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Blog Entries from November 2011

Investments in the Seattle Region’s Innovation Clusters Spur Economic and Job Growth

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Development Matthew Erskine with i6 Green Seattle winners from Puget Sound Regional Council, South Seattle Community College and Cleantech Open.

Guest blog post by Matthew S. Erskine, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

The Seattle region is noted as one of our nation’s hotbed of innovation and entrepreneurship with world-class cleantech, health sciences, biotechnology and advanced manufacturing clusters. It is home to the headquarters of companies like Microsoft, Amazon and Starbucks and its regional assets are fueling job growth.

This week, I traveled to Seattle to spotlight Obama administration investments to advance these critical innovation clusters, promote entrepreneurship and small business development and create the jobs and industries of the future.

I met with the leaders of the Washington Clean Energy Partnership, awardees of the i6 Green competition. This collaboration between the Puget Sound Regional Council, South Seattle Community College, Cleantech Open and the Innovate Washington Foundation will work to foster collaboration between industry and institutions of higher education to expand the clean energy cluster.  This will spur the creation of new jobs, companies and export opportunities in the market for energy efficient technologies.

Transatlantic Economic Council Discussions Highlight Need for Cooperation in Innovation and Regulatory and Standards Collaboration

Secretary Bryson joins his Cabinet colleagues and senior European Officials at the TEC meeting

On Tuesday, Secretary Bryson and other U.S. government officials had a valuable conversation with senior European Union (EU) leaders on ways to cooperate and achieve the Obama administration’s National Export Initiative (NEI) goals. Since the EU is America’s largest trading partner, they are key to meeting the ambitious goal of doubling exports by the end of 2014.

The economic relationship between the EU and the United States is the largest and most dynamic in the world. The combined gross domestic product accounts for more than $30 trillion – roughly 40 percent of global GDP – and more than 800 million consumers. In 2010, bilateral trade in goods and services surpassed $873 billion. With this relationship so vital, in April 2007 the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) was established to provide Cabinet-level political guidance for implementation of specific work programs like intellectual property rights protection and regulatory cooperation.

Tuesday’s discussions made it clear that both the United States and the EU recognize innovation to be the main driving force for continuing this economic success and creating more jobs. In his comments, Secretary Bryson noted that the innovations created through the partnerships of American and European companies can be a greater catalyst for new jobs than innovation done without such collaboration. The Commerce Department is currently working tirelessly in that vein, developing transatlantic links between companies and research centers.

Stolen Intellectual Property Harms American Businesses Says Acting Deputy Secretary Blank

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank joins Attorney General Holder and other Administration Officials at the kickoff event for the IP campaign “Counterfeits Hurt. You Have The Power to Stop Them.”

This afternoon, Acting Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank participated in an event at the White House to announce the Administration’s progress in cracking down on intellectual property (IP) theft crimes and the launch of a public education campaign intended to increase Americans’ knowledge of the threat these crimes pose to economic prosperity and public safety.  The campaign is entitled “Counterfeits Hurt. You Have The Power to Stop Them.”

Counterfeit goods not only can cause harm to the safety of our families, but they also cause harm to our economy and to American businesses.  That’s because the success of the U.S. economy relies heavily on intellectual property; virtually every industry either produces IP or uses it. IP theft costs domestic industries an estimated $200 to $250 billion a year.  This robs American workers of hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Only when American ideas and American inventions are protected, so that innovators receive the rewards from their creativity, can American business prosper and the American economy continues to   grow. It’s also important to remember protecting intellectual property has a multiplier effect, helping create jobs not only within the original firm that owns the IP but also within all the firms that it buys from and sells to.

Thanksgiving Day: November 24, 2011

Image of colorful Fall fruits and vegetables (Photo:

In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims, early settlers of Plymouth Colony, held a three-day feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest, an event many regard as the nation's first Thanksgiving. Historians have also recorded ceremonies of thanks among other groups of European settlers in North America, including British colonists in Virginia in 1619. The legacy of thanks and the feast have survived the centuries, as the event became a national holiday in 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a national day of thanksgiving. Later, President Franklin Roosevelt clarified that Thanksgiving should always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month to encourage earlier holiday shopping, never on the occasional fifth Thursday. 

  • 248 million:  The number of turkeys expected to be raised in the United States in 2011. That's up 2 percent from the number raised during 2010. The turkeys produced in 2010 together weighed 7.11 billion pounds and were valued at $4.37 billion.
  • 1.1 billion pounds:  Total production of pumpkins in the major pumpkin-producing states in 2010. Illinois led the country by producing 427 million pounds of the vined orange gourd. Pumpkin patches in California, New York and Ohio also provided lots of pumpkins: Each state produced at least 100 million pounds. The value of all pumpkins produced by major pumpkin-producing states was $117 million.
  • 13.3 pounds:  The quantity of turkey consumed by the typical American in 2009, with no doubt a hearty helping devoured at Thanksgiving time. Per capita sweet potato consumption was 5.3 pounds.
  • 37:  Number of places and townships in the United States named Plymouth, as in Plymouth Rock, the landing site of the first Pilgrims.

Facts, features and more for Thanksgiving Day

Spotlight on Commerce: Dee Alexander, Program Analyst, U.S. Census Bureau

Dee Alexander with an Alaskan Husky during the Census Enumeration on January 25, 2010 in Noorvik, Alaska.

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.

Guest blog by Dee Alexander, Program Analyst, Decennial Management Division’s Outreach and Promotion Branch, U.S. Census Bureau

As an employee in the U.S. Census Bureau, I serve as a program analyst in the Decennial Management Division’s Outreach and Promotion Branch. My key responsibilities include responding to internal and external stakeholders, and the planning implementation and evaluation of assigned American Indian and Alaska Native and decennial communication program activities and products related to the 2010 Census. 

My journey into this profession started many years ago. I grew up in a suburb of Del City, Oklahoma. Both of my parents were government employees and they worked at the Tinker Air Force Base in Midwest City, Oklahoma until they retired. After high school, I attended Rose State College on a basketball scholarship and graduated with an Associate’s Degree in Travel and Tourism. Later, I received my Masters Degree in Project Management from George Washington University in 2007. 

In 1998, the Oklahoma Department of Commerce recommended me to the Census Bureau’s Kansas City Regional Office for a Partnership and Data Services Specialist.  This position was responsible for developing partnerships primarily with federal, state, local and tribal governments for pre-census and Census 2000 promotion activities.  This position allowed me to develop partnerships with the 39 Federally-recognized tribes in the state of Oklahoma for pre-census and post Census 2000 activities.  I also felt that being a member of the Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribe was instrumental in forming these partnerships.  These partnerships helped in producing and creating a new geographic delineation now known as an Oklahoma Tribal Statistical Area, (OTSA).   This delineation is documented on the Census 2000 and current 2010 AIAN Wall map.  The AIAN wall map is the product most requested from the AIAN population.  The work accomplished for Census 2000 helped in my employment to the Census Bureau Headquarters office.

Spotlight on Commerce: Pete Garrison, Official In Charge, Bethel Alaska, National Weather Service

Pete Garrison, Official In Charge, Bethel  Alaska, National Weather Service

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.

Guest blog by Harold "Pete" Garrison, Official In Charge, National Weather Service, Bethel Alaska

As a NOAA employee, I am in charge of the weather service office in Bethel, Alaska, a hub for more than 50 communities and villages with about 25,000 native residents. It is located in the delta regions of the mighty Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers. The office has a number of responsibilities that include upper-air and aviation observations, climate data collection, and the dissemination of weather products.

I am Inupiat Eskimo with some Russian, from the early explorers, on my mother’s side. After my father died in the US Air Force, My mother, three younger siblings and I moved to Unalakleet. I attended BIA school in Unalakleet and then went to a Native boarding school in Sitka until my high school graduation in 1968. Afterwards, I went to college in Fairbanks, Sitka, and Anchorage; however, I did not complete a degree because I decided I wanted to stay with NWS long-term.

U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) Concludes with Significant Agreements

Vilsack, Bryson, Wang and Kirk in stage with JCCT logo

This week marked the conclusion of the 22nd sssion of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) in Chengdu, China. U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson and United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk co-chaired the JCCT along with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan. The trip was highlighted by meaningful progress on key elements of the U.S.-China trade relationship, though much more work remains to be done to open China’s market to U.S. exports and investment.

The work done at JCCT will help boost U.S. exports and jobs through:

  • the removal of important barriers related to electric vehicles,
  • strengthened measures to eliminate discriminatory indigenous innovation policies,
  • and stricter enforcement of intellectual property rights in China. 

“Both sides worked hard to produce some meaningful progress that will help provide a needed boost to U.S. exports and jobs,” Secretary Bryson said.  “This is a step in the right direction.  But we must continue to actively engage our Chinese counterparts to open additional opportunities for U.S. businesses.”

Specifically, China agreed to make a significant systemic change in its enforcement of intellectual property rights. Through a high-level central government enforcement structure, China will make permanent its 2010 Special IPR Campaign.  China will continue high-level involvement that will enhance its ability to crack down on intellectual property rights infringement. And in addition, China’s leadership committed to increased political accountability–the performance of provincial level officials will be measured based on enforcement of intellectual property rights in their regions.

Spotlight on Commerce: Jan Jacobs, Tribal Intergovernmental Affairs Specialist, U.S. Census Bureau

Jan Jacobs at the I’n-lon-shka dances with her granddaughter

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.

Guest blog by Jan Jacobs, Tribal Intergovernmental Affairs Specialists, Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, U.S. Census Bureau

As Tribal Intergovernmental Affairs Specialist in the Census Bureau’s Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, I work with Tribal, state, county and local governments directly or through our partner advocate groups. More specifically, I’m the Subject Matter Specialist on American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) programs and policy for Census – as part of that role, I offer guidance and support to the bureau’s divisions, branch offices and regional offices. 

My journey to this role began as a child growing up in the deer clan of the Osage Nation of Oklahoma. My father served for more than four decades as the high school’s band director near the Osage reservation. My mother made traditional Osage clothes to wear at the I’n-lon-shka dances, our traditional annual gathering. She made exquisite Osage ribbon work and won national recognition for her skill. I remember her being active in tribal affairs – both regionally and nationally – and she often took me with her to meetings and events. These experiences gave me an opportunity to travel around the country learning from a host of Indian people. I still return home every June with my family for my ceremonial dances, a time to reconnect with family and my Osage culture.  I am Osage every day, but the dances help to revitalize and re-energize me for the coming year.  

My upbringing differed from many others who grew up in and around the reservation. My father worked his way through college and my mother attended college at a time when most American Indian women were not able to do so. It was important for me to continue this tradition of valuing learning and so after I graduated with my Master’s degree, I taught for nine years in the Bureau of Indian Affairs system and I’m proud to say that all four of my children graduated from college and are active in their local Native community.

Secretary Bryson Meets with American Business Community and Chinese Investors While in Beijing

Secretary Bryson Visits Beijing Airport to See American-Made Service Vehicles

This weekend Secretary Bryson will be in Chengdu, China for the 22nd Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT), the annual bilateral trade negotiations between the U.S. and China. Before going to Chengdu, the Secretary stopped in Beijing to meet with American business community and Chinese investors. He participated in a meeting with the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) and the U.S.-China Business Council (USCBC), and met with members of the Chinese business community to discuss bilateral trade and investment issues. Even though he was surrounded by wonderful local cuisine, Bryson stopped off at a local U.S. franchise–Subway–to highlight the success of American brands in China, and joined U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to tour Wisconsin-made airport vehicles at the Beijing Airport.

During the meeting with the American business community, Bryson shared his commitment to opening markets and leveling the playing field for U.S. companies in China and he pledged to take their issues to the JCCT meeting in Chengdu. The discussion focused on intellectual property protection, bilateral investment and China’s indigenous innovation practices.

Bryson also met with Chinese business leaders to encourage them to invest–by establishing factories, facilities, operations and offices–in the United States and to help them better understand the opportunities and ease of investing in the U.S. China's foreign direct investment in America increased nearly twelve-fold (from $0.5 billion to $5.8 billion) between 2008 and 2010. The Obama administration recently announced Select USA–the first coordinated federal effort to aggressively pursue and win new business investment in the United States while cutting red tape and removing barriers.

Promoting Competitiveness in the U.S.-Mexico Relationship

Sánchez on podium, gesturing

Guest blog post by Francisco J. Sánchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Secretary, Department of Commerce

One billion dollars.

That number represents the two-way trade that happens between the United States and Mexico—every day. 

It’s a remarkable statistic, and a powerful symbol of the growing trade relationship and friendship between our two countries. Clearly, the story of the U.S. and Mexico is a story of progress. And, many from both countries are committed to ensuring that the next chapter of this story is full of greater opportunities for both peoples.

That’s why, earlier today, I was privileged to co-host the California Mexico Binational Mayor’s Conference with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

We were joined by U.S. and Mexican government and business leaders who came together to identify ways to strengthen our trade relations. Thankfully, we already have a solid foundation to build on.

Combined two-way trade in goods and services was nearly $400 billion dollars in 2010. From the United States’ vantage point, Mexico is our third-largest trading partner. It’s our-second largest export market. And, in California alone, $21 billion in merchandise exports went to Mexico last year—15 percent of the state’s total merchandise. 

Clearly, this partnership has been a key to the success of President Obama’s National Export Initiative, which has the goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014. Last year, exports supported 9.2 million jobs—and Mexico has obviously helped fuel this positive economic activity. 

But, today’s global economy is moving fast. And, no country can afford to stand pat and be satisfied. We’ve got to keep changing and evolving. 

Executive Fleet Vehicles

On May 24, 2011, the President issued a Presidential Memorandum on Federal Fleet Performance. Furthering the Administration's goals to cut oil imports by one-third by 2025 and to put one million advanced vehicles on the road by 2015, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum today directing agencies to implement governmentwide fleet management practices that will ensure the Federal Government is leading by example in fuel efficiency and innovative technology.

The Memorandum required that within 180 days of the date of the Presidential Memorandum, any executive fleet vehicles that are larger than a midsize sedan or do not comply with alternative fueled vehicle requirements must be disclosed on agency websites.

Below is the Department of Commerce list as of Dec. 1, 2014:

Boston MBDA Business Center Opens to Assist Minority Businesses

Dr. Frederick McKinney, President & CEO, Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and MBDA National Director David Hinson

On Tuesday, David A. Hinson, National Director of the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) joined legislators, dignitaries, and business owners in celebrating the opening of the new MBDA Business Center in Boston, Massachusetts.

The new center will receive a five-year $1,375,000 federal grant from MBDA to operate in the Boston area to assist minority businesses to successfully compete globally and domestically, and to gain access to contracts, capital and markets. The center will be operated by the Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council (GNEMSDC).

PEC Commends Administration Progress on Trade

Burns, Bryson and McNerney

Today, Secretary John Bryson met with members of the President’s Export Council (PEC) to discuss a number of issues, including workforce readiness, export control reform, and Middle East/North Africa commercial engagement.  In addition, Secretary Bryson, along with other Cabinet members and Senior White House officials, provided updates on the recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings, Trans-Pacific Partnerhsip Agreement and Russia WTO Accession.  In response to such updates, the private-sector members of the PEC issued the  following statement and recommendations regarding the administration’s progress on the international trade agenda.

Dr. Rebecca Blank Testifies Before Senate Committee on Nomination

Blank with microphone before the audience (Photo: NOAA)

Acting Deputy Secretary Dr. Rebecca Blank testified yesterday before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on her nomination to be Deputy Secretary of Commerce. Dr. Blank addressed her goals that, if confirmed, include initiatives to support American businesses and job creation, increasing efficiency and retaining a skilled and motivated workforce.

She is currently the Acting Deputy Secretary where she is focused on matters of management and policy for the department’s 12 bureaus, functioning as Commerce’s chief operating officer. Since 2009 Dr. Blank has served as the Secretary's principal economic adviser as Under Secretary for Economic Affairs, overseeing the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. From August 2011 through October 2011, between the end of Secretary Gary Locke’s tenure and the beginning of Secretary John Bryson’s term, Blank served as Acting Secretary of Commerce. During that time, she worked to promote the Obama administration’s efforts to improve the economy.  Biography

Secretary Bryson Meets With Key Business and Industry Groups

Secretary Bryson with key business leaders (Photo: U.S. Chamber of Commerce)

Today Secretary Bryson attended three meetings with key businesses and industry groups. In the morning, Bryson met with trade association leaders to discuss their top priorities and challenges and how the Commerce Department can help their member businesses grow and succeed.   

After that meeting, Bryson met with the Business Roundtable (BRT) Executive Committee to discuss the issues affecting their membership and how Commerce can help their companies grow and succeed. BRT is an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies with over $6 trillion in annual revenues and more than 14 million employees.

Bryson finished the day at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Two days prior to heading to China to meet with the American and Chinese business communities and participate in annual trade talks, Bryson participated in a roundtable discussion with U.S. and Chinese CEOs, as well as former government leaders, at the annual meeting of the Chamber of Commerce’s U.S.-China CEO Dialogue. The Dialogue is co-chaired by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Donohue, and the China Center for International Economic Exchanges Chairman and former Chinese Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan.

Census Bureau Reports Mover Rate Reaches Record Low

Chart Depicting Geographic Mobility

The U.S. Census Bureau reported today the percentage of people who changed residences between 2010 and 2011 was 11.6 percent, the lowest recorded rate since the Current Population Survey began collecting statistics on the movement of people in the United States in 1948. The rate, which was 20.2 percent in 1985, declined to a then-record low of 11.9 percent in 2008 before rising to 12.5 percent in 2009. The 2010 rate was not statistically different than the 2009 rate.

“Taken together, these products paint a vivid picture of a nation on the move and tell a more complete story than any one of them can separately,” said Alison Fields, chief of the Census Bureau's Journey-to-Work and Migration Statistics Branch. “The record low mover rate was driven by a drop in the likelihood of people moving from one location to another within the same county. The last time this rate was so low, the overall mover rate also reached a record low.”

Secretary John Bryson ceremonially sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden

Secretary of Commerce John Bryson shakes hands with Vice President Joe Biden

Yesterday afternoon, Vice President Joe Biden ceremonially swore in John Bryson as the Secretary of Commerce. The ceremony took place in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

At the end of October, the Senate confirmed John Bryson to head the U.S. Department of Commerce by a 74-26 vote, with 21 Republicans and two independents joining all the Democrats in support.

Before assuming his position as commerce secretary, he was the Chief Executive Officer of Edison International, the parent company of Southern California Edison and Edison Mission Group, for almost 18 years, where he led the company through times of both opportunities and crisis.

Learn more about John Bryson.

Commerce Secretary Bryson Announces Grant to Stimulate Job Growth and Business Development

Photo of Harris Corporation

U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson today announced a $2.8 million Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant to the city of Palm Bay, Fla., to make critical roadway infrastructure improvements needed to help a major local employer expand its operations. The project is expected to create 180 jobs and generate $100 million in private investment, according to grantee estimates.

“The Obama administration is committed to helping stimulate job growth and business development,” Bryson said. “This grant will fund vital infrastructure in the community and help bring high-quality jobs and economic growth to Palm Bay.”

Putting Americans back to work is President Obama’s top priority. His American Jobs Act would put more money in the pockets of American families and do so without adding a dime to the deficit. In Florida, 410,000 firms would receive a payroll tax cut under the American Jobs Act, and a typical household in Florida, with a median income of around $46,000, would receive a tax cut of around $1,430.  Release

Commerce Veteran Hiring at 16-Year High

Alternate Text

Commerce is proud to announce that in the last year, veteran hiring reached a 16-year high, raising the total representation of veteran new hires to 12.5 percent.

Two years ago, on November 9, 2009, President Barack Obama issued Executive Order 13518: Employment of Veterans in the Federal Government. This Executive order charged all Cabinet-level departments with establishing a Veterans Employment Office, developing an operational plan, and providing mandatory annual training to hiring managers and senior human resources practitioners on veterans preferences and special appointing authorities for veterans.

In response to the President’s Executive Order, Commerce hired Sean Lenahan, former U.S. Coast Guard officer, as their Veterans Employment Program Manager to head the Veterans Employment Team and lead all Department-level veterans hiring initiatives. The Department’s Veterans Employment Team consists of members from the Census Bureau, the Patent and Trademark Office, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

“Our Veterans Employment Team has worked tirelessly to enhance employment opportunities for veterans throughout the Department,” said Bill Fleming, Director of Human Resources, Department of Commerce.  Mr. Fleming, a U.S. Army veteran, is one of the many veterans that hold key senior leadership positions within the Department.  Michael Phelps, Director, Office of the Budget, and Barry Berkowitz, Director, Office of Acquisition Management, are both highly decorated, retired officers of the U.S. Air Force.

Highlighting Opportunities in India’s Renewable Energy Market

Sanchez on podium (video image)

Guest blog post by Francisco J. Sánchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Secretary, Department of Commerce

India has a bright future in solar energy.

Its renewable energy market is currently valued at $17 billion dollars, and is growing at an annual rate of 15 percent.  And remarkably, there is potential for even bigger things.

According to one estimate, to keep economic growth at current levels, India will need to add 150 gigawatts of capacity over the next five years. Clearly, there is both a market and a need for clean energy in India.  And, U.S. companies have the technology and products to meet these needs and help spur economic development. 

It’s a natural partnership.  

That’s why, yesterday, during my keynote speech at SOLARCON India 2011, I urged all parties to consider new partnerships with each other so that we can build a clean future together.  

Hosted in the city of Hyderabad, the trade event brought together a wide-range of business leaders, academics and government officials to exchange ideas about the clean energy sector. Although estimates about the attendance are unavailable at this time, just last year, it drew over 4,000 people from over 30 countries.    

This year, there was incredible energy and excitement in the air. For U.S. firms, India’s solar market represents a huge opportunity to get involved in a booming sector in a growing market, resulting in thousands, if not millions, of jobs for people in both countries.

Commerce Employees To Cut Waste and Save Taxpayer Money

President Obama stands besie stack of the Federal Register

This morning, President Obama signed an Executive Order to cut waste and to promote more efficient spending as part of the administration-wide Campaign to Cut Waste. Commerce Department employee Roger Rhoads joined President Obama as he signed the Executive Order in the Oval Office.

Rhoads led the effort to identify and shutdown unused cell phones at Commerce. The department saved $1.8M annually by disconnecting or suspending 81 percent of the 3,200 wireless lines showing zero usage for the previous three months as well as by optimizing rate plans.

The Executive Order sets bold goals for agencies to reduce spending on travel; limit the number of information technology devices (e.g. cell phones, smartphones, tablets, laptops) that can be issued to individual employees; stop unnecessarily printing documents that can be posted online; shrink the executive fleet of the federal government; and stop using taxpayer dollars to buy swag–the unnecessary plaques, clothing and other promotional items that agencies purchase. Overall spending in the areas covered by the Executive Order will be reduced by 20 percent, saving billions.

The Department of Commerce is also reducing the number of its fleetdrivers.  Reductions in drivers and vehicles are expected to generate $100,000 in annual savings.

Driving Innovation and Economic Growth in West Virginia and Virginia

Erskine speaking from the podium

Guest blog post by Matthew S. Erskine, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

Today, I had the pleasure of joining U.S. Congressman Nick Rahall at Concord University in Athens, West Virginia to formally announce a major EDA investment to create a new EDA University Center in Southern West Virginia. Following the announcement, Congressman Rahall and I engaged in a roundtable discussion with regional businesses leaders to discuss strategies to foster local growth and increase regional competitiveness.

Congressman Rahall was instrumental in helping Marshall University, Concord University, and the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing partner and apply to join the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) University Center program–a competitive initiative that awards grants to universities across the country to help make the resources of these institutions available to the economic development community.

Congressman Rahall said, “Placing faith and funding in American higher education is nothing new. In fact, it has a proven track record that continues to be the envy of the world. Not only did our land grant colleges and universities usher in the greatest agricultural economy the world has ever known, the first G.I. Bill equipped the greatest generation with the tools that crafted the world’s largest economy. Our training grounds, workshops, research and product development revolve around an alliance of business, industry and universities.”

NIST: Presidential Memorandum Outlines Commerce's Role in Speeding Tech Transfer

Young scientist works on a collaborative project

Accelerating innovation is the key to creating more high-wage jobs. And the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will play a significant role in helping federal labs and U.S. industry speed up the innovation process under a new Presidential Memorandum issued Oct. 28.

Through its existing role coordinating the Interagency Workgroup on Technology Transfer, NIST will help lead agencies with federal laboratories to develop plans that establish performance goals to increase the number and pace of effective technology transfer and commercialization activities in partnership with non-federal organizations. The group also will be responsible for recommending opportunities to improve technology transfer from federal labs and for refining how tech transfer is defined, to better capture data on all of the ways it happens.

NIST will coordinate development and analysis of appropriate metrics and will continue to report and analyze results through its annual report on technology transfer, which covers 11 federal agencies.

NIST has had its own success transferring technology, for example, one licensed technology is helping build a new confinement structure at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and another is treating heart arrhythmias and uterine conditions—and generating millions of dollars in revenue for the licensee. Free software from NIST, Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability (BEES), is helping architects, engineers and the construction industry select environmentally-preferred and cost-effective products.

Read more about NIST’s role in tech transfer in the latest issue of TechBeat.

Building Networks to Advance the Innovation Economy

RIANO logo

Guest blog post by John Fernandez, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

Like President Obama, the top priority of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s new Secretary John Bryson is jobs. Advancing innovative economies is key to achieving sustainable job creation.

Today I traveled to Columbus, Ohio to address innovators, technology business leaders and economic development professionals to discuss ways to accelerate America’s innovation economy to create good jobs and increase our global competitiveness.

I was joined by my colleagues Phil Singerman, Associate Director for Innovation and Industry Services at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and Sean Greene, Associate Administrator for Investment and Special Adviser for Innovation at the Small Business Administration at a conference hosted by State Science & Technology Institute (SSTI) – an organization that seeks to improve the economy through science and technology.  We discussed how under President Obama’s leadership federal agencies are making the smart investments needed to promote American innovation and support entrepreneurship and small business development.

Assistant Secretary Suresh Kumar Blogs on 30th Anniversary DEC Conference

District Export Council Conference logo

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

I’m proud to be speaking at the 30th District Export Council Conference (DEC), in Las Vegas, Nevada.  We have more than 40 DECs represented from across the country at the conference this year.  The DECs are comprised of business leaders from around the country who are nominated by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Commercial Service (often in consultation with other DEC members and local partner organizations) and appointed by the Secretary of Commerce.  The DECs provide guidance and mentoring to U.S. businesses looking to export, and work closely with the U.S. Commercial Service, referring these businesses to our network of U.S. Export Assistance Centers.   By supporting firms in their local communities which are looking to progress from their first international business plan to their first export sale, DEC members empower the U.S. Commercial Service in our mission of broadening and deepening the U.S. exporter base. 

Nationwide, there are 59 DECs which include the expertise of 1500 exporters and export service providers throughout the United States, who volunteer their time to promote numerous trade related activities.  DECs also create seminars that make trade finance both understandable and accessible to small exporters, host international buyer delegations, design breakthrough guides to help firms export, put exporters on the Internet and help build export assistance partnerships to strengthen the support given to local businesses interested in exporting.  As such, the DECs are critical to our effort in promoting our country's economic growth and supporting new and higher-paying jobs for their communities.

USPTO: Boosting Small Business with the New Patent Law

The president signing the bill

When President Barack Obama signed the America Invents Act (AIA) into law six weeks ago, he did more than just implement the largest patent reform since 1836. The AIA aims to help small business secure patent protection for their inventions in a variety of ways. The Act offers not only favorable legal provisions, but also establishes studies and programs to further investigate how Congress may assist small businesses in the future. The provisions in the AIA help simplify the patent law, promote the disclosure of inventions, and establish procedures to remove bad patents from the intellectual property (IP) system early.

By introducing provisions that speed the patent application process and enhance the quality review of patent applications, the AIA enables applicants to secure an examination of an application in one-third the regular time from an average of 3 years to an average of 12 months. Additional provisions will provide an avenue that small businesses may use to challenge bad patents and receive a decision within 12 months. This changes the current practice where decisions on patent validity are determined through district court litigation and may take several years at significantly greater expense.

ESA: Tough Economic Times Continue for State and Local Governments

State and Local Government Expenditures and Employment

Cross post by Commerce Chief Economist Mark Doms

Last week’s gross domestic product (GDP) report confirmed that our economy continues to grow (2.5 percent in the third quarter), although not as quickly as we would like. The fears of a “double dip” recession didn’t come to pass (if anyone in the DC area is interested in a triple dip, head to Ben and Jerry’s from 4 to 7 for their 3-dips-for-3-bucks special.).  One reason why the economy isn’t growing faster is that budget constraints are forcing continued and historically deep contractions in state and local government spending.  Measures within the American Jobs Act can help bridge the gap.

These cuts in state and local government spending are evident in the GDP data and also in the employment data (the October payroll data will be released this Friday).  State and local spending and investment decreased 5.3 percent in real terms since spending peaked in the fourth quarter of 2007, by far the deepest 15-quarter decline in spending in the post-WWII era.  Job losses that have followed from these budget cuts total 646,000, or 3.3 percent, since state and local employment peaked in August 2008. 

So far this year state and local governments have been cutting jobs at the same pace that private sector firms are adding them.  Over the first 9 months of the year, private payroll employment has grown 1.2 percent (1.3 million jobs) while employment in state and local governments declined by 1.2 percent (234,000 jobs). 

NIST Releases Draft Cloud Computing Technology Roadmap for Comments

VanRoekel on podium

The U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has released for public comment a draft "roadmap" that is designed to foster federal agencies' adoption of cloud computing, support the private sector, improve the information available to decision makers and facilitate the continued development of the cloud computing model.

In February 2011, the government issued the Federal Cloud Computing Strategy that describes cloud computing as a "profound economic and technical shift (with) great potential to reduce the cost of Federal Information Technology (IT) systems while. . . improving IT capabilities and stimulating innovation in IT solutions."

As part of that strategy, NIST has been assigned "a central [role] in defining and advancing standards, and collaborating with U.S. government agency CIOs, private-sector experts and international bodies to identify and reach consensus on cloud computing technology and standardization priorities." U.S. Government Cloud Computing Technology Roadmap, Release 1.0 is designed to support the secure and effective adoption of the cloud computing model by federal agencies to reduce costs and improve services. The public comment period is open through Dec. 2.  Read the full NIST release

American Companies Sweep Top Workplace Honors in Multinational Survey

Blue Ribbon

Guest blog post by Commerce Secretary John Bryson

Great Places to Work, a global research, consulting, and training firm, just unveiled its inaugural list of the 25 best multinational companies to work for in the entire world.  American companies landed 18 of the 25 top spots, including all 10 of the top 10.

Microsoft led the best workplace rankings, followed by SAS, NetApp, Google, FedEx Express, Cisco, Marriott, McDonald’s, Kimberly Clark and SC Johnson.  Also making the list were American Express, Medtronic, 3M, National Instruments, Mars, Accenture, Coca-Cola and Quintiles.

In businesses across the spectrum – information technology, services, manufacturing–innovative U.S. companies are furthering a reputation for excellence and creating opportunity for their shareholders, their customers and their employees.  In the process, they are modeling best practices in world markets and making the American dream possible for people here … and throughout the globe.

The 25 best multinational business workplaces were selected based on data from surveys taken by more than 2.5 million employees and managers, representing a 10-million strong workforce, in thousands of companies across six continents.

In his book, That Used To Be Us: How America Fell Behind the World It Invented and How We can Come Back, Thomas Friedman writes of America’s visible demonstration of the connections between freedom, economic growth and human fulfillment.  And he noted that the power of example is a hugely potent social force.

In being recognized for workplace environments characterized by credibility, trust, respect, fairness, pride in accomplishment and camaraderie, these top-ranked multinational American companies are powerful examples to the world.