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Blog Entries from February 2012

Secretary Bryson Hosts Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee and Export Promotion Cabinet

Bryson and participants seated at conference table

Meeting follows establishment of the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center through Presidential Executive Order signed today

Commerce Secretary John Bryson today hosted a joint meeting of the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC) and the Export Promotion Cabinet (EPC) to discuss strategic priorities for promoting trade and U.S. exports and receive input on new initiatives. Secretary Bryson was joined by officials from the Export-Import Bank, Small Business Administration, National Security Council, and Departments of Agriculture, State, and Treasury, among other agencies.

The TPCC and EPC support the president’s overall economic agenda by helping U.S. companies export globally and create jobs locally. The TPCC is composed of 20 federal government agencies and chaired by the Secretary of Commerce. The EPC was established to coordinate the development and implementation of the National Export Initiative (NEI) along with the TPCC, helping to meet the president’s goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014.  

During the meeting, which was his first as Commerce Secretary, Bryson highlighted the progress with NEI and the need to strengthen efforts to continue to increase U.S. exports. In 2011, the U.S. exported over $2.1 trillion in goods and services, the highest on record and the first time in history that America has crossed the $2 trillion threshold. Despite the positive signs of economic recovery, the president has made clear that lasting economic growth requires leveling the playing field for American workers and businesses and making sure they are able to compete successfully in global markets.

Spotlight on Commerce: Tyra Dent Smith, Deputy Director, Office of Human Resources Management

Photo: Tyra Dent Smith

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 an America Built to Last.

As a native Washingtonian, and having earned a B.A in Psychology from Hampton Institute and a Master of Public Administration from Howard University, I knew early on that I wanted my life work to center around individual and organizational success. To this end, I decided to dedicate my career to public service. Over twenty years of my career has been spent in the Department of Commerce.

Since February 2011, I have had the privilege to serve as Deputy Director, Office of Human Resources Management (OHRM). My primary responsibility is to lead and direct the development and implementation of government-wide and departmental policies, employee programs and activities in all aspects of human resources management and administration. Additionally, this includes coordinating and overseeing HR operations at each of the department's seven bureau level HR service centers. This role has given me an opportunity to serve the department’s workforce at each stage of the employee lifecycle (planning, recruitment, hiring, training and development, retention and retirement/separation).

In partnership with the Director of OHRM, William “Bill” Fleming, our vision is to deliver optimal HR services and products that support and enable mission accomplishment and create a workplace environment that fosters excellence and innovation. This vision is rooted in the policies, processes and practices that support and sustain a strong and capable organizational workforce built to serve the American people.

Spotlight on Commerce: Dr. James Turner, Director of the Office of International Affairs

Dr. James Turner, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for International Affairs and Director of NOAA Office of International Affairs

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series, which highlights members of the Department of Commerce who are contributing to the president's vision of an America Built to Last.

I am a native of Washington, DC and had the benefit of growing up in a home with loving parents who stressed family, integrity, achievement, service, and education.The values I learned at home were reinforced by those I was taught by the Jesuits at Gonzaga High School.  This strong foundation led me to receive degrees in Physics from MIT (Ph.D.) and Johns Hopkins (B.A.). 

Physics is simultaneously empowering and humbling.  It is empowering in the knowledge and understanding that helps others and humbling in that often the more we learn the more we realize we do not know.  When I was in school, it was disturbing that so few minorities and women were considering Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) career fields.  So, after finishing at MIT, I applied for positions at universities in Africa and at Historically Black Colleges in the U.S.  My first two positions were on the Physics Faculties at Southern University (Baton Rouge) and Morehouse College.  I am very proud that, among the students I taught while at Morehouse, two are now NOAA scientists.

India Notes: New Partnerships Equals New Opportunities

Under Secretary Sánchez with inauguration participants

Guest blog post by Francisco J. Sánchez, Under Secretary for International Trade, International Trade Administration

There are amazing opportunities available to U.S. businesses in India.

That’s one of the main takeaways of my successful week-long trade mission focusing on Indian port infrastructure. Case in point: the two-way trade between India and the U.S. grew to $58 billion in 2011, and this upward trend is expected to continue in 2012.

The ports trade mission that we just concluded today–a first of its kind in India–was especially successful. Representatives from 12 U.S. organizations joined me on the trip, where we visited three different cities to facilitate as many partnerships as possible. The trade mission participants included dredging companies, port security companies, scanning technology providers, infrastructure, and transportation and logistics companies. With them the Ports of Baltimore and San Diego also joined to partner with companies and ports in India.

Spotlight on Commerce: Michael Phelps, Director of the Office of Budget

Michael Phelps, Director of the Office of Budget

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 an America Built to Last.

I am currently Director of the Office of Budget at the Department of Commerce. That means I am the principal adviser to the Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary for Administration and other Department officials on all things related to the planning, formulation, execution and defense of the Department’s budget.

I understand that not everyone is a numbers person, but I love this position because of public debates associated with supporting the president’s agenda and, more important, the roles and mission this Department plays in executing those objectives in helping to create an America built to last!

My entire professional career has been in public service. Prior to joining Commerce in March of 2011, I served 33 years in the United States Air Force. My last assignment was Director of Financial Management and Comptroller for Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base, Hampton, Virginia. As Chief Financial Officer for the largest operational command in the Air Force and the principal financial adviser to the Air Combat Command Commander, I led a 67-person financial management staff that supported a financial network of more than 1,100 people supporting 25 air wings, 1,100 aircraft and approximately 105,000 personnel. I retired from active duty as a colonel in February of 2011 and was given an opportunity to continue my service to the nation here at the Department of Commerce.

Secretary Bryson Encourages State Governors to Use SelectUSA and Attend SelectUSA Investment Summit

SelectUSA logo

Prior to President Obama attending the Democratic Governors Association Meeting, Secretary John Bryson addressed the assembled governors to discuss how the Commerce Department is working across the federal government to make every federal tool available to promote “insourcing” by U.S. companies and to attract more foreign direct investment.

Secretary Bryson reiterated the key advantages America has over foreign competitors. For example, the American workforce is among the most productive in the world. He also discussed how America continues to have the best universities, the strongest sources of R&D and manufacturing innovation, excellent supply chains, and the strongest IP protections.  He also noted that foreign direct investment rose nearly 50 percent from 2009 to 2010.

Bryson then emphasized that through SelectUSA, the Commerce Department wants to partner with more states to attract even more foreign direct investment to the U.S. SelectUSA is the first coordinated federal effort to aggressively pursue and win new business investments in the U.S. It will help investors navigate our rules and procedures and will help advocate for the U.S. when foreign businesses are deciding where to put their next facility and create jobs.

SelectUSA is already working with some city and state economic development organizations to produce results. Bryson personally invited the governors and their top economic officials to attend the 1st annual SelectUSA Investment Summit later this year. The Commerce Department will assemble companies from around the world and it will provide an excellent opportunity for states to explain why they are the best place to invest and to hire.

Census Bureau Releases National-Level Data on Education Levels, Bachelor's Degree Attainment Tops 30 Percent for the First Time

Census Bureau Releases National-Level Data on Education Levels, Bachelor's Degree Attainment Tops 30 Percent for the First Time

The U.S. Census Bureau yesterday released five data products that show many facets of educational attainment across the nation and present statistics on the levels of education achieved by various demographic characteristics. In March 2011, for the first time ever, more than 30 percent of U.S. adults 25 and older had at least a bachelor's degree, the U.S. Census Bureau reported. As recently as 1998, fewer than one-quarter of people this age had this level of education. In addition, more than one-third (20 million) of the nation's 56 million bachelor's degree holders held their degree in the broad field of science and engineering, including 4 million each in the social sciences and engineering and 3 million in biological, agricultural and environmental sciences.

This information comes from Educational Attainment in the United States: 2011, a collection of national-level tables from the Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC). Historical tables go back to the late 1940s, when the CPS first began collecting data on attainment.

“This is an important milestone in our history,” Census Bureau Director Robert Groves said. “For many people, education is a sure path to a prosperous life. The more education people have the more likely they are to have a job and earn more money, particularly for individuals who hold a bachelor's degree.”

From 2001 to 2011, the number of Hispanics with a bachelor's or higher education increased 80 percent from 2.1 million to 3.8 million. The percentage of Hispanics with a bachelor's or higher education increased from 11.1 percent in 2001 to 14.1 percent in 2011. Overall, the increase in the proportion of the population with a bachelor's degree or higher went from 26.2 percent to 30.4 percent. Release

MBDA: Strengthening Support to Minority-Owned Firms

MBDA logo

Guest blog post by David A. Hinson, National Director, Minority Business Development Agency
Supporting the growth and global competitiveness of minority-owned businesses is a priority for the Department of Commerce and the Obama administration.

And we’re making good on that priority. Last year, the Department’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) registered the best annual performance in its 41-year history. It assisted minority-owned businesses in gaining access to nearly $4 billion in contracts and capital, supporting the creation of nearly 6,000 much-needed jobs. Over the last three years, our network of 39 MBDA Business Centers, has been largely responsible for generating $10 billion in contracts and capital while helping to create and save nearly 20,000 jobs.

Today, the challenge for MBDA–like so many organizations across the federal government–is to figure out how we build on that record while becoming more efficient.  A number of bureaus right here within the Commerce Department are facing a similar challenge, which has led, for example, to consolidating or otherwise cutting several programs in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), restructuring some units within International Trade Administration (ITA) and shifting the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) emphasis to regional innovation strategies. So how do we at MBDA meet the President’s mandate to improve services to minority-owned businesses and entrepreneurs in an increasingly difficult budget environment?

The answer for our Bureau started with looking at the grassroots where MBDA interacts on a daily basis with minority business owners. Our front lines are our 39 MBDA Business Centers and related business development support services. Our plan is to strengthen connections at that level to enhance services and get more for your tax dollar.

U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson Delivers Remarks at Unveiling of “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights” at the White House

Internet Privacy Bill of Rights

Today, Secretary John Bryson joined National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling and FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz for the unveiling of an online “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights” (PDF) at an event at the White House. The Secretary spoke about the need to protect consumers and encourage the growth of responsible online commerce.

As Secretary Bryson pointed out, millions of Americans shop, sell, bank, learn, talk and work online. Online retail sales are now nearing $200 billion annually in the U.S.

Yet we have all seen stories of consumer data being lost, compromised, or stolen.

Privacy and trust online has never been more important to both businesses and consumers. More and more consumers are concerned about their information being used only as intended.  

The Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights will help protect consumers’ personal data, provide businesses with better guidance on how to meet consumers’ privacy expectations, and ensure that the Internet remains a strong platform for commerce, innovation, and growth.

Acting Commerce Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank Announces Computer Contract Expected to Save Taxpayers $20-25M

As the president said when he launched the Campaign to Cut Waste in June 2011, “No amount of waste is acceptable, not when it’s your money. Just as families are living within their means, government should, too, so we can invest in the things that we know will create good jobs and grow the economy.” As part of those ongoing efforts to make government more accountable to the American people and cut wasteful spending, I am happy to report today that the Commerce Department has awarded a contract for computers that is expected to save taxpayers $20-25 million over the next five years.

Through the contract with Intelligent Decisions Inc., we will reduce our cost for desktops and laptops by 40 percent. The contract leverages the large volume of computers that Commerce purchases each year and standardizes specifications to achieve significant cost reductions. Making wise spending decisions like this will enable Commerce to focus resources on its primary mission, which is supporting innovation, helping American businesses create jobs, and driving U.S. competitiveness around the world.

Intelligent Decisions Inc., is a small business reseller offering products manufactured by Dell Inc. By awarding this contract to a small business, the Commerce Department will increase its small business participation for computer purchases by over thirty percent. Intelligent Decisions Inc.  will be providing valuable services to Commerce, including helping to better monitor its inventory of computers, improving delivery time, and loading custom images onto computers.

President Obama Announces New Steps to Promote Manufacturing, Increase U.S. Exports

Jim Albaugh, President and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, President Obama with Jim McNerney, CEO and chair of the PEC (Photo: Boeing)

Last Friday, President Obama visited the Boeing assembly facility in Everett, Washington to announce new steps to promote American manufacturing and increase U.S. exports. Manufacturing represents nearly 60 percent of total U.S. exports, and Boeing, whose CEO Jim McNerney is Chair of the President's Export Council (PEC), is one of the country’s leading exporters of manufactured goods with more than $34 billion in total exports in 2011. The PEC is chartered  to advise the president on real ways to boost innovation, competitiveness, and trade for American businesses. Mr. McNerney brings great skill and know-how to the PEC.

The Obama administration has provided important support to Boeing’s export success, and the president has made unprecedented efforts to open up markets for American goods and to level the playing field for all American companies.  Over the past year, the president has signed into law a series of trade agreements that will provide a major boost to our exports by making it easier for American companies to sell their products in South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. In addition, record-setting efforts at the Export-Import Bank–through direct loans, credit guarantees, and credit insurance–have helped U.S. exports remain on target to meet the president’s goal to double exports between 2010 and 2015.

Spotlight On Commerce: Cedric Grant, Director of the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships

Portrait of Cedric Grant

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 an America Built to Last.

I have dedicated the majority of my professional career to guiding faith-based and non-profit organizations toward positive social and economic change. I attended Howard University (GO BISON!!), graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Finance, and earned a Master of Divinity Degree from Princeton Theological Seminary. Additionally, I received a Master of Public Administration from the School of International & Public Affairs at Columbia University.

In June 2009, I was appointed by the White House as the Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the Department of Commerce. As a member of Secretary John Bryson’s senior advisory team, I seek to forge and enhance partnerships with secular and faith-based organizations, particularly in policy areas of census, economic development and minority business development.

At Commerce, we are working hard to create an America built to last. One of the ways my office approaches this goal is to strengthen and increase capacity of the non-profit organizations by encouraging cross-sector partnerships to stimulate local economies, create jobs and attract private investments in communities with high unemployment and low per capita income. In 2010, non-profits alone accounted for $779 billion of our country’s gross domestic product (5.4 percent). As we work to improve our economy, it’s important to know that non-profits employ and create jobs locally; in 2009, nine percent of the economy’s wages, and over 10 percent of jobs in 2009.

Calling All App Developers: Commerce Launches $10,000 App Challenge to Better Connect Businesses with Government Logo

Today, in conjunction with the newly-launched BusinessUSA initiative, the Department of Commerce announced the launch of their business app challenge.  The $10,000 contest challenges app developers to find innovative ways to utilize Commerce and other publicly available data and information to support American businesses. The business app challenge calls on developers to utilize at least one Department of Commerce data set in creating an application that assists businesses and/or improves the service delivery of to the business community.  Developers may choose the platform that best suits them. Applicants may design for the web, personal computer, mobile handheld device, or any platform broadly accessible to the open Internet. A list of developer-friendly data sets can be found on the Business Data and Tools page of

A panel of high-profile judges will evaluate and vote on the entries.  The panel includes:

Acting Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank Visits the Port of Savannah

Senator Johnny Isakson, GPA Board Chairman Alec Poitevint, Acting Deputy Secretary Blank, Senator Saxby Chambliss

Acting Deputy U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank visited Savannah, Ga. yesterday, where she received a briefing on the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) and toured the Port of Savannah with U.S. Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson and representatives from the Georgia Ports Authority. Following the tour, Blank delivered remarks on the importance of projects like SHEP, an efficient, high-tech export engine that will help U.S. businesses compete globally, as part of President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI).

Expanding America’s ports means expanding America’s exports. And more exports mean more jobs. Exports already support nearly 10 million U.S. jobs, including one in three manufacturing jobs, and positions supported by exports pay about 15 percent more on average.

The president launched the NEI in 2009 with the goal of doubling exports by the end of 2014, supporting several million jobs. U.S. exports increased 14.5 percent in 2011 to a record $2.1 trillion. That’s the second year of double-digit growth, ahead of schedule to achieve the goal of NEI.

Secretary Bryson Advocates Build It Here, Sell It Everywhere at State Department Global Business Conference

Bryson flanked by flags at the State Department

Earlier today, Secretary Bryson spoke to the first-ever State Department Global Business Conference during an afternoon plenary session entitled, “What the Government Can Do for Business.” He discussed his top priorities as Commerce Secretary: supporting advanced manufacturing, increasing U.S. exports, and attracting more investment to the U.S. Bryson highlighted efforts at making the Commerce Department an effective partner and resource for American businesses.

Secretary Bryson focused on the Administration's jobs effort, saying "In October of last year, I was confirmed as Secretary. Around that same time, Secretary Clinton sent a cable to her staff in U.S. embassies.  It said that strengthening our economic leadership abroad and driving growth here at home – “economic statecraft” – is now a key part of what the State Department does. I was pleased to hear this because economic statecraft aligns perfectly with the top priorities I have for the Commerce Department: supporting advanced manufacturing, increasing U.S. exports, and attracting more investment to the U.S. – all to create jobs."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton amplified that message earlier at the luncheon session, saying "I have made 'Jobs Diplomacy' a priority mission at the State Department, with a clear goal: Just as our companies are ready to out-work, out-innovate, and out-compete their rivals, so we intend to be the most effective diplomatic champions for prosperity and growth."

NIST Establishes National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence

NIST Establishes National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence

According to a recent industry study, cyber crimes cost the global economy $388 billion annually in both direct financial losses and the value of lost time dealing with the effects of cyber crime. The study found that about 431 million adults are victims of cyber crime each year.

Another recent study found that annual cyber crime costs for larger U.S. companies averaged about $5.9 million each with a 44 percent increase in the number of successful cyber attacks compared to the previous year.

To help organizations better protect themselves from such threats, the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today announced a new partnership to establish the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence.  The Center will operate as a public-private collaboration for accelerating the widespread adoption of integrated cybersecurity tools and technologies. The State of Maryland and Montgomery County, Md., are co-sponsoring the Center with NIST, which will work to strengthen U.S. economic growth by supporting automated and trustworthy e-government and e-commerce.

U.S. Senator for Maryland Barbara Mikulski, Maryland Lt. Governor Anthony Brown and Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett were at NIST in Gaithersburg, Md., today to announce the partnership with Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Patrick Gallagher.

Secretary Bryson Highlights Balanced Trade Growth, Promotes Exports at U.S.-China Trade Forum in Los Angeles

Secretary Bryson greets Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping prior to the U.S.-China Business Cooperation Forum.

Commerce Secretary John Bryson spoke today at the U.S.-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum in Los Angeles, highlighting ways the U.S. and China can cooperate to establish a level playing field, generate economic growth and create good jobs. In his remarks, he addressed the need to achieve balanced trade growth and increase U.S. exports to China.

Bryson also highlighted the progress of President Obama’s SelectUSA initiative, led by the Commerce Department, which is designed to help businesses from around the world, including China, make direct investments in the U.S. and create jobs for American workers.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, California Governor Jerry Brown, and Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez also spoke. Vice President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China was the keynote for the event.

The forum was part of Vice President Xi’s week-long visit to the U.S., the second of the planned reciprocal visits between the Vice Presidents announced by President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao during the latter’s state visit to Washington last year.

Also today, President Obama announced new steps aimed at promoting American manufacturing and increasing U.S. exports to help U.S. companies build things here and sell them everywhere.  

In case you missed it, you can read an op-ed published today by Secretary Bryson highlighting the fact that American manufacturing and exporting are showing signs of growth, and how the president and the Commerce Department are helping to build on this progress and create an economy that's built to last.

Commerce's EDA Promotes American Manufacturing

EDA logo

Manufacturing represents nearly 60% of total U.S. exports and will play a vital role in America’s economic recovery.

During his State of the Union address, President Obama laid out a blueprint for an "America Built to Last." That starts with American manufacturing. And in his FY2013 budget request, the president outlined strong support for manufacturers by increasing investments in advanced manufacturing, new trade promotion efforts, and innovation.

Today, the president toured the Boeing assembly facility in Everett, Washington, to announce new steps aimed at promoting American manufacturing and increasing U.S. exports. This visit comes on the heels of his trip to Milwaukee, Wisc., where he toured Master Lock, a company that is insourcing and selling their products all over the world.

Federal agencies are making significant investments in innovation and American manufacturing. During the past two years, we have begun to see positive signs in American manufacturing, with the manufacturing sector adding more than 400,000 jobs-the first period of sustained job growth in manufacturing since the 1990s.

BusinessUSA Launches Offering Businesses One Location to Find Key Federal Information and Data


Over the past three years, business owners and entrepreneurs have told us that they don’t have the time or resources to navigate the maze of government agencies and need a one stop shop where they could go for all the assistance they need at every stage of their development.  As President Obama said in his State of the Union address last month, we need to give U.S. businesses every opportunity and tool to succeed and not a maze to navigate.  And as Secretary Bryson has said multiple times while traveling to manufacturers in Columbus, Norfolk, Pittsburgh, and Minneapolis, we need to support American businesses so they can build their products here in America and sell them everywhere around the world.

This is why the Obama Administration is launching a new online platform, BusinessUSA, to help small businesses and exporters of all sizes find information about available federal programs without having to waste time and resources navigating the federal bureaucracy. BusinessUSA combines information and services from 10 different government agencies through one consolidated website and coordinate telephone support through a single 1-800 number. The BusinessUSA website went live today with hundreds of business resources consolidated in one place including Commerce’s International Trade Agency, Census Bureau, Patent and Trademark Office, several other Commerce bureaus, as well as, multiple other government agencies.

BusinessUSA is a platform to make it easier than ever for businesses to access services to help them grow and hire from the day they need technical assistance to start a business, to the day they start building a product and need financing, to the day they are ready to export and need help breaking into new markets overseas.

It’s a “No Wrong Door” approach for small businesses and exporters, creating a common platform to match businesses with the services relevant to them, regardless of where the information is located or which agency’s website, call center, or office they go to for help.  And as more federal agencies publish content through web services, the more we will be able to highlight the most relevant information and programs from across the government. 

Commerce and FedEx Team Up to Provide Opportunities for Exporters

U.S. Exports of Goods and Services: Percent Change from Prior Year

In his 2010 State of the Union address, President Obama set a goal of doubling exports by the end of 2014 – an increase that will support two million additional jobs here at home. In a time when millions of Americans are out of work, boosting U.S. exports is a short-term imperative because exports support millions of good, high-paying American jobs. And for companies looking to expand, looking beyond our borders only makes sense because 95% of the world’s customers are outside our borders.

Since the President announced his goal, exports are up 33.5% and slightly ahead of the pace needed to achieve the National Export Initiative goal of doubling exports by 2014. Yet, even with that success, only 1% of businesses export and of those that do, 58% export to only one market. That is why the Department of Commerce’s U.S. Commercial Service has joined forces with several private sector vendors in the New Market Exporter Initiative.  This program provides companies with expert analysis of target countries, matchmaking services with vendors or distributors and help with logistics and shipping.

Those strategic plans are paying off. Today we begin a series highlighting private sector vendors and the manufacturers they are helping export to new markets.

FedEx works closely with the Commerce Department to support the National Export Initiative by reaching out to its customers, especially those in the manufacturing sector, who are best positioned to export.  Through its expansive outreach network, FedEx has seen firsthand how looking beyond our borders can breathe new life and new jobs into a business.  They know that exporting is no longer just a competitive advantage, but a means to survive this changing environment.

Leading the Way for U.S. Aerospace Companies at the Singapore Air Show

Assistant Secretary Nicole Y Lamb-Hale (third from left) with the staff of the U.S. International Pavilion at the 2012 Singapore Air Show.

Guest blog post by Nicole Y. Lamb-Hale, Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing and Services, International Trade Administration

This week I’m in Singapore leading a delegation of fifteen small and medium sized U.S. aerospace companies to the 2012 Singapore Air Show. The delegation is part of the overall presence of U.S. companies at the U.S. International Pavilion, which this year featured more than 70 companies, 27 of whom are first time exhibitors. In total, more than 170 U.S. companies are exhibiting at the air show, which is Asia’s largest aerospace and defense event and one of the top three air shows in the world.

One of the highlights of my trip was witnessing a signing ceremony between Boeing and Indonesia’s Lion Air. Lion Air has agreed to buy 230 new 737-model aircraft from Boeing, valued at $21.7 billion, making it the largest commercial deal in company history. The sale is estimated to support 110,000 industrial jobs in the U.S.

Secretary Bryson Addresses Los Angeles-Area Business Leaders About the Value of Trade with China

Secretary Bryson Joins Los Angeles-Area Business Leaders for a Roundtable Discussion

Today, Secretary Bryson returned to his home city and led a roundtable with Los Angeles-area businesses about trade with China. Bryson delivered the message that the U.S. and China need greater balance in our trade and economic relationship–and a level playing field for American businesses. To ensure a level playing field, the president has requested funding for an Interagency Trade Enforcement Center coordinated through the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration and the U.S. Trade Representative’s office. This will allow additional advocates for businesses to challenge unfair trade rules and practices throughout the world.

Bryson shared that in the past two years, U.S. exports to China have grown by almost 50 percent and they exceeded $100 billion for the first time in 2011. Vice President Biden has told China's Vice President Xi that America hopes that China does more to allow and encourage increased domestic consumption among its people, and this week they committed to allow non-Chinese companies to compete in selling motor vehicle insurance.

With its enormous size, the Chinese market is ripe for made-in-America products and Bryson encouraged the assembled businesses to explore exporting. In fact, the Commerce Department has 120 Foreign Commercial Service officers in China ready to help them enter the Chinese market.

U.S. Assistant Secretary John Fernandez to Return to Private Sector

U.S. Department of Commerce Assistant Secretary for Economic Development John R. Fernandez

One of the chief architects of the Obama administration's bottom-up innovation strategies, U.S. Department of Commerce Assistant Secretary for Economic Development John R. Fernandez to return to private sector to promote innovation, job creation and global competitiveness.

U.S. Commerce Department Assistant Secretary for Economic Development John R. Fernandez has spent the last two and a half years–amid the most severe economic downturn in generations–successfully guiding the Economic Development Administration (EDA). In this role, he has led the Federal economic development agenda by promoting innovation and helping America’s communities build the foundation for long-term growth. He announced his decision today to return to the private sector, where he will continue to foster innovation, job creation and global competitiveness.

“The Obama administration has been fortunate to have a passionate leader like John who understands the president’s economic agenda and who has worked tirelessly to spur innovation, create jobs and an support an economy that's built to last,” U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson said. “John will be missed, but he has positioned EDA to continue to leverage private-public investments, support bottom-up strategies, and build 21st century infrastructure. We wish him success in his new role.”

NTIA Recovery Act Broadband Grantees Recognized at White House Ceremony as Innovators in Infrastructure

Photo: Don Welch (Merit), Assistant Secretary Strickling, Joe Freddoso (MCNC), Rob Mancini (District of Columbia), Elwood Downing (Merit), Dave Lambert (Internet2/UCAID), Greg Urban (State of Maryland).

Yesterday, two NTIA Recovery Act broadband grantees were among  11 local leaders from across the country honored at the White House as “Champions of Change.” Joe Freddoso, President and CEO of MCNC, and Donald Welch, President and CEO of Merit Network Inc, were recognized for using innovative techniques to develop valuable projects helping to improve America’s infrastructure.

Merit Network and MCNC both received Recovery Act grants from NTIA for broadband infrastructure projects that are currently underway and connecting community anchor institutions in Michigan and North Carolina, including schools, libraries, and hospitals, to high-speed Internet.  Under the leadership of Welch and Freddoso, Merit and MCNC have put hundreds of people to work and are laying the groundwork for sustainable economic growth and improved education, healthcare, and public safety.

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank Tours Factory in Flint, Mich.

Photo: Veronica Artis, Executive Vice President, Genesee Packaging; Flint Mayor Dayne Walling; Dr. Blank; Jane Worthing, Chief Operating Officer, Genesee Packaging, Terence Broussard, Operations/Sales Manager, Genesee Packaging

Yesterday, Acting Deputy U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank traveled to Flint, Michigan, to tour the factory floor at Genesee Packaging, Inc., along with Flint Mayor Dayne Walling, Genesee Packaging President and CEO Willie Artis, and other employees. Her visit followed the release of President Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget request Monday, where the president laid out his blueprint for an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, and skills for American workers.

Following the tour, Blank highlighted investments in the new budget proposal that will support U.S. manufacturers and help more American companies like Genesee Packaging keep making their goods here and sell them in markets abroad–both of which are top priorities of President Obama and U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson. In addition, Blank participated in a roundtable with area business leaders at the Genesee Regional Chamber of Commerce.

President Obama Announces First Annual SelectUSA Investment Summit

SelectUSA logo

Today President Obama visited Master Lock in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and announced that the Department of Commerce will host the first annual SelectUSA Investment Summit, bringing companies from around the world to meet with governors, mayors and local stakeholders, federal agencies, and state and local economic development organizations together to discuss the benefits of investing and growing in the U.S. The Summit will build on the Administration’s efforts to promote investment in the U.S. by providing an annual forum to attract and expand U.S. investment and address questions and issues that companies face when they choose where to invest globally.

Launched by Executive Order in June 2011, the Department of Commerce’s SelectUSA program is the first-ever federal effort to help attract, retain, and expand business investment.  Historically, U.S. states and cities have found themselves competing against foreign governments to attract business investments, with the federal government playing only a nominal role in the competition for global investment.  Rather than providing new incentives for investment, SelectUSA plays the critical role of advocacy, coordination, facilitation, and information-gathering and –sharing.
The program has already paid dividends for American workers.  Working hand-in-hand with SelectUSA officials, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and other local Michigan agencies, Canadian automotive company AGS Automotive recently elected to make an investment in excess of $20 million to add new manufacturing capabilities to permit it to manufacture bumper impact assemblies in Michigan.  The new business will likely represent in excess of $100 million in annual sales over the next 5 years and will enable AGS to retain approximately 50 jobs and create over 100 new jobs in Michigan.

Summary of Twitter #MFGChat on February 14, 2012

Today @CommerceGov, @USNIST_gov, @NIST_MEP, @ExportGov and @TradeGov joined the manufacturing community on Twitter to discuss federal resources that are available to manufacturers and how the President's FY2013 budget requests additional support for manufacturers. #MFGChat is held monthly and organized by @MFGChat. Below is a selected transcript of the conversation. A complete transcript of all tweets can be found in this PDF.

Support for Manufacturers in the President’s FY2013 Budget Request

President's Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Request Logo

Yesterday the president released his FY2013 budget request and Secretary Bryson announced the Department of Commerce’s requests. In the president’s budget, there is strong support for manufacturers by increasing investments in advanced manufacturing, new trade promotion efforts, and innovation investments.

To strengthen and extend Advanced Manufacturing research, Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology is requesting an increase of $45M for a total of $135M. These laboratory efforts are further leveraged with a request of $21M to support the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia Program, and $20M for a NIST Centers of Excellence program. These programs will strengthen public-private partnerships and accelerate innovation focused on manufacturing and technology development.

The president’s budget provides $128 million for the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) to improve the competitiveness of small- and medium-size firms in manufacturing and service industries through custom consulting and product testing.

U.S. Department of Commerce FY 2013 Budget Request

President's Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Request Logo

Secretary John Bryson today released the Department of Commerce’s fiscal year 2013 budget request that includes support for advanced manufacturing, new trade promotion efforts, innovation investments, finds $176 million in administrative savings.

The Commerce budget makes critical investments in advanced manufacturing, innovation, entrepreneurship and competitiveness and trade promotion and enforcement to help create jobs. The nearly 5 percent increase reflects President Obama and Secretary Bryson’s commitment to encouraging U.S. manufacturing and helping more American companies sell their goods and services overseas. The fiscal year 2013 request is $8 billion and requests $2.3 billion in mandatory funding. The Department also identified $176 million in administrative savings, reflecting a strong commitment to wisely stewarding taxpayer dollars and making tough choices to prioritize programs that support the Department’s core mission areas.

  • Advanced Manufacturing: Advanced Manufacturing: $156 million to expand NIST research in areas such as smart manufacturing, nanomanufacturing, advanced materials, and biomanufacturing, including  $21 million for the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia program, which will provide grants to industry consortia to tackle common technological barriers to the innovation and manufacturing of new products.
  • Increasing U.S. Exports: $517 million for the International Trade Administration (ITA), including several key initiatives. The administration requests $30 million for critical investments in trade promotion to help more U.S. businesses reach the 95 percent of consumers who live outside our borders. This proposal also includes $30 million to send Foreign Commercial Service officers and locally engaged staff to high-growth markets to help support the National Export Initiative to meet the President’s goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014. The budget also supports a new trade enforcement unit-- the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC), which will significantly enhance the administration’s capabilities to aggressively challenge unfair trade practices around the world (details below).
  • Attracting Investment to the U.S.: The $517M for ITA includes $13 million for SelectUSA to encourage, facilitate and accelerate foreign direct investment in the U.S. to create jobs and spur growth.

Additionally, as part of the administration’s efforts to revitalize manufacturing, the president’s budget proposes $1 billion in mandatory funding to establish a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation.

Secretary Bryson Tours and Joins a Discussion with Business Leaders, Educators at Minneapolis Community and Technical College

Secretary Bryson Enjoys Mayor Rybak's Attempts at Welding

Today, Secretary John Bryson traveled to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to tour facilities at Minneapolis Community Technical College (MCTC), along with Mayor R.T. Rybak and U.S. Representative Keith Ellison. After the tour, Bryson held a discussion with business leaders, students and educators—including Steven Rosenstone, Chancellor of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, MCTC Graduate Mike Palm and Kimberly Arrigoni, President-Elect of Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association—on how the Obama Administration can continue to support successful partnerships between community colleges and businesses to train and place skilled workers. 

The rigorous education and hands on technical training offered at MCTC and other workforce training campuses has made a difference in the lives of people across the country. As President Obama said during his State of the Union Address a few weeks ago, having a strong workforce is a critical part of ensuring that our economy is built to last. 

Bryson noted that over the past two years, we’ve added over 3.7 million new jobs, including 404,000 manufacturing jobs. But there is still work to be done. That’s why the President has called for more programs and partnerships like the ones at MCTC. We need to support more colleges that teach people the skills that businesses need, and investing in the next generation of skilled workers is a smart investment that will pay off.

Advancing Economic Development Strategies: the First White House Community Partnership Summit, Atlanta, GA

EDA banner

Guest blog post by Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Development and Chief Operating Officer for Economic Development Administration Matt Erskine

Hundreds of small business owners, community leaders, and state and local elected officials in Atlanta, Georgia, convened during the first in a series of White House Community Partnership Summits today for the opportunity to meet face to face with senior Obama administration officials and discuss key local issues.

I had the pleasure of representing the Commerce Department and engage participants about steps the administration is taking to promote economic and job growth in Georgia and across America. I especially enjoyed the open space dialogues where participants set the agenda and identify action steps with officials.

Why Investing in R&D Matters

BEA logo

What do the electric light bulb, the internal combustion engine and the transistor have in common? They are all examples of how innovative ideas can bring rapid change and growth to our economy. Innovation has long been recognized as an important driver of economic growth.  New ideas can spark wave upon wave of new goods and services that literally transform the economy, making it more robust and vibrant.

What exactly is innovation? A precise explanation can be elusive, but common to every definition is the idea of realizing commercial value by creating something that did not previously exist. And, while economists agree that innovation is important for economic growth, actually measuring it is quite a challenge. Innovation is what’s known as an intangible asset. It’s hard to quantify. Understanding the role of intangible assets–and thus the role of innovative activity in general–is critical to understanding the modern economy.

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank Meets with Frédéric Lefebvre, French Minister

Blank with minister Lefebvre shaking hands

Yesterday, Acting Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank met with Frédéric Lefebvre, French Minister for Commerce, SMEs, Tourism, and Consumer Policy, at the Commerce Department to discuss ways to increase cooperation in the U.S.-France commercial relationship. Lefebvre is in Washington briefly before traveling to Miami for the World Symposium of French Trade Advisors on February 9–10.
In light of the Euro crisis, Blank and Lefebvre discussed French growth prospects and U.S. exports, as well as government initiatives, such as BusinessUSA, aimed at improving competitiveness, creating jobs and cutting bureaucratic red tape. They also talked about strategies that each government is pursuing to increase tourism and ideas for cooperation in order to increase trade and investment flows. In addition, Blank and Lefebvre talked about foreign direct investment through the SelectUSA program. Blank said she looks forward to continuing to strengthen the trade relationship between the two countries.

Acting Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank Highlights Skills Initiatives in Madison, Wisconsin

Image of a "truck classrom": Bringing the Classroom to the Community

President Obama recently laid out plans in his State of the Union address to foster an economy that’s built to last by ensuring that America has the highly skilled workers necessary for 21st century jobs. Yesterday, Acting Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank traveled to Madison, Wisconsin, where she visited the Madison Area Technical College, a training ground for students that leads directly to skilled manufacturing jobs nationwide. Blank met with students and sat in on a training class focused on hybrid vehicle technology. Blank also delivered remarks on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce training and met with business and university leaders. Commerce’s Economic Development Administration recently teamed up with Madison College to provide mobile technical training opportunities both on-campus and throughout the region. The training focused on advanced manufacturing and automotive technology.

Blank also visited with several business and academic leaders, who are vital partners in the area of technical training at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery.

Science at Sea: Teaching Our Youth About the Jobs that Make it Happen

"If I Worked on a NOAA ship" book cover

As NOAA’s Teacher at Sea Program (TAS) prepares for its 2012 season, the lessons and materials created by its participants from the 2011 season are making it into the hands of their eager students around the U.S. In 2011, 34 teachers representing 21 states, participated in NOAA research cruises, involving science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts that can be integrated into their daily lessons. One of the goals of the TAS program is that teachers understand and use NOAA data in their classrooms. Teachers also obtain and translate this STEM knowledge for their students and the public in their blogs.

Another goal of the TAS program is for teachers to learn how different STEM occupations support NOAA’s mission and to then convey this information to their students. Each teacher is required to meet with, and sometimes interview, multiple crewmembers during the research cruise.  Often times, these interviews are featured in their blogs, but sometimes, teachers have the students create a product that explains the different jobs.

BTOP Case Study: Building 21st Century Job Skills in California

In today’s information-age economy, broadband is becoming a necessity for anyone searching for or applying for a job. Many job openings are only posted online. And about 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies only accept applications online. What’s more, in the current job market, digital literacy skills are often a requirement. For example, about 60 percent of working Americans use the Internet as an integral part of their jobs. Yet too many Americans lack the broadband access or skills needed to succeed in the workforce.

To help address this gap, the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, or BTOP, is investing approximately $4 billion in roughly 230 projects to increase broadband access and adoption around the country. The Recovery Act program, which is administered by the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, recognizes that broadband can be a key to economic empowerment.

Colorado Manufacturers & Obama Administration Officials Discuss Efforts to Build a Recovery That Lasts

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

On February 7, 2012, my colleague Phil Singerman, Associate Director for Innovation and Industry Services at the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, and I joined local manufacturers in Colorado to discuss lab-to-market strategies during an innovation and commercialization forum hosted by the Colorado Association for Manufacturing and Technology.

In his State of the Union address, President Obama noted that “Innovation also demands basic research. Today, the discoveries taking place in our federally-financed labs and universities could lead to new treatments that kill cancer cells but leave healthy ones untouched. New lightweight vests for cops and soldiers that can stop any bullet.”

Manufacturers in Colorado and across the nation are developing new ideas, research and products to solve the pressing issues we face and create the jobs and industries of the future. Over the last three years, the Obama administration has been making smart investments to accelerate the process for taking research from labs to the marketplace and create jobs for America’s workers.

Commerce Secretary John Bryson Meets with the National Advisory Council on Minority Business Enterprise

NACMBE with Secretary John Bryson

Data from the Department of Commerce reveal that minority-owned firms are an engine of job growth and are more likely to export than non-minority-owned firms. These firms account for $1 trillion in gross receipts and employ almost six million Americans. To bolster the economic impact of minority entrepreneurs across the county, the National Advisory Council on Minority Business Enterprise (NACMBE) was established in April 2010.  

Commerce Secretary John Bryson hosted the fifth meeting of the National Advisory Council on Minority Business Enterprise today at the Commerce Department. The Council, co-chaired by Mark Hoplamazian, CEO of Hyatt Hotel Corporation, and Janice Savin-Williams, co-founder and principal, Williams Capital Group, includes CEOs, entrepreneurs, investors, and scholarly research experts.

“It’s clear that minority communities and minority-owned businesses were hit hard in the recession. However, in the last 22 months, 3.2 million jobs were created.  Also, credit is flowing again to a certain degree,” Bryson said today. “But with your help, we can foster an environment where minority entrepreneurs, innovators and business leaders can do what they do best–create jobs.”  

The State of our Union’s 21st Century Workforce

Recent and Projected Growth in STEM and Non-STEM Employment

In his State of the Union address, President Obama laid out an ambitious goal to train 2 million workers with the necessary skills to land a job.  What are those skills in a 21st century economy?  As we have written previously in this blog, the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) play a critical role in America’s global economic leadership and are vital to securing the highest quality jobs of the future, to decreasing the gender wage gap, and to ensuring America retains global economic leadership through innovation and technology. 

STEM & Employment

In 2010, 7.6 million people or 1 in 18 workers held STEM jobs.  (Watch this space for an update as 2011 data become available.)  Although STEM employment makes up a small fraction of total employment, STEM employment grew rapidly from 2000 to 2010, increasing 7.9 percent while employment in non-STEM jobs grew just 2.6 percent over this period.  (See Figure 1.) The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that STEM jobs will continue growing at a fast clip relative to other occupations: 17.0 percent between 2008-2018 (BLS’ most recent projection), compared to just 9.8 percent for non-STEM jobs.

STEM & Education

One of the more striking characteristics of STEM workers is their educational attainment.  More than two-thirds (68 percent) have a college degree or more, compared to just under one-third (31 percent) of other workers age 16 and over.  Nearly one quarter (23 percent) have completed an associate’s degree or at least some college.  Just 9 percent have a high school diploma or less.  Thus the majority of STEM workers tend to be college educated, but opportunities also exist for STEM workers with fewer years of study.

Secretary Bryson: Moving in the Right Direction on Jobs - Let’s Keep our Focus on Building it Here and Selling it Everywhere

Private Sector Payroll Employment (updated Feb 2012)

Guest blog post by John Bryson, U.S. Secretary of Commerce

Today’s employment numbers are yet another indication that our economy is moving in the right direction. The unemployment rate dropped to 8.3 percent and 243,000 jobs were added in January, making this the 23rd consecutive month of job growth. Private sector job growth has been driving the decrease in unemployment, with the private sector adding 257,000 jobs last month. The manufacturing sector alone grew by 50,000 jobs in January, showing that manufacturing is still an important and growing part of the American economy. In the last two years, manufacturing added 330,000 jobs in the U.S. – the strongest growth since the 1990s. And today, we learned that new orders for manufactured goods rose 1.1 percent in December 2011.

Despite this, our work remains far from over. We need faster economic growth to put Americans back to work and we won’t let up until everyone who wants a job can find a job. We must redouble our efforts to create an economy that is built to last. 

So what does that mean?  I can tell you first hand.  Over the past 10 days, I’ve traveled to Norfolk, Columbus and Pittsburgh to talk with businesses that are on the front lines of strengthening the elements of an economy built to last: American manufacturing, American energy, and training for American workers.

I’ve talked with manufacturers who are making everything from mattresses to advanced batteries. My message to them is a simple one: This Administration – this Department – wants to help more businesses like yours build it here and sell it everywhere.

We can and must build on the momentum the economy has gained in four key ways.

Working with Florida Businesses to Create an Economy Built to Last

Sánchez speaking with Vaughn after a White House Hispanic Community Action Summit

Guest blog post by Francisco Sánchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, International Trade Administration

It’s always good to be back in my hometown of Tampa, Florida.

This morning, I was proud to participate in a powerful and productive discussion at a White House Hispanic Community Action Summit, which took place at the University of Tampa. It was another great opportunity for Obama administration officials and community leaders to exchange thoughts and perspectives about the challenges currently facing our nation.

Although a number of topics were discussed, there was one that was near the top of everybody’s agenda—the economy.

Sure, there’s been a lot of good news lately; all of us were very encouraged by today’s jobs report which showed that 257,000 private sector jobs were created in January and the unemployment rate fell to 8.3 percent.

Thanks to President Obama’s leadership, the United States has had 23 straight months of private sector growth, for a total of 3.7 million jobs over that period.

But, there’s still a lot of work to do to ensure that everybody who wants a job can get one.

Commerce Secretary John Bryson Visits Patent and Trademark Office Headquarters

USPTO Director Kappos gives Secretary Bryson a tour of the Alexandria campus. Several other staff members were also on the tour.

Secretary John Bryson stopped by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia on Friday to meet with employees and tour the facility. It was the first time he had visited the USPTO office since being confirmed as Commerce Secretary in October of last year.

While he was there, the Secretary congratulated the USPTO for its work on the implementation of the historic America Invents Act, which encourages innovation by making the first set of major reforms in the U.S. patent system since the 1800s. The America Invents Act allows businesses to get new ideas to market faster by reducing the time it takes to review applications for new patents to 12 months. By working to implement this law and rebuilding America’s intellectual property system from the ground up, the USPTO is making it easier for businesses to invest in new technologies, launch new industries, and create new jobs—in a 21st century global market.

Bryson also had the opportunity to discuss the USPTO’s efforts to improve patent quality. The USPTO has issued new guidelines that will clarify and tighten the standards for the issuance of patents. The new guidelines offer a more comprehensive measurement of the quality of patent examinations to ensure high standards in our patent process.

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank Visits SolarDock to Highlight President's Clean Energy and Manufacturing Initiatives

SolarDock founder Scott Johnson and MJM Fabrications President Mike Molder give Lt. Gov Matt Denn and Acting Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank a tour of their facilities

Today Acting Deputy U.S. Commerce Secretary Dr. Rebecca Blank today visited SolarDock, a Wilmington, Delaware-area company that designs, manufactures and installs next generation solar power systems. She met with SolarDock founder Scott Johnson, partner Edward O’Brien, and employees and tour the manufacturing facility, along with Delaware Lieutenant Governor Matthew Denn.

Blank’s visit highlighted the President’s plans to strengthen U.S. manufacturing and foster a new era of American energy development. In the State of the Union, the President proposed reducing tax rates for American manufacturers and doubling the tax deduction for high-tech manufacturers. He also called for Congressional action on clean energy tax credits and laid out a proposal for new incentives to encourage manufacturers to make energy efficiency upgrades that would save $100 billion on the nation’s energy bills.

Blank discussed the Department’s efforts to support American manufacturers, so they’re better able to build their products in America and sell them all around the globe. The Commerce Department currently helps support manufacturers in several ways, including recently creating the National Advanced Manufacturing Partnership Program Office to bring together stakeholders and drive investments and initiatives in advanced manufacturing. Meanwhile, the Department’s trade specialists, who are located in offices throughout the country and in more than 70 nations around the world, work daily to connect U.S. businesses looking to export to buyers overseas, and Commerce’s U.S. Patent and Trademark Office helps businesses and entrepreneurs transform their ideas into new products and innovations.

Watch WHYY's video of her visit.

NIST Builds Enclosure to Display and Protect the 1297 Magna Carta for the National Archives

NIST’s Brian Yanick (left) and Jay Brandenburg inspect the Magna Carta platform’s rear side after machining.  The special “nest” for the wax seal is the keyhole-shaped object at the bottom center.

On Feb. 2 when many people were focusing on groundhogs and their shadows, the National Archives focused on high-tech conservation and the freshly conserved 1297 Magna Carta, including its state-of-the-art encasement designed and built by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The first Magna Carta was signed in 1215 by King John of England after an assembly of barons forced him to put in writing for the first time the traditional rights and liberties of the country’s free persons. In 1297, King Edward I was forced to reissue the Magna Carta. This time it was entered into the official Statute Rolls of England and became the foundation of English Law. Centuries later it inspired the writers of the U.S. Constitution.

Unveiled at a briefing for the news media, the encasement is a controlled environment, something NIST’s Fabrication Technology Group builds regularly for lab research. Its cover is made of a special laminated glass with antireflective coatings to ensure maximum visibility of the document while protecting it. The tightly sealed case is filled with argon gas—which will not react with and damage the parchment as oxygen would. The encasement will be continuously monitored to ensure oxygen stays out.

NIST engineers and crafts people also built the platform on which the document sits within the protective encasement. They used a three-dimensional laser scan of the Magna Carta and its wax seal to guide a computer-controlled milling machine that cut away 90 percent of what began as a six-inch thick block of aluminum. The result is a nest of sorts to hold the parchment and its original wax seal (which still bears the likeness of Edward I). The nest makes sure the seal does not put any strain on the ribbon that attaches it to the delicate parchment document.

Census Bureau Reports Post-Recession Growth in 10 of 11 Service Sectors

Graphic of motion picture and video industries change (graph: Census Bureau)

The Department of Commerce's U.S. Census Bureau today released its 2010 Service Annual Survey, which shows that of the nation’s 11 service sectors, 10 showed an increase in revenues for employer firms between 2009 and 2010. These figures are the first findings from this survey to track the revenues of services after the December 2007 to June 2009 recession.

The statistics cover multiple service sectors: the information services sector; the health care and social assistance sector; the finance and insurance sector; and the arts, entertainment and recreation sector. The information sector increased from $1.08 trillion to $1.1 trillion. Within this sector, Internet publishing and broadcasting continued to see increased revenues, up 11.3 percent from $19.1 billion to $21.3 billion in 2010. Television broadcasting increased 12.0 percent from $31.6 billion to $35 billion. Cable and subscription other programming as well as wireless telecommunications carriers also saw increases in revenue of 7.3 percent and 5.3 percent, respectively, to $55.2 billion and $195.5 billion.

See the complete list on their full press release.

This growth within the service sector mirrors a May 2011 report that showed the record services trade surplus that continues to grow. U.S. trade in private services totaled $526.6 billion in 2010, representing a trade surplus that is growing, rising from $66.7 billion in 2003 to $168 billion in 2010.

Census Bureau and National Urban League Host Forum on Black Population

High and members of the panel

The Commerce Department's U.S. Census Bureau today hosted a forum with the National Urban League on the black population at Black Entertainment Television studios in Washington, D.C. The event highlighted statistics from the 2010 Census, providing a portrait of the black population in the U.S. Following the presentation, an expert panel discussed the statistics and their implications. Kristal Lauren High of Politic365 moderated.

Joining Census Burea Director Robert Groves and other Bureau officials were National Urban League officials, including Marc Morial, chief executive officer and president. Experts on the panel from public and private universities and centers for population, political and economic studies responded to questions submitted via Facebook and Twitter and broadcast on the Census Bureau's Ustream channel.

In his remarks, Groves noted that today is the beginning of Black History Month. In 1976, as part of the nation’s bicentennial, the original 1926 Black History Week was expanded into a month. Each year, U.S. presidents proclaim February as National African-American History Month. The U.S. Census Bureau has gathered data and facts relating to Black History Month in its Facts for Features: February 2012.

Secretary Bryson Travels to Pittsburgh to Tour Energy Company and Meet with Business Leaders

Secretary Bryson Travels to Pittsburgh to Tour Energy Company and Meet with Business Leaders

Secretary Bryson is in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania today, where he has a busy day. He started his day meeting the Western Pennsylvania District Export Council (DEC) over breakfast. He shared the President’s outline for ensuring more items are made in America. The President has proposed an end to tax breaks for businesses that outsource, additional tax relief for those that bring jobs back, and lowering the tax rates for manufacturers, especially high-tech manufacturers. DEC members shared with him what they are hearing from their fellow business leaders about the challenges and successes of exporting into new and expanding markets.

After thanking DEC members for their hard work, Bryson toured Aquion Energy, a Carnegie Mellon University spin off and battery technology company. Bryson was joined by Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Aquion CEO Scott Pearson. They toured the development lab, the manufacturing floor, and battery assembly room. Aquion Energy is working on bringing new battery technology to market. This technology is a sodium-ion battery optimized for stationary storage applications with a targeted commercial release of 2012 in applications such as micro-grid support, off-grid generator optimization, and grid-level energy services.

Bryson and Mayor Ravenstahl then headed over to Carnegie Mellon University to participate in a discussion with business leaders and Carnegie Mellon Vice President of Research Rick McCullough. Bryson highlighted the President’s call for new energy economy and the Department of Commerce’s support for manufacturers. To compete in a global economy, U.S. businesses need to build it here and sell it everywhere, which is why Secretary Bryson has agreed to co-chair the national office for the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership. He is also relentlessly advocating for increasing America’s exports and investment in America’s companies, workers and ideas.