This site contains information from January 2009-December 2014. Click HERE to go the CURRENT website.

Blog Category: Economy

Secretary Pritzker Attends World Economic Forum to Highlight Priorities Integral to Lasting Economic Recovery

This week, Secretary Pritzker traveled to Davos, Switzerland to attend the World Economic Forum and participate in a panel discussion titled “The Outlook for the United States,” which focused on what Washington can accomplish in the next two years.

Moderated by Politico editor Susan Glasser, the panel also included Governor Hickenlooper of Colorado; Andrew Liveris, President and CEO of the Dow Chemical Company; Patrick McHenry, Republican Congressman from North Carolina; and Cecilia Rouse, dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

During the candid conversation, Secretary Pritzker highlighted the momentum in the U.S. economy heading in to 2015, America’s strong position as a global investment destination, and the work that still needs to be done to continue a sustainable, lasting recovery. All participants agreed that trade is the most actionable agenda item that President Obama laid out in his State of the Union address. Secretary Pritzker stressed that while the American economy is already in a good position, it is imperative Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) be passed by Congress to pave the way for trade deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and to establish a more level playing field for American businesses globally. Completing and implementing new trade agreements will give the United States the opportunity to shape the rules that govern trade in the 21st century, while ensuring our businesses can compete around the world.

Secretary Pritzker also discussed the importance of preparing America’s workforce with the skills needed for the jobs of the future. The need for improved workforce development is an issue that has been raised by nearly all of the 1,500+  CEOs and business leaders she has met with as Commerce Secretary, and the Administration is strongly committed to working directly with the private sector to develop effective training programs that will prepare workers with the skills employers seek. Successful public-private partnerships include the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) competitive grant program – it has invested nearly $2 billion in hundreds of community colleges all across the country that have partnered with companies and national industry associations to expand job-driven training programs.

Deputy Secretary Bruce Andrews and Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan also attended the World Economic Forum. Deputy Secretary Andrews utilized the opportunity to discuss the Department’s “Open for Business Agenda” with business leaders and CEOs from around the world, while Dr. Sullivan presented on how data is a public good that can save lives.

Accelerating Advanced Manufacturing in America

Cross-Posted from The White House

Blog by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy Jeff Zients 

On Monday, we had the privilege of participating alongside the President in a meeting with his American Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) Steering Committee.

AMP -- led by its co-chairs, Dow’s Andrew Liveris and MIT’s Rafael Reif -- presented its final report with a set of new recommendations, and we discussed additional policy steps we’re taking to respond to them.

The President created AMP -- a working group of 19 leaders in industry, academia, and labor -- in June 2011 as part of his continuing effort to maintain the competitive edge on emerging technologies and invest in the future of our manufacturing sector. We’ve come a long way since then, and the policies fueled by AMP’s recommendations have been a big contributor to that progress.

When the President first launched AMP, unemployment was at 9.1 percent. We were just starting to see some fragile signs of life in the manufacturing sector after more than a decade of erosion. But not many shared our view that together we could build a foundation to revitalize American manufacturing or that manufacturing could continue to play a central role in our economy and our ability to innovate.

Contrast that picture to today. Growth has steadily strengthened and recently accelerated, with GDP rising 2.6 percent over the past year, faster than the 2.0 percent annualized pace of the preceding two years. Job growth is accelerating too. Unemployment is now down to 5.9 percent, falling 1.3 percentage points in the last year.

Our manufacturing sector is getting stronger too. After more than a decade of job losses, we’ve added more than 700,000 manufacturing jobs over nearly five straight years of job growth. Those jobs lead to others along the supply chain and in local communities. U.S. manufacturing is now growing at nearly twice the rate of the economy, the longest sustained period of outpacing the overall economy since the 1960s.

Last year, for the first time since 2001, the U.S. was ranked first in a survey of business leaders as a destination for investment, a ranking we repeated this year. In another recent study, 54 percent of American manufacturers with operations overseas reported they are considering bringing manufacturing back to the United States. 

And AMP has been central in getting us here.

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.

Obama Administration Awards $20.5 Million In Make It In America Challenge Grants

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, along with U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez, and Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill, today announced the 10 winners of the Make it in America Challenge, an Obama administration initiative to accelerate job creation and encourage business investment in the United States. The 10 grantees will receive a total of $20.5 million for projects supporting regional economic development, advanced skills training, greater supply chain access and other enhancements. The programs are designed to encourage U.S. companies to keep, expand or re-shore their manufacturing operations—and jobs—in America, and to entice foreign companies to build facilities and make their products here.

The Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), the Labor Department’sEmployment and Training Administration (ETA), and the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) are providing funding for the winning proposals. Additionally, Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP) plans to make awards in early FY2014.

“Given our competitive advantages in energy costs, research and development, labor productivity, and intellectual property protection, there is no better place to do business than the United States," said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. The Make it in America Challenge grants support innovative, regionally-based strategies that will encourage businesses to capitalize on those advantages.”  Full release

Manufacturing Award Grants Will Invite Lasting Investment for Our Communities

Guest blog post by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker

This past spring, the Commerce Department launched the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP), a first-of-its-kind initiative to provide communities with the resources needed to create and implement development plans and recognize their full economic potential.

I’m so pleased to announce 26 grant award winners have been selected by the Department of Commerce. Along with our agency partners – the Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Small Business Administration – we are awarding $7 million in grants and investments that comprise the first funding phase of the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership.

The communities selected as winners by the Department of Commerce represent 17 different states. They have developed cutting-edge plans that capitalize on these communities' comparative advantages as a place to do business. These plans make investments in public goods, and encourage collaboration between multiple public and private entities to expand the area's commercial appeal to investors. In total, the first funding phase of the program provides 44 planning grants and investments.

The IMCP stemmed from the recognized need to effectively accelerate manufacturing investment in the United States. Too often, communities have relied on the practice of “smokestack chasing” to attract investment, in which communities will offer tax breaks and subsidies to attract the attention of a single firm. Economists have found this approach often yields a low return for taxpayer investment. The Obama administration seeks to encourage and assist American communities to not merely make efforts to attract individual investments but instead to transform themselves into manufacturing hubs that that draw all kinds of businesses.

Improving the Economic Measurement Toolkit: Partnerships between Businesses and Federal Statistical Agencies

Director Steve Landefeld

Businesses and federal statistical agencies have a long history of working together to produce something that is vitally important to both groups: the nation’s economic measurement toolkit.

Steve Landefeld, director of the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, charted the history of this collaboration and underscored the importance of continuing that partnership during a panel session Tuesday at the National Association for Business Economics’ (NABE) annual meeting in San Francisco.

This public-private partnership has produced concrete results over the years. For example, BEA partnered with IBM to develop a new type of price index that captured the effect of changes in technology. And BEA worked with Chrysler to develop a new price index for motor vehicles.  The Chamber of Commerce has also hosted conferences that led to important changes in the way the U.S. and other countries measure their economies. NABE has served as an important forum to spur additional ideas on the measurement front.

Commerce Announces $15 Million to Boost Competitiveness of U.S. Manufacturers

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today announced $15 million in U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) grants to support 11 Trade Adjustment Assistance Centers (TAACs) in California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington that help manufacturers affected by imports adjust to increasing global competition and create jobs.

“The Obama administration is committed to providing communities with the resources they need to succeed in a global marketplace,” Secretary Pritzker said. “The grants announced today will strengthen the competitiveness of the U.S. economy by providing funding for programs that help companies make improvements in such critical areas as advanced manufacturing, engineering, marketing, quality control, information technology, and market development.”

Secretary Pritzker Completes Third Leg of National Listening Tour

Phot of Prizker touring the EC

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker wrapped up the third leg of her nationwide listening tour, during which she is traveling across the country to meet with businesses and thought leaders, entrepreneurs, academics and Department of Commerce employees. While in Nashville, Tenn. and Pella and Des Moines, IA, she heard from various groups and industry representatives about their priorities, concerns and ideas on how the public and private sectors can work together to strengthen the economy and create American jobs.

“Nashville, Pella, and Des Moines epitomize the entrepreneurial spirit that is driving economic development and job creation in the United States,” said Secretary Pritzker. “From leveraging the creative economy to making investments in advanced manufacturing, businesses in these states are getting it right. As I continue my listening tour over the next few weeks, I’m looking forward to hearing more from businesses and entrepreneurs about how the Department can serve as a bridge to the business community to protect, promote, inform and anticipate what America needs to be competitive and innovative in the 21st century.”

In Nashville, Secretary Pritzker visited the Entrepreneur Center, a nonprofit business incubator that helps connect entrepreneurs with investors, mentors and resources that are crucial to accelerating the launch of their startup businesses. While at the EC, Secretary Pritzker toured the facilities with its president and CEO Dr. Michael Burcham and met with facility staff and young entrepreneurs working in a wide variety of fields, and heard how funds from a grant from the Department’s Economic Development Administration enabled them to expand capacity three-fold. The secretary was also joined by the team from Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency’s (MBDA) regional office in Memphis, and encouraged collaboration between MBDA and the entrepreneurs who work with the center.

Secretary Pritzker then headed to Iowa where she visited Jaarsma Bakery and toured operations at Vermeer Corporation in Pella. Over its 65 year history, Vermeer has grown to become competitive on a global scale, earning a Presidential award for exports, in recognition of their efforts to increase exports. Vermeer serves customers with forage, specialty excavation, environmental and underground equipment products to more effectively and responsibly work farms and ranches, improve infrastructure, and manage natural resources. She also visited Dwolla, Inc. and the Iowa State Fair.

Full release

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. 

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.

EDA Investments: Supporting Entrepreneurship and Job Creation

Map of U.S. showing entrepreneurship rates

What do the states of Montana, Vermont, New Mexico, Alaska, and Mississippi have in common? They are, according to a report published this spring by the Kauffman Foundation, Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, 1996–2012, the states that posted the highest rates of entrepreneurial activity in 2012.

According to the Kauffman Foundation report:

• Montanans operate 530 businesses per 100,000 adults, Vermonters and New Mexicans operate 520 businesses per 100,000 adults, and Alaskans and Mississippians operate 430 businesses per 100,000 adults.

• A most important measure—the formation of businesses with employees—held steady from 2011 to 2012: At 0.11 percent (meaning 11 employer businesses per 100,000 individuals), an average of 193,000 new employer businesses were formed each quarter in 2012.

This is important, and good, news about our economy. And these states should be applauded for what they are doing to foster entrepreneurship, which is a driver of economic growth and prosperity.

Support for entrepreneurship is a central part of the Economic Development Administration’s mission as it works to establish a foundation for sustainable job growth and the building of durable regional economies throughout the United States.

Commerce’s Economic Data Is a Goldmine for Small Businesses

Graphic of Econmic Census

Public data is a valuable national asset whose value is multiplied when it is made easily accessible to the public. For example, the public release of weather data from government satellites and ground stations generated an entire economic sector that today includes the Weather Channel, commercial agricultural advisory services, and new insurance options. Similarly, the decision by the U.S. Government to make the Global Positioning System (GPS), once reserved for military use, available for civilian and commercial access, gave rise to GPS-powered innovations ranging from aircraft navigation systems to precision farming to location-based apps, contributing tens of billions of dollars in annual value to the American economy.

The Department of Commerce makes available to small businesses economic data that are important for key business decisions such as where to locate, where to manufacture a product and where to sell that product.

For example, AmFor Electronics, a second-generation, family-owned manufacturer in Portland, Oregon, is the market leader in the manufacturing of alternator and starter testers, which are sold to auto parts stores, auto repair shops, and alternator and starter rebuilders. Using Commerce data like that available in the Assess Costs Everywhere tool, AmFor decided to enter the wire harness sector and chose to locate their manufacturing facility domestically rather than overseas because it provides a shorter turnaround times with fewer defects that ultimately leads to a reduction in costs. These successes have translated into new customers and the hiring of 50 employees.

Department of Commerce Helps American Company Secure $42 Million Contract With Colombia

Advocacy Center logo

Contract supports $38 million in U.S. exports

U.S. Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank today announced that L-3 Communications Corporation Warrior Systems Sector (Londonderry, New Hampshire) and its distributor Aviation Specialties Unlimited (Boise, Idaho) recently secured a contract from the Government of Colombia worth $42 million. The announcement comes on the heels of Acting Secretary Blank’s trade mission to Brazil, Colombia and Panama, which wrapped up on May 17. The trade mission included 20 U.S. firms with expertise in a wide variety of infrastructure industry sectors, and was intended to help American companies expand their business opportunities in Brazil, Colombia and Panama and promote U.S. exports.

“L-3’s export success is a concrete example of the Department of Commerce’s continued efforts to help U.S. firms be more competitive in this growing market,” said Acting Secretary Blank. “L-3 benefited from an aggressive, coordinated interagency commercial advocacy campaign spearheaded by our Advocacy Center to win a contract that will increase U.S. exports and support American jobs. With U.S. exports reaching an all-time high of $2.2 trillion in 2012, and supporting nearly 10 million American workers, the work of our Advocacy Center and U.S. embassies across the world is more important than ever. I congratulate L-3 Communications and their distributor Aviation Specialties Unlimited on winning this valuable contract.”

The contract will support $38 million in U.S. exports, as well as nearly 50 American jobs, according to L-3. Through this contract, L-3 will provide fully-assembled night-vision goggles, spare parts, tooling and test equipment to the Colombian government. Full release

Panama Canal Expansion Offers Opportunity for U.S. Companies to Serve as Partners with Panama

Dr. Blank seated at control panel of Panama Canal

As a part of her trade mission to Brazil, Colombia, and Panama this week, Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank met today with Jorge Quijano, Panama Canal Administrator, and Roberto Roy, President of the Panama Canal Board and the Panama City Subway, to discuss the Panama Canal Expansion Project and infrastructure spending related to Panama City’s Metro Rail Project. These meetings aim to strengthen longstanding U.S.-Panama ties by promoting greater cooperation between the two countries on infrastructure development.

Panama is a longstanding friend and ally to the United States, and the country’s strategic location as a major shipping route makes it an important economic partner as well. The Panama Canal currently handles five percent of the world’s trade, and approximately two-thirds of the Canal’s annual transits are bound to or from ports in the United States.

In order to allow greater container capacity, the Panama Canal Authority has decided to invest over $5 billion to expand the Canal. The expanded Canal will accommodate larger vessels that cannot transit now, introducing a new line of business that Panama projects will gradually increase annual profits to $3 billion. 

International Visitors Spent $14.4 Billion in the United States in March 2013

Firs-quarter U.S. Travel and Tourism exports contribute $43 billion to the U.S. economy

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank highlighted new data today that shows spending by international visitors to the United States in March 2013 totaled more than $14.4 billion, an increase of nearly 3 percent when compared to last year. International visitors spent $43 billion on travel to, and tourism-related activities within, the United States during the first quarter of 2013. The data release coincides with National Travel and Tourism Week, celebrated each year to recognize the positive impact the industry has on our economy.

“International travel and tourism represents our country’s largest services export,” said Deputy Secretary Blank. “So far this year, international visitor spending in the United States has markedly outpaced U.S. spending abroad by more than $13 billion, which continues our momentum from 2012’s record-setting year. Likewise, last week’s jobs report showed continued strong job growth in the leisure and hospitality industry.  Travel and tourism is an important sector of our economy, which is why we are continuing to increase our efforts to attract more international tourists to vacation in the United States.” 

Purchases of travel and tourism-related goods and services by international visitors traveling in the United States totaled $11 billion during March. These goods and services include food, lodging, recreation, gifts, entertainment, local transportation in the United States, and other items incidental to foreign travel. Fares received by U.S. carriers (and U.S. vessel operators) from international visitors also increased by nearly 3 percent to $3.4 billion for the month, an increase of $70 million when compared to March 2012. Overall, the United States enjoyed a favorable balance of trade for the month of March in the travel and tourism sector, with a surplus of $4.2 billion. Full release

Businesses Need Common Sense Immigration Reform to Keep Growing, Creating American Jobs

Dr. Blank and members of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (photo: Colin Buckner, Silicon Valley Leadership Group)

Guest blog post by Dr. Rebecca Blank, Deputy Secretary of Commerce

Yesterday, I was in California to talk with business executives who are part of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. We discussed key issues facing them as they continue to grow, create jobs, and drive both innovation and competitiveness here in the U.S.

They just completed an annual survey of their own membership. The biggest business challenge that they identified was their ability to attract and retain a skilled workforce.

I let them know that President Obama understands that we are in a global competition for talent and we want the best people right here in the U.S.

Commerce Invests $15 Million to Help Protect Businesses in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, from Flooding

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce Matt Erskine speaks at Autoneum plant in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania.

U.S. Senators Casey, Toomey and Congressman Barletta applaud disaster recover investment

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank has announced a $15 million Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant to Columbia County, Pennsylvania, to help build control systems that will help protect vital business infrastructure in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, from floods. The grant announcement was applauded by U.S. Senators Bob Casey, Pat Toomey and U.S. Representative Lou Barletta, who worked with the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation to support the grant. Bloomsburg was severely impacted by flooding as a result of Tropical Storm Lee in 2011.

"Protecting and improving the infrastructure that is critical to our businesses is a top priority for the Obama administration," said U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank. "By working with local organizations to fund this project, EDA and the Department of Commerce are helping businesses in Bloomsburg and the surrounding areas save jobs and grow." Full release

Building Exports in the Bluegrass State

Under Secretary Sánchez (center left) and Senior Trade Specialist Brian Miller (center right)poses for a photo with employees of Universal Woods during a tour of their manufacturing facility

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

Cross-post from the International Trade Administration's blog, Tradeology

“We should remember that today’s world presents not just dangers, not just threats—it presents opportunity.” This statement from President Obama’s State of the Union speech confirms the belief that free trade and open markets are a benefit in our globalized world.

In Louisville, Ky., this belief is nothing new, as the town has been growing its economy by focusing on exporting to foreign markets.

That is why I joined Mayor Greg Fischer in Louisville to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the International Trade Administration (ITA) and the City of Louisville in a team effort to improve local exports. Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) also joined us to celebrate this exciting new partnership and highlight what this means for the community.

Our new MOU extends the success we have seen through the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement (BEAM), a joint venture between the mayors of Louisville and Lexington, designed to support the growth of high-quality jobs in advanced manufacturing throughout a 22-county region.

BEAM is a particularly exceptional achievement because it is the realization of the National Export Initiative (NEI) localized through the Brookings Institute’s Metropolitan Export Initiative (MEI). It represents a way in which cities and towns can engage in international trade to reap the benefits of increased exports.
Together, these initiatives are all working in concert to increase U.S. exports.

And there is no better place to talk exports than Kentucky.

2012 Economic Census Mailings Sent to U.S. Businesses to Create a Snapshot of the American Economy

2012 Economic Census

The Commerce Department's  U.S. Census Bureau is mailing nearly 4 million forms to American businesses, as the official twice-a-decade measure of the economy continues rolling out. Economic census forms began being mailed in October. The majority of the forms were mailed Monday of this week. Most U.S. businesses with paid employees will receive a form in the coming weeks. The Census Bureau will collect responses until the Feb. 12 deadline, unless an extension is filed.

The 2012 Economic Census covers more than 1,000 industries in all sectors of the private, nonfarm economy. To create a snapshot of the American economy, the census asks businesses to provide basic information on revenue, employment and payroll, and industry-specific topics such as the products and services they provide.

Every five years—in years ending in “2” and “7”—the economic census collects reliable business statistics that are essential to understanding the American economy. The economic census is the only source providing information on industry revenues and other measures of American business performance that are consistent, comparable and comprehensive across industries and geographic areas.  Press release

ITA Under Secretary Promotes Manufacturing During Three-State Tour

Under Secretary Francisco Sanchez (center) meets with Jet Inc.’s President Ron Swinko (far left) and other staff at their manufacturing facility in Cleveland, OH as part of the “Made in America Manufacturing Tour.” in October 2012.

Ed. note: Cross-posted from ITA's Tradeology blog. Sophia Lu is a Fellow at the International Trade Administration Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs

On October 2Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez commenced a four-city tour of American manufacturing cities to promote the benefits of strengthening America’s manufacturers and expanding U.S. exports to create jobs. This “Made in America Manufacturing Tour” supports President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI), which seeks to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014. Just last year, exports supported 9.7 million American jobs, an increase of 1.2 million American jobs from 2009.

On his first stop in Toledo, Ohio, Under Secretary Sánchez met with company officials and toured the manufacturing facility of Bionix Development Corporation. Bionix was recently honored with the President’s “E” Award, which was created by Executive Order of the President in 1961 to give recognition to person, firms, or organizations who contribute significantly in the effort to increase U.S. exports.

Sánchez then traveled to Cleveland, Ohio and held a forum at the City Club of Cleveland on the “Resurgence of American Manufacturing.” There he also met with the Northeast Ohio District Export Council and the local business community for a roundtable discussion on the role of exporting and manufacturing in the NEI. While in Cleveland, he also toured the manufacturing facilities of Jet, Inc. and Codonics, Inc., both of which are also “E” Award winners.

Commerce Announces Partnership with Cornell NYC Tech to Help American Entrepreneurs Innovate, Grow, and Create Jobs

Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank announces a first-of-its-kind campus collaboration that will provide Commerce resources directly to students, faculty and industry (photo credit: Lindsay France/University Photography, Cornell)

First-of-its-kind campus collaboration will provide USPTO and Commerce resources directly to students, faculty and industry, help accelerate commercialization of new technologies

Today Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank was joined by Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) David Kappos and Cornell University President David J. Skorton to announce a groundbreaking agreement between the Commerce Department and Cornell University that will promote growth for American businesses and entrepreneurs. U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), and New York City Deputy Mayor Robert Steel also participated in the event.

Acting Secretary Blank announced that for the first time, the resources of a U.S. government agency and a major research institution will join forces to give students and researchers at Cornell’s New York City Tech Campus (Cornell NYC Tech) direct access to resources that will help them bring their ideas to market and grow their businesses.

By installing a permanent staff member of the U.S. Commerce Department at Cornell’s NYC Tech campus, the department will be bringing its full suite of resources to the university community, helping connect students, faculty and mentors to early-stage investors, intellectual property strategies, export assistance tools, government grants, and academic partners. The partnership will help Cornell’s new academic institution break down the traditional boundaries that exist between graduate education and the research and development of technology products.  Press release

Acting Secretary Blank Speaks With Council of Foreign Relations on Increasing the Level of Business Investment in the U.S.

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank Answers Questions After Her Remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations

This afternoon, Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank spoke before the Council on Foreign Relations about the Obama administration's initiatives to help businesses expand their investment in the United States and bring jobs back home. The Commerce Department works to attract investment across all sectors, but in her remarks Blank focused on manufacturing because that sector has added more than half-a-million new jobs since 2009, compared to the previous decade in which six million manufacturing jobs were lost. In addition after decades of watching American companies take jobs to other countries, more and more manufacturers are making the decision to keep factories and production facilities here in the United States and are bringing jobs back to the U.S. from overseas through insourcing.

Blank mentioned that the renewal of the manufacturing sector is driven by America’s quality infrastructure, skilled labor, and advanced research and innovation that are critical for manufacturers to thrive. Business leaders list a number of reasons why the U.S. looks so attractive to them right now, including the fact that domestic energy production is lowering the cost of oil and natural gas needed in manufacturing. A second reason for investing in the U.S. is a competitive edge in labor productivity. America’s manufacturing workers now produce about nine percent more each hour than they did in 2008.

Blank noted that the list of reasons that CEOs give for investing here is longer still. America has a strong rule of law and a good regulatory environment. Additionally, the U.S. has the strongest level of intellectual property protection–and our patent system is only getting better due to the 2011 passage and implementation of the America Invents Act. America has the best universities in the world, producing graduates that drive entrepreneurship and feed innovation into our private sector.

With EDA Assistance, Communities Have a New, Resource-Rich Tool to Help Them Recover from Disasters

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

To coincide with National Preparedness Month, the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) has just launched the newly redesigned website.

Developed with funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), the website is a one-stop resource for economic development organizations and chambers of commerce seeking to assist businesses after a disaster, rebuild their local economy, and encourage resiliency among local businesses and government.

Since it was first established, EDA has played an important role in helping communities across the country recover from disasters by assisting them in reestablishing their local economies and implementing long-term economic recovery efforts. Earlier this year, EDA announced the availability of $200 million to help communities that received a major disaster designation in fiscal year 2011 with long-term economic recovery and infrastructure support.  Within the context of the administration’s National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF), EDA serves as the Coordinating Agency on behalf of the Department of Commerce for the Economic Recovery Support Function (RSF) to coordinate the activities of a diverse group of partner agencies supporting recovery in disaster-impacted communities. The activities consist primarily of improved information sharing and leveraging existing resources to make a positive impact for communities affected by disasters.

Job-Creating Culinary Center Opens in Philadelphia with EDA Support

Artist's rendering of exterior of the new Center

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

Providing office space and support for budding entrepreneurs to develop and grow their businesses while boosting the synergies offered by their developing ideas, skills, and products is a critical economic development strategy.

This is exactly what I saw today in Philadelphia, when I attended the opening of the new Dorrance H. Hamilton Center for Culinary Enterprises (CCE), an innovative facility that will provide shared business space for food entrepreneurs from throughout the Philadelphia region. This center was developed by Philadelphia’s The Enterprise Center, a business accelerator that since 1989 has supported local entrepreneurs and spurred economic growth in Philadelphia, and the Economic Development Administration (EDA), which in 2010 provided $1.5 million to support the construction of the CCE.

The new CCE building contains 13,000 square feet of space, and includes four state-of-the-art commercial kitchens that will be available for rent to culinary entrepreneurs, an eKitchen Multimedia Learning Center, and retail space for tenants.

Acting Secretary Blank Delivers Remarks at National Automobile Dealers Association Conference

Acting Secretary Blank Addresses the National Association of Auto Dealers

This morning, Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank delivered remarks at the National Automobile Dealers Association Legislative Conference. In her remarks, the Acting Secretary discussed how the Obama administration is working to strengthen the U.S. automobile industry, grow the economy and create jobs.

New car sales are beating expectations, having just seen the best August sales since 2009—nearly 1.3 million cars and trucks were sold last month. So far this year, sales for new cars are up 20 percent and sales for light-duty trucks are up more than 10 percent. Blank noted that, compared to the lowest point in 2009, the number of people employed in auto dealerships has risen by more than 85,000.

She also highlighted Cash for Clunkers, a $3 billion investment that stimulated our economy at a critical time when we needed consumers to go ahead and buy new cars, instead of holding back.  Not only did Cash for Clunkers help auto dealers get through a tough patch, but it also helped auto manufacturers and suppliers who were struggling to keep their workers employed and put safer, cleaner cars on the road.

2011 Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States Report

Cover: Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States Report

Today, the U.S. Census Bureau released its report on Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States in 2011.

As we continue to fight back from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage report released today provides further evidence of how critical it is that we implement policies that benefit and create security for struggling families and our middle class—and not just the wealthiest Americans. 

Today’s report shows that while too many American families are still struggling, the nation’s poverty rate fell and the percentage of Americans with health insurance coverage rose in 2011. It is clear that had President Obama not taken swift and aggressive action to grow our economy and create jobs, today’s report would have shown much higher poverty rates, lower incomes, and a greater share of the population without health insurance. 

Though our poverty rate remains unacceptably high, this report shows that the poverty rate ticked down in 2011 after rising for several years in the wake of the Great Recession. Poverty fell for all age groups, including children, elderly, and non-elderly adults. A key reason for this decline was that 2.2 million more people had full-time jobs last year, in part because unemployment fell by 0.9 percentage points from December 2010 to December 2011. Government programs also continued to provide a vital safety net. 

Acting Secretary Blank cut the ribbon at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago

Acting Secretary Blank cut the ribbon at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago

Yesterday, Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank traveled to Chicago, Illinois to deliver remarks at the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS), hosted by the Association for Manufacturing Technology. Acting Secretary Blank discussed the importance of manufacturing to boosting U.S. economic growth, job creation and exports and highlighted the administration's continuing efforts to build things here and sell them everywhere.

Blank noted that President Obama has been committed to U.S. manufacturing since his very first day in office, and shared three key facts that show manufacturing is making a comeback. First, after a decade when America lost six million manufacturing jobs, we’ve now added more than a half million back since January 2010. These are good-paying jobs that strengthen economic security for the middle class. Second, our manufacturing output is up 20 percent since 2009–with big growth in areas like cars and car parts. Third, manufactured exports have increased in nearly all industry categories, jumping over 36 percent from 2009 to 2011.

After finishing her remarks, Blank toured the floor exhibits. She stopped by the Local Motors exhibition to hear about their crowd-sourced car. The Defense Advance Research Project Agency challenged Local Motors, a small company based in Chandler, Arizona to design a vehicle in four weeks and build it in three months. To meet this deadline Local Motors crowd-sourced the vehicle design, selected one of the over 162 high-quality designs that came in and then built it ahead of schedule.

Acting Secretary Blank departed IMTS and traveled to Cree-Racine in Racine, Wisconsin, a local manufacturer of energy-efficient LED lights. They recently formed a partnership with a distributor in India and last year won the President’s E-Award for their success in increasing exports. Because of that success, they’re expanding their facility and creating nearly 500 more jobs in Wisconsin.

Acting Secretary Blank then traveled to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she spoke with local business leaders about steps that can be taken to grow the American economy and create jobs. Her remarks focused on the importance of increasing consumer spending, spurring innovation in manufacturing, increasing business investments in the U.S., and growing U.S. exports. She drew attention to a joint venture between five federal agencies, the Departments of Defense, Energy, and Commerce, the National Science Foundation, and NASA, and local manufacturers for a pilot project that is focused on additive manufacturing.   

Additive manufacturing, often referred to as 3D printing, is a new way of making products and components from a digital model, and will have implications in a wide range of industries including defense, aerospace, automotive, and metals manufacturing. Like an office printer that puts 2D digital files on a piece of paper, a 3D printer creates components by depositing thin layers of material one after another using a digital blueprint until the exact component required has been created.  The Department of Defense envisions customizing parts on site for operational systems that would otherwise be expensive to make or ship. The Department of Energy anticipates that additive processes would be able to save more than 50 percent energy use compared to today’s "subtractive" manufacturing processes.

This pilot institute will set a research agenda, driven by private sector needs. It will encourage researchers and entrepreneurs to take risks, test prototypes, fail quickly and get back up to try again. This is a great public-private partnership, with funding from the Federal government, two states and many manufacturers. The Department is tracking this pilot closely, to learn how best to help fund and establish these sort of public-private collaborations all over the country.

In addition to highlighting manufacturing, Blank outlined steps needed to grow the American economy and create jobs. She focused on the importance of increasing consumer spending, increasing business investments in the U.S., and growing U.S. exports. She also highlighted the need for U.S. investments in infrastructure and education to build an economy to last.

Largest U.S. Education Services Mission Reaches Thousands of Potential Students in Brazil

Under Secretary for International Trade Francisco J. Sánchez launches the EducationUSA Fair in Brazilia, Brazil on September 1, 2012.

Education fairs in Brasília, São Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro promote higher education in the United States

U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez this week concluded the Commerce Department’s largest education services trade mission in history in Rio de Janeiro. Sánchez and representatives from 66 U.S. colleges and university introduced more than 7,500 Brazilian students and parents to educational programs and opportunities for study in the United States during education fairs and meetings in Brasília, São Paulo and Rio de 

“These distinguished U.S. colleges and universities value the role that international students can play in helping shape the next generation of leaders in government, business, and science,” Sánchez said at the EducationUSA Fair in Rio de Janeiro. “Our efforts during this mission strongly support the extraordinary commitment from President Obama and President Rousseff to increase student exchanges between our two countries.”

Education and training is one of the United States’ leading services exports. The industry annually adds $21 billion to the U.S. economy, and Brazilian students in the United States paid more than $257 million in tuition and fees for the 2010-2011 academic year. Brazil currently ranks 14th among countries sending students to the United States with more than 9,000 students, and the goal of this mission is to help boost that number significantly in the next five years.  Read the full mission wrap-up release

Acting Secretary Blank Talks Insourcing and Job Creation at Economic Development Forum

Acting Secretary Blank at International Economic Development Summit in Washington

Guest blog post by Dr. Rebecca Blank, Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce

This morning, I joined economic development leaders from around the country to discuss ongoing efforts to create jobs and grow the U.S. economy. The Economic Development Forum was hosted by the U.S. Commerce Department’s SelectUSA initiative, in partnership with the White House Business Council and the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), the world’s largest professional organization of economic development practitioners.

The forum provided an opportunity to discuss the Obama administration’s efforts to support U.S. businesses and encourage companies to bring good jobs back to America, a trend called insourcing.

Both American and international firms are increasingly looking for opportunities to invest in the U.S. And businesses are not only choosing to bring jobs back, but they are also making decisions to expand here instead of shipping jobs overseas. These investments mean that more products will be made in America. That means more jobs and greater economic security for families across this nation.

MBDA National Director Hinson Builds Relationships with Brazil In Line with Obama Administration NEI Goals

With Director Hinson (right) are Ms. Reta Jo Lewis, S/Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs, U.S. Department of State Mr. Julio Semeghini, Secretary of State, São Paulo, Planning and Regional Development

The Department of Commerce's Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) National Director David Hinson wrapped up a five-day trip to Brasilia and São Paulo, Brazil, on August 24. 

The trip provided an opportunity for Commerce’s MBDA to help push forward on the Obama administration’s National Export Initiative (NEI) by fostering greater access to emerging markets in Brazil for minority business enterprises. Helping the administration achieve its NEI goal of doubling exports by the end of 2014 is a top priority for MBDA, because more exports mean more jobs. Through the NEI, MBDA is thinking strategically about the sectors and markets that give America’s minority businesses a comparative advantage globally. Brazil is one of those key markets.

During the trip, Director Hinson met with Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Relations and Brazilian business owners to discuss how MBDA can help U.S. minority-owned businesses enterprises (MBEs) improve their return on investment through strategic partnerships and gain access to the unprecedented opportunities in the United States and Brazil—the two largest economies in the Western Hemisphere.

Acting Secretary Blank Applauds Steamfitters’ Job Training as Key to Building a 21st Century Economy

    Acting Secretary Blank Applauds Steamfitters’ Job Training as Key to Building a 21st Century Economy

This morning, Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank joined U.S. Representatives Chaka Fattah and Allyson Schwartz on a tour of the job training facilities of Steamfitters Local 420 in Philadelphia, where classes are held for apprentices and journeyworkers to develop and improve their skills so they can better serve clients and become qualified for a broader range of employment opportunities.

The rigorous training and education being offered at the facility has made a difference in the lives of hundreds of people throughout the region. The steamfitters local union 420 training center services the entire state and the work being done by members helps keep the region's infrastructure running smoothly, helping to make southeastern Pennsylvania an attractive place to do business.

Today's visit was an opportunity for local business leaders, workers and entrepreneurs to showcase all that they are doing to support manufacturing, train a 21st century workforce, and help the American economy recover from the worst recession since the Great Depression. 

While there is still more work to be done, our private sector has now had 29 straight months of job growth, creating 4.5 million new jobs. Over the past two and one-half years, more than a half-million manufacturing jobs have been created in the U.S.— the strongest job growth in that sector since the 1990s.

Pennsylvania alone has gained over 10,000 new manufacturing jobs since January, 2010. And these manufacturing jobs are good jobs that pay more than average and provide greater benefits.

During the visit, Acting Secretary Blank affirmed Commerce’s efforts to build a strong environment for manufacturing and innovation in the U.S. For example, the Obama administration recently announced the launch of a new public-private institute for manufacturing innovation as part of its ongoing efforts to help revitalize American manufacturing and encourage companies to invest in the United States. This new partnership, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII), includes manufacturing firms, universities, community colleges, and non-profit organizations from the Ohio-Pennsylvania-West Virginia "Tech Belt."

Though progress has been made, more work remains. This is why the Obama administration continues to call on Congress to pass legislation to give our companies a tax break if they move operations and jobs back. President Obama has also called for helping state and local governments hire or retain teachers, police, and firefighters; and putting construction workers by to work while repairing crumbling American infrastructure. These proposals would create a million new jobs, according to independent economists.

After visiting the steamfitters' training facilities, Acting Secretary Blank traveled to Allentown, Pennsylvania, to announce a grant to help local small manufacturers lower operating costs and create jobs. She was joined by Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, local business leaders, and entrepreneurs to highlight Obama administration efforts to help local companies and workers build things here so they can sell them everywhere.

EDA: Helping Businesses in Columbus, Ohio, Grow and Hire

Erskine (left) at presentation showing time-lapse sequence of the building of the Ohio Supercomputer Center. (Photo: the Ohio Supercomputer Center)

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

By helping regions plan for their economic future, and by giving businesses access to the advanced tools they need to compete in the 21st century, we can make sure that the U.S. economy grows and creates the well-paying jobs that are key to our long-term prosperity. I got a first-hand look at such efforts today in Columbus, Ohio, when I had the opportunity to participate in a roundtable with local economic development leaders and visit the facilities of the Ohio Supercomputer Center.

One of the groups I met with was Columbus 2020, a regional public-private partnership that was created to leverage central Ohio’s research and academic institutions and its diverse industries, with the goal of better positioning the area to be the fastest growing economy in the country. It is doing that by working to retain and expand businesses already located in the region, attracting new businesses, leveraging the region’s research assets (such as its colleges and universities) to make it more attractive to entrepreneurs and startup businesses, and improving the region’s civic infrastructure.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Promotes Innovation in Maine

PTO Director David Kappos addresses the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce in Rockport, Maine

Innovation is thriving in Maine, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the Department of Commerce, and the administration are working hard to further foster that environment, Under Secretary of Commerce and USPTO Director David Kappos told the Regional Chamber of Commerce of Penobscot Bay, Maine, on Tuesday.

From 2009 to 2010, the number of patent filings in the Portland, Maine, region nearly doubled, Kappos said. “We’re doing a lot to ensure that creative ideas and groundbreaking innovations, born right here in Maine, can flourish, and that the American innovation system is one that’s built to last.”

Barriers to innovation are being reduced, Kappos said, in part through the Startup America initiative, which includes investment funds, mentoring networks for entrepreneurs, tax breaks for small businesses, and the Department of Commerce’s i6 Green Challenge. That program rewards communities that develop and embrace cutting-edge ideas in green technology development and implementation.

Kappos also highlighted promoting insourcing of U.S. jobs through robust protections of our intellectual property abroad.

Obama Administration to Strengthen Rural Alaskan Community Economy

Aerial view, Bristol Bay Lowlands (Alaska)

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

Over the last three and a half years, President Obama has committed his administration to make investments to strengthen rural economies and create jobs. That includes Alaska’s Bristol Bay region.

The Bristol Bay Jobs Accelerator Project, an economic growth effort by the Bristol Bay Native Association in Dillingham, Alaska is one of the winners of the multiagency Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, an initiative that pools the resources of 13 federal agencies to support innovation in rural regional industry clusters.

While Bristol Bay has a wealth of natural resources, it has struggled to leverage those assets to fuel long-term, sustainable growth. The area, for example, is one of the world’s premier fishing grounds for sockeye and king salmon, with millions of fish returning to Bristol Bay and its tributaries each year to spawn.

The Bristol Bay Jobs Accelerator Project, representing a consortium of 31 Alaskan tribes, will support the fisheries and seafood processing industry cluster located in Bristol Bay. The goal is to assist distressed rural communities in the region by leveraging local assets, building stronger economies, and creating regional linkages.

Obama Administration Holds Rural Swing in North Carolina and Louisiana to Promote Jobs and Innovation

EDA Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge Logo

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

Over the next two days, I will join several colleagues for a rural swing in North Carolina and Louisiana to promote jobs and innovation. Along with Deputy Under Secretary for USDA Rural Development Doug O’Brien, Appalachian Regional Commission Federal Co-Chair Earl F. Gohl, and Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Christopher Masingill, I will attend events in rural America and tour two projects that were among the 13 winners of this year’s Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge.

The Rural Jobs Accelerator—designed by the Taskforce for the Advancement of Regional Innovation Clusters and the White House Rural Council—is a joint effort of 13 federal agencies, working together to help accelerate economic and job growth across rural regions. It is a great example of collaboration across federal agencies to pool resources and identify new, innovative ways to create an economy built to last.

Since taking office three and one-half years ago, President Obama has been deeply committed to strengthening rural economies all across America—helping to create jobs, support business growth, and expand opportunity for rural Americans. The administration has advanced new policies and initiatives and made significant investments in rural communities. The Rural Jobs Accelerator builds on those goals, seeking to foster job creation and business innovation in these communities.

New Export Data Shows 34 States Reached Record Highs for Merchandise Exports in the First Half of 2012

U.S. map showing 34 states passing exports records

U.S. exports support nearly 10 million jobs across the country

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank announced today that U.S. merchandise exports totaled a record $773.4 billion in the first six months of 2012, up by $50.7 billion from the same period of 2011.

“Comprehensive data from the first half of 2012 demonstrates that exports continue to be a bright spot for America and that we’re making historic progress toward the president’s goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014,” said Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank. “Despite a challenging global economy, these numbers show continued global demand for American goods. While the nation looks to be on track toward exceeding last year’s goods and services export total of $2.1 trillion, we are also seeing some individual states outpace the national average of seven percent growth in merchandise exports. This is good news for the economy, because we know that increased exports create jobs. The jump in exports since 2009 has helped the private sector create 4.5 million jobs over the past 29 months, and, in 2011, jobs supported by exports increased by 1.2 million over 2009. There’s more work to be done to strengthen the economy and put more Americans back to work, and we need to continue to do all we can to support American workers, exporters and businesses so that they can continue to help us rebuild this economy." Full release

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Helps Atlanta Kickstart Innovation Opportunities

Director Kappos addressing Startup Atlanta (Photo by Used with permission)

Helping set a stage for success to Atlanta’s entrepreneurs, Under Secretary of Commerce and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) David Kappos was in the Georgia capital this afternoon to help launch Startup Atlanta. Created by the city’s economic development agency, Invest Atlanta, the initiative seeks to connect entrepreneurs with the resources they need to succeed.

A hallmark for Startup Atlanta is an online platform that will serve as a network for entrepreneurs while simultaneously mapping out valuable resources such as incubators, accelerators, service providers and connections.

At the event, Kappos addressed the importance of a vibrant local entrepreneur community. “Not only do the novel ideas of Georgia’s entrepreneurs have the potential to move the pulse of an industry or transform the welfare of a community,” Kappos said, “They can also attract critical resources and capital for additional research and development, creating a host of new markets and new opportunities.”

Census Bureau Releases Its First Mobile App Providing Real-Time Statistics on U.S. Economy

Logo: America's Economy

The Department of Commerce's U.S. Census Bureau today released its first-ever mobile application, "America's Economy," which will provide constantly updated statistics on the U.S. economy, including monthly economic indicators, trends, along with a schedule of upcoming announcements. The app, which is currently available for Android mobile device users, combines statistics from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Census Bureau, Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

America's Economy is the first mobile app from the Census Bureau that provides smartphone and tablet users with the real-time government statistics that drive business hiring, sales and production decisions and assist economists, researchers, planners and policymakers. The economic indicators track monthly and quarterly trends in industries, such as employment, housing construction, international trade, personal income, retail sales and manufacturing.

The America's Economy app has been developed as part of the Census Bureau's Web Transformation Project and fulfills a key goal of President Obama's recently announced Digital Strategy to provide federal employees and the general public with greater access to government information and services. The creation of this app is also consistent with the Census Bureau's longtime mission of providing accurate statistics about the nation's growth and changes using 21st century technology to make that information available more quickly and easily. Read the full press release. America's Economy is available now for Android users and is expected be available for Apple smartphone and tablet users in the Apple App Store in the coming weeks.

EDA Works with Federal Partners to Help Drought-Stricken Rural Areas

President Barack Obama meets with the White House Rural Council on August 7 to discuss ongoing efforts in response to the drought. (White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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

A look at the recent national weather map underlines the reason for the Obama administration’s comprehensive response and action plan: large sections of the country are experiencing one of the worst droughts in decades—with levels ranging from “severe” to “extreme” and “exceptional.”

The consequences of drought don’t just affect farmers and their crops and livestock, but have ripple effects throughout the regional economies that depend on them. It is with this in mind that President Obama convened a recent meeting of the White House Rural Council to coordinate an administration-wide response to the drought and focus agency activities to partner and support Americans impacted by it.

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), with its decades of experience helping communities stricken by natural disasters, will play an important role to help rural communities with economic recovery. Along with the Small Business Administration (SBA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and other federal partners, it will leverage its resources, economic tool box, and expertise to help implement initiatives to alert drought-stricken communities to the federal resources that are already available to them.

Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge Awards $9 Million to 13 Projects to Boost Rural Economies, Strengthen Regional Industry Clusters

Jobs & Innovation Accelerator Challenge logo

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

Over the last three and a half years, President Obama has been committed to investing in efforts that strengthen rural economies, create jobs, support business growth, and expand opportunity for rural Americans.

Today, the administration announced the 13 winners of a key component of this goal, the Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge. Economic development partnerships and initiatives in Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia will receive awards ranging from nearly $200,000 to more than $1 million.

The projects will promote job creation, accelerate innovation, and provide assistance to entrepreneurs and businesses in a wide range of industrial sectors, including advanced manufacturing, agribusiness, energy and natural resources, technology, and tourism. They range from the Bristol Bay Jobs Accelerator in Alaska, a job training initiative put together by a consortium of 31 Alaskan tribes that will support a fisheries and seafood processing industry cluster; to the I-20 Corridor Regional Accelerator, a project involving the collaboration of institutions in Louisiana and Arkansas to promote science and technology clusters in these states; to the “Project 17: Together We Stand,” a 17-county business development effort led by Kansas State University.

EDA Helps Ohio Auto Community Build a New Future

Economic Development Administration-banner

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

Economic recovery in the wake of an economic disaster—such as the closing of a large employer—doesn’t happen overnight. It requires careful planning, the coordination of human and financial resources, and a willingness to consider alternative directions that will benefit the community in the long run.

This is the story that the city of Moraine, Ohio, can tell. For nearly 90 years, Moraine—located in close proximity to Dayton, Ohio—was the location of a single, prominent manufacturing plant whose successive owners read like an honor roll of 20th century American business: Dayton-Wright Airplane (manufacturer of DeHavilland aircraft), Frigidaire (maker of an iconic line of refrigerators), and, since 1981, General Motors (GM).

When GM announced plans in June 2008 to close this plant, the development came as a blow to the local economy. Just think about the impact to suppliers and the distributors that get their business from them.  According to a report published by the International Economic Development Council, the Moraine region, with more than 90 GM suppliers in 14 surrounding communities, lost more than 800 jobs at larger suppliers in addition to the 4,200 jobs that were lost when GM shut down.

Within weeks of GM’s announcement, staff from the Chicago regional office of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) began working with state and local officials in Ohio to develop a strategy to deal with the effects of the Moraine plant closure. As a first step, an EDA investment helped the city develop a bottom-up Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) to guide the region’s recovery efforts.

Director Kappos Promotes Innovation in Southern California

Director Kappos, seated, being interviewed

Under Secretary and United States Patent and Trademark Office Director David Kappos briefed southern California innovators on the many ways the Obama administration is advancing U.S. innovation. He met with technology entrepreneurs at Powerwave Technologies in Santa Ana, California, hosted by Southern California’s TechVoice chapter in conjunction with CompTIA and locally-based Technology Leadership Political Action Committee (TLPAC). The USPTO is on the eve of publishing a series of new rules implementing the America Invents Act, signed last September by President Obama, which will improve patent quality and make it easier for U.S. innovators to protect their intellectual property (IP) abroad. Attendees were briefed on AIA implementation as well as the USPTO’s plans to open four new satellite offices, including one in the Silicon Valley region of California. “By building partnerships and collaborating with the Orange County Bar and broader community,” Director Kappos said, "the USPTO will better engage its Silicon Valley office with the Southern California IP community.”

Women in the Financial Sector: A White House Forum on Economic Growth

Acting Secretary Blank Presenting to the Women in the Financial Sector: A White House Forum on Economic Growth

Guest blog post by Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank

This morning I spoke with around 100 women from across the U.S. financial services industry at the White House. The forum included business executives as well as stewards of institutional funds.

I’m an economist by training and I’ve studied the role that women play in the workforce. When it comes to decision-making, in the boardroom or anywhere else, the best decisions get made when there is more diversity of perspectives and opinions at the table. So it was great to hear from these leaders.

We talked about the U.S. economy and some of the challenges we face, and I highlighted some of the things that President Obama is pushing for to help strengthen our economy, build on our global competitiveness, and create even more jobs.

Already, GDP has grown for 11 straight quarters and more than 4.4 million private sector jobs have been created over the past 28 months. That’s good news, but clearly we must do more.

For example, we need to expand support for states and localities to hire more teachers, police, and firefighters. We need to expand infrastructure investment, and put unemployed construction workers back to work. We need to reward firms that insource—bringing jobs back to America—and eliminate tax benefits for companies that outsource. And we need to extend tax cuts for middle class families.

In addition, everyone agreed that Americans should be as concerned, perhaps even more concerned, with long-term investments that assure long-term American competitiveness. For example, the president has called on Congress to support more research and development as well as tech transfer in America’s top universities and labs along with investments that will help to increase the skills of the U.S. workforce, provide greater access to higher education and enhance our nation’s educational infrastructure.

Acting Secretary Blank Delivers Remarks at BIS Update Conference on Export Controls and Policy

Acting Secretary Blank gestures from the dais

On Tuesday, Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank delivered the keynote address at the Conference on Export Controls Policy, hosted by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security. This annual conference is the U.S. Government’s major export control outreach and education event of the year.

In her remarks, Dr. Blank highlighted progress on President Obama’s Export Control Reform Initiative and the National Export Initiative, saying that success in both areas is important for strengthening the American economy and creating more jobs, which are the president’s top priorities.  

Blank emphasized that the United States must have a strong, effective export control system through the powerful partnership between federal agencies like BIS and American companies that sell cutting-edge products, calling such a system “a national security imperative.”

The last major changes to export control regulations took place over 15 years ago, and those changes were more organizational than substantive. Through the President’s Export Control Reform (ECR) initiative, this is changing.

This initiative has at its core a continued commitment to national security, to prevent key goods and technologies from falling into the wrong hands, Acting Secretary Blank said. The proposed changes over controls on less-significant military items do not mean that key items will be “de-controlled.”  In fact, the departments of Commerce, Justice and Homeland Security will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute illegal exports to countries and end users of concern.

Acting Secretary Blank noted that these export control reforms will not only enhance national security by focusing resources on the greatest threats, but will also generate other benefits, including increased U.S. interoperability with allies, reduced incentives for foreign companies to avoid American-made parts that in turn will strengthen the American defense industrial base, and, importantly, reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens, expenses and red tape on American exporters.

International Visitors to the U.S. Spent Record $13.9 billion in May, Helping Support U.S. Jobs

Report cover: National Travel and Tourism Strategy

Guest blog post by Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank
Tourism is America’s number one service export, and today we have even more evidence that America is indeed open for business. New data released by the U.S. Commerce Department today shows that international visitors spent nearly $14 billion on travel to, and tourism-related activities within, the United States in May$1 billion more than was spent in May 2011marking 29 straight months of growth.
This data also means that the U.S. is on pace for a record-setting year, with international visitors having spent over $68 billion so far – up 12 percent compared to last year.
The facts are clear: tourism is a high-growth bright spot in our economy. We must continue to build on this momentum by making sure that America is travel-friendly to international visitors, thereby helping our businesses create even more jobs.
Fortunately, there are many dedicated people working to increase travel and tourism. This morning, I had the chance to talk with a few of them at a meeting of the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board in Dearborn, Mich., where I joined federal agency partners, as well as U.S. Representative John Dingell (D-MI), to discuss the Obama administration’s ongoing efforts to increase travel and tourism to the United States. During the board meeting, we discussed implementation of the recently released National Travel and Tourism Strategy (PDF), a blueprint for the federal government to welcome 100 million international visitors each year by the end of 2021. These visitors would spend an estimated $250 billion per year, supporting even more jobs and spurring economic growth in communities across the country.

Innovation in the Marketplace: Dr. Desh Deshpande on Successful Proof of Concept Centers

Portrait of Desh Deshpande

Guest blog post by Nish Acharya, Director of the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration.

The National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE) supports President Obama’s innovation strategy by helping to develop policies that foster entrepreneurship and identifying new ways to take great ideas from the lab to the marketplace to drive economic growth and create jobs.

One of the guiding forces of NACIE is its co-chair, Dr. Desh Deshpande, who is also Chairman and President of the Sparta Group and has been involved with many other companies, such as A123 Systems, Sycamore Networks, Tejas Networks, Sandstone Capital, and HiveFire. He is also the founder of the Deshpande Foundation, and creator and supporter of the Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which is a leading proof of concept center.

In the last of a series of conference calls with members of NACIE, on June 27, participants spoke with Dr. Deshpande, with whom I have worked closely to identify and implement strategies to spur entrepreneurship and innovation.

During the call, Dr. Deshpande defined innovation as coming up with new ideas, while entrepreneurship is putting those ideas into practice. He pointed out that all innovation is contextual, in that no group of individuals can just sit down and solve all the world’s problems. It is important, he noted, that innovators live in the areas where the problems exist. His point echoed one that has been made by several other NACIE members, namely that innovators have a greater chance of success if they begin by solving the problems that exist in their own communities.

The Road to Revitalizing Anderson, Indiana’s Auto Sector

Economic Development Administration-banner

Guest blog post by Thomas Guevara, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development and a native of Indiana

As auto communities across the country work to strengthen and redefine their economies, the Obama administration is making good on the President’s commitment to invest in American innovation and advanced manufacturing to spur growth.

In my home state of Indiana, the city of Anderson, located about 25 miles northeast of Indianapolis, was once home to one of the greatest concentrations (after Flint, Michigan) of General Motors facilities in the United States. Today, not a single one of those plants is in operation.

While this is a significant challenge, there is also opportunity. That was the focus of the Auto Community Revitalization Roundtable at the Flagship Enterprise Center that I recently attended in Anderson: to hear from communities affected by the loss of manufacturing jobs, offer practical tools, share available resources, and explore solutions for auto communities in Indiana that are on the road to revitalization. The forum was organized by the Manufacturing Alliance of Communities, the Obama administration’s Office of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers, and the RACER Trust, which was established to clean up and redevelop closed General Motors sites.

The road to revitalization requires a change of mindset. Rather than think of the abandoned facilities and their accompanying infrastructure as a disadvantage, cities such as Anderson are finding ways to repurpose these assets for future economic growth. The built industrial environment—including manufacturing plants, warehouses, road and rail links, etc.—can be refashioned and reused to suit the needs of newer, growing industries to replace the industries that departed. These industries are not the traditional manufacturers that employed our parents, but rather are modern advanced manufacturing sites that are leading the way in global competitiveness and attracting foreign direct investment.

EDA: Economic Recovery in Fremont, California's Auto Community

Ed. note: Cross-posted from U.S. Department of Labor's "Auto Communities" blog by Matt Erskine, Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development (EDA)

We all know the situation a few years ago when President Obama took office: the American auto industry was shedding jobs by the hundreds of thousands and General Motors and Chrysler were in financial crisis. In the year before GM and Chrysler filed for bankruptcy, the auto industry lost more than 400,000 jobs. Had President Obama failed to act, conservative estimates suggest that it would have cost at least an additional million jobs and devastated vast parts of our nation's industrial heartland. But that did not happen because the president quickly intervened to save the U.S. auto industry from collapse. Today, GM, Ford and Chrysler have all returned to profitability.

President Obama's decision to respond so boldly was about more than the auto companies. It was about standing behind the countless workers, communities and businesses—large and small—that depend on the automotive industry. It was also about revitalizing American manufacturing.

Across the administration, federal agencies have outlined an agenda to support growth, job creation, and competitiveness in U.S. manufacturing. The U.S. Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration (EDA) has a strong track record of working with automotive communities to develop plans for economic recovery. The agency's efforts to help revitalize the nation's auto industry have been significant in Fremont, California, where a large auto assembly facility operated by the New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMMI) was shut down in early 2010. The plant had employed nearly 5,000 workers, with thousands more dependent on it. The blow to the local economy was severe.

Acting Secretary Blank Participates in U.S.-Poland Business Summit in Warsaw, Poland

Acting Secretary Blank Participates in U.S.-Poland Business Summit in Warsaw, Poland

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank and Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak welcomed participants in the U.S.-Poland Business Summit and Business Roundtable in Warsaw yesterday. This important event fulfills an agreement made during President Obama’s visit to Poland last yearto bring together U.S. and Polish business and government leaders to identify and promote new commercial opportunities and strengthen and expand commercial relations between the two countries.
Blank and Pawlak co-chaired the Business Roundtable at an informal session with American and Polish businesses and government officials. They discussed increasing bilateral investment and expanding energy sector cooperation. In her remarks, Acting Secretary Blank called for more cooperation between the two countries to continue vital strides towards creating good paying jobs that will help both economies flourish.
In her remarks to the summit, Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank talked about increasing U.S.-Poland economic and commercial ties. She said that over the past ten years, U.S. bilateral trade with Poland has nearly quadrupled and today the U.S. is doing more than ever to link with the E.U.’s fastest growing economy. Complete Readout

NIST: Creating Jobs with Innovation

Image: NIST Under Secretary and Director Patrick Gallagher tours Omega Plastics

Guest blog post by Patrick Gallagher, Under Secretary  of Commerce for Standards and Technology and Director, National Institute of Standards and Technology

We’ve been hearing a lot about manufacturing, especially advanced manufacturing, these days. Things like U.S. manufacturing :

  • Is critical to innovation since it’s responsible for most of our private sector research and development;
  • Is increasingly about sophisticated computer-driven, highly productive worksites requiring skilled workers; and
  • Is a growing source of good jobs.

What we don’t hear about as often are specific cases where U.S. manufacturers are using new technologies to diversify their markets, improve their products, and create or retain jobs. I was fortunate today to visit one such company, Omega Plastics Inc., located in Clinton Township, MI, about an hour outside Detroit.

The event was part of a “Best Practice Tour” sponsored by the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (MMTC), an affiliate of NIST’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).

New $6 Million Strong Cities, Strong Communities Challenge to Spur Economic Growth in Six Cities

Economic Development Administration-banner

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

Today, at the annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Orlando, Florida, I joined Erika Poethig, the Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), to launch the latest key components of the Obama administration’s Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) initiative, which was announced in July 2011 to help strengthen local capacity and spark economic growth in local communities while ensuring taxpayer dollars are used wisely and efficiently.

The Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA)—an SC2 Federal partner—announced the $6 million Strong Cities, Strong Communities Visioning Challenge to help economically distressed cities leverage innovative strategies to spur local economic and job growth.

The challenge will start with the competitive selection of six cities, one in each of EDA’s regions. Each of the winners will receive up to $1 million to conduct their own two-phase competitions. In the first phase, winning cities will encourage teams of experts in such fields as transportation planning, economic and community development, business incubation, and engineering to submit economic development proposals for their city or region. The highest-rated proposals, as evaluated by a city-appointed review panel, will receive cash awards. In the second phase, the finalists from the first round will compete for a cash prize by developing comprehensive economic development plans.

Acting Secretary Blank Highlights Competitions As a Tool For Improving American Competitiveness

This morning, Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank spoke before the Department of Energy’s National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition. The competition is part of the Obama administration's Startup America Initiative, the White House campaign to inspire and promote entrepreneurship. Launched in December 2011, the National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition included six regional competitions that served as platforms for college students to present business plans that transform great clean energy ideas into great businesses. The goal of building regional networks of student-focused businesses, as well as its inclusion of corporate leaders in the clean energy and venture capital sectors, builds squarely on existing partnerships with the Department of Commerce to spur domestic innovation and entrepreneurship.

Blank told the audience, which included the six regional winning teams, that the key to America’s success is innovation. . . new products, new processes, new ways of thinking.  Since the 1940s, over two-thirds of America’s economic growth has been directly related to increased productivity due to innovationthat’s both new products and new production processes.

Commerce's ITA Releases Data Showing International Visitor Spending Continues at Record-Setting Pace

Graph: U.S. Travel and Tourism-Related Exports

Rate is twelve percent increase over last year

Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) today released tourism data revealing that international visitors spent an estimated $14 billion on travel to, and tourism-related activities within, the United States in April 2012—$1.5 billion more (12 percent) than was spent in April 2011.

The new data reaffirms the importance of the Obama administration’s efforts to increase travel and tourism in the United States and comes on the heels of the release of the National Travel and Tourism Strategy (PDF) last month. The National Strategy is a blueprint for the Federal government to welcome 100 million international visitors each year by the end of 2021. The visitors would spend an estimated $250 billion per year, supporting more jobs and spurring economic growth in communities across the country.  Read the full ITA release here.

Secretary Bryson Encouraged by President’s Export Council Recommendations to Help Strengthen U.S. Economy

Secretary Bryson addresses the President's Export Council

Yesterday, Secretary John Bryson met with the President’s Export Council (PEC) with two goals in mind: to discuss further ways to strengthen the U.S. economy; and to update PEC members on the actions taken by the Department and the administration to increase exports.

As the principal national advisory committee on international trade, the PEC provides a forum for public-private interaction at all levels of government and business. It is responsible for advising the president on government policies and programs affecting U.S. trade performance, covering topics that range from export promotion to deliberations over specific trade challenges in various industries and sectors.

Since the PEC last met, the Obama administration has made great strides in creating jobs, increasing exports and growing the economy. For example, the U.S.-Korea and U.S.-Colombia free trade agreements were implemented earlier this spring, and will drive billions of dollars in additional annual exports and create tens of thousands of American jobs.

A Collaborative Effort to Support Ogden, Utah’s Growing Software Applications Sector

EDA logo-banner

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

Today, I joined Mayor Mike Caldwell in Ogden, Utah, to announce a $1 million investment by the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) with the Ogden City Corporation to help create a lab that will train workers and provide space for business startups in the growing field of software applications for mobile computing devices.

This new facility will be strategically located in Ogden’s downtown and will be operated by a consortium of experienced, capable partners, including the city of Ogden, Weber State University, the Weber State University Research Foundation, and private-sector industry leaders. It is exactly the type of collaborative partnership that EDA is excited to invest in.

Over a 10-year period, the new facility is expected to create 750 jobs and generate up to $4.6 million in private investment, according to grantee estimates. Its focus on software applications is very timely: You can’t walk down any street today, or sit in any coffee shop for long, without seeing smart phones and tablet computers all around you. And while it’s only been a few years since these devices first came on the market, they’ve been a runaway hit ever since: Demand for them has skyrocketed, and with it the demand for applications, or “apps,” that run on them.

The Law of the Sea Convention is Good for American Businesses

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

This morning at Capitol Hill Oceans Week, I spoke about the key role that oceans play in our economic recovery. America’s waters have always been a strong economic engine. After all, more than half of Americans live in coastal watershed counties. And even though this area makes up only 17 percent of U.S. land area, those counties support about 66 million jobs. Now more than ever, we need to ensure that the blue economy is strong and growing.

And here is one thing we need to do to make sure that happens: ratify the Law of the Sea Convention. The U.S. Senate is now taking a hard look at having the U.S. join the Convention, which sets forth a comprehensive legal framework governing uses of the oceans. The Law of the Sea Convention will support American businesses and create American jobs, as well as bolster U.S. national security and promote energy security. We need to join the Convention now.

C-SPAN video

Europe Travel Log: Secretary Bryson’s Meetings and Events in Berlin, Germany

Photo of Bryson and others on elevated walkways

On May 24-25, U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson visited Berlin, Germany–the final stop on his European trip this week–to meet with senior business and government leaders and to address a major conference on trans-Atlantic trade. The Secretary delivered remarks on the importance of trans-Atlantic trade and a strong bilateral investment relationship between the United States and Germany. He also highlighted Germany's vocational training system, which he witnessed first-hand earlier in the week, as an important model for the United States.

‪While in Berlin, Secretary Bryson also met with Minister for Economics and Technology Philipp Roesler, State Secretary Harald Braun of the Foreign Ministry, and Chancellor Merkel's Senior Economic Adviser Lars-Hendrik Roeller. These meetings focused on how the U.S. and Germany can work together to advance economic growth and increase jobs by reducing barriers to trans-Atlantic trade.

‪Secretary Bryson also met with Hans-Peter Keitel, Chairman of the Federation of German Industries (BDI) along with representatives from companies across various sectors, ranging from industrial to IT to automotive and manufacturing. The Secretary encouraged the businesses to consider further investment in the United States, highlighting the attractiveness of the investment climate, including the resources provided by SelectUSA, the first coordinated effort by the U.S. government to attract new business investments to America.

Europe Travel Log: Secretary Bryson Travels to Paris, France

This week, U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson visited Paris, France for the first leg of a European trip to reaffirm the United States’ commitment to lowering trade barriers and encouraging European businesses to invest in the U.S. In France, Bryson is meeting with several key members of the U.S. and French business communities, as well as with a minister in the new French government. These meetings focused on increasing French investment in the United States, supporting U.S. companies with operations in France, and learning about the new government’s economic policy plans.

On Monday, Secretary Bryson met with the leadership and key members of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in France to discuss investment and trade issues facing U.S. industry and to support U.S. company operations and interests in France. He also met with the leadership and key members of MEDEF, a major French business association, to highlight the attractiveness of the investment climate in the United States and learn about the successes, concerns and problems of current and potential investors. Bryson also took the opportunity to introduce French investors to SelectUSA, the first coordinated effort by the U.S. government to attract new business investments to America.The Secretary later met with the head of the French export agency, UBI France, and the CEOs of three French small businesses that are entering the U.S. market.

Deputy Secretary Blank Delivers Remarks on Manufacturing at the Aspen Institute

Deputy Secretary Blank delivers remarks at the Aspen Institute (Photo: Steve Johnson, Aspen Institute)

This morning, Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank delivered the keynote address at “Manufacturing, Innovation, and Workforce Training: What Works In Germany and The United States For Jobs and Growth,” a conference co-sponsored by the Aspen Institute, the German Center for Research and Innovation, the German Embassy, and the Representative of German Industry and Trade. Her remarks come the week before Commerce Secretary John Bryson travels to Dusseldorf and Berlin to meet with government and business leaders.

Deputy Secretary Blank noted how both America and Germany have shown strength in areas such as manufacturing and exporting. She emphasized the importance of maintaining economic growth by strengthening the U.S.-German economic relationship.

U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson Delivers Remarks to Steel Manufacturers Association

This afternoon, Commerce Secretary Bryson delivered keynote remarks at the Steel Manufacturers Association (SMA) 2012 Annual Members conference, where he discussed the importance of the steel industry and the administration’s efforts to support U.S. manufacturers.

As the Secretary said, this administration understands the importance of supporting U.S. manufacturers. When President Obama came into office, the United States was at risk of losing over one million auto industry jobs. The ripple effect on the supply chain would have been devastating, potentially eroding the U.S. manufacturing base and driving the economy from a deep recession into depression. Instead, due to the president’s leadership, the auto industry survived and is now thriving, adding more than 200,000 jobs over the last two and one-half years.

There is an inextricable link between America’s ability to produce and America’s ability to innovate, compete and create jobs. Manufacturing is responsible for 70 percent of U.S. private sector R&D, 90 percent of patents, and 60 percent of our exports. In addition, the Commerce Department released a report just last week showing that manufacturing workers earn pay and benefits about 17 percent higher than other workers.

U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement Now in Force!

Colombian porches superimposed on map of Colombia

Ed Note: The following is a cross-post that originally appeared on ITA's blog, "Tradeology."

Christopher Blaha is a Senior International Economist within the Office of Trade and Policy Analysis and Julie Anglin is the Colombia Desk Officer within the International Trade Administration.

Today more than 80 percent of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial products to Colombia become duty-free as part of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement. This includes agricultural and construction equipment, building products, aircraft and parts, fertilizers, information technology equipment, medical scientific equipment and wood. Also, more than half of U.S. exports of agricultural commodities to Colombia become duty-free, including wheat, barley, soybeans, high-quality beef, bacon and almost all fruit and vegetable products.

The agreement also provides significant new access to Colombia’s $180 billion services market, supporting increased opportunities for U.S. service providers. For example, Colombia agreed to eliminate measures that prevented firms from hiring U.S. professionals, and to phase-out market restrictions in cable television.

Prior to the enactment of this agreement, the average tariff that U.S. manufactured goods faced entering Colombia was 10.8 percent. With entry into force today, Colombia’s average tariff rate for manufactured goods from the United States has been reduced to 4 percent.

Secretary Bryson Discusses the Future of U.S. Manufacturing at MIT

Secretary Bryson Discusses the Future of U.S. Manufacturing at MIT

There is a powerful link between America’s ability to make things and America’s ability to innovate, compete, and create good jobs, as Secretary John Bryson said today when he spoke to CEOs, students and faculty at “The Future of Manufacturing in the U.S.” conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Secretary took the opportunity to discuss the importance of manufacturing in boosting U.S. economic growth, job creation and exports, as part of the administration's ongoing efforts to encourage companies to build things in America and sell everywhere around the globe.

Bryson also released a new U.S. Commerce Department Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) report titled “The Benefits of Manufacturing Jobs,” an analysis of wages and benefits of manufacturing workers, which provides fresh evidence that manufacturing jobs encourage innovation and support economic security for America’s middle class. The report finds that total hourly compensation for manufacturing workers is 17 percent higher than for non-manufacturing workers. It also shows that manufacturing jobs are becoming more skilled and heavily reliant on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, and that manufacturing is responsible for 70 percent of our private sector R&D, 90 percent of our patents, and 60 percent of our exports.

After a decade in which the United States lost many manufacturing jobs, American manufacturers have added back 489,000 jobs since January 2010—the best streak since 1995. In the first four months of 2012 alone, the U.S. manufacturing sector added 139,000 jobs. At the same time, the number of job openings in manufacturing has more than doubled.

Manufacturing: Key to an Innovation-Based Economy

Under Secretary of Commerce and NIST Director Patrick Gallagher (left) participates in panel on advanced manufacturing

Scientists, industry leaders and public officials came together this week for a dialogue on innovation at The Atlantic's “From Inspiration to Innovation Summit,” held at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Va. Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Director Patrick Gallagher was among the invited speakers on the panel, “Advanced Manufacturing: Made in America. . . Again?”

Responding to a question about NIST’s role in supporting manufacturing, Gallagher pointed out that the agency’s mission goes back more than 110 years. Then, and now, that mission has been to ensure that U.S. industries have the infrastructure of measurements, standards, and technology they need to be competitive in global markets, particularly manufacturing-based industries. That mission is even more important today, when so much manufacturing is tied to advanced technology, and our research and development—our ability to innovate—is deeply embedded in our manufacturing capability.

Secretary Bryson Declares May World Trade Month

Photo of manufacturing materials at Port of Baltimore)

Today, Commerce Secretary Bryson issued a statement in honor of May 2012 World Trade Month, which is marked annually by a series of state and local events across the country to promote U.S. trade relationships and provide resources to U.S. businesses looking to export their goods and services around the world.  World Trade Week, which falls in the third week of May, is recognized by a presidential proclamation annually.

Two years ago, the president set a goal of doubling our nation’s exports in five years through the National Export Initiative (NEI). On the second anniversary of the NEI, we announced that 1.2 million more Americans have export-supported jobs due to U.S. exports increasing by one-third from 2009 to 2011.  This is particularly good news because export-related jobs–like manufacturing jobs–pay higher than average.

To keep this momentum, this administration is committed to giving American workers and businesses a fair shot in the global economy by supporting trade agreements that will open up markets to U.S. companies, working to aggressively investigate unfair trade practices taking place anywhere in the world, and continuing to work to ensure that our workers and businesses are competing on a level playing field.

ITA: In Brussels, Assistant Secretary Camuñez Promotes Intellectual Property Rights and Protections

Seated beside Assistant Secretary Camuñez is Marielle Gallo, a Member of the European Parliament representing France.

Guest blog post by Michael C. Camuñez, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance, International Trade Administration

This past week, I traveled to Europe as part of my ongoing efforts to deepen the already-robust trans-Atlantic trade relationship. One of my stops was in Brussels, Belgium, the home of the European Commission and heart of the European Union. There, I sat down with EU leaders to discuss ways in which the U.S. and Europe can work together to foster greater economic opportunity and growth on both sides of the Atlantic. I was honored to join a lunch with the president of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, and other EU leaders, where I offered them my perspective on the importance of the protection of intellectual property rights to our shared prosperity.

I also participated in a panel discussion on intellectual property rights (IPR) and growth at the 10th Annual European Business Summit, an issue vital to fostering innovation. My participation in the Business Summit was timely. For the past several weeks, IPR policies have been hotly debated across the European Union. The question at the forefront of this debate is: how does one protect and enforce IPR, while at the same time creating an environment that will foster the continued growth of the digital economy?

My remarks offered me an opportunity to talk about the perspective that I bring as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance. My role has given me some insight into the global competition to transform industrial, carbon-based economies into 21st-century knowledge-based economies–to attract and keep talent, to intensify the pace of innovation and commercialization of innovative products and services, and how to gain and keep our competitive edge.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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. 

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.

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.

$200 Million Post-Disaster Funding to Help Jumpstart Regional Economies

Official EDA seal

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

When a natural disaster hits a community—whether it is a flood, a tornado, or any other kind of disaster—it does more than wreak havoc on homes and personal lives. It also has devastating, long-term effects on the economic life of those communities, destroying vital infrastructure, such as public utilities, transportation links, and communications systems on which businesses depend.

I’m happy to announce today that the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is making available $200 million in funds for communities affected by disasters in fiscal year 2011. These funds are designed to mitigate those long-term effects on business infrastructure and allow communities to bring their economies, and the jobs that come with them, back to life.

It’s no secret that the funding EDA provides is vital to ensuring the long-term economic health of communities affected by a disaster. In Joplin, Missouri, for example, EDA provided $341,000 after that community was devastated by tornadoes in 2010. Those funds allowed the state to hire economic recovery coordinators who were instrumental in building strong public-private partnerships that have been critical to restoring the economic vitality of that region.

Making America a Top Tourist Destination: Commerce and Interior Keep Up Efforts to Increase Visitation

Guest blog post by Commerce Secretary John Bryson and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar

This month, more than a million visitors from across the country and around the world are coming to our nation’s capital to see the cherry blossom trees that bloom each spring among some of America’s most treasured historical landmarks. From the purchase of airline tickets to dining in area restaurants to staying in hotels, these visitors are infusing millions of dollars into the community and supporting local businesses.
As we search for ways to grow our nation’s economy, we must not overlook the travel and tourism industry as a source for economic opportunity. According to data released by the Commerce Department earlier today, tourism spending increased 8.1 percent in 2011 and supported an additional 103,000 jobs, for a total of 7.6 million jobs.
A big factor in the increase was a surge in international visitors to our country: in 2011, 2.5 million more international visitors came to the United States compared with the previous year. These international visitors spent an all-time record of $153 billion on U.S. travel and tourism-related goods and services.
As this data reveals, the travel and tourism industry is one of the most important engines of our economy—in fact, it is our number-one service export. That is why President Obama recently announced the creation of a Task Force on Travel and Competitiveness, which charged us with leading efforts to develop recommendations for a National Travel and Tourism Strategy to promote travel throughout the United States.

Secretary Bryson Announces 16 Companies Joining his First Trade Mission to India

Secretary Bryson Announces 16 Companies Joining his First Trade Mission to India (State Dept. image)

U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson today announced the 16 companies that will join him on a business development mission to India, his first as Commerce Secretary. During the mission, Secretary Bryson will meet with senior-level Indian government officials to advocate for U.S. export opportunities in India’s rapidly expanding infrastructure sector, and promote investment opportunities in America – both key priorities of the Obama Administration. The mission will take place March 25-30 with stops in New Delhi, Jaipur and Mumbai.  

The trade mission supports President Obama’s National Export Initiative goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014 to create more good-paying jobs. Last week, on the two year anniversary of the creation of the NEI, the Commerce Department released new data showing that jobs supported by U.S. exports increased by 1.2 million between 2009 and 2011, and the value of U.S. exports exceed $2.1 trillion for the first time in U.S. history. The mission also supports efforts to increase investment in the United States through SelectUSA, America’s first national investment advocacy program. In addition, the mission will promote a new national tourism strategy focused on creating American jobs by becoming even more welcoming to visitors from around the world.

“This mission builds on President Obama’s historic visit to India two years ago, when he said before the Indian Parliament that the U.S.-India relationship will be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century. I couldn’t agree more,” said Bryson. “I am looking forward to connecting American business leaders to new opportunities in India’s rising infrastructure sector, and encouraging Indian businesses and individuals to invest in and visit the United States. India is one of the world’s fastest growing economies, and its large market presents an important opportunity for U.S. companies to sell their goods and services to some of the 95% of consumers who live beyond our borders and boost job creation at home.”  Full release

NACIE Promotes Innovative Lab-to-Market Strategies to Spur Economic Growth

Erskine and Kappos at NACIE meeting

Guest blog post by Acting Assistant Secretary Matt Erskine, Economic Development Administration

Today I joined my colleagues, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office David Kappos and Associate Director for Innovation and Industry Services at the National Institute of Standards and Technology Phillip Singerman, at a meeting of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE) in New Orleans. The quarterly meeting of NACIE’s board coincided with local Entrepreneurship Week activities and brought together over 250 entrepreneurs, innovators and business leaders to discuss how we can best support them.

NACIE is a public-private partnership started by the Department of Commerce to provide guidance on how we can best support the growing businesses that will create the jobs and industries of the future. When I addressed the forum, I highlighted the Obama administration’s commitment to making investments in innovation and entrepreneurship including the recently announced $15 million Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, which will boost rural innovation clusters and the soon-to-be-announced next round of the i6 challenge to reward innovative, groundbreaking ideas that accelerate technology commercialization.

Secretary Bryson Meets with Advanced Manufacturing Partnership Steering Committee

Nanofabrication facility at NIST where manufacturers come to study new ways to make advanced computer chips, nanoscale batteries, and other high-tech products.  Photo credit:  Photo by Kristen Dill

Yesterday, U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson delivered remarks at a meeting of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) Steering Committee. At yesterday’s meeting, held at the White House, the Steering Committee discussed recommendations targeting issues in manufacturing, focusing on technology development, policy, education and workforce development, and shared facilities and infrastructure.

AMP is a collaboration between industry, academia and government leaders to accelerate the development of the U.S. advanced manufacturing sector and to shape the administration’s Advanced Manufacturing Strategy. AMP is guided by a Steering Committee, which is co-chaired by Andrew Liveris, President, Chairman and CEO of the Dow Chemical Company, and Susan Hockfield, President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Their final report will be reviewed by PCAST, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, in April. Though AMP is still at work on the recommendations, several were prioritized for early action and implementation by Secretary Bryson.

Acting Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank Swears In Nine New Patent Judges to Help Reduce Patent Backlogs

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank Delivers Remarks at Swearing-In Ceremony for New Patent Judges

Guest blog post by Acting Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank

As part of our ongoing efforts to make government more accountable to the American people and cut wasteful spending, this afternoon I had the honor of swearing in nine new administrative patent judges who will help reduce patent backlogs. These nine talented and dynamic individuals will serve on the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), joining the dedicated public servants at USPTO who support millions of jobs in the intellectual property industry.

Today, a high share of companies regularly relying on robust intellectual property (IP) protections to attract investor capital and stay competitive. These IP-intensive firms create an average of three million U.S. jobs per year. More than ever, we must be efficient and effective in helping entrepreneurs protect their intellectual property.

America’s entrepreneurs are the primary source of new ideas that drive innovation. Entrepreneurs provide us with better production processes, new advances in health, and improved consumer products. These are people who can move from ideas to products and from products to the marketplace. These activities strengthen our economy and our global competitiveness. And they create jobs.

Secretary Bryson Hosts Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee and Export Promotion Cabinet

Bryson and participants seated at conference table

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Commerce's EDA Promotes American Manufacturing

EDA logo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank Tours Factory in Flint, Mich.

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

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

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

Why Investing in R&D Matters

BEA logo

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

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

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank Meets with Frédéric Lefebvre, French Minister

Blank with minister Lefebvre shaking hands

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Working with Florida Businesses to Create an Economy Built to Last

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Commerce Secretary John Bryson Visits Manufacturing Facility in Columbus, Ohio

Secretary Bryson learning about the newest line of Entrotech lacrosse handles

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

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

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

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

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank Inspects an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

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

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

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

North Carolina Manufacturing is Supporting an Economy Built to Last

Sanchez tours manufacturing plant in North Carolina

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

Good things are happening here in North Carolina.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

President Obama Meets with the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness

Cross post to the White House Blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

Insourcing American Jobs Forum at the White House

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

Cross post to the White House Blog

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

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

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

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

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

Learn more:

Obama Administration Applauds Opening of Innovation Hub in Gainesville, Florida

View of incubation hub lobby from balcony

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

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

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

Brundage Post: Resurgence of the American Auto Industry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Assistant Secretary Fernandez participates in roundtable discussion at Wichita State University

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

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

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

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

A Look Ahead to 2012: NTIA by the Numbers

National Broadband Map

In the coming year, the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will continue its focus on three key areas: expanding high speed Internet access and adoption, freeing up more spectrum for wireless broadband, and promoting policies that preserve the Internet as an engine for innovation and economic growth. Here are some numbers to illustrate these challenges.  Shown: National Broadband Map