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Blog Entries from January 2012

Public-Private Standards Efforts to Make America Strong

Blog post by U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and Patrick Gallagher, Under Secretary for Standards and Technology and Director of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology

Standards—agreed upon parameters such as the size and shape of electrical outlets, the number of threads per inch on machine bolts, or the tolerances allowed for various medical tests—are critical to American competitiveness, technological innovation, and global trade because they facilitate manufacturing, speed delivery, and enable the widespread use of countless products and services in the market today. Standards also play a key role in public safety, as a new report (PDF) makes clear.

Most standards are developed and adopted by industry, but in cases where we face national challenges, the Federal Government can help accelerate the process.

That’s why the administration recently highlighted its commitment to the United States’ industry-led, voluntary and consensus-driven standards system with the release of a White House Memorandum that lays out principles for Federal engagement in standards activities that address national priorities. The administration recognizes the importance of the Federal Government working with the private sector to address common standards-related needs and taking on a convening or active-engagement role when necessary to ensure a rapid, coherent response to national challenges.  Full joint blog by Chopra and Gallagher

MBDA Presents $1.775 Million Grant to Open New Business Center

MBDA National Director David Hinson Presents SoCal Corporate Growth Partners for with a grant for $1.75 million

Today the Commerce Department’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) presented a grant to SoCal Corporate Growth Partners for $1.775 million to operate a new MBDA Business Center in Riverside, California. 

MBDA National Director David Hinson was joined by Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge and Daniel Sieu, CEO & President of SoCal Corporate Growth Partners to celebrate the opening of the new Riverside MBDA Business Center, which will be operated over five years. 

This Business Center is a part of a network of 45 centers that operate nationally under the auspices of MBDA designed to help minority-owned firms secure capital for new equipment and facilities; compete for public and private sector contracts; and prepare for exporting opportunities.  The Centers also provide strategic advice on supplier diversity programs to help make buyers more effective and efficient in meeting their goals.

The most recently opened business centers were in Boston, MA, Minneapolis, MN and Manhattan, NY. 

Assistant Secretary for Trade Promotion and Director General of the U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service Suresh Kumar to Return to the Private Sector

After two years leading the Commerce Department’s U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service (USFCS), Assistant Secretary for Trade Promotion Suresh Kumar announced his decision today to return to the private sector.

The USFCS, which is part of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, is a global network of trade specialists with offices across America and in more than 70 countries around the world. The organization’s job is to help connect U.S. companies looking to sell their products overseas with foreign buyers.

On Kumar’s watch, the Commercial Service has gotten better results with fewer resources. It’s also gone from an organization that tended to measure its progress with difficult-to-quantify anecdotes to one that’s metrics driven – a change that’s been critical in helping determine what’s working and what isn’t in the Department’s efforts to meet President Obama’s National Export Initiative goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014.

“Ultimately, leaders are measured by whether they leave an organization better than they found it,” U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson said. “With the changes Suresh helped usher in, the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service is, without question, in a better position to succeed today.  “Improvements to the technology available to USFCS staff and the repositioning of Commercial Service Officers to markets with the best potential for U.S. export growth will benefit American businesses eager to export for years to come.”

Just a few statistics illustrate how the organization has grown stronger and more effective during Kumar’s tenure:In 2009, 158 U.S. companies went on Commerce-organized trade missions. Last year, there were 527.In 2009, there were 8,900 participants in Commerce’s International Buyers Program, which recruits qualified foreign buyers, sales representatives and business partners to U.S. trade shows. Last year, there were 15,600.

“Those measurements tell a good story, but the statistic that’s most important to me and to the President is 303,000; that’s the number of jobs supported last year by the exports the USFCS helped facilitate,” Bryson said.That figure has more than doubled since 2009. “We wish Suresh the best in his future endeavors, and I know he’ll continue to support the expansion of global trade in the private sector.”

Kumar has agreed to stay on until March 2 to help with the transition.

Commerce Secretary John Bryson Visits Manufacturing Facility in Columbus, Ohio

Secretary Bryson learning about the newest line of Entrotech lacrosse handles

Today, three days after attending the president’s State of the Union address, Commerce Secretary and former CEO John Bryson traveled to Columbus, Ohio, where he toured Entrotech, a manufacturing facility, and met with local business leaders. The Secretary also toured EWI before giving brief remarks about the Department of Commerce’s focus on supporting American manufacturers so they are able to build their products in America and sell them everywhere around the globe.

Following his remarks, the Secretary participated in a White House Business Council Roundtable discussion with business leaders. The final stop was at the Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, directly adjacent to Ohio States campus, where the Secretary saw old innovations, such as one of the first Xerox copiers, to the latest technologies in development.

The Commerce Department’s SelectUSA program is helping ensure that more domestic and foreign firms are investing here in the U.S. We want to build on the momentum that we see in bringing jobs back. That’s exactly what companies like Entrotech are poised to do. They are generating innovative ideas on product design and development that can change entire industries, making them more globally competitive.

The Critical Role Broadband Plays in Today's Economy

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

This week I had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion hosted by the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women, or NOBEL, that examined how broadband is helping to address many of America’s most pressing challenges.

A robust broadband infrastructure is critical for America to remain competitive in the 21st century. Broadband provides a foundation for innovation, job creation and economic growth. Broadband is also transforming healthcare by enabling patients in rural areas to consult with medical specialists hundreds of miles away. It is opening doors in education by allowing students to take online classes at universities across the country. And it is changing the way we communicate, form personal connections, access information, shop and conduct many everyday transactions.

The Obama administration is working to ensure that more Americans have the resources and skills to share in these benefits and opportunities. This is particularly critical in today’s job market, since many job openings are posted only online and since digital literacy skills are a requirement in many workplaces.

One highlight of the administration’s work in this area is the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, or BTOP, a Recovery Act program administered by the NTIA that is investing nearly $4 billion in roughly 230 projects to expand broadband access and adoption across the country. These projects are building networks in rural America and other places where existing systems are inadequate, and connecting schools, hospitals and other vital community anchor institutions. They are opening computer centers in schools, libraries and other public buildings to provide broadband access for people who want to go online but lack the resources at home. And they are teaching computer and digital literacy skills, providing online job search and resume writing assistance, and even training people for technical jobs in the information-age economy.

Acting Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank Visits Tech Town in Dayton, Ohio

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank Inspects an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

Two days after President Obama laid out plans in his State of the Union address to support innovation and bolster U.S. manufacturing, Acting U.S. Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank visited Tech Town, a premier commercial technology campus, in Dayton. There, she toured UA Vision and Persistent Surveillance, startup companies that are commercializing federally-supported research, and delivered remarks about the importance of investing in innovation and a skilled labor force to create jobs in a 21st century economy.

While in Dayton, Blank also participated in a roundtable with local business leaders to discuss how Department of Commerce resources can help them become more innovative and competitive. In addition, she toured the Wright-Patterson Air Force Research Laboratory, a major area job magnet which conducts critical research and development work, among other services.

The Commerce Department is also working hand-in-hand with local companies to continue innovating and exploring. Through the Ohio Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Commerce has worked with more than 300 companies in southwest Ohio. Commerce’s Economic Development Administration even teamed up with the state to help build Tech Town. 

2010 Census Shows Nearly Half of American Indians and Alaska Natives Report Multiple Races

National Museum of the American Indian Director Kevin Gover (Photo: Heather Schmaedeke )

U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves released a 2010 Census brief on the American Indian and Alaska Native population (PDF) yesterday and joined an expert panel in addressing the current social and economic impact of this population and at a forum held at the National Museum of the American Indian. The event highlighted statistics from the 2010 Census, providing a portrait of the American Indian and Alaska Native population in the U.S. and its size and growth at various geographic levels.

The brief, The American Indian and Alaska Native Population: 2010, shows almost half (44 percent) of this population, or 2.3 million people, reported being American Indian and Alaska Native in combination with one or more other races. This multiracial group grew by 39 percent from 2000 to 2010.  Census infograph

Secretary Bryson Meets with Business Leaders in Virginia, Highlighting Manufacturing Priorities

Secretary Bryson tours Paramount Sleep in Norfolk, VA with Richard Diamonstein, President of their Commercial Division

Today, a day after attending the president’s State of the Union address, Secretary Bryson had the opportunity to tour Paramount Sleep, a family-owned mattress factory, and meet with local business leaders in Norfolk, Virginia to talk about manufacturing and how the Commerce Department can help businesses build products here and sell them everywhere.

Like many other businesses across the country, Paramount Sleep was hit by the recent recession–but they pressed on. Today, they manufacture high-end products using about 90% U.S. content. They have been an anchor in the community for three generations.

Many of the businesses in Norfolk have followed a similar path, and people throughout America have created companies like this that are “built to last.” As the president said last night, it’s now time for us to ensure that the American economy as a whole is also “built to last.”

The question now is: How do we keep moving forward to build an economy that creates jobs and supports a strong middle class–both in the short and long term? As the president said last night, “our blueprint begins with American manufacturing.” Today, over 11 million Americans have manufacturing jobs. Over the last two years, manufacturing has added more than 330,000 jobs, the strongest jump since the 1990s.

Commerce is building on that momentum by focusing its efforts specifically on advanced manufacturing, recently creating a national office to coordinate government-wide efforts with private sector and university partners. And companies like Paramount are poised to become powerhouses of American manufacturing. Paramount mattresses are Made in America, using domestic suppliers almost exclusively. Recently, they have been working with our Commercial Service officers to sell their products in China.

North Carolina Manufacturing is Supporting an Economy Built to Last

Sanchez tours manufacturing plant in North Carolina

Guest blog post by Francisco J. SánchezUnder Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

Good things are happening here in North Carolina.  

Today, I’ve had the pleasure of spending some time in the Tar Heel state, visiting companies, meeting with business and community leaders, and seeing up close just how a thriving manufacturing sector is positively impacting jobs and the economy.

The morning began with a tour of Parkdale Mills, a yarn company that was founded nearly a century ago with one mill and less than 200 employees.

In the years since—despite all the changes that have occurred in the industry—Parkdale has done more than survived. It’s thrived. The numbers are staggering.

Federal Government Help for Manufacturing Companies: How Commerce Contributes

US-Made Auto Parts

In last night's State of the Union address, President Obama laid out proposals for how to bring about a new era of American manufacturing, with more good jobs and more products stamped Made in the USA.  A few of the proposals are:

  • Reward companies for bringing jobs back to America.
  • Lower tax rates for companies that manufacture and create jobs in the United States.
  • Get tough on trade enforcement.
  • Create more jobs and make us more competitive by rebuilding America using half of the savings from ending foreign wars.

These proposals build upon the efforts already underway by the White House.

At the Department of Commerce, we support manufacturers in a multitude of ways:

Federal Investments Catalyzing the Growth of the Critical, Job-Creating St. Louis Biosciences Cluster

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

Today, I was pleased to join St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and colleagues from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (DOL/ETA) at an event to spotlight federal investments that are catalyzing the growth of the critical, job-creating St. Louis biosciences cluster.

The day was focused on the partnership between the St. Louis County Economic Council, the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment, and the St. Louis Minority Supplier Development Council to establish the St. Louis Biosciences Jobs and Innovation Accelerator project.

With more than $1.8 million in federal investment, including $702,765 from EDA, $973,015 from SBA, and $150,000 from the DOL/ETA, this project will work to accelerate the growth of the region’s biosciences cluster and spur the formation of new companies and associated job creation.

EDA’s funding for the project will bring early-stage technologies into the commercialization pipeline by addressing identified gaps and challenges, including access to a skilled workforce of experienced entrepreneurs that are needed to enable companies to grow.

Secretary Bryson meets with India’s Ambassador to the United States Nirupama Rao

Secretary Bryson meets with India’s Ambassador to the United States Nirupama Rao

U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson met with India’s Ambassador to the United States Nirupama Rao to discuss U.S.-India relations and Secretary Bryson’s upcoming trade mission to India in March.    

This was the first meeting between Secretary Bryson and Ambassador Rao, who assumed her current responsibilities in September 2011.  Secretary Bryson and Ambassador Rao also discussed the Department of Commerce’s extensive partnerships with the Government of India through the Bureau of Industry and Security, the International Trade Administration, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Bryson plans to lead a delegation of up to 25 U.S. senior executives on an infrastructure trade mission to New Delhi, Jaipur, and Mumbai in March, which will focus on project management and engineering services, transportation, and energy. India is seeking to invest $1 trillion in its infrastructure over the next five years and is looking for private sector participation to fund half of this expansion through the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model. The United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im), and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) have been invited to join the mission. 

U.S. exports to India through November 2011 totaled $19.7 billion, an increase of 11.5 percent year to date from 2010. India ranks as the United States’ 17th largest export market.

Congressional Staff Hears from i6 Challenge Winners

Hill staff listen to one of the i6 winners

Commerce Department grantees provide updates on projects to promote innovation and commercialization in regions of Ore., Ohio, Pa., Fla. and Ga.

To highlight the economic impact of Obama administration investments to promote American Innovation and accelerate the commercialization of research to the marketplace, the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) hosted the first 21st Century Economic Capitol Hill Briefing on the new COMPETES law on January 19, 2012.

Awardees of the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s (OIE) i6 Challenge came to Washington D.C. to brief Congress on how federal funds are promoting regional economic and job growth. OIE, which was authorized under the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, supports efforts to foster innovation ecosystems and the commercialization of new technologies, products, processes, and services.

Close to 60 Congressional staffers gathered at the Capitol Visitors Center in Washington, D.C., to hear first-hand from four i6 Challenge awardees: David Kenney and Dr. Patricia Beckman of the Oregon Built Environment and Sustainable Technologies Center of Portland, Oregon; Dr. Thomas O’Neal and Wayne Hodges of the Global Center for Medical Innovation of Atlanta, Georgia; Dr. Art Boni of Carnegie Mellon University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Dr. Wayne Watkins of the University of Akron Research Foundation of Akron, Ohio.

Secretary Bryson Hosts Meeting with Manufacturing Council

Secretary Bryson shakes hands with Joseph Anderson, Jr. Chairman and CEO, TAG Holdings, LLC and Chair of the Manufacturing Council

The Department of Commerce has repeatedly demonstrated its commitment to working with the private sector to strengthen the U.S. manufacturing industry and create jobs. Today, Secretary Bryson took another opportunity to do so as host of his first meeting of the Manufacturing Council, a committee that advises the Department on programs impacting U.S. manufacturers.

Along with Under Secretary for International Trade Francisco J. Sánchez, Bryson reiterated the Administration’s priorities for helping American businesses “build it here and sell it everywhere,” which means doing more to support manufacturing; helping more business export to the 95 percent of the world’s consumers who live outside our borders; and encouraging more foreign and domestic firms to invest in the U.S. and build or expand their operations here.

During the meeting, Bryson thanked members for their service on the council and explained how crucial it is for policymakers in Washington to hear directly from businesses to understand what they are going through, especially during these challenging economic times. He also elaborated on the responsibility that both businesses and government leaders have to focus on practical and achievable results in Washington to boost the vital manufacturing sector.

Secretary Bryson Welcomes New Travel and Tourism Advisory Board Members

Secretary Bryson Swearing in the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board

As our economy continues to recover from the worst recession in memory, families in communities across America remain focused on what else can be done to spur job creation. Today was an important day for them.

This afternoon, President Obama announced a task force to develop a National Travel & Tourism Strategy, which will be co-chaired by Secretary Bryson, and he signed a corresponding Executive Order that will make it easier for international visitors to travel to America. That’s important because those visitors help create jobs by spending money in our stores, eating in our restaurants and visiting U.S. tourist destinations that are famous all around the world.

Following this announcement, Secretary Bryson met with and conducted a swearing-in ceremony for 32 newly appointed members of the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, an advisory body of industry executives that provides vital input on government policies and programs affecting the travel and tourism industry.

NOAA: 2011 A Year of Climate Extremes in the United States

Map of U.S. showing wettest, driest, coolest, warmest regions by colored dots

NOAA announces two additional severe weather events reached $1 billion damage threshold, raising 2011’s billion-dollar disaster count from 12 to 14 events

According to NOAA scientists, 2011 was a record-breaking year for climate extremes, as much of the United States faced historic levels of heat, precipitation, flooding and severe weather, while La Niña events at both ends of the year impacted weather patterns at home and around the world.

NOAA’s annual analysis of U.S. and global conditions, conducted by scientists at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, reports that the average temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 53.8 degrees F, 1.0 degree F above the 20th century average, making it the 23rd warmest year on record. Precipitation across the nation averaged near normal, masking record-breaking extremes in both drought and precipitation.

On a global scale, La Niña events helped keep the average global temperature below recent trends. As a result, 2011 tied with 1997 for the 11th warmest year on record. It was the second coolest year of the 21st century to date, and tied with the second warmest year of the 20th century.  See NOAA's full 20011 Review

President Obama Meets with the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness

Cross post to the White House Blog

Today, President Obama convened a meeting of the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, a group of 27 leaders from business, labor and academia tasked with providing the President advice on strengthening our nation’s economy.

Since its first meeting about a year ago, the Council has put forward a host of recommendations that foster growth, competitiveness, innovation, and job creation, both now and for the future. Of the 35 specific recommendations the Council has made that don’t require legislative action, President Obama has taken action on 33 of them and his administration has already implemented 16.

Some of the implemented recommendations include proposing new tax rules that encourage businesses to invest and create jobs in the United States instead of overseas, expediting job-creating infrastructure projects across the country, eliminating inefficient and burdensome federal regulations, and streamlining government.

At today’s meeting, President Obama praised the Jobs Council for the work they are doing to help our country move forward.

"I recognize a lot of these issues are difficult. They’ve proven challenging for decades. The good news is on each of these fronts we’ve made progress this year. I feel confident in being able to say that every one of the agencies in this government has been focused on how do they improve, get smarter, get better, get faster, become more focused on delivering good value to the end user. And I believe that we’ve made genuine progress on all these fronts. We would not have made this progress without this Jobs Council."

The Jobs Council released a new report in advance of today's meeting that details recommendations to improve our nation's long-term competitiveness by investing in our education system, building on our strengths in manufacturing and energy, and reforming our regulatory and corporate tax systems. Read the full report here.

Secretary Bryson Participates in Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service in Los Angeles with Mayor Villaraigosa

Secretary Bryson helping to start a community garden. He's holding a rake.

This morning, Secretary Bryson and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa worked alongside hundreds of volunteers revitalizing and installing a garden at Los Feliz Elementary School in Los Angeles. The event, which was organized by the non-profit action center LA Works, was focused on using community service as a way of commemorating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  It was one of many activities across the country that are part of the annual MLK Day of Service.

Secretary Bryson reminded everyone that the legacy of Dr. King is tethered to his core principles of character and service, so the best way to honor his legacy is through service and volunteering in our communities. Dr. King devoted his life to advancing equality, social justice, and economic opportunity for all. 

During these challenging times when many Americans are hurting, Dr. King’s vision of service and volunteering are more critical than ever.  Secretary Bryson called on Americans to work together to strengthen their own and each other’s economic security. Service is a powerful force for progress, and an important tool in helping us advance Dr. King’s dream of opportunity for everyone.

While remembering and celebrating Dr. King’s legacy, Secretary Bryson echoed the call that President Obama has made to carry Dr. King's spirit of service beyond today and through the year. In fact, as part of his United We Serve initiative, President Obama is calling on all Americans to take action to help others and make an ongoing commitment to serve throughout the year.

Secretary Bryson on Making it Easier to Do Business in America

Infographic on Various Ways a Business Can Contact the Federal Government for Services

Guest blog post by John Bryson, Secretary of Commerce. Cross-posted at Chamber Post.

Today, the President announced his plan to ask Congress for the authority to reorganize and consolidate the government so we can provide more effective, efficient services to the American people.  He wants this authority, which Presidents had until it lapsed in 1984, so that we can modernize our structure to better compete in the global economy and maximize services for the American people.  And the first priority would be to strengthen the ways that American businesses – large and small – can work with the government to compete, export, and grow.

There is not a federal agency that can't be better or smarter in accomplishing its mission.  That's why this consolidation authority is so critical.  Many of the structures in place right now are outmoded and outdated. 

More specifically, today the President also announced that he would use such authority to organize all of the business and trade related functions into a new department, including many functions of the Commerce Department.

Currently, there are six major departments and agencies that focus primarily on business and trade in the federal government, including: U.S. Department of Commerce’s core business and trade functions, the Small Business Administration, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the Trade and Development Agency.

Consolidating these agencies will create one new Department with one mission: to spur job creation and expand the U.S. economy.

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank Tours CES Promoting American Innovation and Competitiveness

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank and Dean Kamen Listen on a Panel

On Thursday, Acting Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank visited the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where she delivered opening remarks and participated in a panel discussion. The panel, titled “Getting Us Back on Track: How Technology and Innovation Can Save America” focused on the integral role innovation and technology play to the U.S. economy.

Blank said, “Innovation is crucial to the economy.  And while private citizens and private businesses are the primary source of new ideas—from concept to commercialization—the government plays a key role in this effort. The returns in new jobs and new technologies have traditionally far exceeded the money invested on the front end by the federal government.”

Referencing the recently released COMPETES report, Blank stated, “Only with a laser-sharp focus on education, innovation and infrastructure, will we build the basis for a 21st century economy that allows American businesses to flourish in an increasingly competitive global market. And only when American businesses flourish will we see the sort of job growth and income growth that assures economic opportunity to middle class Americans.”

Also while at the show, Blank toured the International Trade Agency’s International Buyer Program’s International Commerce Center and met domestic and foreign commercial service officers who assist American businesses in exporting. Afterwards, she presented an Export Achievement Award to Meridrew Enterprises. Meridrew Enterprises is a small, woman-owned company that is an industry leader in high performance screen cleaning technology. Their products have been used on the windows of the Space Shuttle and International Space Station.

Exporting Products “Made in America” Supports Jobs Here at Home

Under Secretary Sánchez jwith representatives from U.S. companies who have partnered with the Department of Commerce on its New Market Exporter Initiative

Guest blog post by Francisco J. SánchezUnder Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

It’s been called the beginning of a manufacturing renaissance. 

As President Obama noted at yesterday’s “Insourcing American Jobs” forum, 334,000 manufacturing jobs have been created in the past two years. And, in the third quarter of 2011, manufacturing profits were up more than 7 percent compared to the first quarter.

These positive trends are very good news because manufacturing is a key to our economy. As the Department of Commerce’s report—“The Competitiveness and Innovative Capacity of the United States”—recently highlighted, in 2009, manufacturing made up more than 11 percent of GDP.

It employed nearly 12 million workers. And, these are good jobs. In the manufacturing sector, total hourly compensation is, on average, 22 percent higher than the services sector.

That’s why the Obama administration is firmly committed to working with the manufacturing industry to keep this momentum going.

Today, I had the honor of serving as the keynote speaker at the National Association of Manufacturers’ Council of Manufacturing Associations (NAM CMA) winter meeting.

I talked about the work we are doing at the International Trade Administration to support their efforts. Exports and manufacturing are intimately linked. U.S. businesses produce the best and most innovative products in the world. But, what good is a product if it sits on a shelf? Businesses need to sell them.

February Forums Help Manufacturers Get on Track to Build Next Generation Rail

Image of high-speed rail with multi-colored streaks

Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) will host two forums in February 2012 to help U.S. manufacturers prepare for upcoming opportunities to become suppliers for the next generation of railcars and locomotives. The first forum will be held Feb. 8 in Sacramento, Calif., and the second will be Feb. 15 in Chicago.

The Next Generation Rail Supply Chain Connectivity Forums will bring together large railcar builders and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) with smaller, capable and interested U.S. manufacturers. Smaller manufacturers will have the chance to learn what products are needed and what investments they should consider when entering the rail industry. The idea is to identify a broader domestic supply base that includes both traditional and non-traditional rail suppliers, with the goal of 100 percent domestic content in railcars that will be funded by state and federal dollars.  Full release

Insourcing American Jobs Forum at the White House

President Obama at the Insourcing American Jobs Forum (WH photo)

Cross post to the White House Blog

At today's "Insourcing American Jobs" forum, President Obama talked about his hope for the future:

I don’t want America to be a nation that’s primarily known for financial speculation and racking up debt buying stuff from other nations. I want us to be known for making and selling products all over the world stamped with three proud words:  “Made in America.”  And we can make that happen.

I don’t want the next generation of manufacturing jobs taking root in countries like China or Germany. I want them taking root in places like Michigan and Ohio and Virginia and North Carolina. And that’s a race that America can win. 

There are signs that the country might be moving closer to that vision, and the President is hard at work to help deliver it.

"[My] message to business leaders today is simple: ask yourselves what you can do to bring jobs back to the country that made our success possible," the President said. "And I'm going to do everything in my power to help you do it. We're going to have to seize this moment."

Learn more:

Obama Administration Applauds Opening of Innovation Hub in Gainesville, Florida

View of incubation hub lobby from balcony

Guest blog post by U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John R. Fernandez

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, Gainesville Mayor Craig Lowe, and University of Florida President J. Bernard Machen, all gathered for the opening of the Florida Innovation Hub on January 11, 2012. I was proud to address the large crowd that was here to support the unveiling of a new tech business incubator that will help entrepreneurs, innovators, and start-up companies commercialize their research and bring it into the marketplace.

As Florida seeks to diversify beyond tourism and agriculture, and transition to a more innovation-based economy, the $8.2 million grant that the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) invested in the University of Florida in Gainesville to build this facility will promote a more diverse economy in the state. It will lead to the creation of new higher-skill, living-wage jobs that are vital to the prosperity of this region. This incubator is expected to create 300 jobs and generate $30 million in private investment.

Secretary Bryson Stops by the Motor City

Bryson and Ford chat

Earlier this week, Secretary and former CEO John Bryson made his first trip to Detroit, as Commerce Secretary, where he met with representatives from nearly every major auto maker that produces cars in the United States. In addition, Bryson met with United Auto Workers (UAW) President Bob King, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, as well as members of the Michigan Congressional delegation. The trip came on the heels of President Obama’s announcement late last year naming Secretary Bryson as co-chair of the White House Office of Manufacturing Policy.

Secretary Bryson’s day-long trip began with a breakfast meeting with members of the Michigan Congressional delegation including Senator Debbie Stabenow, Representatives John Dingell, John Conyers and Hansen Clarke. The group discussed a wide variety of topics including what the Federal government can do to further support the Nation’s manufacturing sector and automotive industry.

Secretary Bryson reiterated that the Department of Commerce is focused on doing everything possible to help support manufacturers. He also talked about the various services at the Commerce Department that are available everyday to manufacturers large and small. For example, the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration helps promote the U.S. auto industry through trade missions, trade shows and buying missions in addition to conducting market research and business matchmaking to U.S. exporters, particularly to new-to-export and new-to-market automotive suppliers.

Following the breakfast meeting, Secretary Bryson hit the auto show floor and first met with GM CEO Dan Akerson at the Cadillac exhibit.  Mr. Akerson showed Secretary Bryson and members of the Michigan Congressional delegation the newest Cadillac CTS.  After that, the group walked over to the 2013 Chevy Malibu exhibit where Mr. Akerson showed the group Chevy’s newest midsized sedan.  They also ran into Detroit Mayor Dave Bing who was also checking out the latest GM vehicles.

Secretary Bryson then visited with Chrysler/Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne and saw the new Dodge Dart.  Both Secretary Bryson and Senator Stabenow took turns in the driver’s seat while Mr. Marchionne pointed out the features of the Chrysler’s newest compact sedan.

Secretary Bryson’s final stop on the floor was with Ford Chairman Bill Ford, where he saw the new 2013 Ford Fusion, which will include three engine options, including a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid version.  The Ford Chairman also showed the Secretary the new Lincoln MKS, before the pair ran into Michigan Governor Rick Snyder who was also checking out the newest Fusion.  The three briefly chatted about the importance of manufacturing and the auto industry to the state.

The Secretary then left the show floor to meet with UAW President Bob King.  The two discussed how the Commerce Department can ensure that they are doing everything they can to support American manufacturing so that companies build their products here and sell them everywhere.

The Secretary’s final meeting was with the Global Automakers, a group that represents members of the international automakers community, including companies from Japan, Germany, and other countries around the world.  Secretary Bryson talked about how foreign direct investment in the United States is one of his top priorities, and members of the group discussed the investments they had made to create jobs here at home.

Overall it was a quick, but productive trip to Michigan, where the Secretary met with business, and political leaders, and discussed what more the Department of Commerce can do to support job creation here at home – and saw some great cars.

Brundage Post: Resurgence of the American Auto Industry

Cross post blog by Amy Brundage, White House Deputy Press Secretary for the Economy

Yesterday, the North American International Auto Show kicked off in Detroit, with companies unveiling their new vehicles and folks eager to get their first peek. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was on hand for the opening events, and Commerce Secretary John Bryson, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, and the Labor Department’s Director Office of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers Jay Williams are all taking part in auto show activities this week.

The auto industry had a strong year in 2011. It’s easy to forget, but just a few years ago many people doubted whether there would even be an American auto industry in 2011.

When President Obama took office, we faced the worst recession since the Great Depression, and the American auto industry was hit hard. Hundreds of thousands of jobs were lost in the auto industry, and entire communities that depended on a dealership or a parts manufacturer were affected.

Both GM and Chrysler faced the stark choice of seeking government support or facing almost certain uncontrolled liquidations, which would have had a ripple effect across the industry, causing at least one million more jobs to be lost. The President refused to let that happen.

In the face of stiff opposition, the president made a tough choice to help provide the auto industry the temporary support it needed to rebuild their companies and get moving again. This was a difficult decision, and came with significant risk. But the president was not willing to walk away from these workers and this great American industry.

Obama Administration Invests $2 Million to Spur Advanced Manufacturing in South Central Kansas

Assistant Secretary Fernandez participates in roundtable discussion at Wichita State University

Guest blog post by U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John R. Fernandez

The Obama administration recently announced a $2 million Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge award to the Center for Innovation and Enterprise Engagement to support the south central Kansas region’s efforts to jumpstart advanced manufacturing and create the jobs of the future. The $37 million Jobs Accelerator competition leverages funding from three federal agencies and technical assistance from 13 additional agencies to support the development of 20 high-growth industry clusters across the country. Funding for workforce training and technical assistance is provided by the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA), the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), and the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Two manufacturing industries—wind turbine and medical equipment—are specific targets of the initiative being led by Wichita State University. The effort encourages the migration of technology into the region’s economy to develop composite and advanced materials products and processes and bring with it new, high-paying jobs. But other opportunities will undoubtedly come from exploitation by other industries of the composite materials sector in the region.

The investment will help assure that south central Kansas will remain a dynamic center of manufacturing and a generator of jobs for years to come.

What Others Are Saying About the COMPETES report

On Friday, the Commerce Department unveiled the COMPETES Report: A Roadmap for Strengthening U.S. Competitiveness. The report makes three important findings:

  • Federal investments in research, education and infrastructure were critical building blocks for American economic competitiveness, business expansion and job creation in the last century;
  • Failures to properly invest in, and have comprehensive strategies for, those areas have eroded America’s competitive position; and,
  • In a constrained budgetary environment, prioritizing support for these pillars are imperative for America’s economic future and provide a strong return on investment for the U.S. taxpayer.

The Business Roundtable and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce wrote about the report and CNN asked a Commerce Innovation Advisory Board member about it (below).

Additionally, members of the Innovation Advisory Board recorded their own videos highlighting parts of the report they felt were most important.

Commerce Department Releases COMPETES Report: A Roadmap for Strengthening U.S. Competitiveness

Secretary Bryson Releases the America COMPETES report on American competitiveness

The U.S Department of Commerce today delivered to Congress a comprehensive report on “The Competitiveness and Innovative Capacity of the United States.”  The report serves as a call to arms, highlighting bipartisan priorities to sustain and promote American innovation and economic competitiveness. 

At 10am ET, watch Secretary Bryson present the report and then a distinguished panel discuss the findings. [The event has now concluded]

The report makes three important findings:

  • Federal investments in research, education and infrastructure were critical building blocks for American economic competitiveness, business expansion and job creation in the last century;
  • Failures to properly invest in, and have comprehensive strategies for, those areas have eroded America’s competitive position; and,
  • In a constrained budgetary environment, prioritizing support for these pillars are imperative for America’s economic future and provide a strong return on investment for the U.S. taxpayer.

The report was mandated as part of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, which was signed into law by President Obama in January last year. The report addresses a diverse range of topics and policy options, including: tax policy; the general business climate in the U.S.; barriers to setting up new firms; trade policy, including export promotion; the effectiveness of Federal Research and Development policy; intellectual property regimes in the U.S. and abroad; the health of the manufacturing sector; and science and technology education.

The full report, as well as additional resources, can be found online at

Some key findings of the report include:

A Timeline of Out Compete-ing

Infographic: Setting the Stage

The 20th century was a period of extraordinary performance in the United States. Americans were living longer and more fruitful lives.  They were better-educated than past generations and residents of other countries. The United States was out-innovating, out-educating, out-connecting, and out-producing the rest of the world, assisted by ground-breaking research and federal funding. Life expectancy was higher than it had ever been, more than 70 percent of teenagers were enrolled in secondary education, and in 1986 the United States comprised 25.2 percent of the world’s economy. The technical advances of the period impacted all aspects of daily life – the construction of the Interstate Highway System physically connected the country in a way never before possible, while the personal computer connected people and industry in ways previously unimagined. In the 1960s, the investments in science paid off: the United States was transformed into the world leader of the space race and the information technology industry.

50 years later, these innovations are still major parts of American lives. The 21st Century has seen huge surges in information infrastructure. As the capacity and usage of the Internet began to grow in the 1990s, the need for better interfaces for sifting through all the information led to early search engines like Yahoo! and later Google, Inc. -- both supported by National Science Foundation (NSF) grants. From there, Internet use, and later high-speed broadband Internet use surged. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, broadband Internet use by households grew from just four percent in 2000 to 68 percent in 2010.

The turn of the century also witnessed incredible advances in medicine and science. In 2003, the Human Genome Project consortium released the sequence of the human genome, and the knowledge this consortium provides will revolutionize diagnoses, treatment, and hopefully even prevention in the of number of diseases. Just a few years later, in 2006, a vaccine was approved to prevent cervical cancer, a disease that claims the lives of nearly 4,000 women each year in the United States.

From 1963 to 2008, real income per person increased in every state, with 34 states (plus the District of Columbia) seeing growth of more than 150 percent. Productivity in America is also at an all-time high. If the United States is to continue to “out compete,” it is imperative that the funding of innovative research and development continue as well. To extend this timeline of historical exceptionalism, our current workforce, as well as future generations, needs the support and funding of public institutions and the federal government.

Commerce Department Agencies Unveil New Website Home Pages

Two agencies of the Department of Commerce unveiled new home pages for their websites in December—the result of efforts to make news and data more readily available and easily accessible to users. The agencies studied user feedback and website best practices to create a more visual and less confusing approach to the mission of informing the public. Both feature links to agency blogs written by their leadership and guest authors and links to economic indicators and career and business opportunities.

On December 20, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced the launch of the newest version of its website at, while at the same time making its retired home page available to users in the transition to its new iteration. In announcing the change, USPTO said it is “just the first of several new changes . . . in the coming months that will help modernize our services for online visitors.” The USPTO is encouraging both positive and negative comments and suggestions that may help the agency with future design enhancements through newhomepage[at]uspto[dot]gov.

On the same day, Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau unveiled its overhauled website with features designed to improve navigation and ease of use, and to make statistics more discoverable, with an interactive map showing business and demographic information for the U.S., as well as states and counties. Like USPTO, this is the start of a series of anticipated ongoing improvements to the Census Bureau website. | home page