the overall national rate. In fact, even after adjusting for socioeconomic characteristics like income and education, Latino households significantly lag White households in broadband adoption.

Through Recovery Act projects like Latino Tech-Net, we are working to bridge the technology gap among economically vulnerable populations such as minorities, low-income communities, people with disabilities and seniors. We know there is no simple ‚Äėone size fits all‚Äô solution to closing the digital divide and that a combination of targeted approaches makes sense.

NOAA Hurricane Outlook Indicates an Above-Normal Season

Hurricanes Karl, Igor and Julia

Urges residents in hurricane-prone areas to be prepared

The Atlantic basin is expected to see an above-normal hurricane season this year, according to the seasonal outlook issued by NOAA‚Äôs Climate Prediction Center ‚Äď a division of the National Weather Service.

Across the entire Atlantic Basin for the six-month season, which begins June 1, NOAA is predicting the following ranges this year:

  • 12 to 18 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which:
  • 6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including:
  • 3 to 6 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher)

Each of these ranges has a 70 percent likelihood, and indicate that activity will exceed the seasonal average of 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.

Now is the time to get your plan together for what you and your family would do if disaster strikes. Visit ready.gov to learn more and if you’re a small business owner, visit www.ready.gov/business to ensure that your business is prepared for a disaster.

Hurricane impacts are not limited to the coastline; strong winds and flooding rainfall often pose a threat across inland areas along with the risk for tornadoes.

Next week, May 22-28, is national Hurricane Preparedness Week. To help prepare residents of hurricane-prone areas, NOAA is unveiling a new set of video and audio public service announcements featuring NOAA hurricane experts and the FEMA administrator that are available in both English and Spanish. These are available at http://www.hurricanes.gov/prepareRelease 

Secretary Locke Discusses Small Business Competitiveness at APEC Green Growth Forum, Meets with APEC Trade Ministers

Secretary Locke Delivering the Keynote Remarks at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Small and Medium Enterprise Enhancing Competitiveness through Green Growth Forum

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today delivered keynote remarks at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Small and Medium Enterprise Enhancing Competitiveness through Green Growth Forum in advance of the APEC 2011 SME Ministerial Meeting.  He urged small- and medium-sized businesses throughout the Asia-Pacific region to incorporate green growth strategies into their business development plans to increase their global competitiveness.

The Competitiveness and Green Growth Forum provided an opportunity to discuss ways to help APEC economies incorporate green growth policies into the business development plans of SMEs.  The Forum also paved the groundwork for the APEC SME Ministers‚Äô discussions on green growth-focused technical and financial assistance programs for SMEs.

Locke met with representatives from U.S. companies during a luncheon to highlight how APEC meetings can help connect American companies with public and private sector officials from all the 21 APEC economies and open up more business opportunities.  In 2010, 60 percent of U.S. goods exports were to the APEC economies.

Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau Reports 55 Percent of Americans Have Married Once in their Lifetimes

Categories:
Wedding Rings (credit: firemedic58 from Flickr)

A new U.S. Census Bureau report released today shows that among all people 15 years and older in the United States in 2009, 55 percent had been married once and 30 percent had never married. At the same time, 15 percent of Americans had married more than once, including 12 percent who had married twice and 3 percent who had married three or more times.

The findings come from a new report, Number, Timing, and Duration of Marriages and Divorces: 2009, which uses data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation to look at topics such as changes in the age at marriage, divorce and remarriage over the years, how long first marriages last, people who have been married multiple times, those who have been divorced or experienced other marital events, and the percentage of currently married couples that include spouses who are both in their first marriage.

More than half of currently married couples had been married for at least 15 years as of 2009, with 35 percent having reached their 25th wedding anniversary and 6 percent having passed their golden wedding anniversary, marking 50 years of marriage. In comparison to figures from 1996, these percentages were 1-2 percentage points higher, reflecting the leveling of divorce rates and increases in life expectancy.

Spotlight on Commerce: Suresh Kumar, Assistant Secretary for Trade Promotion and Director General for the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service

Suresh Kumar cutting a ribbon opening the Commercial Service Pavillion

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.

Suresh Kumar is the Assistant Secretary for Trade Promotion and Director General for the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service.

Asian Pacific American Month gives you time to reflect on your origin, your country of birth and learning through and across cultures.  It is conveying these assets, experiences and skills that build a better community and a better country.   At the U.S. Commercial Service, improving opportunities for American businesses domestically and abroad is what drives me.  It is why I'm behind President Obama's plan to win the future. To do so, we must out-innovate, out-educate and connect U.S. businesses to the 95% of consumers who live outside the U.S.  This is my key responsibility:  connecting U.S. businesses to global opportunities.  This lays the foundation for a strong, sustainable economy in the United States and beyond.

I am privileged to lead a service with almost 1500 trade professionals who assist American enterprises everyday to connect to global partners and to new markets.  Of the U.S.'s 30 million companies, only 1% or 280,000 companies export and of those who do, 58% export to only one market.  We can and we must do better, and it is this challenge and opportunity that the US&FCS trade specialists and I focus on each day.   This country needs more exporters and potential entrepreneurs and exporters amongst you do not have to go it alone - you have the full support of the U.S. Government in connecting you to global partners and global markets.

Hearing From Local Businesses in Minneapolis, MN: Secretary Locke Joins a White House Jobs and Competitiveness Council Listening and Action Session

UPDATED: Secretary Locke wrote about his time in Minneapolis on the White House blog.

Today, Secretary Locke traveled to Minneapolis to take part in a White House Jobs and Competitiveness Council Listening and Action Session. There, he heard suggestions from local business leaders on how the public and private sectors can work together to create jobs and enhance competitiveness for small businesses.

Secretary Locke was joined by Antonio M. Perez, Chairman and CEO, Kodak, Don Graves, President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, Department of Treasury, Ron Bloom, Senior Counselor for Manufacturing Policy, President’s National Economic Council, and Darlene Miller, President and CEO, Permac Industries.

Ms. Miller and Permak Industries, located just outside Minneapolis, played host to the session. They provided Administration officials and Jobs Council Members with a tour the Permac Industries facility and then held forum discussions and Q and A sessions with local business owners to discuss ideas for creating jobs and growing business in this country.

These sessions are part of an ongoing series of regional Council Listening and Action Sessions that will take place around the country.  The purpose of the regional sessions is to respond to the President‚Äôs challenge that the Council bring new voices to the table and ensure that everyone can participate and inform the work and recommendations of the Council.  The ideas and information exchanged at these events will help inform the future policy work of the President‚Äôs Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. The first Listening and Action Session took place in Dayton, Ohio and focused on creating new markets and customers for small businesses through supply chain development, in-sourcing, and partnerships with large businesses.

Commerce’s EDA Partners with Fraunhofer USA, Boston City Leaders to Build Sustainable Energy Research and Innovation Center

U.S. Assistant Secretary John Fernandez with Mayor Thomas Menino, Fraunhofer USA, and local leaders at the groundbreaking of the $19.5 million Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems in Boston’s Innovation District.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez was in Boston this week with Mayor Thomas Menino for the groundbreaking of the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems, a sustainable energy research and building innovation center at 5 Channel Center in Boston's Innovation District. The 50,000-square-foot facility will support area entrepreneurs and advance the commercialization of sustainable energy technologies and next-generation building efficiency systems.

Commerce’s Economic Development Administration awarded $3.5 million to Fraunhofer USA in 2009 to support the project, which is expected to create an estimated 180 jobs and generate $30 million in private investment. The applied research facility and building technology showcase will serve as a unique factory of innovation in support of established companies and startups that are developing and demonstrating the next generation of energy efficiency technologies.

Boston city leaders hope the Center will become a living laboratory, attracting building technology pacesetters from around the country and the international business community to demonstrate the future of sustainable buildings. The project serves as an innovation platform for collaborative research and development activities in the region, as well as an enduring pipeline for new technologies and startup companies.

‚ÄúThe U.S. Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration is pleased to work with Mayor Thomas Menino, Fraunhofer USA and local leaders to help build the $20 million Center for Sustainable Energy Systems, which will serve as a catalyst for job and economic growth in the region,‚ÄĚ Fernandez said. ‚ÄúThis smart investment to advance the development of the 5 Channel Center and commercialize sustainable energy technologies and next-generation building efficiency systems will provide a much needed boost to the local economic ecosystem as new businesses are attracted to the community.‚ÄĚ

Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau Provides First-Ever Look at Veteran Business Ownership

VetBiz.gov

New data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau for the first time provides detailed information on veteran-owned businesses in the United States. It shows U.S. military veterans owned 2.4 million businesses in 2007, which accounted for 9 percent of all businesses nationwide. Veteran-owned businesses generated $1.2 trillion in receipts, or about 4.1 percent of all business receipts in 2007, and employed nearly 5.8 million people.

Businesses in which veterans were majority or half-owners numbered 3.7 million, representing 13.5 percent of all businesses nationwide and accounting for more than $1.6 trillion in receipts in 2007. These 3.7 million businesses employed 8.2 million people.

This new data come from the Survey of Business Owners: Veteran-Owned Businesses: 2007, which reports the number of veteran-owned firms in the United States, their sales and receipts, number of paid employees and annual payroll. Today’s release is the first of its kind to track business ownership by America’s veterans.

The three states with the largest number of veteran-owned businesses in 2007 were California, Texas and Florida. California had 239,422 veteran-owned businesses, representing 9.8 percent of all veteran-owned businesses in the United States. Texas had 199,476 businesses, or 8.1 percent, and Florida was home to 176,727 businesses, or 7.2 percent. Nearly one-third of veteran-owned businesses operated in the professional, scientific, and technical services and construction sectors.

Spotlight on Commerce: Anita Ramasastry, Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance

Anita Ramasastry, Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance

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.

Anita Ramasastry is the Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance

In my role as the Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance, I develop and advance strategies to keep markets open for U.S. exporters. In the International Trade Administration, we do this by trying to reduce or eliminate trade barriers in other countries. Recently I was asked to establish a new initiative focused on preventing corruption in global trade. In addition, as part of the President‚Äôs National Export Initiative, I coordinate new strategies for increasing trade in six growing markets including Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey. I also am a member of the Commerce Department‚Äôs Internet Policy Task Force ‚Äď tasked with promoting the growth of the knowledge economy and supporting our Internet and technology companies overseas. In this role, I have focused on how restrictions on Internet data flows can be a trade barrier, hindering innovation and competition in many markets.

Before coming to the International Trade Administration, I was a tenured law professor at the University of Washington, School of Law in Seattle, where I taught and researched commercial and banking law. My research focused on the impact of corruption on economic development in countries with natural resources.

President Obama has spoken of the devastating cost of corruption. And the need for change: ‚ÄúIn too many places, the culture of the bribe is a brake on development and prosperity.  It discourages entrepreneurship, destroys public trust, and undermines the rule of law while stifling economic growth. With a new commitment to strengthening and enforcing rules against corruption, economic opportunity and prosperity will be more broadly shared.‚ÄĚ

Secretary Locke Takes New Markets, New Jobs Tour to Wilmington, Delaware

Secretary Gary Locke continued the New markets, New Jobs nationwide tour to its fourth city, Wilmington, Del., today where he gave remarks on the administration’s efforts to implement President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI). New Markets, New Jobs tour is an interagency, multi-city outreach campaign spearheaded by the Commerce Department, designed to help connect small- and medium-sized businesses with the resources they need to sell more of what they make overseas.

‚ÄúThe purpose of this nationwide trip is simple:  To help small and medium-sized American businesses sell more goods and services around the world, so they can create more jobs here at home,‚ÄĚ he said in his remarks. 

Locke was joined by U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), Governor Jack Markell, U.S. Small Business Administration Deputy Administrator Marie Johns, U.S. Department of Agriculture Acting Under Secretary Michael Scuse, and Export-Import Bank Board Member Diane Farrell.

New Markets, New Jobs kicked off in Minneapolis in February, made its second stop in Los Angeles in March and third stop in New Orleans in April before coming to Wilmington.  Businesses from Delaware exported $5 billion worth of goods in 2010 ‚Äď a 15-percent increase ($4.3 billion to $5.0 billion) from 2009. 

Read more

Digital Literacy Initiative Aims to Help Americans Build Online Skills

Guest blog post by Anneesh Chopra, White House Chief Technology Officer, and Lawrence E. Strickling, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information at the Department of Commerce

Today, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke launched DigitalLiteracy.gov, a new online portal to help Americans find jobs and obtain the 21st century skills being sought by today’s employers.

The Commerce Department‚Äôs National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) developed DigitalLiteracy.gov in partnership with nine Federal agencies, with the goal of creating an online hub for librarians, educators, and other digital literacy practitioners to share content and best practices. Through DigitalLiteracy.gov, NTIA is making available to all Americans the methods for improving broadband adoption that are being developed by Recovery Act projects.

Secretary Locke Announces Digital Literacy Initiative

Secretary Locke Announces DigitalLiteracy.Gov

Locke visits Recovery Act-funded public computer center in Baltimore, unveils new website to improve computer and Internet skills in America

At a public computing center in Baltimore, Md., today, Secretary Gary Locke announced a digital literacy initiative that works to expand economic and educational opportunities in America. Locke was joined by U.S. Senators Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) and Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) to unveil www.DigitalLiteracy.gov, a new website that provides libraries, community colleges, schools and workforce training centers with a variety of resources and tools for teaching computer and Internet skills, which are increasingly important to success in today’s global economy.

Prior to the unveiling, Locke and the senators toured a computer lab and saw first-hand how people in the Baltimore community are using this new website to find free training resources on a range of digital literacy topics at various skill levels, including assistance in searching for and applying to jobs online.

‚ÄúIn a globalized, 21st ccentury economy, when you don‚Äôt have regular access to the high-speed Internet ‚Äď and the skills to use it ‚Äď your education, business, and employment opportunities are narrowed,‚ÄĚ Locke said. ‚ÄúThe tools we are unveiling today will help more Americans gain valuable job skills and augment the Recovery Act investments we are making to expand broadband access and adoption nationwide.‚ÄĚ  Press release  |  Fact sheet

Learn more and see how you can enhance your digital literacy at www.DigitalLiteracy.gov.

Spotlight on Commerce: Gary Locke, Secretary of Commerce

Secretary Locke Addresses the Committee of 100

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.

Gary Locke is the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

As we continue to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islanders Heritage Month, it is important for us to reflect on our past ‚Äď the difficulties we had growing up in immigrant families, the accomplishments our community has achieved and the barriers we still need to knock down.

Being an Asian American now is certainly different from when I was growing up.  In the Ozzie and Harriet era in which I was born, I thought I had to choose between being Chinese and being American.  I remembered that most mornings, my grade school teacher would ask us what we had for breakfast.  If we had eaten anything that was considered ‚Äúun-American‚ÄĚ ‚Äď in my case, it was the rice porridge with fish and vegetables that my mother gave me ‚Äď my teacher would slap our hands with a ruler. 

When I was young, I constantly struggled between my desire to be more ‚ÄúAmerican‚ÄĚ and my parents‚Äô attempt to make me more ‚ÄúChinese‚ÄĚ.  It took the civil rights movement to teach me that I could be both Chinese and American.  I could be Chinese-American.  I could be myself.  I could be loyal and patriotic to the Star-Spangled Banner and still eat with chopsticks. 

Commerce’s EDA Launches New Website to Accelerate Regional Innovation

The Commerce Department‚Äôs Economic Development Administration (EDA) today announced the launch of a new website designed to connect Venture Development Organizations (VDOs) in America‚Äôs regions to accelerate economic development efforts that promote growth and job creation. The Regional Innovation Acceleration Network (RIAN) will bring VDOs together to share best practices and leverage resources that will strengthen regional economic ecosystems. 

Speaking at the U.S. Economic Development Administration‚Äôs (EDA) Southwest Region Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Albuquerque, N.M., Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez made the announcement, noting ‚ÄúThe Regional Innovation Acceleration Network builds on President Obama‚Äôs national innovation agenda by bringing Venture Development Organizations within America‚Äôs regions together to help increase business development and competitiveness.  Across the nation, these organizations are helping to grow local economies and create jobs, and this new network will enhance their impact and efficiency.‚ÄĚ  EDA press release

Commerce's Chief Economist: ESA Releases Report on 'U.S. Trade in Private Services'

Report on ‚ÄúU.S. Trade in Private Services.‚ÄĚ

Guest blog post by the Department of Commerce's Chief Economist Mark Doms.

Today the Commerce Department and ESA released a brief report on ‚ÄúU.S. Trade in Private Services.‚ÄĚ The report (PDF) shows that the United States has consistently run a record services trade surplus that is driving overall exports growth and topped half a trillion dollars in 2010.

Most of the time when you hear about trade, it is about trade in goods, in part because it is easier to wrap our minds around the idea of goods (pictures of large container ships help, and we often notice the markings on products that note where they were made).  However, the United States exports a sizable amount of services (non-tangible items of value, such as school tuition or an airplane ticket), and they are leading the way toward doubling U.S. exports in support of several million new jobs under President Obama‚Äôs National Export Initiative.

A few reasons why greater emphasis should be placed on our trade in services: 

  1. Services make up a big part of the economy: 80 percent or so depending on how you define it.
  2. In 2010, we exported over a half trillion dollars (wow) of services, an all-time high.
  3. The trade surplus in services in 2010 topped $526.6 billion. 
  4. Services jobs represent high-skill, high-wage jobs.
  5. From 2002-2008, our private services exports grew at an annual average rate of 11.1 percent.
  6. Many services are ‚Äútradable‚ÄĚ, especially in today‚Äôs increasingly globalized world: legal services can be traded, computer services can be traded, engineering services, medical services, etc.
  7. Exports of services are likely to show continued growth, taking advantage of the skill of the U.S. workforce and supporting living-wage U.S. jobs. 

Cross-posted at ESA's blog.

Secretary Locke Attends Productive Meetings During the Third Meeting of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue

Secretary Locke and Chinese Minister of Commerce, Chen Deming, Pose For a Photo During Their Meeting

On Monday and Tuesday, Secretary Locke, along with Secretary Clinton and Geithner, engaged with their Chinese counterparts at the third meeting of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue. Since becoming Commerce secretary, Locke has played a key role in the Obama administration‚Äôs efforts to improve the commercial environment in China and open up its markets for U.S. businesses. Locke, who co-chaired two sessions of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, led a clean energy trade mission to China and Indonesia in May 2010 and accompanied President Obama on his visit to China in November 2009, has worked to level the playing field for U.S. businesses and promoted American-made products and services in the Chinese market, in order to create good-paying American jobs and advance President Obama‚Äôs National Export Initiative. 

On Monday, Secretary Locke attended the opening session with Vice President Joe Biden and participated in both the economic and strategic track sessions of the Dialogue.  During the meetings, Locke discussed top U.S. government priorities regarding China, including transparency, intellectual property rights protection and China‚Äôs policies toward its state-owned enterprises and national champions.  He spoke about prospects of cooperation with China on issues related to marine living resources, ocean policies and environmental protection.

On Tuesday, Locked hosted a meeting with Chinese Minister of Commerce Chen Deming to continue their ongoing engagement to strengthen U.S.-China commercial relations. In the afternoon, he joined Secretaries Clinton and Geithner in a small group lunch at the Blair House with U.S. and Chinese CEOs and business leaders to engage the business communities of both countries and discuss ways to improve the U.S.-China economic relationship.

MBDA National Director Highlights Opportunities for Partnerships as a Global Growth Strategy at London Symposium

David Hinson, Director of MBDA

The Commerce Department’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) National Director David A. Hinson traveled to London this week to discuss mergers and acquisitions as a global growth strategy for middle-market minority businesses. At the Third Global Merger & Acquisition Symposium: The New Economics for the Private Middle Market, Hinson explained that minority-owned businesses offer international investors above average return prospects and a powerful market entry vehicle into the United States and other countries.

‚ÄúWithin every market there are hidden and often undervalued opportunities that support both market entry and the potential for outsized profit,‚ÄĚ Hinson said. ‚ÄúOne of these hidden opportunities within the United States is called the minority business community.‚ÄĚ

The U.S. minority business community represents $1 trillion of U.S. economic output, and if measured against the size of countries around the world, it would be the 17th richest nation. The minority business sector has also shown the greatest growth dynamics in the U.S. economy in terms of gross receipts, growing at 56 percent based on the latest Census Bureau data.

Now totaling 5.8 million, minority-owned companies in the United States have over $2.46 trillion in total annual purchasing power.

‚ÄúPartnering with a U.S. minority-owned firm and leveraging not just the firm‚Äôs U.S. market presence but the ‚ÄúMade in America‚ÄĚ brand can be a winning proposition for a new entrant to a foreign market.‚ÄĚ

Spotlight on Commerce: Victoria Tung, Associate Director for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs

Victoria Tung, Associate Director 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.

Victoria Tung is the Associate Director for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs and Senior Advisor on Asian American and Pacific Islander Affairs.

In my role, I advise Secretary Locke and our Assistant Secretaries on legislative issues and congressional relations, as well as outreach to state and local government. I manage these efforts and the Department‚Äôs relationships with eight congressional committees of jurisdiction across my portfolio, which includes economic development, census/economic analysis, minority business development, innovation and entrepreneurship and recovery act implementation.  Additionally, I advise Secretary Locke on Asian American and Pacific Islander issues and am working closely with the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to increase access to and participation in federal programs for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI).

Today, and throughout this entire month, we commemorate the courage and contributions of early Asian American and Pacific Islanders who journeyed to the United States, set up lives here against unbelievable odds and laid out roots for future generations.  I know that I wouldn‚Äôt be here if it weren‚Äôt for my great grandparents and grandparents who left China after the war in search of a better life for our family in America.  Their strength and perseverance continues to inspire me and is the story of many Asian American families in this country.  During Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we honor the pioneers, the laborers, the veterans, the entrepreneurs, the trailblazers and the families ‚Äď all who worked hard to open the doors of opportunity to a new generation.

Plato, Mo. Celebrates Recognition as the 2010 Census U.S. Center of Population

In the photo are (left to right) Dr. Robert Groves, Juliana Blackell & Bob Biram  - Village Chairman.

Townspeople, elected representatives, government officials and hundreds of students today celebrated the naming of Plato, Mo., as the 2010 Census U.S. center of population. Amid music, speeches, banners and cheers, village chairman Bob Biram welcomed the crowd, saying, ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre proud of our village. As one of our students said, ‚Äėwe were in the middle of nowhere; now we are in the middle of everywhere.‚Äô"

At the event, U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves and Juliana Blackwell, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Geodetic Survey, revealed a survey disc, commemorating the national center of population as calculated by the Census Bureau and measured by the National Geodetic Survey.

Each decade after tabulating the decennial census, the Census Bureau calculates the mean center of population for the country, as well as for each state and county. The national center of population is determined 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.  Press release

NIST’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership Delivers Results

Program Helps Create and Retain Jobs, Generating $32 in Sales for Every $1 Spent

Today‚Äôs release of the latest employment statistics from the Department of Labor‚ÄĒ244,000 jobs added in April‚ÄĒmakes you wonder, where did these jobs come from? While we know most jobs are created by the private sector, government agencies often do have a role in fostering this job creation.  The Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program at the Commerce Department‚Äôs National Institute of Standards and Technology has done just that. 

As a public-private partnership, MEP delivers a high return on its investments to American taxpayers. In 2009, MEP helped businesses create or retain 72,075 jobs, and for every one dollar of federal investment, generated $32 in new sales growth (PDF). This return on investment translates to $3.6 billion in new sales annually among MEP clients. And for every $1,570 in federal investment, MEP creates or retains one manufacturing job. Such impressive results come from a survey of MEP clients by private marketing firm Turner Marketing, Inc.

How did MEP achieve such a large return on its investments?  First, a little history.  Congress established MEP in 1988 to help small- and mid-sized manufacturers increase growth, cut costs, and create innovative new products and services.  NIST, the federal partner in MEP, works with local and regional manufacturing experts across the United States to build a nationwide network of resources for America‚Äôs manufacturers.  Several dozen NIST staff leverage over 1,400 technical experts across the nation in every state, focused on solving manufacturers‚Äô biggest challenges and identifying opportunities for growth.

Secretary Locke Highlights the Importance of IP at World Intellectual Property Day Celebration

Secretary Locke joined U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office David Kappos, and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith on the Hill this week to celebrate the 11th anniversary of World Intellectual Property Day.

In his remarks, Locke highlighted the importance of intellectual property protection and enforcement to the U.S. economy and his work with Kappos to help bring the U.S. patent office into the 21st century. He also commended Smith andSenate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy on their strong leadership for patent reform legislation currently being considered by Congress.

"Patent reform is critical to the well-being of our patent system and the effectiveness of the USPTO, which are so vital to American companies and oureconomic well-being,‚ÄĚ Locke said. ‚ÄúThis bipartisan legislation won't cost taxpayers a single dime, and it will ensure USPTO has the ability to tackle its backlog and better serve the needs of America‚Äôs innovators."

Around the world, enforcement of intellectual property rights helps prevent counterfeiting and piracy, which cost the United States billions of dollars and thousands of jobs each year. The Commerce Department actively engages foreign leaders and promotes stronger enforcement disciplines worldwide in its efforts to reduce losses associated with IP infringement.

Established by WIPO Member States in 2000, World Intellectual Property Day is celebrated annually on April 26th to increase the understanding and respect of IP and underscore its importance in promoting creativity and innovation. Remarks

U.S. Census Bureau Released Most Detailed Data Yet from 2010 Census

Image of interactive map

The Department of Commerce's U.S. Census Bureau has begun releasing the most detailed data yet from the 2010 Census, including information on age and sex distributions, race, ethnicity, housing and relationships. This Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 was released this week for the first set of states and will continue to be released throughout the month of May for all 50 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico.

Demographic profiles are now available for the District of Columbia, Florida, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. The release includes more than 150 data items in all in addition to percentage distributions.

The Census Bureau has also created an interactive map so you can explore the data down to the city level. By clicking the tabs at the top of the map, you can find demographic data for your location and make population comparisons between communities across the country. To learn your state’s median age, average household size, and percentage of renters versus homeowners, read the Census Bureau’s press release.

Secretary Locke Addresses Chinese Foreign Direct Investment in the United States and the Current State of U.S.-China Commercial Relations

Secretary Locke Addresses the Asia Society at the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Kissinger Institute on China and the United States

This morning, Secretary Locke addressed the Asia Society Center on U.S.-China Relations and the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Kissinger Institute on China. The groups today released a new study that shows Chinese foreign direct investment in America doubling in each of the last two years. Chinese investors now have investments in at least 35 of our 50 states, across dozens of industries, employing thousands of Americans. Locke welcomed this news, but also noted progress the U.S. needs to see from Beijing to improve the business environment for American companies trying to invest or expand into China.

He said, ‚ÄúWhen it comes to market access problems for foreign companies, the issues may be different, but the fundamental problem often boils down to the distance between the promises of China‚Äôs government and action.‚ÄĚ

U.S. Aerospace Supplier and Investment Mission to Canada Generates $1.34 Billion in Commercial Deals

Image of NOAA plane

Guest blog post by Suresh Kumar, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Trade Promotion and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service

When people think of Canada they often think of hockey, moose, and cold weather, not aircraft.  In fact, Canada's aerospace industry is the fifth largest in the world ($22.2 billion in revenues in 2009) and the United States is Canada's largest supplier of aircraft parts and components.  Bombardier Aerospace, a Canadian manufacturer of commercial aircraft and business jets, has grown to be one of the top four aircraft manufacturers in the world, behind Boeing, Airbus, and Brazil‚Äôs Embraer.  Canada‚Äôs geographic proximity, open market economy and stable business climate make it an attractive market for U.S. aerospace companies.

To help U.S. companies take advantage of these export opportunities, I‚Äôm in Canada leading 21 companies on a three-day U.S. Aerospace Supplier and Investment Mission.  On the mission, we announced commercial signings worth $1.34 billion in U.S. contracts with Canadian aerospace firms, a figure representing over $800 million in U.S. export content.  

These newly signed commercial deals are a crucial part of our effort to strengthen the economy and will make an important contribution to manufacturing and job growth across the United States.

Secretary Locke to Deliver Speech on Chinese Foreign Direct Investment in the U.S. and U.S.-China Commercial Relations (webcast)

Ahead of the third U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue on May 9-10, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke will deliver a speech at 10:30 Eastern today on Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States and the current state of U.S.-China commercial relations.   

The Asia Society Center on U.S.-China Relations and the Woodrow Wilson Center‚Äôs Kissinger Institute on China and the United States will release a comprehensive report by the Rhodium Group on Chinese FDI at today‚Äôs event ‚Äď ‚ÄúAn American Open Door? Maximizing the Benefits of Chinese Direct Investment.‚ÄĚ Others expected to attend include Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. Zhang Yesui, former U.S. Ambassador to China Stapleton Roy and Director of the Asia Society Center on U.S.-China Relations Orville Schell.  

The Wilson Center is hosting a webcast of the event between 9:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

According to the Commerce Department's Census Bureau, the Number of Asian-Owned Businesses Increased at More Than Twice the National Rate

In honor of Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, the U.S. Department of Commerce's Census Bureau has released highlights of the latest data on our nation's Asian, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander populations from the 2010 Census and 2007 Survey of Business Owners.

Some of the latest statistics show:

  • There are 17.3 million U.S. residents of Asian descent, according to the 2010 Census, making up 5.6 percent of the total population.
  • Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islanders make up 0.4 percent of the population, totaling 1.2 million people, according to the 2010 Census.
  • Between the 2000 and 2010 Censuses, the Asian alone or in combination population grew 46 % ‚Äď more than any other major race group.
  • The Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone or in combination population grew by 40 % between the 2000 and 2010 Censuses.
  • Fifty percent of single-race Asians 25 and older had a bachelor‚Äôs degree or higher level of education in 2009, compared with 28 percent for all Americans 25 and older.
  • Fourteen percent of single-race Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders 25 and older had at least a bachelor‚Äôs degree in 2009.
  • U.S. businesses owned by people of Asian origin increased 40.4 percent to 1.5 million between 2002 and 2007, increasing at more than twice the national rate.  
  • Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-owned businesses grew by 30.6 percent from 2002 to 2007, totaling 37,809 businesses.

Find out more about the Asian and Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander communities in the United States with Census's Facts for Features Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. For business information specific to these communities, visit Census's Press Release on Asian-Owned Businesses.