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Blog Category: Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker

U.S. Exports Hit Record High for the Fifth Straight Year

Total Exports in 2014 were 2.35 trillion.

Guest Blog Post by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker

Trade Agreements Will Help Accelerate Economic Growth

Today, the Commerce Department announced new data that show U.S. businesses exported $2.35 trillion of our goods and services in 2014, hitting a record high for the fifth straight year. U.S. goods exports increased 2.7 percent to a record $1.64 trillion in 2014. Records were set in exports of capital goods; consumer goods; petroleum products; foods, feeds, and beverages; and automotive vehicles and parts. Annual services exports hit an all-time high of $710.3 billion, led by record export levels in the travel, transport, charges for the use of intellectual property, and financial services sectors.

What does this mean for American businesses and American workers? Exports have been a key driver in our economic comeback. Exports support 11.3 million American jobs, and contributed one-third of our annual growth between 2009 and 2013. In some cities– like Kansas City, Albuquerque, Youngstown, Columbus, and Detroit – exports drove nearly all growth out of the recession.

As I have traveled across the United States, speaking with more than 1,500 CEOs and business leaders, I have seen firsthand the way exports are benefiting American companies and workers. Take Davenport Aviation, a certified distributor of spare parts and aviation equipment based in Columbus, Ohio.  Davenport Aviation is a small business – they now have eleven employees – but taking advantage of the global marketplace has helped them grow every year since they opened in 2009. Exports account for 99 percent of their business, and this year, because of increased demand, Davenport Aviation plans to add at least 3-4 new jobs.

All over the country, exporters like Davenport Aviation are growing and creating jobs. While America’s economy is on the right track, we have more work to do to ensure our growth is sustainable. Exports are a critical part of that effort, which is why President Obama has made increased trade a top priority. In today’s global economy, American prosperity is directly tied to our ability to reach new markets and new customers overseas. We know that 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside our borders, so gaining greater access to markets abroad will allow our companies to expand, hire more workers, and pay better wages here at home.

Enacting trade promotion legislation will give the President the ability to move forward on trade agreements that will open doors for American businesses, including small businesses like Davenport Aviation. Passing trade promotion legislation this year is critical. 

In addition, we must finish and implement two major trade agreements that would open up new markets to U.S. goods and services: the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP). Once completed, these two agreements will give the United States free trade arrangements with 65 percent of global GDP and give our businesses a large base of new potential customers. For example, while the Asia-Pacific is currently home to 570 million middle class consumers, that number is expected to reach 2.7 billion by 2030, and this Administration wants our American businesses and workers to have access to that opportunity. 

FY 2016 Budget Request Prioritizes Innovation

FY 2016 Budget Request Prioritizes Innovation

Yesterday, Secretary Pritzker released the U.S. Department of Commerce’s fiscal year 2016 budget request. The FY 2016 budget request supports and builds on President Obama’s vision for creating economic opportunity that will benefit all Americans. The budget includes critical funding for key Commerce priorities, including promoting trade and investment, fueling our data-driven economy, and spurring innovation. 

The U.S. Commerce Department plays a critical role in promoting U.S. economic growth and providing vital scientific and environmental information. The FY16 budget request directly aligns with the Department’s “Open for Business Agenda,” which reflects Commerce's role as the voice of business and the Obama Administration’s focus on economic growth and job creation.  
 
Manufacturing is critical to innovation since it creates new growth industries, jobs and strengthens our economy. The budget supports the expansion of a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) with up to 45 manufacturing innovation institutes across the nation. In total, the budget includes discretionary funding for seven new institutes, including $140 million for the first two Commerce-led institutes, and an additional $1.9 billion mandatory proposal to fulfill the President’s vision. NNMI has kept America on the front-lines of discovery, which has resulted in our businesses, our manufacturers, and the American economy globally competition in the 21stcentury economy.
 
The budget also invests in the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to support innovative economic development planning, regional capacity building, and capital projects, which includes the Regional Innovation Strategies Program. This program promotes economic development projects that spur entrepreneurship and innovation at the regional level, which has resulted in the establishment of proof-of-concept centers that foster the rapid commercialization of research and startup creation; The feasibility and planning of new research parks where academic and industry can collaborate; and Providing technical assistance for regions wanting to establish seed-capital funding programs for startups.
 
Additionally, the budget provides $49 million for NTIA, which is a demonstration of the Administration’s continued commitment to broadband telecommunications as a driver of economic development, job creation, technological innovation, and enhanced public safety. The President’s broadband vision of freeing up 500 MHz of Federal spectrum, promoting broadband competition in communities throughout the country, and connecting over 99 percent of schools to high-speed broadband connections through the ConnectED initiative will create thousands of quality jobs and ensure that students have access to the best educational tools available.
 
Lastly, through the implementation of the America Invents Act, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) continues to make it easier for American entrepreneurs and businesses to bring their inventions to the marketplace sooner, converting ideas into new products and new jobs. The budget allows USPTO to fund operations and to further implement administrative actions proposed by the President’s Patent Task Force. The USPTO offers countless resources such as, the Track One Prioritized Examination Program, which allows small businesses to get a final disposition within about twelve months.
 
Learn more about the fiscal year 2016 budget request and the many ways it supports the Department of Commerce’s mission.

The Important Work of NACIE Begins

The Important Work of NACIE Begins

Guest blog post by Julie Goonewardene, Vice Chancellor for Innovation & Strategic Investment, Diaceutics Chairwoman, AMA Board, MBI Board

Last year, I was honored to be appointed as an advisor to Secretary Pritzker as part of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE). NACIE is emblematic of all the entrepreneurs, educators, philanthropists, and innovators in all sectors of the economy who are working to ensure that our country remains a place of opportunity, innovation and entrepreneurship for generations to come. In December 2014 Secretary Pritzker convened the first meeting of the 27-member NACIE. My NACIE colleagues impress me. We are a diverse group, and I was excited to hear from my fellow council members as they brought their experiences to bear as we began discussing the issues. I can’t think of a better group to address the challenges of creating an innovation economy.

As the current NACIE we are charged with bringing our ideas, and networks together to identify and recommend policies, programs, and partnerships that can help American businesses, individuals, and communities become even more competitive in the global marketplace.

Economic development is hard. It demands years of sustained effort that transcends political movements, market cycles, demographic changes, and geopolitical shifts. It also requires people from all sectors of the economic ecosystem to analyze and understand what is working, to offer alternatives where improvement is needed, and to reach consensus around policies and investments that support paths to prosperity for all Americans.

The Secretary and her team, marshaled by the Director of EDA’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Julie Kirk, expect every council member to come to meetings prepared to contribute. Our first workshop began with an exchange of backgrounds and philosophies then broke into three standing committees — Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Workforce Development — where the Council will conduct the majority of its work.

Top 5 Reasons to Apply to be an IMCP Designated Community

Today, the Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced the next round of competition for designation as a “Manufacturing Community” under the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) initiative. IMCP is designed to revolutionize the way federal agencies leverage economic development funds. It encourages communities to develop comprehensive economic development strategies that will strengthen their competitive edge for attracting global manufacturer and supply chain investments. Through IMCP, the federal government is rewarding best practices – coordinating federal aid to support communities’ strong development plans and synchronizing grant programs across multiple departments and agencies.  

Here are 5 reasons your community should consider applying for the designation: 

  1. A compass for navigating the bureaucracy: If you are designated as a manufacturing community, it can be like getting a machete to cut through red tape! While communities don’t receive money for being designated, you will be given elevated consideration from 10 federal agencies for more than $1.3 billion in available grant and program funding. No, you’re not guaranteed to suddenly be awarded every grant you apply for, but you get the opportunity to apply with that designee seal of approval. Moreover, you will have a dedicated federal liaison from one of the participating agencies that can serve as a resource to help you navigate the federal grant application process.

  2. IMCP will take your manufacturing strategy to the next level: Manufacturing is experiencing a renaissance. Over the past 5 years, American manufacturing has created nearly 800,000 jobs. The low-paid, gritty, back-breaking labor of the industrial revolution looks nothing like today’s manufacturing.  For the first time in more than 10 years, both manufacturing output and employment are growing. Today’s manufacturing workforce are innovative, highly skilled, well paid employees in highly technical industries, with workers earning 17 percent more than similar workers in other sectors. This resurgence is great for the economy as a whole. For every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, the sector generates $1.32 for the U.S. economy.

  3. Increased cooperation among your region: At the core of the manufacturing community designation is the idea that your region is forming effective partnerships and working across sectors (public, private, academic) on issues relating to workforce development, supply chain, research and innovation, trade and international investment, and access to capital. Making these connections is invaluable for strengthening your local economy, attracting investment, and creating jobs. We witnessed an incredible buzz and enthusiasm among designated communities, applicants, and other participants at our IMCP Summit held last October. It was a showcase of economic collaboration at its best.

  4. You’re in good company: The 12 communities designated in the first round of competition are doing some incredible innovative work! From automotive to aerospace, flooring to photonics, these diverse economic development plans are being implemented to boost the economies of regions across the country. To learn more about each community’s work and vision and the success of the designation, visit: http://www.eda.gov/challenges/imcp/index.htm

  5. You win by just applying: This may be a competition, but there are no “winners” or “losers” here. Everyone who applies benefits from the coordination and planning that is part of the application process. But don’t take our word for it – we heard from several of our first round applicants who were not designated that they found the process of simply applying to be very helpful. They were able to make new connections and access tools and resources to help start meaningful planning for their manufacturing sectors that has helped positioned them for success.   

These are just a few of the reasons to apply to be a designated manufacturing community. If you’re looking to strengthen your community’s manufacturing sector and regional economy, find your reason and start building your partnerships now. The deadline to apply is April 1, 2015. For more information visit: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-01-29/pdf/2015-01763.pdf

Secretary Pritzker Focuses on Strengthening Bilateral Commercial Relationship, Increasing Foreign Direct Investment During Trip to India

Secretary Pritzker Focuses on Strengthening Bilateral Commercial Relationship, Increasing Foreign Direct Investment During Trip to India

Secretary Pritzker today concluded a three-day trip to India, where she was honored to join the U.S. delegation traveling with President Obama. During the trip, she announced the expansion of the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue to a Strategic and Commercial Dialogue (S&CD), reflecting the two countries’ commitment to strengthening commercial and economic ties. Secretary Pritzker will chair the new commercial components of the Dialogue.

 The elevated S&CD establishes a framework that will strengthen the U.S.-India relationship and create new avenues of cooperation between our governments, our businesses and our peoples. The new commercial element of our most important bilateral dialogue will focus on our shared priorities of growing our economies, creating good jobs, and strengthening our middle class. 

While the S&CD will be used to produce concrete results, the dialogue will also ensure that American and Indian businesses – small, medium and large – are in a position to capitalize on abundant opportunities that exist in both countries. In addition, the United States and India will use the dialogue to promote more trade and investment between both nations and to identify new opportunities for economic and commercial cooperation that will improve the lives of American and Indian citizens. 

To build upon this announcement, Secretary Pritzker led a SelectUSA discussion with Indian CEOs interested in increasing their investments in the United States. The event was hosted by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), India’s largest and oldest business organization, which was established in 1927. FICCI draws its membership from the public and private sectors, as well as various regional chambers of commerce. During the discussion, Secretary Pritzker emphasized that there is no better time to invest in the United States. She also highlighted the role that organizations such as FICCI and its member companies play in supporting SelectUSA’s efforts to promote more foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States. SelectUSA is a government-wide program, housed within the Department of Commerce, and will be hosting the SelectUSA Investment Summit on March 23-24, 2015. 

Caroline Atkinson, Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics, Arun Kumar, Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, and Vinai Thummalapally, Executive Director of SelectUSA also joined Secretary Pritzker at the SelectUSA event. 

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Joins President Obama in Calls for More Trade and Investment with India

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Joins President Obama in Calls for More Trade and Investment with India

As part of President Obama’s official delegation to India, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker joined the President and Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi at the U.S.-India Business Summit where they addressed a large group from both the U.S. and Indian private sectors on ways to expand market access and increase opportunities for U.S. firms through improvements in India’s business climate. Secretary Pritzker specifically addressed how Commerce can play a role in helping U.S. companies gain access to the Indian market and announced the expansion of the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue to now become the U.S.-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue. Along with Secretary of State John Kerry, Pritzker will lead this new diplomatic effort with the Indian government designed to promote more trade and investment between the two countries. 

Today at the U.S.-India Business Summit, President Obama, Prime Minister Modi, and Secretary Pritzker spoke with more than 40 CEOs and officials during a roundtable meeting. They discussed the business and investment climate in India and ways to increase commercial and economic cooperation. During the roundtable, President Obama touted burgeoning U.S. exports to India and said the two countries are moving in the right direction, while calling for even more trade and investment. Obama also stressed the factthat U.S. companies want consistency and clarity in the regulatory and tax environment in India. Prime Minister Modi and President Obama expressed confidence that continued bilateral collaboration will increase opportunities for investment, improve bilateral trade and investment ties and lead to the creation of jobs and prosperity in both economies. Secretary Pritzker joined both the President and Prime Minister in discussing ways in which U.S. companies could improve India’s infrastructure. 

Recognizing the important role that both countries play in promoting peace and security in the Asia-Pacific Region, President Obama and Minister Modi announced a India-U.S. Delhi Declaration of Friendship. The declaration specifically calls on India’s Minister of Trade and Commerce and the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to work together towards strengthening commercial and economic ties to advance mutual prosperity, regional economic growth and stability. 

Earlier in the day, Secretary Pritzker joined the President and Prime Minister at India’sannual Republic Day Parade and in a wreath laying ceremony in memory of unknown soldiers. Following the day’s business summit and dialogue, Secretary Pritzker hosted a private reception with U.S. and Indian business leaders and discussed next steps for improving U.S. access to the Indian market.  

In July 2014, Secretary Pritzker participated in the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue, along with Secretary of State John Kerry, the first U.S. Cabinet-level visit to India since Prime Minister Modi’s election. There, she led discussions on helping strengthen economic ties between the two nations. 

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.

Secretary Pritzker Travels to Charlotte to Discuss Future of U.S. Economy

Secretary Pritzker Travels to Charlotte to Discuss Future of U.S. Economy

On Wednesday, Secretary Penny Pritzker traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina to participate in an armchair discussion with Charlotte Chamber President and CEO Bob Morgan. She highlighted the progress made in America’s economic recovery in 2014, and discussed President Obama’s plans to build on that momentum with the policies discussed in the State of the Union Address. 

The evidence from 2014 is clear: for the past 58 straight months, the private sector added more than 11 million new jobs. Last year alone, 3 million jobs were created – the most since the 1990s. America’s GDP is up, while unemployment rate is down. There is no doubt that 2014 was a milestone year for the American economy.

With the economy improving, the Department of Commerce is focused on continuing the growth that occurred over the past year. During her conversation with Morgan that touched upon many of President Obama’s main priorities, Secretary Pritzker highlighted trade as a top issue on the agenda. By pushing for new trade agreements, the United States can reach new markets and create a fair environment for our companies to compete. If American businesses sell more goods and services to the 95 percent of consumers who live outside U.S. borders, they will grow the 11.3 million good-paying jobs here at home that are supported by exports.

Secretary Pritzker also stressed the need to invest in America’s greatest resource: its people. As business leaders look to build a workforce that meets the needs of the 21st century economy, the Administration has already invested more than $1 billion in competitive grants in 2014 for job-driven training models like apprenticeships and partnerships between community colleges and local employers.

Hosted at the University of North Carolina’s Charlotte Center City campus, the forum was attended by local business leaders as well as students. After the 45-minute discussion, Morgan took questions from the audience, and Secretary Pritzker elaborated on why infrastructure and corporate tax reform are integral to strengthening the economy.

During her trip to Charlotte, Secretary Pritzker also met with representatives from the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, Central Piedmont Community College, SEWW Energy, Charlotte Center City Partners, and UNC Charlotte.

As she does during many of her trips, the Secretary connected with local Commerce staff who work at the U.S. Export Assistance Centers in North Carolina and South Carolina. She thanked them for their work in connecting local companies with international buyers.

The Department’s “Open for Business Agenda” goes hand-in-hand with President Obama’s vision to empower the middle class and boost the economy, and Commerce staff, both at home and abroad, will continue working hard to make that vision a reality.

Commerce Efforts Featured Prominently in President Obama’s State of the Union Address

Last night, the American people heard President Obama deliver a strong and clear message in his State of the Union address: that America’s resurgence is real. In his sixth address to Congress, he noted  that the economy is in the best shape since before the Great Recession. Thanks to the hard work of America’s businesses and workers – and the tough decisions made by the Administration the economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999. The unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis, GDP is rising, exports are at a record high and the United States is outpacing its competitors across the globe. That news is to be celebrated, but there is more work to be done. The task now is to build on this foundation of progress; to continue a sustainable, real and lasting recovery for all Americans. 

To ensure that America continues to be the number one economy in the world, the President outlined a strong trade agenda. Pursuing new trade agreements is essential to creating more jobs, strengthening our competitiveness, and spurring our prosperity. 95 percent of the world’s consumers live beyond the U.S.’s borders, an opportunity that no company would or should ignore. With new trade agreements, new markets will be opened to U.S. products, helping U.S. businesses reach more customers. In today’s global economy, the country’s prosperity is directly tied to our ability to reach new markets and consumers beyond our borders.
 
Being able to meet the needs of millions of new customers requires the United States continue to invest in advanced manufacturing. After a decade of decline, the manufacturing sector is adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s and poised for increased growth in the years ahead. President Obama announced he will build on recent bipartisan legislation to strengthen manufacturing by expanding on the eight National Network for Manufacturing Innovation Institutes already created to complete 15 Institutes by the end of his term. That puts the United States on pace for 45 institutes in the next decade. The President also highlighted a new $10 billion public-private American Made Scale-Up Fund for manufacturing start-ups, ensuring that what is invented in America can be made in America.
 

Swiss Foreign Direct Investment Promotes Jobs in the United States

Ambassador LeVine and Swiss Business Leaders at White House Investment Mission

Cross-post by Suzan "Suzi" LeVine, U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein

Jobs, Jobs, and more Jobs. One role that we, as diplomats, play is that of business development. Why? Because of Shared Prosperity. Our economies are deeply intertwined so, a rising tide lifts all boats. Especially with a theme of quality job creation in this year’s State of the Union, we wanted to share the outcomes and opportunities from a meeting that was all about growing investment and jobs in the United States. 

A week ago, on January 13th, I, along with Swiss Vice President Schneider-Ammann led a delegation of executives and CEOs from eight Swiss companies who have or will have a footprint in the United States to the White house to meet with Cabinet and senior members of the Obama administration to talk about doing business in the United States. The goal was to hear from these executives why they’ve chosen to invest in the United States and what additional opportunities and/or challenges they are seeing because of the business climate in the United States. In other words, for the U.S. Government officials, this was an opportunity to gather feedback in order to increase investment and -- ultimately, great jobs -- in the United States. For the executives, it was an opportunity to identify ways to further grow their businesses. 

This was the first time business leaders from a single country have had a meeting of this kind in the White House. And this set of companies represented a diverse cross-section of Swiss Businesses -- diverse in size, industry, and location (both in Switzerland and the United States). They included Alevo Group, Bühler, the Kudelski Group, Nestlé, Novartis, Pilatus Aircraft, Reha Technology, and Zurich Insurance Group. And the right people from the administration were in the meeting to hear and act on their feedback. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, Director of the National Economic Council Jeff Zients, Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Executive Director of SelectUSA Vinai Thummalapally, Deputy National Security Council and National Economic Council Advisor Caroline Atkinson, and Acting Assistant Secretary of Education Johann Uvin were all there to listen, absorb, and discuss. 

Feedback was shared and discussed regarding tax reform, immigration, IP protection, our shared values, and more. 

The meeting was well-timed because that same day, new job statistics came out sharing a five million job gap in the United States. That means there are five million jobs going unfilled because there are not people with the skills to do those jobs. Today, in his State of the Union, President Obama spoke not just about creating great jobs but also about ensuring we have the workforce in the United States to do those jobs. And -- again -- this was a persistent theme for these companies. In order to further invest in the United States, they need a qualified work force with which to fill those jobs. Jobs of all shapes and sizes: software developers and IT professionals, insurance claims adjusters, metal workers, pharmaceutical lab technicians and on and on.