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Blog Entries from April 2012

Secretary Bryson Keynotes Manufacturing Summit Hosted by Senator Gillibrand in Rochester, New York

Secretary Bryson keynotes manufacturing summit, tours site with Senator Gillibrand

This morning, U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson delivered remarks at an upstate New York manufacturing summit hosted by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) at RIT’s Center for Student Innovation. He delivered the keynote address, discussing the administration’s initiatives to help businesses “build it here and sell it everywhere” around the world. Rochester, New York, has a long tradition of leadership in manufacturing and technology. Fueled by a well-educated workforce and commitment to entrepreneurship, Rochester has provided a great example of what American innovation can bring to the U.S. economy.
While in Rochester, the Secretary had a chance to tour RIT’s construction of their brand new facility, where students will soon be performing cutting-edge research in sustainability. The Commerce Department helped make this facility possible through a $13.1 million grant from Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
In the afternoon, the Secretary visited a business called Schlegel Systems, Inc., a company that specializes in seals, gaskets and brushes for the building products, automotive and copier industries. The Commerce Department’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) in New York is working with Schlegel Systems, Inc. to accelerate new products into the marketplace and expand their markets, along with many other companies. Recent annual data shows that businesses that teamed up with the New York MEP had over $400 million in sales, helping to keep or create nearly 4,000 jobs.

2010 Census Shows Interracial and Interethnic Married Couples Grew by 28 Percent over Decade

Infographic: 2010 Census Shows Interracial and Interethnic Married Couples Grew by 28 Percent over Decade

Commerce's Census Bureau Wednesday released a 2010 Census brief, Households and Families: 2010, (PDF) that showed interracial or interethnic opposite-sex married couple households grew by 28 percent over the decade from 7 percent in 2000 to 10 percent in 2010. States with higher percentages of couples of a different race or Hispanic origin in 2010 were primarily located in the western and southwestern parts of the United States, along with Hawaii and Alaska.

A higher percentage of unmarried partners were interracial or interethnic than married couples. Nationally, 10 percent of opposite-sex married couples had partners of a different race or Hispanic origin, compared with 18 percent of opposite-sex unmarried partners and 21 percent of same-sex unmarried partners. |  Full Census release

U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson Delivers Remarks to Silicon Valley Business Leaders

Secretary Bryson addresses the Silicon Valley Leadership Group in San Jose, CA.

Commerce Secretary John Bryson delivered remarks and participated in a discussion today at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG) annual “CEO Business Climate” Summit at IBM in San Jose, Calif. Bryson focused on the ways the administration is supporting American competitiveness and innovation.

In the past 25 months, the United States has added nearly four million jobs, and SVLG reported today that more than 60 percent of their members had added jobs last year. These jobs help continue to strengthen the country’s economic recovery, and Bryson laid out a few of the ways to helping businesses keep that momentum going.

Bryson discussed the importance of investment in the U.S. by both domestic and foreign firms, including through the Commerce Department’s SelectUSA initiative.

He also emphasized the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, where many job openings exist. The president’s 2013 budget requests $3 billion in STEM programs across the federal government. In addition, this week, President Obama is calling on Congress to pass legislation that would prevent interest rates from doubling for seven and one-half million students starting July 1.

Deputy Secretary Blank Keynotes Operation HOPE 20th Anniversary Bus Tour

on podium, Deputy Secretary Blank keynotes Operation HOPE

Today, Deputy U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank delivered the keynote address at the Operation HOPE 20th Anniversary Bus Tour ceremony in Los Angeles, California. She emphasized the importance of economic development and opportunity in the years following the Rodney King riots.

In 1999, the U.S. Department of Commerce awarded Operation Hope $200,000 to help bring more economic opportunities to a hard-hit area of Los Angeles. Since then, Operation HOPE has helped bring more investments, more economic opportunity, and more empowerment into underserved communities in Los Angeles as well as other cities around the U.S.

Deputy Secretary Blank also highlighted how the Recovery Act that President Obama signed in 2009 allowed the Commerce Department to provide $7.5 million dollars to the City of Los Angeles to install high-speed broadband connections and to place thousands of new computers at about 150 sites. As a result, about 130,000 people are using those computers every week–from students doing homework to unemployed workers applying for job.

She also emphasized the importance of access to education and mentoring for young people throughout the U.S. In particular, she called for preventing interest rates on student loans from doubling on over seven million students on July 1.

As an economist, the Deputy Secretary’s past work had focused on how America can address economic inequalities such as promoting more education, opportunities and jobs in underserved communities.

U.S. to See Boost in International Tourism

Secretary Bryson Speaking at the U.S. Travel Association's International Pow Wow

U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson has announced that the U.S.’ number-one services export, travel and tourism, is growing stronger, creating jobs and boosting the American economy.

The Secretary announced today that the United States can expect to see a 4-5 percent average annual growth in tourism over the next five years, predicting that 65.4 million foreign travelers are projected to visit the United States in 2012 alone.

The Spring 2012 Travel and Tourism Forecast, released semi-annually by the International Trade Association (ITA), predicts continued strong growth in tourism to the U.S. following two consecutive record-setting years.

Secretary Bryson announced the Forecast at the U.S. Travel Association’s International Pow Wow annual event in Los Angeles, where he delivered remarks before more than 5,000 people from 70 countries from the travel and tourism industry.

NIST: Iris Recognition Report Evaluates 'Needle in Haystack' Search Capability

Image of human eye/iris (Photo: Talbott/NIST)

Identifying people by acquiring pictures of their eyes is becoming easier, according to a new report from Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). NIST researchers evaluated the performance of iris recognition software from 11 different organizations and found that some techniques produced very rapid results—though this speed was often at the cost of accuracy.

Iris recognition, a form of biometric identification based on noncontact imaging of the complex texture in an individual's iris, has been purported to be both fast and accurate—claims that had not been validated until now. The Iris Exchange (IREX) III report is the first public and independent comparison of commercially available algorithms that use iris recognition for the challenging task of finding an individual match within a large database of potential identities. Previous published studies only used single algorithms or considered "one-to-one" verification, in which an individual claims an identity and the software then attempts to confirm whether the claim matches a specific record.

Earth Day 2012: Commerce Saves Trees—and Money—by Cutting Down on Printing

Image of grass, ferns and a tree

Guest blog post by Deputy Secretary of Commerce, Rebecca Blank

Earth Day is here, and Commerce is seeing the positive results of its year-long campaign to “go green” and drive down costs in print. Just this month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce’s largest bureau, announced it has removed over one-third of its desktop printers, bringing total savings from the Commerce print project to $4.7 million per year.

Commerce spends $25 million annually on print–which includes equipment, paper, toner, energy and services. Last year we took a look at where that money was going and found that:

  • Commerce printed 250 million pages on its networked printers.
  • Nearly all of those pages were printed single-sided, and a quarter were printed in color. 
  • We also had a high ratio of employees-to-desktop printers, which use more toner and are more expensive than shared printers.  
  • And we realized we had 350 contracts and 400 vendors, with very little centralized ordering.

NOAA: National Severe Weather Preparedness Week

Poster for National Severe Weather Preparedness Week

The first-ever National Severe Weather Preparedness Week begins Sunday, April 22, and Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have partnered to raise awareness and save lives.

Last year, storms raked the central and southern United States, spawning more than 300 tornadoes, claiming hundreds of lives and ranking as one of the largest tornado outbreaks in U.S. history. As the nation marks the first anniversary of that historic outbreak, from April 22-28 we’re asking each person across the country to “Be a Force of Nature” by knowing the risk, taking action and being an example. Starting April 22, visit the NOAA homepage, National Weather Service Weather-Ready Nation website and the NOAA and NWS Facebook pages to get daily tips on how you can become a force of nature.

The severe weather of 2012 has already brought to light many forces of nature across the country. There was Stephanie Decker in Indiana, who, after receiving a timely text from her husband about an imminent tornado, took immediate action and gathered her children in the basement. Shielding them from collapsing debris, Stephanie tragically lost parts of both of her legs, but her children were unharmed. Lisa Rebstock in Texas saved the lives of her children by being prepared with a plan and a kit before the storm struck. Eighty-eight-year-old Wilma Nelson survived the deadliest tornado in Oklahoma history in 1947 and proved her force of nature status yet again. She said she owes her life to a NOAA Weather Radio that alerted her of the tornado that struck Woodward, Oklahoma, April 15.

Commerce’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Invests in the Jobs and Industries of the Future

EDA logo-banner

Guest blog by Matt Erskine, Acting Assistant Secretary for Economic Development

To mark the one-year anniversary of the White House Startup America Initiative, in January President Obama sent Congress a proposal to expand tax relief and unlock capital for startups and small businesses that are creating jobs.

When he launched the initiative a year ago, the president sought to promote the success of entrepreneurs across the country. The private sector responded with the Startup America Partnership, launching new entrepreneurial networks all across the country. AOL co-founder and member of the President’s Jobs Council, Steve Case, and the Kauffman Foundation joined to form the Startup America Partnership, which is a nonprofit alliance of entrepreneurs, major corporations and service providers that has mobilized more than $1 billion in business resources to serve as many as 100,000 startups over the next three years.

This year, the administration unveiled several new agency actions to accelerate the growth of young, job-creating companies, at the same time that new entrepreneur-led regional coalitions are launching throughout the nation.

One of those efforts will fuel regional innovation. In the coming months, the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), along with several Federal partners, will launch the third round of the i6 Challenge, a multiagency competition which funds regional collaborations to bring innovative, ground-breaking ideas from the lab to the marketplace, creating new startups and jobs across the country. Commerce is also launching a new initiative to connect entrepreneurs with the resources made available through the Startup America Partnership and its partners.

Two New Advanced Laboratories Open at NIST Boulder and JILA

Ribbon cutting to dedicate the new JILA X-Wing addition at the University of Colorado Boulder. Left to right: Tom O'Brian, chief of the NIST Quantum Physics Division; Philip DiStefano, Chancellor of the University of Colorado Boulder; NIST Director Patrick Gallagher; and Eric Cornell, JILA Department Chair and Nobel Laureate. ((Photo: Casey A. Cass/University of Colorado))

Two new advanced laboratory buildings for high-precision science and measurements have officially opened in Boulder, Colo., providing upgraded facilities to support technology innovation and economic growth as well as the training of future scientists.

Federal, state and local government officials, university leaders, and Nobel laureates were among those attending the April 13, 2012, dedication ceremonies and tours at the new Precision Measurement Laboratory (PML) on the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) campus in Boulder and at the new X-Wing at JILA, a joint venture of NIST and the University of Colorado (CU) Boulder. JILA is located on the CU-Boulder campus.

Both new laboratories tightly control environmental conditions such as vibration and temperature, as is required for cutting-edge research with lasers, atomic clocks, nanotechnology and other areas of study at NIST and JILA. Both new buildings also have capabilities for micro- and nanofabrication of custom research devices. The original NIST-Boulder and JILA laboratories were built in the 1950s and 1960s.

Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Patrick Gallagher cut the ribbon to officially open the PML, which will house some of NIST's best-known experiments and technologies, including NIST-F1, the U.S. civilian standard atomic clock.

Deputy Secretary Blank Speaks on the Role of Innovation in the U.S. Economy

Deputy Secretary Blank speaks on innovation at National Press Club

Guest blog post by Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank 

This afternoon, I had the honor of addressing an annual conference on innovation, sponsored by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to promoting a greater understanding of how the economy works. Today’s event, entitled “Innovation Policy and the Economy,” provided an opportunity to discuss one of the most important contributors to America’s long-term competitiveness: innovation. 

America’s entrepreneurs, businesses, and workers are the primary source of new ideas that drive innovation. Patents, trademarks, and copyrights–the main protections in our intellectual property (IP) system–are critical tools that help commercialize game-changing ideas. By creating a better environment for our private sector to capitalize on those ideas, IP protections help foster the innovation and creativity that lead to a stronger economy and the creation of more, good-paying jobs. 

NOAA Releases New Views of Earth’s Ocean Floor

A view of Delgada Canyon offshore Northern California, as portrayed in NOAA’s new online viewer.

NOAA has made sea floor maps and other data on the world’s coasts, continental shelves and deep ocean available for easy viewing online. Anyone with Internet access can now explore undersea features and obtain detailed depictions of the sea floor and coasts, including deep canyons, ripples, landslides and likely fish habitat.

The new online data viewer compiles sea floor data from the near shore to the deep blue, including the latest high-resolution bathymetric (sea bottom) data collected by NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey primarily to support nautical charting.

“NOAA’s ocean bottom data are critical to so many mission requirements, including coastal safety and resiliency, navigation, healthy oceans and more. They are also just plain beautiful,” said Susan McLean, chief of NOAA’s Marine Geology and Geophysics Division in Boulder, Colo.

McLean’s division is part of NOAA’s National Geophysical Data Center, responsible for compiling, archiving and distributing Earth system data, including Earth observations from space, marine geology information and international natural hazard data and imagery. NGDC’s sea floor data have long been free and open to the public in original science formatting, but that often required the use of specialized software to convert the data into maps and other products.

Secretary Bryson Congratulates 2010 and 2011 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Recipients

Secretary Bryson applauds the 2010 and 2011 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recipients

On Sunday, Commerce Secretary John Bryson congratulated the 11 U.S. organizations who were awarded the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s highest Presidential honor for organizational performance excellence and innovation.

Named after Malcolm Baldrige, the 26th Secretary of Commerce, the Baldrige Award was established by Congress in 1987 to enhance the competitiveness and performance of U.S. businesses. Eligibility for the award was expanded in 1998 to include education and health care and in 2007 to include nonprofit organizations. The award promotes excellence in organizational performance, recognizes the achievements and results of U.S. organizations, and publicizes successful performance strategies. Since 1988, 90 organizations have received Baldrige Awards.

2010 Award Recipients

  • MEDRAD (a division of Bayer Healthcare), Warrendale, Pa. (manufacturing)
  • Nestlé Purina PetCare Co., St. Louis, Mo. (manufacturing)
  • Freese and Nichols Inc., Fort Worth, Texas (small business)
  • K&N Management, Austin, Texas (small business)
  • Studer Group, Gulf Breeze, Fla. (small business)
  • Montgomery County Public Schools, Rockville, Md. (education)
  • Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital, Downers Grove, Ill. (health care)

2011 Award Recipients

  • Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, Mo. (nonprofit)
  • Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, Mich. (health care)
  • Schneck Medical Center, Seymour, Ind. (health care)
  • Southcentral Foundation, Anchorage, Alaska (health care)

Get additional information on the Baldrige Award, the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, and profiles of the 2010 and 2011 Award recipients.

Commerce's EDA Hosts Annual University Center Showcase in Denver

UC coordinator Forlesia Willis with DRO’s UC Showcase review panelists. From the left:  Matthew Godfrey, who just completed three terms as mayor of Ogden, UT; Ms. Willis; Denise Brown, interim executive director of Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority; and Nishith Acharya, director of EDA’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Guest blog post by Nish Acharya, Director of EDA's Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship

This week, the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Denver Regional office hosted its annual University Centers Showcase conference to spotlight and critique EDA-supported University Center economic development initiatives in the Denver Region.

EDA’s University Center Economic Development Program assists institutions of higher education and consortia of institutions of higher education in establishing and operating University Centers specifically focused on leveraging university assets to build regional economic ecosystems that support high-growth entrepreneurship.

NTIA: Putting the Administration’s Privacy Blueprint into Practice

NTIA logo

Just weeks after the Obama administration released its blueprint to improve consumer privacy and ensure that the Internet remains an engine for innovation and economic growth, Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is moving forward to put the plan into practice.
NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling told an audience at the Hudson Institute yesterday that the administration supports enacting the blueprint’s "Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights" into law, but can make progress without waiting for Congress to act. He said the agency will promptly begin convening stakeholders to develop enforceable codes of conduct that specify how the broad principles in the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights apply in specific business contexts.

“The multistakeholder approach for privacy is viable without new legislation, and getting it up and running is an important focus for NTIA right now,” Strickling said.

Shortly after release of the administration’s privacy blueprint, NTIA invited public comment on which consumer privacy issue it should designate as the first topic for development of a code of conduct. NTIA also sought comment on the process stakeholders should use in working together to develop codes. The agency is now reviewing input from a wide range of stakeholders.

Secretary Bryson Promotes American Businesses Across the Americas at White House Conference

Earlier today, Secretary Bryson delivered welcoming remarks at the “White House Conference on Connecting the Americas.” The all-day conference brings together business and community leaders from across the country with Administration officials working to expand opportunities for American businesses and people throughout the Americas.

The conference also serves as a forum for the Hispanic community, with cultural and economic ties to the rest of the Americas, to further identify ways in which they can partner up with the administration to promote economic growth and prosperity.

Secretary Bryson spoke at the conference about how the U.S. can ensure a strong economic foundation at home, while strengthening its economic ties throughout the Americas. He reinforced that the people and cultures from throughout the Western Hemisphere are all part of the story of America, and together can create a powerful force in the global economy.

The U.S. economy benefits substantially from trade in the Americas. Over 40 percent of U.S. exports go to the Americas, and those exports are growing faster than U.S. trade with the rest of the world.

Almost 84 percent of U.S. trade within the region is covered by Free Trade Agreements. The U.S. has already opened trade with Mexico, Chile, Central America, Dominican Republic, and Peru through FTAs, and continues to work toward implementation with Colombia and Panama.

In his remarks, the Secretary also pointed out how the Department is working hard to connect U.S. companies to trade opportunities throughout the Americas. Earlier this week, Brazil’s President, Dilma Rousseff visited Washington, and Secretary Bryson led a meeting of the U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum. Leaders from both countries discussed how they can build on the U.S.-Brazilian record year of over $100 billion in bilateral trade.

The Department of Commerce is co-sponsoring the “White House Conference on Connecting the Americas” with the White House Office of Public Engagement and the Council of the Americas, an international business organization focused on economic and social development in the Western Hemisphere. 

Intellectual Property-Intensive Industries Contribute $5 Trillion, 40 Million Jobs to U.S. Economy

Guest blog post by Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank

America’s entrepreneurs, businesses, and workers are the primary source of new ideas that drive innovation. Patents, trademarks and copyrights–the main protections in our IP system–are critical tools that help commercialize innovative, game-changing ideas, from advances in healthcare technology to improved consumer products. By creating a better environment for our private sector to capitalize those ideas, IP protections help foster the innovation and creativity that leads to a stronger economy and more jobs.

Today, the U.S. Commerce Department released a comprehensive report showing that intellectual property protections have a direct and significant impact on the U.S. economy. The report, entitled “Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy: Industries in Focus,” finds that IP-intensive industries support at least 40 million jobs and contribute more than $5.06 trillion dollars to, or nearly 34.8 percent of, U.S. gross domestic product (GDP).

While IP is used in virtually every segment of the U.S. economy, our report identifies the 75 industries that use patent, copyright or trademark protections most extensively. These “IP-intensive” industries support more than a quarter of all jobs in the United States. Twenty-seven million of those are either on payroll or under employment contracts, working directly for the IP-intensive industries, and nearly 13 million more are indirectly supported through the supply chains that service these industries. In other words, every two jobs in IP-intensive industries support an additional job elsewhere in the economy. 

In Time for Home Opener, NOAA’s National Weather Service Declares Coors Field StormReady®

Ominous Clouds Approaching Coors Field (credit: Rich Clarkson and Assoc)

Just in time for their home opener of the 2012 season, fans of Colorado Rockies baseball can feel safer when severe thunderstorms threaten Coors Field now that the park has earned designation as a National Weather Service StormReady® Supporter. Coors Field is the fourth major league baseball park to earn StormReady distinction.

To become StormReady, Rockies officials worked with local emergency management and NOAA’s National Weather Service to adopt a rigorous set of detection and warning criteria to provide protection from severe weather. Warning coordination meteorologist Robert Glancy will present a StormReady plaque and certificates to the Rockies at the April 13 game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The nationwide community preparedness program uses a grassroots approach to help communities and organizations develop plans to handle local severe weather and flooding threats. The program is voluntary and provides clear-cut advice from a partnership between local National Weather Service forecast offices, state and local emergency managers and individual organizations. StormReady started in 1999 with seven communities in the Tulsa, Okla. area. There are now nearly 1,900 StormReady sites across the country. StormReady baseball fields include the Minnesota Twins' Target Field, the Cincinnati Reds’ Great American Ballpark, and the St. Louis Cardinals' Busch Stadium.

Commerce Secretary John Bryson Visits Manufacturers in Tennessee

Secretary Bryson cuts ribbon at new Whirlpool manufacturing facility in Cleveland, TN

Today, U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson traveled to Cleveland, Tennessee, where he visited the Whirlpool Corporation for a ribbon cutting ceremony for their new, one-million square foot manufacturing facility. The $200 million factory is the largest premium cooking product manufacturing and distribution facility in the world, exemplifying the Secretary’s mission to help U.S. business build it here and sell it everywhere. The opening of the facility marked 100 years of Whirlpool manufacturing Made-in-America products.

While in Tennessee, the Secretary also made a stop in Chattanooga to visit the Volkswagen manufacturing plant, which builds the 2012 Passat. Volkswagen recently announced that they were adding a third shift to the operation at their Chattanooga plant in response to increased consumer demand, which will create over 700 additional jobs. This development is just one more example of the continued resurgence of the American manufacturing industry.

In fact, today, the Economics and Statistics Administration highlighted data showing that automakers are contributing heavily to the success of American manufacturing. The report finds that auto sales are at the highest level since the first quarter of 2008.

Census Director Robert Groves to Leave the Commerce Department This Fall

Secretary Locke, Acting Deputy Secretary Blank and Census Director Groves Stand Before the Official Population of the United States (April 1, 2010)

Guest blog post by Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank

Census Bureau Director Robert Groves has been an exceptional and dedicated leader. Over the past several years, Dr. Groves has done outstanding work to transform and modernize the Census Bureau. So our announcement today is bittersweet: Dr. Groves is resigning as Director of the Census Bureau in August to become the provost of Georgetown University. This is a significant and highly deserved honor for him–and a major capstone to his notable academic career. 

Dr. Groves has led the Census Bureau for almost three years. During that time, his remarkable leadership of the 2010 Census resulted in a historic, successful operation that was completed on time and $1.9 billion under budget. Dr. Groves helped shape a strategy for planning a more cost-efficient 2020 Census and launched an employee-led operational efficiency program that saved millions of additional taxpayer dollars. He also led a formal reorganization of the Census Bureau, reestablishing the research directorate to spur technical innovation. With the implementation of a corporate hiring and job rotation program, Dr. Groves has worked to expand the breadth of skills among Census staff to effectively lead the Bureau into the 21st century.

Secretary Bryson Co-Chairs 2012 U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum, Promotes Bonds of Bilateral Economic Prosperity

Yesterday, U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary John Bryson co-chaired the 7th annual U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum meeting at the White House in efforts to boost our commercial ties with Brazil and continue opportunities to grow the U.S. economy.

The Secretary was joined by Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs Michael Froman, Fernando Pimentel, Brazil’s Minister of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade, and Gleisi Hoffmann, Brazil’s Presidential Chief of Staff.

Together with 24 CEO’s from the United States and Brazil, the coalition worked to provide joint recommendations to the two governments on ways to strengthen the U.S.-Brazil economic relationship and advance bilateral trade.

Secretary Bryson praised the team on achieving key goals in their economic relationship, and encouraged further opportunity for even greater collaboration on trade investment, infrastructure, strategic energy, education and innovation. Secretary Bryson also announced that he will travel to Brazil for the next meeting this year.

USPTO Under Secretary Kappos Concludes 'European Road Show' on U.S. Patent Reform Laws

Kappos and Miklós Bendzsel signing a memorandum of understanding

Managing significant changes to the U.S. patent system brought about by implementation of last year’s major patent reform law is not just a project that stays within our borders. Since many outside the U.S. seek a U.S. patent, other nations have a keen interest in understanding how the America Invents Act will work and may wish to file comments on the rules packages associated with implementing the biggest overhaul to U.S. patent law since the system was born over 200 years ago.

Recognizing this interest, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos undertook a European “road show” last week, visiting six cities in four days to conduct stakeholder outreach events and meet with the heads of offices from several European intellectual property offices. In conjunction with local chambers of commerce, Under Secretary Kappos covered three important topics during these stakeholder outreach events: an overview of the significant changes being made to the patent system by the America Invents Act and progress in its implementation; the need for further harmonization of the world’s patent laws; and the benefits of a work sharing mechanism known as the Patent Prosecution Highway, or PPH 2.0.

NOAA: U.S. Records Warmest March; More than 15,000 Warm Temperature Records Broken

U.S. map showing locations of record-breaking temps

First quarter of 2012 also warmest on record; early March tornado outbreak is year's first "billion dollar disaster"

According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists, record- and near-record breaking temperatures dominated the eastern two-thirds of the nation and contributed to the warmest March on record for the contiguous United States, a record that dates back to 1895. Over 15,000 records were broken as March 2012 became the warmest on record.

The average temperature of 51.1 degrees F was 8.6 degrees above the 20th century average for March and 0.5 degrees F warmer than the previous warmest March in 1910. Of the more than 1,400 months (or more than 116 years) that have passed since the U.S. climate record began, only one month, January 2006, has seen a larger departure from its average temperature than March 2012.

This monthly analysis from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides government, business and community leaders.  Full release  |  NOAA visuaolization

BEA in the 1940s

Graph of rise of GDP

Ed. Note: This post is part of a series following the release of the 1940 Census highlighting various Commerce agencies and their hard work on behalf of the American people during the 1940s through today.

As the U.S. population has changed dramatically since 1940, so too has the U.S. economy. Just a few years prior to the 1940 Census, in 1935, employees of the Department of Commerce and the National Bureau of Economic Research created what we call the National Income and Product Accounts (NIPA), a comprehensive set of economic accounts for the nation that provides unparalleled insight into the workings of our economy.
Let’s take a quick glance at the NIPAs and see how things have changed over the last 72 years. One commonly used measure of standards of living is GDP per capita—the total output of the nation divided by the population. Looking to national accounts table 7.1, we see that in 1940 U.S. GDP per capita was $8,824 in inflation-adjusted dollars. By 2011, it had increased nearly fivefold to $42,671. Over that period, the structure of the economy changed with services accounting for an ever increasing for spending. In 1940, consumer spending on services (everything from haircuts to heart surgery), according to NIPA table 1.1.10 accounted for 30 percent of GDP. By 2011, it was 47 percent—nearly half of economic activity.

Overseas Private Investment Corporation Provides End-to-End Infrastructure Financing and Makes the World a Little More Interconnected

The agencies which make up a U.S. Government mission overseas are not merely an alphabet soup of acronyms along for the ride. Working long hours behind the scenes both before and after the mission itself, applying skill and expertise to complex international negotiations under deadline pressure, they provide the very substance that makes foreign policy real, and which might just make the world a little smaller and a little more interconnected.

For that reason, one such agency – the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. Government’s development finance institution – appreciated Commerce Secretary Bryson’s shout-out during his remarks to the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce in Mumbai last week.

“I have a good piece of news from OPIC,” Secretary Bryson said. “I’m sure that many of you are familiar with India’s Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation – IDFC. Yesterday (March 29), OPIC’s Board approved $250 million in financing to help IDFC expand lending for renewable energy projects, including solar, wind and energy efficiency, as well as for infrastructure projects. This will help meet an important need for more long-term capital to support India’s growing renewable energy sector.”

Indeed, it will. IDFC is India’s premier infrastructure lender, with an enviable track record in the sector.  As a specialized financial institution, it provides end-to-end infrastructure financing and integrated project implementation services for India’s most important priority sectors. 

Secretary Bryson Talks about Turkish-American Economic Cooperation

Secretary Bryson and Members of the Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists of Turkey

Today, U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson delivered keynote remarks at a luncheon co-hosted by the Center for American Progress and the Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists of Turkey (TUSKON). The event, titled “Building on the Progress in Turkish-American Economic Cooperation,” comes at an exciting time in U.S.-Turkish relations, with bilateral trade reaching a record level of $20 billion this past year.

Turkey is the world’s-17th largest economy, and was the world’s second-fastest growing economy in 2011.

During his remarks, Bryson talked about the president’s National Export Initiative, which aims to double U.S. exports from 2010 to 2014. He noted that U.S. exports to Turkey have already doubled.

Over the past two years, the U.S. and Turkey have come together through the Framework for Strategic Economic and Commercial Cooperation. Secretary Bryson announced today that he plans to attend the next Framework meeting that will be held in Turkey in late June.

Secretary Bryson also emphasized the importance of stronger bilateral investment, including efforts such as SelectUSA.

Bryson ended his remarks by saying, “Let’s do everything possible to usher in a long and prosperous era–as the bonds between our two nations continue to grow in the 21st century.”

Creating High-Quality Jobs in Growing Industries through Public-Private Partnerships

Sandia Science and Technology Park

Guest blog post by Acting Assistant Secretary for Economic Development Matt Erskine

There are dynamic collaborations and initiatives supporting regional growth strategies across the country. Today, I addressed a group of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and technology commercialization leaders brought together by Technology Ventures Corporation during their Deal Stream Summit. This premier conference seeks to facilitate investment partnerships between federal labs, start-ups, innovators, and the venture community to bolster commercialization of technology and increase competitiveness. I discussed the Obama administration’s commitment to advancing innovation and accelerating the commercialization of new technologies to the marketplace.

Earlier in the day, I visited the Sandia Science and Technology Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico. With their focus on advanced technologies, technology parks such as this are vital to America’s economic future. These public-private ventures bring together innovators with entrepreneurs and transform theoretical ideas for the marketplace. It’s quite a dynamic environment for the businesses located there, such as ATA Aerospace, Emcore Photovoltaics, and Nanogenesis. And the end results? They include the development of new and unique products, the creation of high-quality jobs, the growth of vibrant communities, and an improvement in the quality of life—both in the immediate region and well beyond.

Secretary Bryson Addresses the Industry Trade Advisory Committees

Secretary Bryson Addresses the Industry Trade Advisory Committees

Earlier today, Secretary John Bryson addressed the advisers of the Industry Trade Advisory Committees (ITACs) at a quarterly plenary session at the Department of Commerce. The Secretary laid out his priorities in manufacturing, trade and investment.

The ITACs are comprised of U.S. business leaders who assist the Department of Commerce and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative with trade policy. Secretary Bryson was joined by U.S. Trade Ambassador Ron Kirk and 16 of the ITAC committees to discuss the importance of new and upcoming trade initiatives.

This meeting takes place just weeks after the 2nd anniversary of President Obama’s National Export Initiative. The work of the ITACs is helping to build on the all-time record of $2.1 trillion in U.S. exports last year. Export-supported jobs also increased by 1.2 million from 2009 to 2011.

Secretary Bryson praised the advisers for their work on the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement, which recently went into effect. This agreement dropped tariff rates to zero on about 80 percent of U.S. goods exported to Korea. Secretary Bryson also thanked the ITACs for their continued work on efforts such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The Secretary also discussed the importance of advancing America’s bilateral relationships through strong and balanced growth in areas such as trade and investment, and cited his recent trade mission to India as an example of this.

The National Weather Service in the 1940s

Women hovering over weather maps

Ed. Note: This post is part of a series following the release of the 1940 Census highlighting various Commerce agencies and their hard work on behalf of the American people during the 1940s through today

The 1940s was a pivotal decade for the National Weather Service and the entire field of meteorology. Advancements in technology during the ‘40s, spurred by World War II, provided the scientific foundation for modern day weather forecasting throughout the world.

The agency, founded by Ulysses S. Grant in 1870 and called the Weather Bureau, was originally housed in the War Department. It was later moved to the Department of Agriculture in 1890, and then in 1940 President Roosevelt transferred it to the Department of Commerce. In 1970 the agency was renamed the National Weather Service when it became part of the newly-created National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) within the Department of Commerce.

In the 1940s, most of the modern technology forecasters rely on today had not yet been invented, such as satellites and super computers. Weather observations were painstakingly logged by hand.

By 1940, the Weather Bureau operated 35 radiosonde stations (weather balloons), allowing for the routine measurement of atmospheric pressure, temperature, humidity, wind direction and speed. In 1942, the Weather Bureau received 25 surplus radars from the military, launching the network of weather surveillance radars.

USTDA Awards Two Clean Energy Grants During India Trade Mission

Henry Steingass (far right), USTDA Regional Director, and Mark Dunn (far left), USTDA Regional Manager, pose for a photo with Commerce Secretary John Bryson during a luncheon in Mumbai Mar. 26, 2012

Guest blog post by U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA)

To support India’s plans to improve energy efficiency throughout the country while opening India’s market for increased U.S. exports of clean energy technologies, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) concluded two grant agreements during Secretary Bryson’s five-day infrastructure trade mission to India. The delegation included 16 U.S. companies and three U.S. agencies, including USTDA.

"India has ambitious energy infrastructure development goals," stated USTDA Regional Director Henry Steingass. "We are pleased to join this trade mission to support those goals, and to help open the market for U.S. clean energy technologies, which are among the best in the world."

India's growing population and rapid economic expansion are placing a strain on the country’s energy infrastructure. Approximately 400 million people do not have grid connectivity, while many households in electrified villages do not have access to grid supply. Growing demand is increasing the frequency of power outages in urban areas as well. In response to these challenges, Indian utility companies are making heavy investments in clean energy infrastructure, and these grants will support those investments while opening the market up for the cutting edge technologies of U.S. clean energy businesses.

The first grant will support a feasibility study for Azure Power, a private sector solar power developer that will assess the development of a rural micro-grid solar power project.  Azure aims to set up over 100 micro-grid solar systems, with each system covering an average of 2-3 acres of rural land with little or no connectivity to existing electrical grids.  The second grant will support a feasibility study for CESC Limited for the implementation of smart grid technologies across their electricity distribution networks in Kolkata, India.  The study will develop a smart grid pilot project as well as the requirements for broad implementation.

These projects respond to the joint commitment made by President Obama and Prime Minister Singh in late 2009 to greatly expand energy efficiency and clean energy cooperation and to form a Partnership to Advance Clean Energy (PACE). In addition to substantial improvements to India’s clean energy infrastructure, successful implementation of these two projects could generate more than $250 million of exports for U.S. companies.

USPTO in the 1940s

Drawing of Disney camera

Ed. Note: This post is part of a series following the release of the 1940 Census highlighting various Commerce agencies and their hard work on behalf of the American people during the 1940s through today

On April 10, 1790, President George Washington signed the bill that laid the foundation of the modern American patent system. For over 200 years the patent system has encouraged the genius of hundreds of thousands of inventors.

During the 1940s, several recognizable and valuable patents were issued that have contributed significantly to American culture and society and changed the way we live. One such patent pioneered the way we see animated movies. On May 31, 1940, Walter E. Disney received Patent #2,201,689 for improvements in the art of producing animated cartoons. Disney’s patent was for a multi-plane camera that allowed for a more realistic three-dimensional image as well as depth and richness to the animation. His invention enabled him to move from the standard animated short films to feature-length animation.

Remembering Secretary Ron Brown

Photo of the late Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown

Guest post by Secretary John Bryson

Today at the Department of Commerce, we remember the contributions of Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, a committed public servant who dedicated his life to strengthening America’s prosperity and making a difference.

Sixteen years ago today, a plane crash took the lives of Secretary Ron Brown, 11 Commerce employees, and 23 other U.S. and Croatian citizens, during a trade mission to Croatia. The trip was planned to help the recovering economy of the war-torn Balkans–a mission consistent with Brown’s legacy as a strong supporter of developing economic opportunity and growth both here and abroad.

During his tenure at the Commerce Department, Brown was an influential figure and tireless advocate for American businesses. His accomplishments as Secretary included helping the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) rebuild depleted fisheries and modernizing the National Weather Service. Secretary Brown also worked with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to lead the Information Infrastructure Task Force, laying the groundwork for the Internet boom. In addition, Brown led trade missions to five different continents that led to more than $80 billion in foreign deals for U.S. businesses–helping support good jobs for hardworking families here at home.

Secretary Brown was also a trailblazer throughout his life. Early on, he was the first African American to integrate his college fraternity and to become a partner at the prestigious Washington law firm, Patton Boggs & Blow. Later, he became the first African American chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and then, the first African American Secretary of Commerce, where he served for three years under President Bill Clinton.

Around the Department of Commerce, he was highly regarded for his warm, engaging personality and his pride for working on a team that was focused on growing the American economy. Even though his passing was a huge tragedy and loss for all of us–family, friends, and colleagues–his legacy as Secretary of Commerce continues to live on in the work we do every day supporting American businesses and creating U.S. jobs.

NIST in the 1940s

NIST in the 1940s

Ed. Note: This post is part of a series following the release of the 1940 Census highlighting various Commerce agencies and their hard work on behalf of the American people during the 1940s through today.

In 1940, the United States was officially not involved in the burgeoning conflicts in Europe and Asia. Yet secretly the country was hurriedly preparing for war. A decade of drought and economic depression and 20 years of peace had left the military with a fleet of outdated ships, divisions of ancient armored vehicles, scores of rusty rifles, and little in the way of new weapons and other technological development.

Mobilizing for war in the face of these deficits required materials and production on a monumental scale. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (then called the National Bureau of Standards) was enlisted to ensure that those materials and the manufacturing processes used to shape them were of the highest quality and performed as expected.  

Back to the 1940s

Census Bureau Director Rober M. Groves Release Records from 1940 Census

Guest blog post by U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves

On April 2, 2012 the Census Bureau did something unique, a once-in-a-decade action. Throughout all other times, we focus on keeping confidential the social and economic data that households and businesses provide us. Once every decade we release the individual records of a 72-year-old census. This year it was the 1940 Census.

Approaching that day, the buzz in the genealogy world was deafening; they have been waiting 10 years to fill in their family trees, to learn new things about their ancestors, and to expand their insight into their lives.

As the genealogist of my family, I can’t wait to look up my grandparents, aunts and uncles, as well as my parents’ forms. The forms won’t be indexed by name immediately, so we’ll have to link addresses of our ancestors to enumeration districts and then browse the enumeration district looking for our relatives. Right now, my tracking of the Groves’ family goes back to 1670 on the Isle of Wight, off the coast of England, but it ends in 1930. The 1940 Census allows me to see records of people I remember meeting in my youth.