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Blog Entries from July 2013

Commerce's Internet Policy Task Force Releases Report on Digital Copyright Policy

Report cover

Department Publishes Green Paper on Updating Copyright Policies for the Internet Age

The U.S. Department of Commerce today released a green paper on Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy (Green Paper) to advance discussion on a set of policy issues critical to economic growth. The Green Paper discusses the goals of maintaining an appropriate balance between rights and exceptions as the law continues to be updated; ensuring that copyright can be meaningfully enforced on the Internet; and furthering the development of an efficient online marketplace.

The Green Paper released today is the most thorough and comprehensive analysis of digital copyright policy issued by any administration since 1995. The report is a product of the Department of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force (IPTF) with input from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Through the IPTF, the USPTO and NTIA will solicit further public comments and convene roundtables and forums on a number of key policy issues.

“Copyright law strikes a number of important balances in delineating what is protectable and what is not, determining what uses are permitted without a license, and establishing appropriate enforcement mechanisms to combat piracy, so that all stakeholders benefit from the protection afforded by copyright,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. “Ensuring that our copyright policy provides incentives for creativity while promoting innovation on the Internet is a critical and challenging task. The Green Paper released today is an important step toward ensuring that the United States’ creative industries continue to have a substantial impact on strengthening our nation’s economy.” 

Copyright has been a vital contributor to U.S. cultural and economic development for more than two hundred years, fostering the production and dissemination of the valuable expression that has put America at the forefront of the global creative marketplace. Maintaining a balanced and effective copyright system should continue to drive the production of creative works while at the same time preserving the innovative power of the Internet and the free flow of information. The Green Paper provides a comprehensive review of current policy related to copyright and the Internet, and identifies important issues that call for attention and development of solutions. The solutions may entail a combination of legal remedies, technology, private sector cooperation, and public outreach and education, along with the continued development of options to legally access copyrighted works.

Secretary Pritzker Visits Albany, New York and Hartford, Connecticut

Secretary Penny Pritzker looks into a cleanroom with Paul Farrar, General Manager of Global 450mm Consortium (G450C) (Photos courtesy of SUNY's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE))

Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker traveled to Albany, N.Y. and Hartford, Conn. on the second leg of her nationwide listening tour. While in Albany, Secretary Pritzker met with senior leadership of SEMATECH and the New York College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE). SEMATECH is a consortium of leading semiconductor device, equipment, and materials manufacturers and university partners from around the globe working on collaborative research on computer chip technology. CNSE is part of the State College of New York (SUNY) system and is home to the world’s most advanced education, research, and economic development enterprise targeting nanoelectronics and nanotechnology innovations.

SEMATECH and CNSE are both models of how the public and private sectors can work together effectively, advancing innovation, industry collaboration and investment in the United States. Secretary Pritzker also toured and heard from the Commerce Department employees at the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s Weather Forecast Office.

Secretary Penny Pritzker Visits APS Technology

Today, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker visited APS Technology (APS) in Wallingford, Conn., as part of her nationwide listening tour. Secretary Pritzker is traveling across the country meeting with business leaders and entrepreneurs to discuss how the administration and the Department of Commerce can work with the private sector to help strengthen the economy and create jobs.

First, Secretary Pritzker toured APS’ facilities with company executives, including APS President Bill Turner and Senior Vice President Denis Biglin, along with Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy. She was able to see some of the company’s projects, which include a variety of drilling tools that are used by the oil and gas industry.

APS started in 1994 providing contract engineering services and has experienced tremendous growth to become a leading provider of products to the oil and gas drilling industry around the world. APS has grown from 79 employees in 2008 to more than 300 employees, including 265 in the U.S. The company’s exports now account for 85 percent of their business. 

Secretary Pritzker Tours SEMATECH and CNSE for Firsthand Look at Semiconductors

Secretary Pritzker with Paul Farrar, General Manager of Global 450mm Consortium (G450C); CNSE Vice President for Manufacturing Innovation; Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Photovoltaic Manufacturing Consortium (PVMC)

As a part of her nationwide listening tour, Secretary Pritzker met with officials from SEMATECH and the State University of New York College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) while in Albany, New York today. SEMATECH and CSNE are leaders in semiconductor technology in the U.S. and among the most innovative enterprises in the world.

Secretary Pritzker met with the executives of SEMATECH and CNSE to discuss the global challenges that accompany a constantly evolving industry. The secretary also spoke about the role Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) plays in creating standards and funding research with SEMATECH and CNSE. She also asked about how the Commerce Department can support growth in the semiconductor and high-tech industries. 

During her visit, the secretary went on a facility tour of CNSE Nanotech and see state-of-the-art chip making technology firsthand. In the NanoFab North room the secretary saw SEMATECH employees conducting research and she stopped at the NanoFab Central Viewing Gallery where she saw rival companies collaborating in a clean room on nano electronics R&D. In the NanoFab Xtension room she viewed the new Global 450 Consortium clean room–a $4.8 billion partnership of Intel, IBM, Global Foundries, Samsung, TSMC, and CNSE to lead the industry’s transition to 450 mm wafers.

Census Bureau's New Tool Puts Congressional District Statistics at Your Fingertips

Census Bureau's New Tool Puts Congressional District Statistics at Your Fingertips

The U.S. Census Bureau has released My Congressional District, the first interactive tool geared exclusively toward finding basic demographic and economic statistics for every congressional district in the U.S. This Web app uses the latest annual statistics from the American Community Survey, providing the most detailed portrait of America's towns and neighborhoods.

Users can sort through statistics in five key categories upon selection of a specific district in the application. Summary level statistics covering education, finance, jobs and housing, as well as basic demographic information, can quickly be displayed, downloaded and shared with others.

A major feature of the My Congressional District app is the ability to embed a selected 113th congressional district on a user's own webpage. The embedded district will display the latest statistics from the American Community Survey, allowing visitors to quickly view statistics for any of the 435 congressional districts and the District of Columbia.

How EDA is Supporting Critical Infrastructure in a Missouri City

Perryville Industrial Park sign

One of the ways to ensure that America creates an economy that supports good middle-class jobs is by building critical infrastructure that businesses need to thrive and grow. Commerce's Economic Development Administration (EDA) has been at the forefront of such efforts, most recently in Perryville, Missouri, where it is joining with the state of Missouri and local authorities to help pay for improved road access to the Perryville Industrial Park.

Industrial parks are the economic lifeblood of many communities, particularly smaller ones. The Perryville Industrial Park is an excellent example of this, being home to an impressive roster of companies that provide good jobs for residents of Perryville and its surrounding Perry County. These include TG Missouri, a manufacturer of automotive components and a supplier to such companies as Toyota, and Robinson Construction, a specialized builder of industrial and manufacturing facilities.

Commerce's NIST Awards 13 Companies with 2013 Small Business Innovation Research Funding

NIST campus sign

The Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced today that more than $2.3 million in funding for Phase I and Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) projects will be awarded to 13 U.S. small businesses. The awards provide funding to help develop manufacturing and cybersecurity technologies that could lead to commercial and public benefit. 

"We congratulate the companies selected out of the numerous high-quality proposals we received," said Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Patrick Gallagher. "The SBIR program provides a great way to foster technological innovation at small businesses and help keep America innovative and competitive."

NIST's SBIR program seeks to stimulate technological innovation in the private sector, especially at minority and disadvantaged firms, strengthen the role of small business in meeting federal research and development needs and increase commercialization of federal research and development.

SBIR awards are funded through a competitive, three-phase process. In Phase I, small businesses can receive up to $90,000 to establish the technical merit, feasibility and commercial potential of the proposed research and development. Phase I awardees compete for Phase II funding of up to $300,000, enabling them to continue their efforts. Phase III involves commercial applications of the newly developed technologies, with funding from outside the SBIR program.

Global Investment is Important to the American Economy

The Department of Commerce is Open for Business

Guest blog post by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker

Since I was confirmed as Secretary of Commerce, I’ve been meeting with business leaders, entrepreneurs, and foreign leaders to let them know that America is “open for business.” The United States is one of the most desirable places to do business; our $16 trillion economy, with its productive workforce and diverse consumer base, could not do what it does without domestic as well as foreign investment. Yesterday, I participated in the White House Forum (Forum) on Global Investment to highlight the administration’s support for, and benefits of, foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States. 

For the meeting, I was joined by Acting Deputy Secretary of Commerce Pat Gallagher, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez, Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Jose Fernandez, and 21 foreign ambassadors and representatives to highlight the United States’ whole-of-government approach to attracting foreign direct investment.

Part of our discussion focused on the growth of FDI in sectors such as manufacturing, machinery, and scientific and technical services. In fact, FDI in the United States totaled nearly $168 billion last year. And just recently, the consulting firm A.T. Kearney published its annual FDI Confidence Index, with the United States ranked #1 on this list for the first time since 2001.

Readout of U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker’s Meeting with Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry

Alternate Text

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today met with Toshimitsu Motegi, Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, who is the head of the Commerce Department’s counterpart agency in Japan. Additional meeting participants included Under Secretary for International Trade Francisco Sánchez and Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. Kenichiro Sasae.

During the meeting, Secretary Pritzker and Minister Motegi discussed the importance of concluding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations this year, which is a top priority for the Obama administration. Japan recently joined TPP negotiations, bringing the economic impact of the 12 TPP countries to 40 percent of global GDP. The secretary affirmed to Minister Motegi the U.S. commitment to working with the Japanese government to reach consensus on the TPP countries’ shared vision for a comprehensive, 21st century trade and investment agreement, which will enable the Partnership to promote economic growth and regional economic integration.

Secretary Pritzker also talked with the minister about SelectUSA, President Obama’s initiative to facilitate business investment in the United States. This fall, the Commerce Department is hosting the first-ever SelectUSA Investment Summit to connect foreign and domestic investors with U.S. economic development organizations. Japan is the second-largest source of foreign direct investment in the U.S., and the Summit provides an opportunity for firms and investors to connect with U.S. cities and states in support of job creation and economic growth.

Secretary Pritzker Participates in Let's Read! Let's Move! Initiative

Secretary Penny Pritzker today joined Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Johnny Isakson, both members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP), Federal Aviation Administration Deputy Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation and former astronaut George D. Zamka, and Miss America Mallory Hagan for the third installment of the five-part initiative Let’s Read! Let’s Move! During the planets and astronauts-themed event, Secretary Pritzker read Pluto's Secret: An Icy World's Tale of Discovery to children from the Washington, DC, area.

The Let’s Read! Let’s Move! initiative is a partnership between the Department of Education (ED) and the Corporation for National and Community Service that engages children in summer reading and physical activity, as well as provides information about healthy lifestyles. Each installment supports First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign, which promotes healthy eating and an active lifestyle, while also encouraging strong early learning programs to ensure promising futures for children.

Each of the Let’s Read! Let’s Move! events this year feature book distributions, healthy snacks and fun physical activities led by the YMCA and professional athletes, including NFL, NBA and pro-tennis players. Special guest readers engage a large group of children from DC-area elementary schools and early childhood development centers, including the Health and Human Services/ED Children’s Center, a nonprofit child care and development center sponsored by the two departments.

Secretary Pritzker believes that the ability to compete in a global economy depends on a workforce that possesses skills required by employers. The Let’s Read! Let’s Move! initiative is an investment in the future of American children who will one day serve as global leaders driving the strength of American businesses to secure the foundation of our nation’s economy.

Readout of U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker’s Meeting with Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today met with President Truong Tan Sang of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today met with President Truong Tan Sang of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. President Sang is the second Vietnamese president to visit the United States since the normalization of diplomatic relations 18 years ago. Under Secretary for International Trade Francisco Sanchez, Assistant Secretary for Import Administration Paul Piquado, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Asia Craig Allen, and Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang were among other meeting participants.

Since the 2001 U.S.-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement went into effect and Vietnam joined the World Trade Organization in 2007, commerce between Vietnam and the United States has thrived. Secretary Pritzker highlighted that Vietnam has made significant progress on its economic reforms, which have contributed to its economic growth over the past decade. The secretary also talked about how our bilateral trade relationship continues to grow each year, with U.S. exports to Vietnam up 22 percent in May 2013 compared to the same period last year, and imports from Vietnam up 16 percent.

Secretary Pritzker also emphasized the importance of concluding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations this year, which is a top priority for the Obama administration. With Japan’s entry at the end of July, the 12 TPP countries will account for nearly 40 percent of global GDP. The secretary affirmed to President Sang the U.S. commitment to working closely with Vietnam to reach consensus on the TPP countries’ shared vision for a comprehensive, 21st century trade and investment agreement. Vietnam has a significant amount to gain from this agreement, particularly when it comes to increasing its exports. The country currently exports $95.5 billion in goods and services, of which nearly $17 billion is to the United States. The secretary also expressed our commitment to working with Vietnam on reciprocal market access of goods and services.

Lastly, Secretary Pritzker and President Sang discussed Vietnam’s civil nuclear and renewable energy sectors, which are priorities for the country. Ensuring Vietnam has access to the very best of American industry will help support both countries’ economies.

Readout of U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker’s Visit With Commerce Employees in Denver, Colorado

Secretary Penny Pritzker Meets with Commerce Employees in the Denver Office

While in Denver, Colorado, as part of her nationwide listening tour, Secretary Pritzker met with the heads of the Commerce Department’s local offices, including: International Trade Administration’s U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC), the Economic Development Administration (EDA), the National Institute for Standards and Technology’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP), the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), the U.S. Census Bureau, the Inspector General (IG), and the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). In addition to these meetings, she also spoke to employees about their work and ways in which their efforts are supporting economic growth and development in Colorado.

Today’s discussion in Denver served as an extension of an employee town hall she held yesterday in Boulder. The secretary emphasized how their work is crucial to creating a better quality of life for Americans and more opportunities for entrepreneurs and businesses. She also asked employees for their input in the department’s ongoing efforts to protect, promote, and inform what America needs to be competitive and innovative in the 21st century.

These employee engagement opportunities are part of the secretary’s overall efforts to serve as a bridge to the business community so that the public and private sectors can work together to create jobs and opportunities for all Americans.

Readout of U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker’s Meeting with Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper

Secretary Penny Pritzker Speaks with Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today met with Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper to talk about ways to build on the momentum of an improving Colorado economy through efforts that support collaboration and entrepreneurship. The Governor is a strong supporter of entrepreneurship, innovation, and the state’s highly-skilled workforce – all things that make Colorado an attractive place to do business.

As part of her nationwide listening tour, Secretary Pritzker is meeting with state and local leaders who are undertaking creative projects to attract business investment.

Governor Hickenlooper and Secretary Pritzker discussed the potential of advanced manufacturing to create jobs and bolster the nation’s economy and the Obama Administration’s efforts to strengthen American manufacturing through the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation and the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership. Secretary Pritzker also invited Governor Hickenlooper to join her at the Commerce Department’s first-ever SelectUSA Summit, which will connect foreign and domestic investors with U.S. cities, states and regions looking to attract business investment. The Summit will give state and local officials and Economic Development Organizations unique access to investors and help them execute their investment attraction strategies. The Summit will be held in Washington, DC, on October 31 and November 1, 2013.

Readout of U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker’s Meeting with Denver Mayor Michael Hancock

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today met with Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and the Director of the Denver Office of Economic Development Paul Washington to talk about issues facing the city’s economy and local businesses. As part of her nationwide listening tour, Secretary Pritzker is meeting with state and local leaders who are undertaking creative projects to attract business investment. Secretary Pritzker and Mayor Hancock talked about his vision for the Denver International Airport, as Mayor Hancock has proposed the development of an “aerotropolis,” a plan that would concentrate aviation-intensive businesses and related enterprises around the Denver International Airport (DIA), which is the fifth largest airport in the United States. DIA currently employs 30,000 and has an economic impact on the region of more than $20 billion.

They also discussed the importance of public-private partnerships focused on skills training and workforce development, as well as President Obama's Select USA initiative. Select USA is a federal effort to showcase the United States as the world’s premier business location in order to attract investment and create jobs, and Secretary Pritzker is leading the administration’s efforts on the initiative.

Secretary Pritzker and Mayor Hancock also discussed the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s satellite space in Denver, which is helping entrepreneurs and businesses in the region. The secretary looks forward to finding ways to work together in the future, and invited the mayor to visit the next time he is in Washington, DC.

Readout of U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker’s Visit With Commerce Employees in Boulder, Colorado

Readout of U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker’s Visit With Commerce Employees in Boulder, Colorado

While in Boulder, Colorado, as part of her nationwide listening tour, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker today met with employees from the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Approximately 1,600 department staff and affiliates are located at the Boulder facility, and the Commerce Boulder Laboratories is the largest  department facility outside Washington, DC.

Secretary Pritzker first held a town hall with approximately 350 employees from the three agencies as part of her commitment to engage with and hear directly from all Commerce employees about their work. The secretary emphasized how their work is crucial to creating a better quality of life for Americans and more opportunities for entrepreneurs and businesses. She also asked employees for their input in the department’s ongoing efforts to protect, promote and inform what America needs to be competitive and innovative in the 21st century.

Readout of U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker’s Visit to Boulder, Colorado

Andrea Chavez, Director of Manufacturing, Ball Aerospace; Rob Strain, President, Ball Aerospace; Penny Pritzker, Secretary of Commerce visit during a tour of Ball’s Boulder manufacturing facility on Thursday.

Today, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker traveled to Boulder, Colorado, to kick off her nationwide listening tour. Upon her swearing in, Secretary Pritzker announced that she would travel the country to meet with, and hear from, business and community leaders, entrepreneurs, and Commerce Department employees to discuss how public-private partnerships can strengthen the economy and create jobs.

Secretary Pritzker met with Boulder Mayor Matthew Appelbaum to thank him and the city council for their long-standing support of Commerce’s three Boulder laboratories, which are run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The two talked about CO-LABS (Colorado Leveraging Assets for Better Science), a consortium of the 24 labs, universities, businesses, local governments, and community leaders organized to establish Colorado as a global leader in research, technology, and their commercialization, as well as other initiatives to fuel economic growth in the region through increased promotion and investment in innovation.

Next, Secretary Pritzer toured Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp., a company that produces spacecraft instruments and sensors, radio frequency and microwave technologies, and a variety of advanced aerospace technologies and products. In addition to Mayor Appelbaum, she was joined by several Ball Aerospace executives, including president Rob Strain, North America metal packaging president Mike Hranicka, and chief financial officer Scott Morrison.  

Ball Aerospace Welcomes Secretary Pritzker on First Stop on Listening Tour

Ball Aerospace President Strain and Commerce Secretary Pritzker view a model of the nation's next polar-orbiting weather satellite.

Guest blog post by Robert D. Strain, President, Ball Aerospace &Technologies Corp.

We were pleased to host U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker on the first stop of her nationwide listening tour.  As a leading manufacturer, Ball appreciated the opportunity to share our perspectives on how to strengthen American businesses with Secretary Pritzker.

Ball has recently made significant investments in its manufacturing facilities including an investment in its spacecraft manufacturing center and an expansion of the company’s metal beverage manufacturing plant in Golden, CO. The Secretary’s tour of our Boulder, CO facilities gave us the opportunity to highlight those investments.

Dialogue between the government and industry is an important part of encouraging the conditions necessary for business growth. Secretary Pritzker’s visit also provided an opportunity to call attention to the role that Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) plays in a significant element of our national infrastructure—our weather prediction capability.

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker Visits MBDA Team

Secretary Penny Pritzker Stands with the MBDA Leadership Team Outside Their Offices

Crossposted from

Newly appointed Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker visited Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) employees during their staff meeting Monday.

During the visit, Secretary Pritzker talked to MBDA staff about her commitment to supporting the Agency’s mission of helping minority-owned businesses grow and create American jobs.

The secretary, who was familiar with MBDA’s work prior to joining Commerce, commended the agency on their recent annual performance report, and told employees that she looks forward to working with them to further the department’s mission.

During her recent address to the Commerce workforce, Secretary Pritzker emphasized she would work every day – 24/7 – to ensure that everyone in Washington, DC, across the country and around the world knows the great work agencies and employees are doing.

MBDA National Director David Hinson, speaking on behalf of the MBDA team, said that he was thrilled the secretary took time to visit the agency’s employees so early in her tenure, adding that the visit is an example of her commitment to employees, businesses and the nation’s economy.

MBDA is the only federal agency solely dedicated to the growth and global competitiveness of U.S. minority-owned businesses. Our programs and services equip minority-owned firms to create jobs, build scale and capacity, increase revenues and expand regionally, nationally and internationally. Services are provided through a nationwide network of MBDA Business Centers, as well as through MBDA headquarters and a National Federal Procurement Center in Washington, DC.

Proposed Cuts Hurt Job Creation, Economy, and the Middle-Class

The President has been clear that Republicans in Congress should work with Democrats to finish a budget that cuts wasteful spending while investing in jobs, the economy, and middle class families. Until Congress reaches a budget agreement, the President will not sign individual appropriations bills that simply attempt to enact the House Republican budget into law. That would hurt our economy and make draconian cuts to middle class priorities.

The House Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill demonstrates just how damaging the overall spending limits imposed by House Republican leadership are. The bill would cut $1 billion from the President’s request for the Department of Commerce, requiring a halt to investments in areas designed to help grow the economy, create jobs, and strengthen the middle class. The bill cuts more than $70 million from the International Trade Administration, which prevents placement of Foreign Commercial Service Officers in priority markets to help U.S. companies expand exports. That cut also limits our ability to attract foreign investment.  Instead of building on the momentum of resurgent American manufacturing as the President did in this budget, the bill terminates the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia, which is helping the industry identify long-term manufacturing needs, and it cuts $33 million from the President’s request for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). The MEP program is a federal-state partnership, which consists of centers located across the country that work directly with their local manufacturing communities to strengthen the competitiveness of our nation's domestic manufacturing base.

Secretary Pritzker Meets with Employees at Census Bureau Headquarters

Secretary Penny Pritzker thanking Acting Director of the U.S. Census Bureau Tom Mesenbourg for his 41 years of service

Guest blog post by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker

As an entrepreneur and businesswoman, I have first-hand experience with the data, information, services and resources the Commerce Department provides.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet the people who produce the data used by communities and businesses across the country. At the Census Bureau’s headquarters in Suitland, Maryland, I saw how statisticians, demographers, economists, information technology experts and other highly-skilled staff are working together to meet the rising demand for economic and demographic data.

As I experienced personally, the timely, high-quality statistics from the Census Bureau give entrepreneurs and business executives the tools they need to make major investment decisions. The broad menu of data delivered by Census and other Commerce Department bureaus also provides officials at all levels of government with the most reliable basis for decisions, such as where to build a school, highway or a factory, and where to find export markets and small business opportunities.

There was an additional air of excitement during my visit because Census unveiled an updated version of the America's Economy mobile app with three additional economic indicators, including the nonfarm payroll employment. The America’s Economy app, which gives users all sorts of current and historical statistics related to 19 economic indicators, is on my iPad and those of 98,000 other data users.

Secretary Pritzker Speaks with Top Business Leaders on Commerce’s Work to Support American Businesses

Secretary Pritzker speaks with American business CEOs

Since taking office two weeks ago, Secretary Penny Pritzker has made it clear that engaging with the business community is a top priority.  Her commitment to this effort is evidenced by recent calls to top CEOs: Jim McNerney, President and CEO of Boeing, and Ursula Burns, CEO of Xerox Corporation.

Given her extensive experience in the private sector, Secretary Pritzker understands not only the importance of the Department establishing close ties with the business community, but more importantly what can be learned from meeting with local business leaders (both large and small companies).  It is only through these intimate conversations, that one can adequately understand and further address the issues many businesses face.

During her conversations with CEOs, Secretary Pritzker asked what their biggest challenges were and what how she, as Commerce Secretary, could help companies become more competitive both in U.S and abroad.  The Secretary also established an open line of communication, welcoming feedback from CEOs and business leaders to help her develop strategic goals and her agenda over the next few months. 

Secretary Pritzker’s outreach to the business community is just beginning.  This week marks her first trip as part of an overall listening tour. Conversations such as these are part of her overall commitment to being a strong advocate for U.S businesses to help businesses grow and create jobs to strengthen our economy. 

NIST: Iris Biometric Identifiers for Agency Security

Image of  iris identification

Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has issued a new publication that broadens agency security options for Personal Identity Verification (PIV) cards. Biometric Data Specifications for Personal Identity Verification (Special Publication 800-76-2) adds iris images as biometric identifiers and on-card fingerprint comparison as options for the cards.

A PIV card is a government-issued smart card used by federal employees and contractors to access government facilities and computer networks. The PIV card carries a photo, fingerprint information, personal identification number (PIN) and a cryptographic credential–random computer-generated data that are recognized only by the PIV card–all of which serve to bind the card to the card holder.

To assist agencies seeking stronger security and greater operational flexibility, NIST made several modifications to the previous version of Biometric Data Specification for Personal Identity Verification. Full release

Secretary Pritzker Joins Secretary Lew at the Fifth Round of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue

Secretary Pritzker Joins the Fifth Round of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue

This week, Secretary Penny Pritzker joined Secretary Jacob J. Lew at the fifth round of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED). Secretary Lew led discussions with the Chinese delegation, headed by Vice Premier Wang Yang. They were joined by a high-level delegation of Cabinet members, ministers, agency heads, and senior officials from both countries. This year’s S&ED provided an opportunity to demonstrate the tangible benefits of strategic engagement by making concrete progress on our priority issues and creating a more level playing field for American companies and workers.

Secretary Pritzker spoke during the Trade and Investment Session about the importance of ensuring American companies have equal and fair treatment when competing with Chinese companies. She also attended the Joint Session on Climate Change, Promoting Economic Growth Session and the CEO roundtable, where she heard from American companies about the opportunities and challenges of doing in business in China.

The United States and China emphasized the importance of promoting a comprehensive U.S.‑China economic relationship based on mutual respect and mutually beneficial cooperation. The two countries reaffirmed the important commitments made by both countries in previous Strategic and Economic Dialogues. The two sides announced further concrete measures to support strong domestic and global growth, promote open trade and investment, enhance international rules and global economic governance, and foster financial market stability and reform. The two countries reached consensus to work expeditiously to implement the commitments made and, as the Special Representatives of the Economic Track, directed their respective economic teams to take concrete steps before the next Strategic and Economic Dialogue to do so.

PHOTO: Secretary Pritzker speaks with Treasury Under Secretary for International Affairs Lael Brainard during one of the meetings of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

NIST Workshop Gets a 'Grip' on Robotics Challenge

Image of a seven degree-of-freedom highly dexterous robot and a seven degree-of-freedom, three fingered robotic hand.

Even though modern industrial robots are becoming nimbler and more capable, they still need to get a good grip on things—the equivalent of hands that are as agile and dexterous as the human variety.

How to tackle the thorny challenge, known in robotics speak as dexterous manipulation, was the aim of a recent workshop hosted by Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The workshop featured speakers from manufacturing companies (end users), along with developers of robot arms and of advanced robot "hands." Proceedings of the workshop, which NIST is using as it crafts a technology roadmap to guide measurement science research in the field, are summarized in a new report.

Factors driving the quest for human-like robot arms and grippers are quality control, cost, throughput and worker safety. According to one manufacturer at the workshop, two-thirds of his company's worker compensation cases are ergonomic disorders, mostly due to repetitive strain, over-extension and over-exertion.

Robotic arms are now starting to come in pairs, mounted to either a fixed or rotary torso with each arm having seven joints instead of the conventional six. This option boosts the dexterity of a robot and allows it to move its elbow around obstacles while maintaining precise placement at its working point.  Read more

Top 50 Metropolitan Area Exports Contribute More Than $1 Trillion to U.S. Economy

2012 Merchandise Exports - Top 50 Metro Area Exporters

Great news out of the Department of Commerce today! New data was released on the top 50 metropolitan areas for exports in 2012, which shows a combined contribution of exports from these communities to the U.S. economy of $1.04 trillion dollars.

In fact, America’s metropolitan areas continue to strengthen the U.S. economy each year. Cities committed to increasing their export potential are making it easier for local businesses to sell their goods and services overseas and increasing manufacturing here at home. These exports are helping to support jobs all across the country.

The Houston-Sugarland-Baytown area ranked number one with an impressive total of $110 billion in exports. Combined, the top 50 metropolitan areas for exports around the country totaled $1.04 trillion for the year. Not only did the Houston-Sugarland-Baytown area export the most merchandise, but it also had a record high for 2012, along with 29 other metropolitan areas in the top 50 areas for exports. Between 2011 and 2012, the Houston area had an export growth rate of 5.6 percent. The New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island area ranked second with $102 billion in exports.

Among the top 25 metropolitan areas for exports, the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria area showed the highest growth in exports between 2011 and 2012 with exports growing by 42.7 percent over this period. Other metropolitan areas that showed high growth in exports included the San Antonio-New Braunfels area (up 33.3 percent from 2011) and the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area (up 22.3 percent from 2011).

These increases in exports, even in challenging economic times, strengthen the U.S. economy and support millions of jobs here at home. Since the President’s National Export Initiative (NEI) was launched in 2010 – which seeks to double U.S. exports and support an additional two million jobs by the end of 2014 – merchandise exports from metropolitan areas have increased nearly 40 percent since 2009; while jobs supported have increased by 60 percent to 1.3 million.

The Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration is committed to helping U.S. businesses increase their exports by finding new markets, reducing trade barriers, and ensuring that U.S. companies compete on a level playing field.

Is your business interested in expanding their product overseas where 95 percent of the world’s potential consumers are? Then contact your nearest Export Assistance Center for support.

Press release

Let Freedom Ring

New Citizens of the United States of America

Guest blog post by Under Secretary for Economic Affairs Mark Doms

Last Friday, I was given the honor of speaking to about 500 people from 80 countries who took the oath to become U.S. citizens at a ceremony in Sterling, Virginia. The happiness, joy, pride, and gratitude in the room brought tears to my eyes, especially after imagining the collective hardships endured, the journeys taken, and the fears overcome by our new citizens.

Like my family, most of us owe our lives and citizenship to our ancestors who left their homes, families, and friends behind to start a new life in a land of freedom and opportunity. We remain thankful for the incredible journeys and sacrifices they made so that their children could have better lives. Likewise, the children and grandchildren of the people granted citizenship in Sterling, Virginia last Friday will also look back with special thanks to our new Americans.

And let us not forget the instrumental roles that immigrants and their descendants have played in growing America’s economy. Further, our history as a nation of immigrants has defined our culture, and the diversity of ideas and customs that immigration provides keeps us competitive in this ever-changing world.

Undoubtedly, the 500 people I spoke to have faced numerous challenges on their road to becoming U.S. citizens, including the challenge of traversing a broken immigration system. Thanks to a strong bipartisan effort in the U.S. Senate, we are much closer to fixing that system. Doing so will uphold our history as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.

As years pass, I suspect that today, July 4th, 2013, will stand out in my memory because of the 500 lives that changed in Sterling, Virginia, and the possibility that many millions more lives will change – and strengthen our nation – in the years to come.

The Fourth of July, 2013: Independence Day

Fireworks display (Photo: Architect of the Capitol)

On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, setting the 13 colonies on the road to freedom as a sovereign nation. Written primarily by Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration is a formal explanation of why Congress had voted on July 2 to declare independence from Great Britain, more than a year after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. The birthday of the United States of America—Independence Day—is celebrated on July 4, the day the wording of the Declaration was approved by Congress. See an image of the Declaration of Independence from the National Archives. 

As always, this most American of holidays will be marked by parades, fireworks and backyard barbecues across the nation. In 1776, the estimated number of people living in the newly-independent nation was 2.5 million. This year, the Department of Commerce’s Census Bureau estimate is 316.2 million.

The original Declaration of Independence on display at the National Archives reaches its 237th anniversary this year protected by Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) science and engineering. Read more on protecting the historic document here.

For fascinating figures on the Fourth’s fireworks, flags, fanfares, firings (grills) and more, see the Census Bureau’s Facts for Features.

Secretary Pritzker Visits NOAA’s Center for Weather and Climate Prediction

Secretary Pritzker Visits NOAA’s Center for Weather and Climate Prediction

On Tuesday, July 2, Secretary Penny Pritzker joined Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland; Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, Acting Administrator of NOAA; Dr. Louis Uccellini, Assistant Administrator of NOAA’s National Weather Service; and, Bryan Norcross, Senior Executive Director of Weather Content and Presentation, and Senior Hurricane Specialist at The Weather Channel for an event at NOAA’s Center for Weather and Climate Prediction in College Park, MD.

Earlier this year, NOAA’s National Weather Service, which is part of the Department of Commerce, received funding through the Sandy Supplemental bill to invest in supercomputing technologies that will improve weather forecasting and modeling capabilities.   
The forecasts that NOAA’s National Weather Service provide to entities like The Weather Channel, Accuweather, and more than 300 other partners around the country not only help to save lives and property, but they help businesses operate and move goods as smoothly as possible through our airports and ports.  In many ways, their work is crucial to keeping our economy moving and growing.

Exporting to Africa: The Success of the DBIA Campaign

President Obama and Senegal President Sall at press conference. Photo by White House, Pete Souza.

President Obama believes sub-Saharan Africa could be the world’s next major economic success story. That is why in June 2012, he issued the U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa (PDF) to escalate the U.S. efforts to stimulate economic growth, trade, and investment in the region. One year later, the President is in Africa to highlight our success under this strategy.

A key component of the President’s strategy is the Doing Business in Africa (DBIA) Campaign, which was launched by the U.S. Department of Commerce in Johannesburg, South Africa last November. Its main objective is to bolster federal trade promotion and financing capabilities in order to help U.S. businesses obtain trade and investment opportunities. With these opportunities, the United States’ commercial relationship with Africa will continue to grow.  

Since its unveiling, Commerce has been working alongside other federal agencies to encourage U.S. companies–with a focus on small- and medium- sized businesses and African Diaspora-owned business–to trade and invest in the region. A little more than six months into the Doing Business in Africa Campaign, we wanted to share some of successes with you.