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Blog Category: Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker

Secretary Pritzker and Deputy Secretary Andrews Participate in MLK Day of Service

Secretary Pritzker and Deputy Secretary Andrews Participate in MLK Day of Service

On Monday, Secretary Penny Pritzker participated in the Project Management Day of Service ScopeAthon as part of the Martin Luther King Day of service.

ScopeAthon involved 600 project managers, who provided 6 hours of volunteer effort to nearly 200 charity and nonprofit organizations that focused on healthcare, environment, education, fine arts, and social services. Events like the ScopeAthon allow professionals to share their talent and expertise with nonprofits that may not have the funding or resources to access these services normally. Five DC Metro Area Project Management Institute chapters partnered with the Taproot Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that makes business talent available to organizations working to improve, society, to host the ScopeAthon.

The ScopeAthon focused on business professionals providing pro bono work for non-profits. This first of-its kind event provided project management as a pro bono service that provided over $200,000 worth of consulting to local nonprofits. Secretary Pritzker emphasized the importance of service and the significant role of the private sector has in improving communities through service. Events like the ScopeAthon embody the spirit of the day by allowing professionals to share their talent and expertise with nonprofits that may not have the funding or resources to access these services normally. The Secretary was joined by event director Kendall Lott; Liz Hamburg, President and CEO of the Taproot Foundation; Max Skolnick, Executive Director of Taproot DC; and a representative from Hewlett-Packard.

Additionally, Deputy Secretary Bruce Andrews participated in City Year DC’s service project at Eastern Senior High School. There, Deputy Secretary Andrews helped paint a mural with other volunteers that fittingly read “Your Legacy is in Your Hands.” In addition to painting, several Commerce Department volunteers who joined Deputy Secretary Andrews were involved in light construction, organization, kit-making and other service projects. The projects complimented City Year DC’s primary focus to help turn schools into more engaging, educational, and vibrant places for students to learn and play. 

Broadband: The Electricity of the 21st Century

President Barack Obama with Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker views demonstration of fiber optic spicing at Cedar Falls Utilities in Cedar Falls, Iowa, Jan. 14, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Cross blog post by U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, The White House Blog

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, American business owners, scientists, and entrepreneurs have driven our economy forward and kept the United States leading the way in innovation and global competition. A thread woven through the fabric of our national identity has been having the most productive and highly skilled workforce in the world.

A 21st-century America should be no different.

In order to help revitalize a struggling American economy in the post-Depression 1930s, the Rural Electrification Act called for a push to electrify rural areas. Connecting otherwise hard-to-reach communities through electricity and telephone services gave them the ability to more easily compete on both the national and global economic stage. It was an idea as deeply important to the viability of 20th-century rural America as telecommunications and broadband Internet access is today.

For most Americans, the click of a mouse is all it takes to open the door to a world of up-to-the-minute information and global commerce. In remote communities in particular, broadband brings with it new access to health care, education, and economic opportunities that have not been available in the past. But there are still many for whom this is not yet a reality.

In our travels across the country, time and time again we hear stories of the positive impacts of our work building a strong, secure infrastructure. Investments in broadband access have helped our workforce keep up with the increasingly fast speed of business and ensured that our rural communities remain competitive and attractive to new investors.

Since 2009, USDA has invested in new and improved broadband service to 1.49 million rural residents. That means expanded access to state-of-the-art health care, educational and cultural resources, and the opportunity for local businesses to compete in the global economy. In addition to core investments in broadband infrastructure, USDA has financed technologies that rely on broadband to ensure that rural Americans have access to 21st-century technology for education, health, and day-to-day life. For example, since 2009, our investments have helped more than 2,500 rural health care facilities use telemedicine to improve medical services for people living in remote rural areas, and more than 4,600 rural schools implement distance learning technology to expand their reach and improve access to information for thousands of students.

The Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) invested more than $4 billion in grants through the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program to build network infrastructure, establish public computer centers, and develop digital literacy training to expand broadband adoption. Through those projects, we’ve made significant progress. Commerce grantees have built or upgraded more than 113,000 miles of fiber and connected nearly 25,000 community anchor institutions, such as schools and libraries. Our grantees also have established or upgraded 3,000 public computer centers, trained more than 4 million people, and helped roughly 735,000 households sign up for broadband.

Commerce and White House Ramp-Up Efforts to Open More Markets to American Goods and Services

Exports are a vital part of the Obama Administration’s economic growth agenda, therefore, the Commerce Department and the White House hosted a fly-in that brought business leaders from around the country to Washington for a panel discussion on ways to send more products stamped “Made in America” around the world. More than 60 small-medium-sized business leaders representing various industries were in attendance.

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker participated in a roundtable discussion about how trade benefits the communities in which these companies operate and these businesses leaders live. She called on business executives to do what she called “painting the brush strokes of each individual portrait” with their neighbors, customers, and employees to make the case to them that trade is not only a global and national priority – it is also a local opportunity.When business stories such as Inficon’s - an innovative company of 250 employees in Syracuse, New York that exports instrumentation -  are told, it paints the picture that trade does indeed impact the lives and livelihoods of citizens and their communities.

Ninety-five percent of the world’s customers live beyond U.S. borders. Secretary Pritzker is leading the charge to make exporting a larger part of the DNA of all American businesses. Key to achieving this goal and at the top of the Administration’s trade agenda is passage of Trade Promotion Authority, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic-Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP).  Once completed, TPP is expected to make it easier to sell American products and services to more than 40 percent of global GDP.  T-TIP will cover nations that account for nearly half of the global economy and nearly a third of world trade flows. 

In 2013 exports reached an all-time high of $2.3 trillion with 2014 expected to surpass that record. Trade is a gateway for American businesses to create jobs, grow the economy and bring the markets of the world to the doorsteps of small, medium, and large businesses. The Commerce Department is committed to expanding the global footprint of American businesses and keeping America open for business. 

2015: The Year to Launch and Scale in the United States

SelectUSA Tech in Dublin – Legal, Visa, Insurance and Tax Considerations for U.S. Expansion (June 25, 2014)

By John D. Breidenstine, Minister Counselor for Commercial Affairs, U.S. Embassy, London

The United Kingdom and Ireland are both home to flourishing tech startups looking for the right opportunities to grow globally.  The United States is the logical target for their expansion, especially given its 320 million consumers, free trade agreements with 20 other markets, and massive market for technology purchases. 

Furthermore, there is plenty of precedent.  Companies from the UK and Ireland have outstanding track records of succeeding in our country. The UK is the largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States, with $564.7 billion total stock as of 2013.  According to the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, affiliates of UK companies in the United States are responsible for more than 962,900 American jobs.  Ireland is the eighth largest source of FDI, whose investors are responsible for more than $117 billion stock as of 2013 and 168,900 U.S. jobs as of 2012. 

Startups can also tap into the incredible resources available in the United States. Our entrepreneurial culture is the perfect business climate for startups to thrive. Just look at the numbers: According to the Kauffman Foundation’s Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, an average of 476,000 new businesses were created each month in 2013. The United States leads the world in innovation and intellectual property protection, accounting for roughly 30 percent of global research and development (R&D).  In 2012 alone, companies from the U.K. and Ireland combined spent nearly $9 billion on R&D in the United States, contributing significantly to the intellectual diversity of all three countries.

So how can SelectUSA, the U.S. government-wide program to facilitate investment into the United States, help even more companies to make the leap across the Atlantic?  SelectUSA provides information, connects businesses with the right people, and helps investors navigate the federal government (learn more about our full range of services).  In addition, the Commercial Service (CS) in the U.K. and Ireland launched a new initiative in 2014—SelectUSA Tech—to give early-stage technology companies the tools that they need to launch their businesses in the United States.

SelectUSA Tech’s 2014 “boot camp-style” events in London, Dublin, Edinburgh and Belfast brought together public and private-sector experts to address legal, tax, accounting, insurance, and visa/immigration issues, while also covering how tech entrepreneurs can access U.S. buyers, venture capital, debt financing, and general banking services. A final, key component of the events has been a “lessons learned” panel of local startups, who share their experiences launching and scaling stateside.  

For more information about SelectUSA Tech Seminars, check out the flyer from September’s Edinburgh event or the highlights reels from our London or Dublin events.  We also regularly participate in tech conferences and at incubator briefings. For example, over the course of a single week in October, CS UK held a SelectUSA Tech Seminar in Belfast, hosted a LDNY (London-New York Festival) #scaling2cities tech entrepreneur event at the U.S. Embassy, and co-sponsored “The Transatlantic Startup” event organized by the Global Innovation Forum

Startups can also learn more about the U.S. market at the 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit coming up in March, which will enable entrepreneurs to meet with economic development offices from across the United States, all in one building.  The day before the Summit, we’ll also be holding a SelectUSA Academy to present the basics of investing and launching a business in the United States at a level of detail that will be particularly useful for startups and entrepreneurs.

To learn more about our SelectUSA Tech, please follow us on Twitter @SelectUSATech.

Swiss Executives Announce $3 Billion Investment in the United States During Meeting with Secretary Pritzker

Swiss Executives Announce $3 Billion Investment in the United States During Meeting with Secretary Pritzker

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, NEC Director Jeff Zients and Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett, hosted a delegation of Swiss business leaders, who are making significant U.S. foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States. The eight executives announced plans to invest $3 billion in their U.S. operations in 2015. The participants also discussed the importance of job-driven workforce training initiatives, which enhance the United States’ attractiveness as a destination for investment by better enabling employers to hire workers with the necessary skills and providing employers with the technical assistance needed to launch training programs. 

The U.S.-Swiss diplomatic relationship dates back more than 160 years and currently, the U.S.-Swiss trading relationship totals nearly $100 billion annually. The total value of Swiss FDI in the U.S. has more than doubled between 2009 and 2013, growing from $65 billion to $140 billion, making Switzerland the 6th largest source. Additionally, Swiss investors are the top international source of R&D investment in the United States, spending nearly $9.4 billion in 2012. U.S. subsidiaries of Swiss firms employed over 472,200 U.S. workers in 2012, with an average annual salary of over $99,091. The apprenticeship model has become a major tool for developing a skilled workforce. Today’s meeting provided an opportunity for Swiss business leaders to share their experiences with apprenticeships and how that model can be expanded in the U.S. By partnering with Swiss companies to expand and start new registered apprenticeship programs, the pipeline of U.S. workers for in-demand jobs will be strengthened.
 
The investor delegation also covered the importance of SelectUSA, a government effort to attract, retain and expand business investment to and within the United States. SelectUSA leads the Interagency Investment Working Group to ensure investors, get the answers and assistance they need across the federal government. SelectUSA provides services to international investors of all sizes and U.S. state, regional and local economic development organizations (EDOs). The upcoming Summit will showcase investment opportunities from every corner of the United States, while high-profile business and government leaders share their insight on the latest business trends.

2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit is Now Open for Business

2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit is Now Open for Business

Guest blog post by Secretary Penny Pritzker 

In my first year as Secretary, one of my proudest moments was welcoming international investors to the 2013 SelectUSA Investment Summit. Alongside President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, we made it clear that America is “Open for Business.” 

As 2015 begins, we are moving full speed ahead with registration for the second SelectUSA Investment Summit, which will take place in the DC metro area on March 23-24, 2015. 

In November, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released new data showing why efforts to attract international investment are so important. U.S. affiliates of foreign firms employed 5.8 million people in the United States in 2012. These companies spent $48 billion on U.S. research and development, and they exported nearly $344 billion worth of goods manufactured in the United States. In 2013, the United States attracted $231 billion in FDI, up from $170 billion in 2012. 

There has never been a better time to consider establishing or expanding operations in the United States, and it is clear that investors recognize the opportunities that America offers.  We are home to an attractive consumer market, a thriving culture of innovation, and a talented workforce.  The U.S. economic recovery is outshining others, and investors are increasingly confident.  In fact, A.T. Kearney’s 2014 Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Confidence Index said, “the United States tops the index for the second year in a row,” with the highest net positive rating in the index’s 16-year history. 

The 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit aims to build on the tremendous success of the inaugural event, which connected investors from 60 countries with representatives from nearly every U.S. state and territory.  At this year’s Summit, economic development organizations (EDOs) from across the United States will once again gather to showcase investment opportunities to companies from around the world. This event will bring together the tools, information, and connections companies need to grow their business here. The two-day summit will include many sessions with high-profile CEOs, breakout panels with practical tools for investors, one-on-one matchmaking meetings, and pitches on the trade show floor.  

25th U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade Concludes with Key Outcomes

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman today hosted a Chinese delegation led by Vice Premier Wang Yang for the 25th session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) in Chicago, IL

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman hosted a Chinese delegation led by Vice Premier Wang Yang for the 25th session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT), which took place in Chicago. At the conclusion of the discussions, the United States announced key outcomes in the areas of agricultural market access, intellectual property rights protection, innovation policies, and competition law enforcement.

Through sustained engagement over the course of this past year, the United States and China have reached agreement in several areas of key importance to U.S. farmers, innovators, manufacturers and workers, including in the following areas:

  • Agriculture market access:  China has made commitments that should promote significant increases in U.S. exports of soybeans, corn and dairy products to China.  Specifically, China announced that it would approve the importation of new biotechnology varieties of U.S. soybeans and corn ­– current annual U.S. exports of soybeans and corn to China total $14 billion and $3.5 billion, respectively – and also that it would pursue a regular dialogue with the United States focused on the benefits of the increased use of innovative technologies in agriculture, for both the United States and China. China also agreed to strong IP protections for products that use trademarks or common names like "parmesan" or "feta" cheese, which in recent years have begun to demonstrate a potential for rapid export growth vis-à-vis China.
  • IPR protection:  China's IPR-related commitments cover a range of needed improvements, which should benefit U.S. businesses in a wide variety of industries that rely on the ability to protect their trade secrets, as well as U.S. holders of patents, trademarks and copyrights. For example, in the area of trade secrets, building on prior bilateral commitments made by China, the United States has gained China’s agreement to take specific additional steps to protect companies’ trade secrets and to work on a new trade secrets law to further enhance their protections.  The United States also has secured China’s agreement to, among other things, bring new focus to the two countries’ work together to determine how best to foster a better environment for facilitating increased sales of legitimate intellectual property-intensive goods and services in China.
  • Innovation policies:  The United States continued to pursue changes to Chinese policies and practices that have pressured foreign companies to transfer valuable intellectual property rights to enterprises in China.  For example, China committed to ensure that they treat foreign IP rights the same as domestic IP rights.  China also has agreed to streamline China’s regulatory processes and cut red tape for imports of new, innovative pharmaceuticals and medical devices, which should lead to increases in U.S. exports and U.S. jobs in these two important sectors.  Indeed, according to industry data, the U.S. pharmaceuticals industry directly employs more than 810,000 workers and supports a total of 3.4 million jobs in the United States, while annual exports of U.S. pharmaceutical products to China have exceeded $1.2 billion.  The U.S. medical device industry, meanwhile, includes over 7,000 companies, most with less than 100 employees, supports 1.9 million U.S. jobs overall, and was responsible for $2.7 billion in exports to China in 2013. 
  • Competition policy enforcement:  The United States was able to address a significant concern for many foreign companies, which have expressed serious concern about insufficient predictability, fairness and transparency in the investigative processes of China’s Anti-Monopoly Law enforcement.  The Chinese side agreed that, under normal circumstances, a foreign company in an Anti-Monopoly Law investigation would be permitted to have counsel present and to consult with them during proceedings.  China also made several additional commitments, including to treat domestic and foreign companies equally and to provide increased transparency for investigated companies.

JCCT Day One Emphasizes A Shared Vision of Global Economic Partnership

JCCT Day One Emphasizes A Shared Vision of Global Economic Partnership
JCCT Day One Emphasizes A Shared Vision of Global Economic Partnership

Secretary Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Froman, along with a high-level Government of China delegation led by Vice Premier Wang Yang, kicked off a day of side events with American and Chinese private sector leaders around the Joint Commission on Trade and Commerce (JCCT). For the first time, the JCCT schedule included a full day of events designed to facilitate private sector engagement with officials from the U.S. and Chinese governments.  

Thirty-one years after the JCCT’s inception, Secretary Pritzker, Ambassador Froman and Vice Premier Wang Yang committed to re-imagining the JCCT. Their hope is for the JCCT to serve as more of a platform for government leaders to hear from the business community, as well as continue to serve as a forum for addressing bilateral trade and investment issues and promoting commercial opportunities between the United States and China.

In the morning, both delegations participated in a roundtable with 24 business leaders from the U.S. and China, sponsored by the Paulson Institute and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. During the roundtable discussion, government and business leaders discussed the opportunities and challenges of bilateral investment between the United States and China, including greater market access for U.S. goods and services, protection of intellectual property—including trade secrets—as well as ways to promote an efficient and level playing field in China, and how to secure best practices in regulatory enforcement, among other issues.

Later in the day at a luncheon hosted by World Business Chicago, Secretary Pritzker emphasized the importance of global commerce in promoting more openness, trade, and business between the United States and China. She also highlighted how Chinese investment in the United States has been a win-win for both countries and noted that Chinese investment has grown 42% between 2009 and 2013, supporting jobs for 14,000 U.S. workers.  

Secretary Pritzker finished the day speaking about the shared vision of a global economic partnership that exists between the United States and China. She noted that the success of the U.S.-China commercial relationship is critical to global economic growth and stability. The two economies are the largest in the world, accounting for nearly 35 percent of global GDP. Combined U.S. and China trade in goods and services add up to about one-fifth of all international trade, so the importance of the bilateral economic relationship to each other and to the global economy cannot be overstated.  

In many ways, the reimagined JCCT is an opportunity for the JCCT co-chairs to build a legacy of cooperation, respect, and stronger U.S.-China economic ties. Leaving this legacy will require a tremendous amount of work, but if it succeeds, the JCCT will become an even more effective mechanism for economic growth.  The co-chairs can use the JCCT to promote more commerce, to deepen trust, and to address real business challenges.

Defining Operational Excellence One Person at a Time

Defining Operational Excellence One Person at a Time

When you’re striving for excellence, it helps to have an example. It’s much easier to work hard on something when you’ve seen others succeed despite obstacles. A highlight each year at the National Institute of Standards and Technology is the annual awards ceremony. This is where NIST celebrates operational excellence through the many achievements of its scientific, engineering, administrative and other support staff members. 

This year the agency was honored to have U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker provide remarks at the event.

As NIST employees left the ceremony Wednesday, they had almost 200 examples of operational excellence to pick from for role models—people who had done amazing things. Since NIST is a research agency, many were technical stars who had:

Secretary Pritzker Visits Montgomery College to Discuss Importance of Training America’s Workforce

Secretary Pritzker Visits Montgomery College to Discuss Importance of Training America’s Workforce

Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez visited Montgomery College in Germantown, Maryland, which recently received a federal grant to lead a consortium of 14 Maryland community colleges, in partnership with 37 employers, to build career pathways for cybersecurity and information technology jobs. The $15 million dollar Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant is one of 70 awards – totaling $450 million – that the Department of Labor announced in September. To learn first-hand how the grant is helping equip students for cybersecurity jobs that are locally available, Secretary Pritzker toured the school’s cyber laboratory with Montgomery College’s President Dr. DeRionne Pollard before participating in a roundtable discussion with representatives from Maryland’s community colleges, state and local officials, and employers serving as partners through this consortium. 

During the roundtable, Secretary Pritzker emphasized that skills development is an important issue for America’s workforce and businesses. Since taking office, Secretary Pritzker has spoken to more than 1,400 business leaders and one-third of the Fortune 500 CEOs, and almost every one of them has raised this as an issue that is critical to their future. This is why Secretary Pritzker has made job-driven training a top priority for the Department of Commerce for the very first time. Across many different industries, from manufacturing to cybersecurity, jobs are going unfilled because employers can’t find workers with the skills they are seeking. In fact, there are currently about 210,000 open and unfilled cybersecurity jobs across the country.
 
Cybersecurity is a threat not just to national security, but to America’s businesses and economy at–large. During the roundtable, Secretary Pritzker emphasized the Commerce Department’s key role in addressing the threat of cybersecurity. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which is one of Commerce’s bureaus, advances cutting-edge technology and industry standards and has conducted cybersecurity research for as long as there has been cyberspace. NIST has worked with the State of Maryland and Montgomery County on projects designed to secure electronic health information; protect assets in the financial services sector; and defend our energy infrastructure.