FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 11, 2011
CONTACT OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS
CommerceConnect business assistance initiative in Baltimore is 17th expansion this fiscal year, exceeding initial target of 16
Following the launch of its Michigan office last September, the U.S. Commerce Department’s CommerceConnect is expanding into Baltimore, Md. The 17th expansion this fiscal year, the Baltimore initiative exceeds CommerceConnect’s initial goal of deploying services in 16 communities across the country.
Announced in 2009, CommerceConnect is a one-stop-shop initiative in which Commerce Department employees are cross-trained so they have the ability to connect firms to the full menu of Commerce programs and can link business owners with other federal, state, local and nonprofit resources. The effort is designed to cut through red tape and simplify access to services and resources that can help companies grow, create jobs and become more efficient.
Newly cross-trained Commerce staff will work in existing local department offices to assist Baltimore-area businesses–no matter where they are in their life cycle, whether just getting off the ground or looking to expand into overseas markets–in collaboration with state and local partners.
“CommerceConnect is bringing the Department’s services and resources closer to America’s businesses, helping them to boost economic growth and job creation in their communities,” Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank said. “The administration continues to work every day on behalf of Main Street businesses, and CommerceConnect is one more example of how we’re doing just that.”
Trained CommerceConnect specialists can assess clients’ business needs–whether it's access to capital, intellectual property protection, export promotion or guidance on how to make operations more efficient–and refer them to appropriate resources.
“Offering this added service brings small- and medium-sized firms in Maryland one step closer to doing what they do best – creating jobs,” said U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, who funds the Department of Commerce as Chairwoman of the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee. “The language of Washington can be a foreign language. The Commerce Department is lowering the language barrier by giving staff new skills to listen to Marylanders and provide advice in plain English about how businesses can link to Commerce programs as well as other federal, state, local and nonprofit resources. Improving business’s access to the full range of federal programs creates opportunities and creates jobs here in Maryland.”
To streamline the Commerce Department’s programs and services for American businesses, former Commerce Secretary Gary Locke launched CommerceConnect as a pilot program in Michigan in 2009. Following its success, he announced the opening of a permanent CommerceConnect office in Pontiac, Mich., in September of 2010. CommerceConnect has a strong track record of building effective enterprise assistance networks in areas that have traditionally been fragmented and ineffective at advancing larger regional economic goals in a collaborative and cohesive manner. Since October, the program has worked with more than 700 new firms, referring them to more than 1,000 targeted business solutions, nine Commerce Department bureaus, and more than 50 federal, state and local partner organizations.
The CommerceConnect network has expanded since its initial pilot to include not only a Michigan field office, but also a Gulf Coast initiative and growing contingent of cross-trained specialists in Commerce Department field offices now in 17 communities across the country, as well as a national call center and web portal.
Businesses in Maryland interested in working with CommerceConnect specialists can contact the CommerceConnect Call Center at 1-888-728-4190 or visit www.CommerceConnect.gov.