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Blog Entries from November 2013

Thanksgiving Day: Nov. 28, 2013: 150th Anniversary of Lincoln Proclamation

Image of Fall fruits and vegetables

In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims, early settlers of Plymouth Colony, held a three-day feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest, an event many regard as the nation's first Thanksgiving. The Wampanoag, the Indians in attendance, also played a lead role. Historians have recorded ceremonies of thanks among other groups of European settlers in North America, including British colonists in Virginia in 1619. The legacy of thanks and the feast have survived the centuries, as the event became a national holiday 150 years ago (Oct. 3, 1863) when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a national day of thanksgiving. Later, President Franklin Roosevelt clarified that Thanksgiving should always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month to encourage earlier holiday shopping, never on the occasional fifth Thursday.

  • 242 million: the number of turkeys forecasted to be raised in the U.S. in 2013.
  • 768 million pounds: The forecast for U.S. cranberry production in 2012. 
  • 2.6 billion punds: The total weight of sweet potatoes produced by major sweet potato producing states in 2012.

More Thanksgiving Facts for Features

Let's Talk Turkey: U.S. Turkey Production and International Trade

Map of U.S. showing top turkey production states

This year is the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation establishing Thanksgiving as a national holiday. Today we are presenting some data tidbits on U.S. production and international trade in turkeys and turkey products–the main course of many Thanksgiving celebrations. (The wild turkey would also have been our national symbol if Benjamin Franklin had had his way).  While we hope you find these facts tasty, our main motive is to showcase the vast amounts of delectable and highly detailed data on production and international trade that our federal statistical agencies harvest and dish out.  Read more

New Census Mobile App Showcases Local Statistics for People on the Go

New Census Mobile App Showcases Local Statistics for People on the Go

America has always been a nation on the move. Whether you are looking for a career change or a new neighborhood to call home, life decisions affect each of us every day. With roughly half of Americans now owning smartphones, everyone should be able to access the wealth of statistics the Census Bureau collects to make informed decisions on the go, whether at home or on the road. What good are data if nobody but the experts can easily access them? The Census Bureau uses 21st century technology to meet its centuries-old mission, making the statistics that define our growing, changing nation more accessible to the public than ever before.

The Census Bureau’s new mobile app, dwellr, (iOS / Android) provides those on the go with immediate, personalized access to the latest demographic, socio-economic and housing statistics from the American Community Survey for neighborhoods across the nation. Using the level of importance you places on a location’s characteristics, the app generates a list of top 25 towns or cities most suitable for you. Once you have used the app, it saves your selections on your phone so you can see how they match up against each new place you visit.

With more than 30 million Americans moving last year, dwellr allows for quick and easy access to information to help make the decision, including the ages of residents, how many families have children, median income and housing costs. Dwellr allows Apple and Android smartphone users to explore a range of questions making it a powerful tool for homebuyers, members of the military being deployed domestically, real estate agents, new businesses and teachers helping students learn about their communities.

The statistics in dwellr are only the beginning of a powerful story you can tell with Census Bureau data. Imagine if an app matched your preferences with restaurant reviews, places with museums or most visited parks. With the Census Bureau’s Application Programming Interface, developers can take the same statistics found in dwellr and apply them to any app they can imagine. We are eager to see new applications of these American Community Survey statistics that help people learn more about their communities using the same information businesses use to plan investments and services. These statistics, along with the Census Bureau’s other economic information, provide timely, critical information on the health of the U.S. economy.

The app is just the latest product from the Census Bureau’s digital transformation and provides statistics to more Americans in a new and user-friendly way. It follows the successful release of our hugely popular America’s Economy mobile app, which now has more than 100,000 downloads. Coming soon, you will see an upgraded website with enhanced search and navigation features that are based on several years of customer feedback. We continue to open up more of our data to developers as part of our API, including 30 years of decennial statistics in addition to the American Community Survey statistics that power dwellr.

As we continue to align ourselves with the Digital Government Strategy, our free mobile apps are just one way we are making our statistics available anytime, anywhere, and on nearly any device.

Download dwellr from the Google Play or Apple store today and begin learning more about where you are and where you could go in the future.

Spotlight on Commerce: Helena Carapellatti, Statistician, U.S. Census Bureau

Helena Carapellatti was awarded a 2012 Public Service Recognition Award for Diversity Champion and Leadership by Census Director Bob Groves and Deputy Director & Chief Operation Officer Tom Mesenbourg, Jr.

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.

Guest blog post by Helena Carapellatti, Statistician, U.S. Census Bureau

I work as a statistician in the Human Resources Division at the U.S. Census Bureau and my responsibilities include reporting on Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey results for the bureau and working on policies and issues related to excepted-service field data collection employees.

I grew up on the Navajo reservation spanning parts of New Mexico and Colorado. We lived off the grid and were ranchers with livestock that needed daily attention. Summers meant camping on the outer parts of our land and sleeping under a blanket of stars.  We explored on horseback and lived a semi-nomadic lifestyle free from the world outside the traditional Navajo culture. This lifestyle meant my brothers and I learned to be responsible and self-sufficient at an early age. Being the only girl in the family meant I had to be fearless if I wanted to keep up with all my brothers.

When I graduated high school, there were no opportunities on the reservation so I enlisted in the military. The military offered me an opportunity to pursue higher education and to serve in an honorable profession. I started going to school part-time and got an Associates degree in Logistics with the Community College of the Air Force. Later I got a B.S., in Social Science with a minor in Journalism. I made some lasting friendships and after 25 years, I retired and completed my M.A. in Applied Sociology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Outside the workplace, I help my husband with our small business most weekends. When you are in business, you have to be willing to adapt so you can provide the type of service that sets you apart.  We have to network, be informed and sensitive to the economy just like our customers so it is a constant balancing act to remain competitive in an ever-changing market.

Acting Deputy Secretary Gallagher Advocates Increased U.S. Exports through Doing Business in Africa Campaign

Acting Deputy Secretary Gallagher Advocates Increased U.S. Exports through Doing Business in Africa Campaign

Today, Acting Deputy U.S. Commerce Secretary Patrick Gallagher delivered remarks at “From DC to Africa: Growing Local, Going Global,” a business forum hosted by the D.C. Office on African Affairs to raise awareness of opportunities for U.S. companies to do business in Africa. D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray also gave remarks at the forum and introduced Dr. Gallagher.

The event also marks the first anniversary of the launch of the Commerce Department’s Doing Business in Africa Campaign (DBIA) by then-Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Last year, President Obama issued the U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa and said the region is poised to be the world’s next greatest economic success story. In fact, sub-Saharan Africa is home to six of the ten fastest-growing economies in the world. U.S. exports to Africa currently top $21 billion a year, and enormous opportunities exist for more U.S. companies to export goods and services there. DBIA works to take advantage of those export and investment opportunities by encouraging more robust commercial engagement in sub-Saharan Africa.

In speaking to an audience of more than 200 local businesses, Acting Deputy Secretary Gallagher emphasized why U.S. companies should see sub-Saharan Africa as an export destination. In the first half of this year, U.S. companies have exported more than $1 billion more in goods exports to the region compared to the same period in 2012. However, U.S. exports to Africa represent only two percent of our total exports.

Dr. Gallagher also highlighted DBIA campaign successes through the work of the Commerce Department and their partner trade agencies in the last year, including holding nationwide outreach sessions with sub-Saharan Africa commercial experts, and bringing hundreds of African companies and buyers to U.S. trade shows in sectors like water, power, oil and gas, and agribusiness. In the second year of the DBIA campaign, the Department of Commerce aims to bring even more potential African partners and buyers to U.S. trade shows, collaborate on the administration’s Power Africa initiative to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa, and address trade barriers in the region.

The DBIA campaign also supports NEI 2.0, an initiative laid out in the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda,” which aims to revitalize efforts to partner with industry to help businesses become more globally fluent, increase American exports and support the creation of millions of jobs.

NOAA’s Stunning Science On a Sphere® Now in 100 Locations Worldwide

Image of the Spehere

A glowing six-foot diameter sphere, suspended from the ceiling of NOAA headquarters in Silver Spring, Md., is the 100th Science On a Sphere® installed around the world. The 3-D display system, which was unveiled November 22, illuminates awe-inspiring animations of planet Earth and is used by educators, curators and scientists alike to explore global environmental data, such as swirling hurricanes, clouds and ocean currents. 

Science On a Sphere® (SOS) is seen by 33 million people annually in 15 countries, 27 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and American Samoa. Using computers and video projectors, the system displays planetary data on an opaque carbon fiber sphere, and presenters can draw from more than 400 annotated datasets to highlight weather observations, climate models, ocean acidification plus the latest solar system imagery.  Read more

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Visits iwis Motorsystems in Munich, Germany

Secretary Pritzker poses with members of iwis Motorsystems after a tour of the facilities

On her visit to Munich today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Secretary Pritzker toured iwis Motorsystems, a family-owned company that is making investments and creating jobs in the United States. One key aspect of U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker’s “Open for Business Agenda” is the importance of attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) to the United States. A report recently released by the Department of Commerce and the Council of Economic Advisors found that foreign-owned companies employ 5.6 million people in the United States, so it is clear that FDI is a major driver to job creation and economic growth.

A “Mittelstand” (medium-sized) company, iwis is a leading supplier of automotive products used in a vast array of engines and vehicles, and has growing investments in the United States. The company has a production facility in Indianapolis, Indiana, and a subsidiary, iwis engine systems, in Troy, Michigan. Additionally, operations have recently begun at a new facility in Murray, Kentucky, to produce timing drive systems. This latest facility accounts for a $12.5 million investment and, when fully operational, will employ 75 people.

The Commerce Department’s SelectUSA program is working to attract even more of these job-creating investments. German firms like iwis are poised to make an even bigger impact in the United States – Germany sent one of the largest delegations to the SelectUSA Summit that President Obama and Secretary Pritzker hosted on Octover 31 – November 1. For 2012, FDI from Germany totaled more than $272 billion.

Secretary Pritzker Tours BMW Factory and Training Facilities in Germany

Groupf photo of Pritzker and apprentice training program students

Following the announcement of her strategic vision for the Department of Commerce last week, which includes a focus on ensuring that workers are prepared with the skills that employers need, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today toured BMW's training facilities at their headquarters in Munich, Germany with CEO Dr. Norbert Reithofer and Head of Apprentice Training Jan Eggert.  

Secretary Pritzker went to BMW to learn more about how the company implements the German Dual System of Vocational training, through which students receive a technical degree at a local educational institution while simultaneously participating in on-the-job training. BMW has a unique apprenticeship program, which is currently training 4,500 apprentices worldwide with the skills the company anticipates it will need from future employees. BMW has spent 1.2 billion euros on professional development since 2007.

While the majority of BMW apprentices are located in Germany, the company is expanding its program internationally, including at their Spartanburg, South Carolina plant. BMW employs more than 7,000 workers in South Carolina, and they have 70 apprentices at the facility who they are training for BMW careers. The apprenticeship program in Spartanburg has been in place since 2011 and works with three local technical colleges. 

Secretary Pritzker has made skills development a top priority of the Commerce Department for the very first time, and is encouraging businesses to partner with local education institutions on programs that train high-quality workers for in-demand jobs. She will work closely with her counterparts, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, on these workforce training initiatives. BMW's model is one that can help inform these efforts.

NOAA: Much Colder Air In Store for Plains, Heavy Rain, Snow and Mixed Precipitation

Map of U.S. with temperature predictions

Arctic front will bring coldest weather so far this season

The Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued its annual winter outlook today through the National Weather Service. 

A cold front moving across the Plains will bring temperatures plummeting as much as 10-25 degrees below normal across much of the central and northern Plains on Thursday, as well as areas of heavy snow across parts of the Rockies and central Plains Thursday into Friday. Mixed precipitation is forecast for parts of the southern Plains into the Southwest, with heavy rain possible across the Desert Southwest. Read more For interactive map, visit

NIST Investigation of Joplin, Mo., Tornado Details Proposed Measures for Saving Lives and Property

Destruction caused by the Joplin, Missouri, tornado that struck on May 22, 2011 causing 161 fatalities and more than 1,000 injuries. The tornado was the deadliest single tornado since official U.S. recordkeeping began in 1950.

The Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released a report today on the impacts of the May 22, 2011 tornado that struck Joplin, Mo. Nationally accepted standards for building design and construction, public shelters and emergency communications can significantly reduce deaths and the steep economic costs of property damage caused by tornadoes were among the key conclusions of the two-year technical investigation.

The recommendations are featured in a draft report issued for public comment today and announced at a press briefing held at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin. The NIST study is the first to scientifically assess the impact of a tornado in four major categories: tornado characteristics, building performance, human behavior and emergency communication—and the impact of each on life-safety, the ability to protect people from injury or death. It also is the first to recommend that standards and model codes be developed and adopted for designing buildings to better resist tornadoes.

The NIST report includes a number of recommendations for future research and development of technologies and strategies to advance tornado wind measurements, strengthen emergency communications, increase warning time, derive more accurate tornado hazard maps and significantly improve public response during tornado events.

NIST welcomes comments on the draft report and recommendations—available online at — which must be received by 5 p.m. Eastern Time on Monday, Jan. 6, 2014. Comments may be submitted via email todisaster[at]nist[dot]gov or mailed to NIST Technical Investigation Joplin, 100 Bureau Dr., Stop 8611, Gaithersburg, Md. 20899-8611.

Census Bureau Releases New Interactive Visualization of Jobs, Businesses and Other Key Economic Statistics

Census Bureau Releases New Interactive Visualization of Jobs, Businesses and Other Key Economic Statistics

Today, the U.S. Census Bureau released a new interactive tool designed to visualize the key economic findings found in the statistical agency's most recent Business Dynamics Statistics report released in July. The Business Dynamics Statistics Visualization Tool spans four decades of information about America's economy - providing key insights on job creation and loss during the most recent recession. Economic measures such as employment, number of establishments and number of firms can be analyzed for a single year or multiple years from 1977 to 2011.

The tool has three major components: an interactive thematic map for the 50 states, interactive bar charts that give side-by-side comparisons of states and business sectors as well as time series data comparisons over a range of time.  It also is providing a new and easy way for users to look at key economic trends about America's economy by visualizing statistics over time.

In partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the Census Bureau has produced annual data series for the Business Dynamics Statistics since 2008. For more information on the Business Dynamics Statistics program, go to <>.

Guidance on how to use the visualization tool can be found at <>.

Other Economic Statistics Tools for Use

The Census Bureau's first mobile app, America's Economy, provides smartphone and tablet users with real-time releases of the economic statistics that drive decisions on employment, housing construction, international trade, retail sales and manufacturing, and are important tools for businesses, economists, planners and policymakers. For more information on the app, visit the mobile app home page.

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker Discusses "Open for Business Agenda" at Lake Shore Cryotronics in Ohio

Pritzker touring plant with Lakeshore Cryotronics officials

Secretary Penny Pritzker traveled to Westerville, Ohio yesterday to deliver a speech highlighting the Obama Administration’s economic growth agenda and the Department of Commerce’s priorities. Secretary Pritzker announced a new strategic vision for the Department, the “Open for Business Agenda,” November 14.  In Ohio, Secretary Pritzker toured and delivered remarks at Lake Shore Cryotronics, an international leader in the development of cryogenic temperature sensors and instrumentation.

Promoting trade and investment is a major part of Secretary Pritzker’s “Open for Business Agenda.” Nationwide, America’s businesses are exporting: the United States hit a record $2.2 trillion dollars in exports last year, up $600 billion dollars from 2009 when President Obama launched his National Export Initiative. Lake Shore Cryotronics, for example, generates 60 percent of sales from exports. Nearly 10 million U.S. jobs are now supported by exports, up 1.3 million since 2009. But the United States still under-exports, which is why the Secretary is gearing up to launch NEI 2.0, which will aim to help more U.S. companies sell their goods and services to more markets around the world.

In order to achieve greater economic growth and create more good jobs, Secretary Pritzker talked about the need to attract more foreign investment to the United States. According to Columbus 2020, an economic development organization for the 11-county Columbus Region, about 39,000 people in Central Ohio are employed by foreign-owned companies. But as of 2011, 5.6 million jobs nationwide million jobs are supported by foreign direct investment, supporting $437.8 billion in wages to U.S. employees. Global businesses want to be here in the United States because of our stable rule of law, intellectual property protections, solid financial markets, world-class universities, strong consumer base, and our low-cost and abundant energy. That is why President Obama launched SelectUSA at the Commerce Department in 2011. SelectUSA has been working with foreign CEOs and economic development groups across the country to put even more deals in the pipeline.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Selects San Jose City Hall as Permanent Space for Silicon Valley Satellite Office

View of exterior of City Hall (credit: Atsuke)

Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced that the San Jose City Hall building will be the permanent location for the USPTO’s Silicon Valley satellite office, and is scheduled to open by the end of 2014.

The selection of a permanent USPTO office in the Silicon Valley is a key part of the Commerce Department and Obama administration’s efforts to strengthen American innovation. As a driver of U.S. competitiveness and job growth, promoting and strengthening innovation is a major priority in U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker’s “Open for Business Agenda,” which was launched last week.

The USPTO plays a vital role in helping protect cutting-edge, American ideas that drive our economy and keep the U.S. globally competitive. The satellite offices specifically advance the Department’s innovation agenda by helping entrepreneurs get their products to market more quickly, provide tailored resources to local start-ups and industries, and create good paying, high-skilled jobs.

Secretary Pritzker Outlines Bold Policy Agenda Focused on U.S. Trade and Investment, Innovation, and Data

Secretary Pritzker Outlines Bold Policy Agenda Focused on U.S. Trade and Investment, Innovation, and Data

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today outlined a bold new policy agenda for the Department of Commerce, centered on U.S. trade and investment, innovation, and data.  This “Open for Business” Agenda reflects the department’s role as the voice of business, and the Obama Administration’s focus on economic growth and job creation. Additionally, this new vision recognizes the demands of a globally competitive economy.

Among the new initiatives Secretary Pritzker announced are a revitalized National Export Initiative, an enhanced and expanded program to attract foreign investment, a first-of-its-kind, Commerce effort to ensure skills training programs meet industry needs, and a focus on public-private partnerships that enable businesses and communities to make better use of government data.

Secretary Pritzker also committed to leading a robust environmental agenda at Commerce, and to ensuring that operational excellence and public accountability are top priorities of departmental leadership. 

Watch Secretary Pritzker Unveil Her New Strategic Vision and Top Priorities for the Department of Commerce

Please tune in today, as U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker unveils her new strategic vision and top priorities for the Department of Commerce in a speech at 1776 in Washington, D.C.

The event will be webcast below. You can follow the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #OpenForBusiness.

Shortly after the event, Secretary Pritzker will take questions via Facebook from 12:15-12:45 pm Eastern time. We encourage you to participate by visiting the Department of Commerce’s official Facebook page and asking her a question about the Department’s priorities and the Obama administration’s efforts to spur economic growth and job creation.


Secretary Pritzker Announces Winners of the 2013 Baldrige National Quality Award

Three U.S. Organizations Honored with the 2013 Baldrige National Quality Award

U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker today announced that three U.S. organizations will receive the 2013 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation's highest Presidential honor for performance excellence through innovation, improvement and visionary leadership. All of this year's winners are from the health care and education sectors.

The 2013 Baldrige Award recipients—listed with their category—are:

The Baldrige program has had a tangible impact on the success of thousands of organizations worldwide and our nation's economy, and the winners announced today will undoubtedly continue that legacy and serve as role models for their peers in the health care and education sectors.

The 2013 Baldrige Award recipients were selected from a field of 22 applicants that were evaluated rigorously by an independent board of examiners in seven areas defined by the Baldrige Criteria: leadership; strategic planning; customer focus; measurement, analysis and knowledge management; workforce focus; operations focus; and results. An organization may compete for the award in one of six categories: manufacturing, service, small business, health care, education and nonprofit (including government agencies).

USPTO Celebrates Our Next Generation of Inventors

USPTO Deputy Director Teresa Stanek Rea and Winning Inventors of the “PrestoPatch”

Today Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Teresa Stanek Rea, welcomed America’s future innovative leaders to the USPTO headquarters for this year’s Collegiate Inventors Competition.

Introduced in 1990 and co-sponsored by the USPTO and Invent Now, the competition encourages invention, entrepreneurship and creativity in students who are working on cutting-edge inventions at their colleges and universities. Outstanding inventions in science, engineering, mathematics, technology (STEM) and other creative fields are judged by a panel of National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductees and USPTO officials.

The competition recognizes inventors and scientists early in their careers, and rewards students’ pioneering ideas as they address the problems of today’s world. Past finalists and winners have gone on to start their own companies based on their inventions, win prestigious fellowships and grants and receive national attention for their work.

This year’s finalists and winners trended strongly towards medical advances. Entries included a next-generation cancer chemotherapy patch; a powered upper body exoskeleton for physical therapy and occupational lifting applications; a mechanical leech for post-surgical treatment of tissue reattachment patients; a DNA sequence-based invention for the early detection of ovarian and endometrial cancers; and an intravenous drip designed to enable clinicians in developing countries to provide dehydrated children with life-saving intravenous fluids without the risk of overhydration.

Commerce Achieves Record Veteran Hiring Numbers in 2013

Veterans Day 2013 - Honoring All Who Served

In honor of Veterans Day, we wanted to take a moment to highlight the Department of Commerce’s commitment to hiring veterans. In Fiscal Year 2013, 13.2 percent of new Commerce hires were veterans and 3.6 percent were disabled veterans, the highest numbers of veterans the Department has employed in over 20 years.

The Department of Commerce (DOC) Veteran Employment Council, made up of volunteer human resources (HR) specialists, advisors, and program managers, plays a major role in hiring and retaining veterans and works with the individuals once they come on board.

“Here at Commerce, we take hiring veterans very seriously,” said Kevin Mahoney, Commerce’s Chief Human Capital Officer and Director, Office of Human Resources Management. “I would like to thank the DOC Veteran Employment Council for their hard work throughout the year, and we look forward to seeing even higher numbers next year.”

This year, the Department of Commerce trained over 3,100 hiring managers and human resources specialists on veterans’ preference and special appointing authorities for veterans and disabled veterans. Top performing agencies in the Department of Commerce for veteran hiring include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at 31.8 percent, the Office of the Secretary (OS) at 20 percent, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) at 16.2 percent and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) at 13.2 percent.

Secretary Penny Pritzker Returns to Chicago for First Official Visit

Secretary Penny Pritzker Returns to Chicago for First Official Visit

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker returned to Chicago yesterday, making her first visit to her hometown in her official capacity as head of the Department.
Speaking at an event hosted by Google and World Business Chicago, a public-private partnership that seeks to foster private sector growth and jobs through the advancement of a business-friendly environment, Secretary Pritzker delivered remarks and participated in a “fireside chat” with Chicago Tribune reporter Melissa Harris.

She focused on the Obama administration’s efforts to grow the economy and create jobs, as well as some of her top priorities going forward: the need to invest in infrastructure, help workers develop skills for 21st century jobs, reform the immigration system and support R&D and innovation.
As Secretary Pritzker noted, infrastructure is critical to the economy. Unfortunately, the United States has deferred trillions of dollars in infrastructure investment over the years. Under President Obama’s leadership, however, the United States has improved 350,000 miles of roads, 6,000 miles of rail, and 20,000 bridges. The Commerce Department has deployed more than 100,000 miles of broadband since 2009.

Spotlight on Commerce: Dr. Daniel Meléndez, Meteorologist, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service, Department of Commerce

Photo of Daniel Meléndez

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.

Guest blog post by Dr. Daniel Meléndez, Meteorologist, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service, Department of Commerce

At the National Weather Service, my main responsibility at the Office of Science and Technology is to support and manage science and technology infusion in the areas of radar meteorology, severe weather, and tropical cyclones. I also handle grants for the Hurricane Forecast Improvement Program. During my detail in the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorology, I staff the National Hurricane Operations Plan, road weather management, air transport and dispersion, Multipurpose Phased Array Radar, air domain awareness issues, and the Interdepartmental Hurricane Conference.

I am committed to public service because weather information is ultimately an economic driver and because science provides enormous benefits to the public. Strengthening science and technology that enables better weather information provides many benefits to both the public and private sectors, saves lives and property, and even provides the foundation for new businesses. My role in managing science and technology infusion helps improve performance through new science and technology strengthens core economic and public infrastructure. In my current detail I support various interagency meteorological efforts that allow me to see and contribute to larger governmental aims to advance the economic and security interests of society.

New Spectrometry Standard for Handheld Chemical Detectors Aids First Responders

Christopher Neary of the NIST Environmental Management Group demonstrates the use of a handheld Raman spectrometer to determine the identity of an unknown sample.

When it comes to detectors for dangerous chemicals, toxins or nefarious germs, smaller and faster is better. But size and speed must still allow for accuracy, especially when measurements by different instruments must give the same result.

The recent publication of a new standard—a culmination of years of research at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)—provides confidence that results from handheld chemical detectors can be compared, apples-to-apples.

Such detectors are used by emergency responders to check for the presence of explosives or toxic chemicals that threaten public safety. Quality control managers in the pharmaceutical industry use them to verify the identity of chemicals going into their production lines.

Commerce Teams Receive GreenGov Presidential Award

Today, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) announced the fourth annual winners of the GreenGov Presidential Awards, which honor Federal civilian and military personnel, as well as agency teams, facilities and programs that have taken innovative steps to reduce energy use and carbon pollution, curb waste, and save taxpayer dollars.

The Department of Commerce and a team from Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) were recognized as two of the eight award winners during a ceremony with senior administration officials today.

A team of National Marine Fisheries Service scientists and engineers at the Ted Stevens Research Institute in Juneau, Alaska, received an award in the category of Lean, Clean and Green for using seawater as a heat source to replace oil-fueled heat pumps and eliminate all carbon emissions. The staff developed a system to extract heat from seawater already being pumped through the lab to support research activities. The seawater heat pump is the latest of three projects the facility has spearheaded in order to reach zero carbon emissions.

The Department of Commerce was recognized for its joint efforts with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Global Change Research Program in the Climate Champion award category. The Federal agencies partnered to create an interactive sea level rise mapping and calculator tool that helps city planners identify and prepare for future flood risks. The team released the tool less than a year after Hurricane Sandy, allowing state and local planners to make better informed decisions that consider the risk in location and design of redevelopment projects. The tool uses the most up-to-date scientific information by providing assessments of future risks beyond current conditions.

Startup Culture Flourishes on America’s College Campuses

Image or report cover

Cross-posted from White House Office of Science and Technology Policy blog by Doug Rand, Assistant Director for Entrepreneurship at OSTP

Today—marking the first full week of National Entrepreneurship Month—the Department of Commerce released a new report entitled The Innovative and Entrepreneurial University, underscoring the increasingly diverse ways in which colleges and universities across America are promoting cultures of entrepreneurship on campus and encouraging students to start companies.

As hubs of learning, networking, mentorship, and creativity, colleges and universities provide particularly fertile ground for the cultivation of world-changing, entrepreneurial ideas. The report released today, which is based on more than 130 interviews with university leaders and builds on prior work by the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, highlights more than 50 of the most promising initiatives that have sprouted up on campuses across the country, including those that promote entrepreneurship among students and faculty; accelerate the transition of research innovations from the lab to the marketplace; and encourage engagement between universities, industry partners, and regional economies.

SelectUSA Investment Summit Concludes with a Focus on Forging Stronger Global Business Alliances

SelectUSA Investment Summit Concludes with a Focus on Forging Stronger Global Business Alliances

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker wrapped up the inaugural SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit this afternoon, following two high-impact days of meetings and discussions among senior government officials, major business executives, global economic experts and U.S. economic development officials about strategies to increase foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States.

Secretary Pritzker also opened the final day of the Summit, where she announced changes to the eligibility requirements for the Manufacturing Council that will allow representatives from U.S. subsidiaries of foreign-owned or controlled firms to become members. The expanded eligibility rules will add new perspectives to the Council, which advises the Commerce Secretary on policies and initiatives to increase FDI in the U.S. manufacturing sector, including SelectUSA.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivered remarks focused on deepening U.S. economic alliances around the world. Following his address, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman moderated a panel with Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, BMW North America CEO Ludwig Willisch, and Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman on how global companies can use their U.S. operations as an export platform by taking advantage of free trade agreements and bilateral investment treaties. 

Watch the SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit (Day Two)

View the archived webcast here.

  • Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Opening Remarks
  • Secretary of State John Kerry Keynote Address
  • Why Select the USA: Using the U.S. as an Export Platform
  • Why Select the USA: Taking Advantage of the U.S. Energy Opportunity
  • Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Closing Remarks