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Blog Entries from 2012

Census Bureau Projects U.S. Population of 315.1 Million on New Year's Day 2013

Map of U.S. with Jan 1, 2013 and population projection overlay

As our nation prepares to begin the New Year, the Commerce Department's U.S. Census Bureau projects that on January 1, 2013, the total United States population will be 315,091,138. This represents an increase of 2,272,462, or 0.73 percent, from New Year's Day 2012 and an increase of 6,343,630, or 2.05 percent, since the most recent Census Day (April 1, 2010).

Component Settings for January 2013:

  • One birth every 8 seconds
  • One death every 12 seconds
  • One international migrant (net) every 40 seconds
  • Net gain of one person every 17 seconds

U.S. POPClock Projection  |  NIST photo of U.S. Smart Grid 

The U.S. Department of Commerce wishes you a Happy 2013!

The 2012 Holiday Season Facts and Features from the U.S. Census Bureau

Commerce headquarters, Herbert C. Hoover Building with holiday decorations

The holiday season is a time for gathering to celebrate with friends and family, to reflect and to give thanks. At this time of year, the Department of Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau presents holiday-related facts and statistics from its data collections, including details about mail, retail sales, toys, trees and decorations and much more. The nation's projected population as we ring in the New Year is estimated to be more than 315 million.  Happy holidays from the U.S. Department of Commerce! 

U.S. Census Bureau Facts for Features, 2012

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

Contiguous U.S. Warmer and Drier Than Average for November, Autumn

Map: Contiguous U.S. warmer and drier than average for November, autumn

Drought persists, causing water resource issues for central U.S.; 2012 virtually certain to become warmest year on record for the nation

The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during November was 44.1°F, 2.1°F above the 20th century average, tying 2004 as the 20th warmest November on record. The autumn contiguous U.S. temperature of 54.7°F was the 21st warmest autumn, 1.1°F above average.

The November nationally-averaged precipitation total of 1.19 inches was 0.93 inch below the long-term average and the 8th driest November on record. The autumn precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 5.71 inches, 1.0 inch below average.

  •  November brought warmer-than-average conditions to the western half of the country. The largest temperature departures from average were centered near the Rockies where Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming had November temperatures among their ten warmest.
  • The Eastern Seaboard, Ohio Valley, and Southeast were cooler than average during November. North Carolina tied its 10th coolest November on record, with a statewide-averaged temperature 3.5°F below average.
  • A large area of the country experienced below-average precipitation in November. Drier-than-average conditions stretched from the Intermountain West, through the Plains, into the Midwest, and along the entire East Coast. Twenty-two states had monthly precipitation totals ranking among their ten driest.
  • According to the November 27 U.S. Drought Monitor report, 62.7 percent of the contiguous U.S. was experiencing moderate-to-exceptional drought, larger than the 60.2 percent observed at the end of October. Drought conditions improved for parts of the Northern Rockies, which were wetter-than-average during November, while conditions worsened for parts of the Southwest and Mid-Atlantic.

Full release

New Collaboration with Joining Forces Initiative Is a Win for America’s Veterans and Companies

Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank Speaks at the National Veteran Employment Summit

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

Yesterday, I spoke at the National Veteran Employment Summit hosted by Monster and I announced that Monster has signed up to participate in the Joining Forces effort to help hire or train 250,000 veterans and military spouses. The companies participating in Joining Forces know that hiring veterans is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also good business. America’s veterans have the leadership, the character, and the team-oriented approach that employers want and need.

Under the president’s leadership, the administration is working hard to make sure veterans find job opportunities. We’re making improvements in how the military transitions service members from the battlefield to the workplace. We're also ensuring that the post-9/11 GI Bill stays strong. And, through Joining Forces—led by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden—we're ensuring that veterans and military families have the support they need to land a job when they return to civilian life.

The Commerce Department is particularly proud to support the efforts of companies who are hiring men and women who have bravely served our nation. 

Moving forward, the Department will encourage even more businesses to make hard commitments to hire veterans and we will actively share the "best practices" we find in veteran hiring. More broadly, we will continue to give veteran-entrepreneurs, veteran business owners, and veterans in the workforce the tools they need to succeed.

I believe that America’s capacity to innovate and compete in the 21st century is tied to our commitment to unleash the full potential of our veterans. We must continue to do everything we can to provide them with paths to good jobs that will help our nation maintain and strengthen its global leadership.

NIST and Forest Service Create World’s First Hazard Scale for Wildland Fires

Wildland Ember Exposure on a Community Using the WUI Fire Hazard Scale

Two federal agencies have teamed to create the first-ever system for linking accurate assessments of risk from wildland fires to improved building codes, standards and practices that will help communities better resist the threat. The proposed Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) Hazard Scale addresses fires that occur where developed and undeveloped areas meet, and is described in a report released by the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's U.S. Forest Service (USFS).

"Structures in areas susceptible to other natural hazards, such as earthquakes, hurricanes and tornados, can be built to address the potential risks from these disasters because we have measurement scales that define that risk—the Richter for quakes, the Saffir-Simpson for hurricanes and the Enhanced Fujita for tornados," says NIST's Alexander Maranghides, who created the new wildfire hazard assessment tool with William Mell of the USFS. "Now, we have proposed a scale specifically for wildland fires that will allow us to link exposure to improved codes and standards, and as a result, save lives, property and dollars."

The problem of WUI fires, particularly in the western and southern regions of the United States, has been growing more prevalent as housing developments push into wilderness areas. According to the Bureau of Land Management's National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), the 10 years since 2002 saw an annual average of nearly 71,000 WUI fires recorded and 1.9 million hectares (4.7 million acres) burned. Through the end of October 2012, the number of WUI fires for the year is below the average at slightly more than 54,000, but the amount of damage is nearly double with 3.7 million hectares (9.1 million acres) having burned—approximately 1,000 times the total area of Rhode Island. The monetary toll from the destruction is staggering; the NIFC estimates that federal agencies spend an average of $1.2 billion per year on WUI fire suppression alone, with state and local agencies contributing millions more.  Full NIST release

NOAA: Arctic Continues to Break Records in 2012

Arctic iceberg

Becoming warmer, greener region with record losses of summer sea ice and late spring snow 

The Arctic region continued to break records in 2012—among them the loss of summer sea ice, spring snow cover, and melting of the Greenland ice sheet. This was true even though air temperatures in the Arctic were unremarkable relative to the last decade, according to a new report released today.

“The Arctic is changing in both predictable and unpredictable ways, so we must expect surprises,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator, during a press briefing at the American Geophysical Union annual meeting in San Francisco, Calif. “The Arctic is an extremely sensitive part of the world and with the warming scientists have observed, we see the results with less snow and sea ice, greater ice sheet melt and changing vegetation.”

Lubchenco participated in a panel discussion that presented the annual update of the Arctic Report Card, which has, since 2006, summarized the quickly changing conditions in the Arctic. A record-breaking 141 authors from 15 countries contributed to the peer-reviewed report.  Full NOAA release

Presidential Proclamation—Minority Enterprise Development Week, 2012

This week the Minority Business Development Agency will be hosting the 30th Anniversary National Minority Enterprise Development Week and on Friday, November 30, 2012, President Barack Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation about Minority Enterprise Development Week, 2012.


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At the core of who we are as a Nation is a fundamental belief: that no matter who you are, no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, if you have an idea and a willingness to work hard, you can succeed. It is this belief that leads a worker to leave a job to become her own boss, propels a basement inventor to sell a new product, or drives an amateur chef to open a restaurant. It is this belief that has drawn millions to our shores and spurred America's prosperity for centuries.

The belief in tomorrow's promise is guiding minority entrepreneurs across our country to start the kinds of businesses that make up the backbone of our economy. With a combined economic output of $1 trillion, minority-owned firms are key producers in an array of industries, hubs of innovation and new technology, and engines of job creation in our communities.

Because the continued growth and success of minority enterprises is essential to our economic recovery, my Administration has taken steps to help bolster these businesses. Through the Minority Business Development Agency, we are providing access to capital, consulting, contracts, and markets to minority entrepreneurs seeking to expand their businesses at home and overseas. We are also making it easier for business owners to find Federal resources with, a centralized, one-stop platform for businesses to access services to help them grow and hire.

As the number and size of minority-owned firms continue to expand, we must harness the diversity and power of these businesses to help strengthen our economy and put people back to work. As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of Minority Enterprise Development Week, let us honor the role America's minority-owned businesses play in spurring our prosperity and recommit to equipping them with the tools for success in the 21st century.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim December 2 through December 8, 2012, as Minority Enterprise Development Week. I call upon all Americans to celebrate this week with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities to recognize the many contributions of our Nation's minority enterprises.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.


Expanding Access to New Markets in Sub-Saharan Africa for American Businesses

Part of week-long trip to expand access to new markets in Sub-Saharan Africa for American businesses

Guest blog post by Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank

During the last week I’ve been in South and East Africa to advance key elements of President Obama’s “Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa,” focusing on the promotion of economic growth, trade and investment in the continent.

On Wednesday in Johannesburg, we launched the “Doing Business in Africa” campaign at an event hosted by Business Unity South Africa and the Corporate Council on Africa. Among other things, I announced our commitments to train more of our business counselors and to organize Africa Global Business Summits in order to increase the visibility of opportunities in Africa for American entrepreneurs and business owners  

Then, on Thursday and Friday, I traveled to Nairobi, Kenya, to meet with heads of state and senior trade ministers from the East African Community (EAC), a regional organization that includes Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. We signed an agreement to launch the Commercial Dialogue between the EAC and the U.S., the first of its kind in Africa. Our goal is to create an environment where American businesses can both invest in the region and sell their products and services to meet the increasing demand from the growing middle class in East Africa.

Overall, the mutual economic growth of the U.S. and Africa is dependent on strong and growing person-to-person relationships. That’s why I highlighted the fact that Under Secretary for International Trade Francisco Sánchez was simultaneously leading a delegation of 14 U.S. businesses on a trade mission to South Africa and Zambia. (Read more here about how this is already expanding markets for some American businesses). Also, I was pleased to hear that–next week–the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Terrence McCulley, will lead a Nigerian business delegation to a number of U.S. cities to see some of our biggest trade shows.  

The Obama administration will continue to build bridges with Sub-Saharan Africa as we look to the future. Clearly, people both here in the U.S. and in Sub-Saharan Africa will continue to work with each other, learn from each other, and build on each other’s growing prosperity.

NOAA: Busy 2012 Hurricane Season Continues Decades-long High Activity Era in the Atlantic

Satellite view of Superstorm Sandy, 10-29-12

Four U.S. land-falling storms include devastating Sandy and Isaac

November 30 marks the end of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane season, one that produced 19 named storms, of which 10 became hurricanes and one became a major hurricane. The number of named storms is well above the average of 12. The number of hurricanes is also above the average of six, but the number of major hurricanes is below the average of three. 

Based on the combined number, intensity, and duration of all tropical storms and hurricanes, NOAA classifies the season as above-normal. 2012 was an active year, but not exceptionally so as there were 10 busier years in the last three decades.

This season marks the second consecutive year that the mid-Atlantic and Northeast suffered devastating impacts from a named storm. Sandy, and Irene last year, caused fatalities, injuries, and tremendous destruction from coastal storm surge, heavy rainfall, inland flooding, and wind. Storms struck many parts of the country this year, including tropical storms Beryl and Debby in Florida, Hurricane Isaac in Louisiana, and post-tropical Cyclone Sandy in New Jersey.  Full NOAA release   |  Animation: The 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season in 4.5 Minutes (You Tube)

New York Taps NIST's Sunder for Post-Sandy Review of Critical Systems and Services

S. Shyam Sunder

S. Shyam Sunder, director of the Engineering Laboratory at Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), has agreed to serve on the New York State Ready Commission, formed by Governor Andrew Cuomo to recommend ways to ensure critical systems and services are prepared for future natural disasters and other emergencies.

The expert commission is one of three that Cuomo launched in the aftermath of recent major storms, including Hurricanes Sandy and Irene, that devastated parts of the state and revealed weaknesses in New York’s transportation, energy, communications and health infrastructures. The Ready Commission will review critical systems and services and recommend measures to prepare for future natural disasters and other emergencies.  Full release

Acting Secretary Blank Launches Doing Business in Africa Campaign

Map of Africa with text "Doing Business in Africa"

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank today announced the launch of the “Doing Business in Africa” campaign at an event in Johannesburg, South Africa. This campaign is part of a larger U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa, which President Obama issued in June. The “Doing Business in Africa” campaign will promote economic growth, trade and investment in Africa.  In her remarks, the Acting Secretary emphasized the United States’ ongoing commitment to deepening economic ties with these nations. She also shared a message from President Obama (PDF) in support of the campaign.

The United States is pursuing four objectives in Sub-Saharan Africa: strengthening democratic institutions; spurring economic growth, trade and investment; advancing peace and security; and promoting opportunity and development. The new Doing Business in Africa campaign is a key part of this effort. It leverages the federal government’s strengths as assets in trade promotion, financing, and more. Goals of the campaign include helping U.S. businesses identify and seize opportunities in Africa, and helping them overcome any challenges they face to establishing business relationships with Africa.

Also as part of her trip to South Africa, Dr. Blank met with a multi-sector trade mission led by the Department of Commerce’s Under Secretary for International Trade, Francisco Sánchez. This delegation is comprised of representatives from 13 U.S. firms who were traveling to Lusaka, Zambia; and Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa.

Sub-Saharan Africa presents enormous opportunities to the American private sector. According to the World Bank, its GDP totaled approximately $1.25 trillion in 2011, and six of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world are in Sub-Saharan Africa. U.S. total merchandise exports to Sub-Saharan Africa tripled between 2001 and 2011.

Spotlight on Commerce: Timi Vann, NOAA Regional Coordinator

Timi S. Vann

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

Guest blog by Timi Vann, Western Regional Collaboration Coordinator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

I serve as one of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) eight regional coordinators. In this capacity, I am responsible for coordinating the collaborative activities of a 17-member team of scientists, engineers and program managers representing NOAA’s four service branches (Weather, Fisheries, Environmental Satellite, Data and information, and Ocean Services) and Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research in the eleven state region of the Western United States. This team works together to exchange information, leverage resources, and collaborate to address priority regional issues and deliver improved science and services to regional stakeholders.

I was born and raised in Seattle, Wash., and I am Cherokee Indian, as is my husband. After undergraduate studies at The Evergreen State College and graduate studies at the University of Oklahoma, I completed further coursework in satellite remote sensing, image processing, and physics from the University of New Orleans.  After college, I worked with the US Army at Fort Lewis as a cultural resources specialist working to support the military training mission through effective and efficient environmental compliance as it pertained to historic buildings and landscapes, historic and prehistoric archeological sites, traditional cultural properties, and tribal government relations. I then went on to a successful career at NASA working to develop "real world" applications of NASA's satellite data for environmental health tracking and disease surveillance. These experiences enabled me to successfully take on many new challenges at NOAA.

Spotlight on Commerce: Rolena Chuyate, Information Technology Specialist, U.S. Census Bureau

Rolena Chuyate, Information Technology Specialist, U.S. Census Bureau

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

Guest blog post by Rolena Chuyate, Information Technology Specialist, Administrative and Management Systems Division for the U.S. Census Bureau

I work as an Information Technology (IT) Specialist in the Administrative and Management Systems Division (AMSD) for the U.S. Census Bureau. My key responsibilities include supporting the applications software within the AMSD Division as well as supporting the Commerce Business Systems (CBS). My job requires a combination of trouble shooting and problem solving as well as providing customer support. My entire professional career has been in public service of which 25 years have been at the Census Bureau. At the Census Bureau, I have worked in different IT fields – as a UNIX, Linux, and VAX/VMS System Administrator, as a Systems Analyst responsible for installing/configuring SAS software, and as a C programmer. Prior to that, I worked for the USDA in Austin, TX as a Mathematical Statistician.

From 2003 to 2006, I was given an opportunity to serve as a liaison to the Census Bureau’s Advisory Committee on the American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) population. The AIAN Committee is one of the Census Bureau’s Five Race and Ethnic Advisory Committees (REAC) which provide a continuing channel of communication between the AIAN community and the Census Bureau. Serving as a liaison, gave me an opportunity for better understanding of the Decennial operations at the Census Bureau. It also provided an insight of how the Census Bureau worked with the AIAN Committee in obtaining an accurate count of the American Indian population.

Supporting Small Business on Saturday and All Year Round

Small Business Saturday

Guest blog post by Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank

Tomorrow is Small Business Saturday, a day to celebrate and support small businesses across the country.

Small businesses play a vital role in creating jobs and economic opportunities nationwide. Making certain that small businesses thrive is a goal we support through many of our efforts here at the Commerce Department: from the Small Business Innovation Research awards, to tools that help small businesses protect their intellectual property, to informative sites that help small businesses export or access the broad array of all federal government tools

Over the last two decades, small businesses and startups have been responsible for creating two out of every three net new jobs in the U.S. Today, over half of all working Americans own or work for a small business. It’s clear that when small businesses succeed, so do our communities.

I want to encourage you to shop at your local small businesses when you can. Check out the participating businesses at

Whether you live in a big city or a rural area… from coast to coast… Small Business Saturday is an opportunity to support your local businesses and your communities. Happy shopping!


Thanksgiving Day: November 22, 2012

Image of colorful Fall fruits and vegetables (Photo:

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

Thanksgiving Day by the numbers:

  • 254 million:  The number of turkeys expected to be raised in the United States in 2012. That is up 2 percent from the number raised during 2010.
  • 1.1 billion pounds:  Total production of pumpkins in the major pumpkin-producing states in 2011. Illinois led the country by producing an estimated 520 million pounds of the vined orange gourd. Pumpkin patches in California, Pennsylvania and Ohio also provided lots of pumpkins: Each state produced at least 100 million pounds. The value of all pumpkins produced in the United States was $113 million.
  • 768 million pounds:  The forecast for U.S. cranberry production in 2012. Wisconsin is estimated to lead all states in the production of cranberries, with 450 million pounds, followed by Massachusetts (estimated at 210 million).
  • 64,380:  The number of grocery stores in the United States in 2010. These establishments are expected to be extremely busy around Thanksgiving, as people prepare for their delightful meals.
  • 37:  Number of places and townships in the United States named Plymouth, as in Plymouth Rock, the landing site of the first Pilgrims. Plymouth, Minn., is the most populous, with 71,561 residents in 2011; Plymouth, Mass., had 56,767. There is just one township in the United States named Pilgrim. Located in Dade County, Mo., its population was 131 in 2011. And then there is Mayflower, Ark., whose population was 2,298 in 2011, and Mayflower Village, Calif., whose population was 5,515 in 2010.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau’s Facts for Features

Acting Secretary Blank Visits New Jersey to Meet Business Owners Impacted by Sandy

Acting Secretary Blank and Acting Assistant Secretary Erskine survey a map of the Port of Newark

On Wednesday, Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank traveled to New Jersey where she met with local business leaders for discussions about ongoing efforts to rebuild the region in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. During these conversations, she conveyed that the Commerce Department, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the administration are focused on providing businesses and communities affected by Hurricane Sandy with all available federal support. 

In Elizabeth, New Jersey, Acting Secretary Blank met with a group of businesses that were impacted by the storm. Dr. Blank then visited the Port of Newark in Port Newark, New Jersey, where she was briefed by officials on the status of port operations and the challenges moving forward. She heard from some of the port’s tenants, trucking companies, and freight mobility experts about the impact that the storm has had on their businesses, customers, and employees. Dr. Blank then took a tour of the port to observe the progress of recovery work that is currently underway. 

NOAA: U.S. Temperature and Precipitation in October Were Near Average

Map of U.S. showing significant areas of weather activity in October 2012

Sandy breaks records in East as severe drought continues in West, Great Plains

According to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center scientists, the average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during October was 53.9°F, 0.3°F below the long-term average. This ends a 16-month streak of above-average temperatures for the Lower 48 that began in June 2011.

The October nationally averaged precipitation total of 2.19 inches was slightly above the long-term average. The Northwest, Midwest, and Northeast were wetter than average, while below-average precipitation was observed across the Southern Rockies and the Central and Southern Plains. As of October 30, 60.2 percent of the contiguous U.S. was experiencing drought conditions with the most severe conditions in the Great Plains. Full report

Acting Secretary Blank Supports Joining Forces Veterans Hiring Initiative

Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank and Honeywell CEO David Cote at a Joining Forces Veterans Hiring Event

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank today participated in a Joining Forces Veterans Hiring Event that recognized Veterans Day and the contributions of our men and women in uniform. The event, sponsored by Honeywell and their military recruitment partner Orion International, aimed to identify and match veteran job candidates with open positions at Honeywell and recognized Honeywell’s efforts to provide veterans with more career opportunities. Honeywell’s Chairman and CEO Dave Cote and Joining Forces Executive Director Todd Veazie also attended.

“The Department of Commerce takes this administration’s commitment to hiring veterans very seriously, and we will do our part to support the Joining Forces initiative and the good work of companies like Honeywell and Orion International that are connecting members of our military with the quality private-sector jobs they have earned,” said Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank. “Through the Department’s strong relationship with private sector companies all over the country, we will be encouraging other firms to commit to hiring veterans, and we will do all we can to help them make that goal a reality.”

Acting Commerce Secretary Blank Announces 2012 Winners of Nation’s Highest Presidential Honor for Performance Excellence

Acting Commerce Secretary Blank Announces 2012 Winners of Nation’s Highest Presidential Honor for Performance Excellence

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank today named four U.S. organizations as recipients of the 2012 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s highest Presidential honor for performance excellence through innovation, improvement and visionary leadership. The winners in this, the 25th anniversary year of the award, represent four different sectors, one repeat recipient and a health network recognized for the same honor earned previously by its flagship hospital.       

The 2012 Baldrige Award recipients—listed with their category—are:

  • Lockheed Martin Missile and Fire Control, Grand Prairie, Texas (manufacturing)
  • MESA Products, Tulsa, Okla. (small business)
  • North Mississippi Health Services, Tupelo, Miss. (health care)
  • City of Irving, Irving, Texas (nonprofit)

"The four organizations recognized today with the 2012 Baldrige Award are leaders in the truest sense of the word and role models that others in the health care, nonprofit and business sectors worldwide will strive to emulate,” said Acting Secretary Blank. “They have set the bar high for innovative practices, dynamic management, financial performance, outstanding employee and customer satisfaction, and, most of all, for their unwavering commitment to excellence and proven results.”

This year marks the silver anniversary of both the award and the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program (BPEP) that supports it. To date, more than 1,500 U.S. organizations have applied for the Baldrige Award, and there are Baldrige-based award programs in nearly all 50 states. Full Release

Veterans Day 2012: November 11

Tomb of the Unknowns, Arlington National Cemetery

Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation in 1954 to change the name to Veterans Day as a way to honor those who served in all American wars. The day honors military veterans with parades and speeches across the nation. A national ceremony takes place at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Veterans Day by the numbers:

  • 21.5 millionthe number of military veterans in the United States in 2011;
  • 9.2 millionthe number of veterans 65 and older in 2011;
  • 1.8 million—the number of veterans younger than 35;
  • 3—the number of states with one million or more veterans in 2011 (California, Florida and Texas);
  • 9.1 millionthe number of veterans 18 to 64 in the labor force in 2011.

Source: Census Bureau's Facts for Features

Resources Available to Help You Recover from Hurricane Sandy

Click Here: Resources Available to Help You Recover from Hurricane Sandy

Here are federal resources available to you and your family as we all work together to recover from Sandy. These links will help connect you with assistance for yourself, your family and your business, health and safety guidelines, ways you can make donations and volunteer, and information about what the government is doing to help.

In Sandy's Aftermath: NOAA Operations Underway to Re-Open Shipping Lanes, Assess Coastal Damage

As the sun comes up in New York this morning, Ensign Lindsey Norman retrieves the side scan sonar that NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson used to survey the Hudson River, so fuel barge traffic could resume.

NOAA post-storm response operations are underway in the aftermath of Sandy. NOAA vessels are now conducting surveys to speed the re-opening of waterways and aircraft are flying missions to capture detailed imagery of coastal storm damage along affected portions of the U.S. East Coast. 

NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey began mobilizing to respond to Hurricane Sandy before the storm reached U.S. waters by preparing vessels, personnel, and equipment to conduct hydrographic surveys of hard-hit areas to locate underwater debris and shoaling that can paralyze shipping at the nation’s ports.

The morning after the storm passed, teams began surveying waterways in Chesapeake Bay. By the morning of Nov. 1, eight NOAA vessels were involved in the effort, surveying waterways in New York, New Jersey, Chesapeake Bay, and Delaware Bay, where shipping had been halted.  

Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank Urges Hurricane Preparedness

U.S. flag over Commerce headquarters

As you know, Hurricane Sandy is making its way up the East Coast of the United States, but the large size of the storm means heavy rain and strong winds will begin affecting the National Capitol Region tonight, and parts of New York and Pennsylvania tomorrow and Wednesday, and New England by Friday.

Make no mistake--this is a large and dangerous storm that needs to be taken seriously, especially by the millions of people who live, work or travel in Sandy’s projected path.

According to our meteorologists at Commerce/NOAA’s National Hurricane Center and National Weather Service, Sandy will make landfall overnight Monday into Tuesday in the mid-Atlantic region. The storm is forecast to have significant and widespread impacts over most of the northeastern United States, both in coastal and inland areas. To follow the latest on Hurricane Sandy, please visit NOAA’s National Hurricane Center on the Web at, on Facebook and on Twitter at Monitor local media or listen to NOAA Weather Radio ( for the latest developments and check your local National Weather Service forecast at

Now is the time to finalize your preparations for the coming storm. We strongly urge all potentially affected Commerce employees, their families and loved ones to take the appropriate steps to make certain they can meet their basic needs for a minimum of 72 hours. For more information on preparedness, please visit for tips on how you can make an emergency kit and put an emergency plan in place. We also encourage you to consult our Tropical Cyclone Preparedness Guide:

Individuals in the region should continue to monitor NOAA Weather Radio and their local news for updates and directions provided by their local officials. State and local officials make determinations and announcements about evacuations. We urge the public to listen to the instructions of officials, and if told to evacuate - evacuate.

The FEMA smartphone app provides safety tips and displays open shelter information at To find an open Red Cross shelter, download the Red Cross Hurricane app or visit

We’re ready. Please be ready, too.

Commerce and NOAA have been actively mobilizing: Our National Hurricane Center and additional weather service meteorologists have been issuing forecasts, watches and warnings to the media, emergency managers and the public. At the same time, we’re also preparing to respond to Sandy’s aftermath in the event that the National Weather Service local forecast offices need to issue a variety of severe weather alerts for inland high winds, flooding and other severe weather.

On a final note, I want to thank all the NOAA staff who have been working hard to ensure that Americans have the most accurate and timely storm updates, watches and warnings—as well as those who will be working to see this storm through and assist in the response phase. Your service to Commerce and the nation is deeply appreciated.

Spotlight on Commerce: Michael C. Camuñez, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance

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

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

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

As Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access & Compliance, I have the great privilege of working each day to advance the President’s trade policy agenda to grow U.S. exports and help American industry compete in foreign markets under the President’s National Export Initiative. In a world where 95 percent of consumers and 80-90 percent of world GDP growth will exist in coming years outside of the United States, our work to grow U.S. exports has never been more important. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to work with my talented colleagues at Commerce and throughout the government on efforts to keep the United States globally competitive and to help to increase our access to these dynamic and emerging global markets.

I am a fourth-generation American, born and raised in southern New Mexico, not far from the U.S.-Mexico border. I am the descendant of Mexican farmers and ranchers, who settled in northern Mexico and what is today the States of New Mexico and Texas. My family left New Mexico for sunny California just as I entered high school. I spent my high school years in California’s San Joaquin Valley, one of our nation’s most productive agricultural regions. 

I was the first in my family to attend college and was lucky enough to earn a spot at Harvard College. While at Harvard, I became deeply involved in organizing and running community service programs aimed at working with at-risk populations. That led to an opportunity following college to help advocate for the creation of a nation-wide system of national service—like a domestic Peace Corps.  In fact, my first political job was in the Clinton Administration, where I was an integral part of the team that established the AmeriCorps program. 

Spotlight on Commerce: Carly Montoya, Director of Advance, Office of the Secretary

 Carly Montoya, Director of Advance, Office of the Secretary

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

Guest blog post by Carly Montoya, Director of Advance, Office of the Secretary

I grew up in Pueblo, Colorado.  My father, Jim, started off as a migrant farm worker and later put four children and my mom through college.   My mother, Pat, started off as a beautician and later went to college when I was in middle school while still raising four kids and helping my father provide for my family.  They did everything they could to support my family so that my brother, sisters and I would have opportunities that they never had.  Because of their sacrifices and their relentless determination, I graduated from Tufts University with a world of opportunities before me.  I chose a career in public service.  

There are a lot of different fields in public service, but advance is a field I was drawn to for one big reason:  Advance is a team effort.   Like my parents taught me, if one person fails, everyone fails.  If one person succeeds, we all succeed. 

Advance is the spoke in the wheel and where everything comes together.   It involves coordinating the objectives of the various departments and bureaus at the Department of Commerce so that the Secretary can engage people who are on the front lines of job creation across America and around the world.  It’s about communicating how the work that we do here at Commerce can nurture an environment where businesses and innovators can create jobs by building things here and selling them everywhere. 

Characters Featured at the USPTO’s Trademark Expo Visit the Children’s National Medical Center

Dr. Bear ® and T.Markey, the USPTO's trademark mascot, at 2011 visit to Children's National Medical Center.  Photo by Roberto Ortiz.

The costumed characters featured at the USPTO’s upcoming Trademark Expo visited the Children’s National Medical Center today.  Volunteers passed out Trademark Activity Guides, helped children complete activities involving characters that are registered trademarks, and taught children about familiar trademarks.  The visit included an introductory statement by Commissioner for Trademarks Deborah Cohn, a musical parade of costumed characters, a presentation challenging children to identify the goods and services for which characters are registered, and visits by some of the characters to children on the hospital floors.  The children’s faces lit up with joy as they watched the characters parade around and dance to music!  T.Markey, the Trademark Expo’s own mascot, was  joined by Spuddy Buddy, Crayola “Tip,” Chester Cheetah, and GEICO’s Gecko. 

An even larger cast of costumed characters will parade in front of the USPTO’s Madison Building at 10 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 19, to begin the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 National Trademark Expo.  Representatives from Mattel, NASCAR, Inc. and the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital will join Deputy Under Secretary and USPTO Deputy Director Teresa Stanek Rea, Alexandria Mayor William Euille, and Commissioner Cohn in giving brief remarks. 

Spotlight on Commerce: Danny Meza, Senior Adviser to the Under Secretary for Industry and Security

Danny Meza, Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary for Industry and Security in the Office of Congressional and Public Affairs

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

Guest blog post by Danny Meza, Senior Adviser to the Under Secretary for Industry and Security in the Office of Congressional and Public Affairs

As Senior Adviser to the Under Secretary for Industry and Security in the Office of Congressional and Public Affairs, I advise the Under Secretary on legislative matters that impact the administration of export controls under the Commerce Department’s jurisdiction.

I was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. I grew up during a time when local community leaders like former San Antonio Mayor and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros, voter registration activist William C. Velasquez, and Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez worked to galvanize the Hispanic community by encouraging greater civic participation. Today, that same call to public service can be seen in leaders like Mayor Julian Castro and State Representative Joaquin Castro. The same call to public service led me to the Commerce Department in November of 2009.

How New Legislation will Support Our Textile Industry

Deputy Assistant Secretary Kim Glas and Under Secretary Francisco Sanchez tour Unifi’s sewing thread manufacturing facility in Yadkinville, North Carolina on October 9, 2012.

Ed. note: Cross-posted from ITA's Tradeology blog. Kim Glas is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for textiles and apparel within the International Trade Administration’s Import Administration division.

I am visiting North Carolina today with the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez to see first-hand two state of the art textile companies–Unifi and A&E. Recently, President Obama signed into law an important set of technical fixes to the U.S.-Dominican Republic-Central America (CAFTA-DR) Free Trade Agreement that will have a direct impact on jobs at these two companies and sewing thread manufacturers across this state and country.

When the Agreement with our Central American neighbors was negotiated in 2003, there was a definitional loophole that incentivized the use of non-U.S. sewing thread in the assembly of textile and apparel products. As a result of this loophole, U.S. sewing thread manufacturers have seen their business and employment shrink. The Obama administration immediately set out to address a problem that severely impacted U.S. sewing thread manufacturers.

After years of hard work, President Obama recently signed legislation to close a loophole that has jeopardized businesses and jobs in the U.S. As a result, on Saturday, October 13, these fixes will be implemented and will have a direct impact on many sewing thread manufacturers in North Carolina. We have every expectation that once the legislation is implemented that U.S. sewing thread producers like Unifi and A&Ewill be able to recapture market share in the critical market.

This is a prime example of what can be accomplished when industry, Congress, and the administration work toward a common goal.

Spotlight on Commerce: Ana Valentin, Statistician, NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service

Ana Valentin, Survey Statistician, Fisheries Statistics Division of the Office of Science and Technology, NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service.

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

Guest blog post by Ana Valentin, Survey Statistician, Fisheries Statistics Division of the Office of Science and Technology, NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service.

My dearest friend Albert Einstein said, "The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable receiving." Giving is the driver that motivated me to pursue a public service career.  My parents, who proudly retired from the Puerto Rico government, encouraged me to enter public service for our country. Being educated in the Puerto Rico public system and graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a bachelor in Secondary Math Education and a Masters in Public Health in Biostatistics, I prized the significance of professional education in the workplace. Today, as a doctoral candidate in Information Assurance, I embrace how diversity presents innovative solutions for the challenges of our competitive world market.

My career started in academia, where I worked as a clinical researcher in a School of Medicine, and mathematics, statistics and computer science professor for undergraduate and graduate programs in public and private universities. My experience in academia led me to accept a position as a survey statistician at the Census Bureau, where I revised statistical and mathematical protocols and the translation of census materials written in Spanish to assure the Agency’s mission. Through the observation of Spanish field interviews, I valued the contribution of Hispanics population into United States’ economy.  Currently, I work for the NOAA Fisheries Service, where I manage a survey that produces catch-effort estimates of recreational fishing activities and help oversee the budget allocated for recreational and commercial survey operations. As a Hispanic woman, I cherished the importance of a diverse workforce to outreach growing minority populations in accountability of fishery stock assessment and management in the United States and its territories.

10 Partnerships Selected through the Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge to Support American Manufacturing and Encourage Investment in the U.S.

Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge

The Obama administration announced that 10 public-private partnerships across America will receive $20 million in total awards to help revitalize American manufacturing and encourage companies to invest in the United States. These Investments will promote job creation and economic growth in local industry clusters in Arizona, California, Michigan, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Washington.

The 10 partnerships were selected through the Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, which is a competitive multi-agency grant process announced in May 2012 to support initiatives that strengthen advanced manufacturing at the local level. These public-private partnerships consist of small and large businesses, colleges, nonprofits and other local stakeholders that “cluster” in a particular area. The funds will help the winning clusters support local efforts to spur job creation through a variety of projects, including initiatives that connect innovative small suppliers with large companies, link research with the start-ups that can commercialize new ideas, and train workers with skills that firms need to capitalize on business opportunities.  

The Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge is a partnership between the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and the National Science Foundation.

As part of President Obama's commitment to creating an economy built to last, the administration has invested more than $200 million promoting regional innovation clusters. The administration created an interagency task force, known as the Taskforce for the Advancement of Regional Innovation Clusters, to develop and administer interagency grant competitions. This is the third round of the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge and, in addition to the six partnering agencies, this initiative also leverages technical assistance from up to eight other federal agencies.

See the full list of winners.

Spotlight on Commerce: Cristina Bartolomei, Equal Employment Opportunity Specialist and Hispanic Employment Manager

Phot of Cristina Bartolomei with Video equipment

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

Guest blog by Cristina Bartolomei, Equal Employment Opportunity Specialist and Hispanic Employment Program Manager at the Office of Civil Rights, Office of the Secretary

As an Equal Employment Opportunity Specialist and Hispanic Employment Program Manager for the Office of Civil Rights at the Office of the Secretary, I work every day to serve the Hispanic community and other minorities in and outside of Commerce to identify policies, practices and procedures that may enhance or hinder their equal representation within the Department.

Growing up in San Juan, Puerto Rico as the third child of four, my father often called me the defensora de los oprimidos or “defender of the oppressed,” as I always attempted to dissect and analyze sibling disagreements until the parties involved made peace with one another. My siblings didn’t seem too fond of me doing this and, looking back, I don’t blame them. It was in those days that I found myself daydreaming about being part of something bigger than myself, about doing something truly meaningful in the lives of others. 

Many years later, I find myself working for a Cabinet department in the Nation’s Capital, proudly serving the President of the United States. Every day I work with internal and external organizations to educate about and improve Hispanic-American representation at the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Sometimes it feels as if I’m still daydreaming–but real it is, and this reality is ingrained in the choices we make.

NIST's David J. Wineland Wins 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics

Photo of Wineland

David J. Wineland, a physicist at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), has won the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics. The honor is NIST’s fourth Nobel prize in physics in the past 15 years.

Wineland shared the prize with Serge Haroche of the Collège de France and Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, France. In announcing the winners today, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences cited Wineland and Haroche "for ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems."

Wineland got the call at about 3:30 a.m. today at his home in Boulder, Colo. “I was a little sleepy. My wife got the call. I haven’t actually asked her yet what they said, but she gave the phone to me,” Wineland recalled shortly afterwards. “It’s kind of overwhelming. This could have gone to a lot of other people. It’s certainly a wonderful surprise. The fellow I shared it with–he and I have been friends for a long time, so it’s nice to share it with him.”  NIST release  |  Nobel citation

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

ITA and EPA Launch Environmental Export Initiative at WEFTEC

Attendees at the 2011 FCIB Annual Global Conference (Photo FCIB)

Ed. note: Cross-posted from ITA's Tradeology blog by Maureen Hinman, Environmental Technology Trade Specialist in ITA’s Office of Energy and Environmental Industries

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and Commerce Under Secretary Francisco J. Sánchez launched the Environmental Export Initiative today at the Water Environment Federation Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC), the largest environmental industry event in North America and largest annual water exhibition in the world with more than 900 exhibitors and 18,000 water professionals in attendance.

The Environmental Export Initiative is the result of a renewed partnership between the International Trade Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency that seeks to promote environmental exports by leveraging EPA’s unparalleled expertise in environmental management with ITA’s export promotion and market development skills. The Trade Policy Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC) initiative was announced on May 14, 2012 at American University by then Commerce Secretary Bryson, EPA Administrator Jackson, U.S. Trade Representative Kirk, and Secretary of Agriculture Vilsak and signifies a government-wide effort to enhance environmental technology exports. Today’s event gave the leading agencies a chance to formally launch the initiative and outline for environmental companies some of the key deliverables under the initiative that will help facilitate increased environmental technologies exports.

Department of Commerce Goes Live with FOIAonline

Image of opening page of FOIAonline website

Guest blog post by Joey Hutcherson, Deputy Director of Open Government

Today, as part of administration-wide efforts to ensure public trust through transparent, efficient, and effective government, the Department of Commerce launched a new online tool through which the public can submit Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The interface, FOIAonline, will enable the public and departmental FOIA professionals to access an automated online tracking and records management system for the first time. Additionally, the system will eliminate the need for individuals to search for contact information when submitting requests for multiple agencies, thereby speeding up the FOIA process.

FOIAonline will also automatically provide tracking numbers for requests much like consumers use to track packages online. The requester can then view the status of the request online, eliminating the wait time for manual replies from agencies. Further, FOIAOnline will enable Commerce to publish FOIA documents in electronic format with the request, which will decrease the duplicate requests workload while allowing the public access to more information. This availability of additional information will allow greater detail for researchers, journalists and the public.

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.

Populations Increasing in Many Downtowns, Census Bureau Reports

Image of cover of " Patterns of Metropolitan and Micropolitan Population Change: 2000 to 2010"

Commerce's U.S. Census Bureau today released a report that shows that in many of the largest cities of the most-populous metro areas, downtown is becoming a place not only to work but also to live. Between the 2000 and 2010 censuses, metro areas with five million or more people experienced double-digit population growth rates within their downtown areas (within a two-mile radius of their largest city’s city hall), more than double the rate of these areas overall.

Chicago experienced the largest numeric gain in its downtown area, with a net increase of 48,000 residents over 10 years. New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, D.C also posted large population increases close to city hall. These downtown gains were not universal, however: New Orleans and Baltimore experienced the greatest population declines in their downtown areas (35,000 and slightly more than 10,000, respectively). Two smaller areas in Ohio—Dayton and Toledo—also saw downtown declines of more than 10,000.

These are just some of the findings in the new 2010 Census special report, Patterns of Metropolitan and Micropolitan Population Change: 2000 to 2010 (PDF). The report uses 2010 Census results to examine contemporary geographic patterns (as well as changes since the 2000 Census) of population density and distribution by race, Hispanic origin, age and sex for metro and micro areas collectively as well as individually. Metro areas contain at least one urbanized area of 50,000 population or more, while micro areas contain at least one urban cluster of less than 50,000, but at least 10,000.  Census release

NIST Director Gallagher Participates in Dedication of New Facility for Coral Reef Research

The new NSU Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Ecosystem Research in Hollywood, Fla. (Photo: Nova Southeastern University)

Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and Directory of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Dr. Patrick Gallagher today is helping dedicate the new Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Ecosystems Research (CoECRER) at Nova Southeastern University (NSU) in Hollywood, Florida.

Gallagher joins state and local officials, including Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, and other guests, including former Vice President Al Gore and Dr. Paul Sandifer, Senior Science Adviser to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in the opening celebration for the “only research facility in the nation dedicated entirely to coral reef ecosystems science.”

Among the unusual features of the festivities was a morning media tour, by snorkel, of one of the center’s off-shore coral “nurseries.”

The new research facility was funded in part by a $15 million grant from NIST as part of a competitive program under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support the construction of new scientific research facilities at academic institutions and non-profit research organizations. (See “NIST Awards $123 Million in Recovery Act Grants To Construct New Research Facilities,” Jan. 8, 2010).

Acting Secretary Blank Announces $40 Million Initiative to Challenge Businesses to Make it in America

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank Announces $40 Million Initiative to Challenge Businesses to Make it in America (Photo: Roberto Westbrook and STIHL Inc.)

Yesterday, Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank traveled to Virginia Beach, Va., where she toured the STIHL manufacturing plant and announced a new initiative to strengthen the economy by supporting American businesses as they make things here in America and create jobs. The Make it in America Challenge is designed to accelerate the trend of insourcing, where companies are bringing jobs back and making additional investments in America. The competition, which is being funded by the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration and National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership and the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, will build upon the administration’s bottom-up approach to strengthening the economy and creating jobs by partnering with state, regional and local economies.

The national competition will help provide the critical infrastructure, strategic planning, capacity building, technical assistance, and workforce skills training necessary for American communities to be the desired home for more businesses. The Make it in America Challenge builds on the administration’s efforts to encourage companies—large and small, foreign and domestic, manufacturers and services firms—to increase investment in the United States.

Acting Secretary Blank also highlighted two ongoing efforts by the Department of Commerce to attract foreign direct investment. SelectUSA, a program the president launched last year, continues to showcase the United States as the world’s premier business location and to provide easy access to federal-level programs and services related to business investment. Also, Commerce’s Commercial Services officers have been trained to help foreign investors who want information about how to invest in the U.S and who want to link up with local and state economic development leaders to create jobs in America.

USPTO Deputy Director Rea Participates in University of Michigan Law School Panel

Deputy Under Secretary for Intellectual Property and Deputy U.S.Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Teresa Stanek Rea participated today in a panel titled, "The State of Patent Litigation: A Conversation with the Federal Circuit Court" at the University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor. The event included a keynote presentation by the Honorable Randall R. Rader, Chief Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

The America Invents Act (AIA) was the main topic of the panel discussion. Rea described how its historic reforms drive growth in both jobs and exports. Most of the AIA’s rules went into effect on September 16th, and create new avenues to ensure our patents are of the highest quality. The AIA was signed into law by President Obama last September. 

Given Ann Arbor’s proximity to Detroit, it’s not surprising that many audience members were curious to learn more about the USPTO’s first-ever satellite office in Detroit. It opened on July 13th, but examiners there are already working on patent applications from regional inventors. Rea also noted that the USPTO is hard at work looking to open additional offices in Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, and Silicon Valley.

NOAA Ramps Up 'Weather-Ready Nation' Initiative in Nation's Capital

National Weather Service office building

Launches new project to enhance weather forecasts and support for D.C, Baltimore

On Friday, Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced service improvements underway at its forecast office in Sterling, Va., which provides weather forecasts and warnings and supports public safety decision-makers in the nation's capital and Baltimore. This is the latest in a series of six pilot projects NOAA launched over the past year as part of its Weather-Ready Nation initiative to improve the country's resilience to extreme weather.

The six Weather-Ready Nation projects focus on emergency response, ecological forecasting and enhanced support to officials who make public health and safety decisions when extreme weather sets in. Successful projects may be duplicated in other locations. NOAA release

Acting Secretary Blank Applauds Local Economic Development Efforts and Announces Strong Cities, Strong Communities Challenge Winners

With Blank are Denise Turner Roth, Greensboro City Manager and Robbie Perkins, Mayor of Greensboro

Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank traveled to Greensboro, North Carolina yesterday, where she discussed the Commerce Department’s initiatives to strengthen the city and the region, spurring economic development and creating jobs. Over the past few years, local officials have shared how the federal government could best help cities that were hit hard in the recession and in the years leading up to it. They suggested:

  • Combining federal, state and local resources to help cities that were poised to reinvent themselves;
  • Requiring effort and money by both federal and local governments;
  • Including an element of competition in order to make sure that the money went to the places that were best able to use it.

The result was the Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) Challenge. The goal of the competition is to generate innovative ideas, strategies, and perspectives that cities can use to develop long-term economic and job growth plans. Acting Secretary Blank announced that Greensboro, North Carolina; Hartford, Connecticut; and Las Vegas, Nevada are the winners of the Obama administration’s SC2 Challenge. These grants will contribute to stable, long-term growth that will benefit families and businesses in each city and throughout each state. 

Energy House in Delaware Is Retraining and Giving Former Auto Workers a Leg Up in the Job Market

Energy House at Delaware Technical and Community College’s Georgetown campus was built with financial support from the Economic Development Administration.

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

An impressive new training facility opened this spring at Delaware Technical and Community College’s campus in Georgetown and is expected to retrain former auto workers for new jobs in the emerging green sector. Energy House, designed to resemble an actual residence, serves as an educational lab where these workers can get a new start by learning about innovative energy-efficient technologies and renewable materials. Programs will fill a pressing need to train workers and will help strengthen the economic competitiveness of the Delaware region.

At the green building technology and alternative energy systems training center, students are being trained for the jobs and industries of the future. Participants are being prepared to work as skilled technicians who can install efficient heating and cooling systems and windows; retrofit homes to save electricity; and build and install solar panels, wind turbines, and other clean energy technologies. 

NOAA Announces $4.5 Million in Environmental Literacy Grants to Support K-12 Science Education and Stewardship Projects

Students and teachers explore global data visualizations with NOAA’s Science On a Sphere at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry (MSI).  The sphere will serve as a focal point for K-12 teacher professional development programs at MSI, which is one of eight new recipients of NOAA Environmental Literacy Grants.  (Photo credit:  MSI)

Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced Wednesday that it is awarding eight new education grants to enhance science education activities in classrooms, aquariums, museums and other institutions across America. These awards support six unique, multi-year projects and will share $4.5 million in grants from the NOAA Office of Education’s Environmental Literacy Grants Program. Projects are designed to increase stewardship and informed decision-making within a diverse pool of educators, students and the public to help promote environmental literacy.

“NOAA’s Office of Education is proud to partner with such an impressive group of organizations,” said Louisa Koch, director of education at NOAA. “It is only with the help of institutions such as these that we can successfully engage the public in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) topics while supporting NOAA’s mission of science, service, and stewardship."

The projects receiving grant funding focus on engaging formal and informal educators along with K-12 students. Project activities include formal K-12 educator training programs to help teachers incorporate NOAA data and other resources into experiential learning activities; service learning programs for K-12 students that combine standards-based learning with stewardship activities in students’ local communities; and professional development to enhance informal science educators’ effectiveness in increasing public understanding of complex ocean topics. The selected projects will partner with NOAA’s research laboratories, national marine sanctuaries, Climate Program Office, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Weather Service, Pacific Services Center, Coral Reef Conservation Program and Sea Grant.  NOAA release

Acting Secretary Blank Announces Grants to Establish Proof of Concept Centers for Emerging Technologies

$7 million invested in seven communities to help entrepreneurs out-innovate the world and create American jobs.

Today, Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank visited the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va. today, where she announced the winners of the third round of the i6 Challenge, a national competition to advance American innovation, foster entrepreneurship, increase the commercialization of ideas into viable companies, and create jobs. The initiative seeks to accelerate innovative product development, spur the formation of start-ups, and create small businesses by supporting Proof of Concept Centers at universities and research consortiums across the country, which are helping to jumpstart the production of emerging technologies and revolutionize manufacturing processes.

In her remarks, Blank noted that job creation remains the Administration’s top priority, noting a number of economic studies suggesting that innovative new products and processes account for about two-thirds of U.S. economic growth since World War II. Innovation also drives increases in productivity and rising incomes. The Proof of Concept Centers funded by the i6 Challenge grants support innovation by providing the tools and the support entrepreneurs and researchers need to take new products to market, launch businesses, and to create jobs. Proof of Concept Centers incorporate a range of services, such as technology and market evaluation as well as business planning, that are critical to regional economic growth and job creation.

ITA: Metro Exports Driving Economic Growth

Map of U.S. highlighting metro areas

Ed. note: Cross-posted from ITA's Tradeology blog by Michael Masserman and Ashley Zuelke of the Office of  Export Policy, Promotion & Strategy

Here’s a fact:  the 100 largest metro areas in our country make up just 12 percent of land area—but they make up 65 percent of our population and 75 percent of our nation’s GDP. So when it comes to export growth, it should come as no surprise that metro areas are leading the way.

What may surprise you, is that 13 smaller metropolitan areas across the U.S.—from Asheville, N.C., to Green Bay, Wisc., to Yakima, Wash.— for the first time joined the club of metropolitan markets that exported more than $1 billion in merchandise to the world. These metro areas exported U.S. goods such as machinery, transportation equipment, and computer and electronic products which are in great demand all over the world.

The achievement of these thirteen metropolitan areas and recently released national data for 2011 metropolitan exports confirms the historic progress we are making toward reaching the President’s National Export Initiative (NEI) goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014.

Commerce's U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Implements Most Provisions of the America Invents Act

Vice Chief Judge Jay Moore of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board explains provisions of the AIA (file photo)

The most significant reform to the U.S. patent system in more than a century is a major step forward as numerous provisions of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act of 2011 are now in effect. The new rules will spur innovation and economic growth by streamlining the patent application process and introducing new procedures to ensure patent quality. Seven reforms to U.S. patent law went into effect one year after the signing of the bipartisan patent reform legislation by President Barack Obama on September 16, 2011. 

Some of the new rules include three new administrative trial provisions—inter partes review, post-grant review, and the transitional program for covered business method patents—will offer third parties timely, cost-effective alternatives to district court litigation to challenge the patentability of an issued patent; a supplemental examination provision that allows applicants to submit additional information relevant to the patentability of an issued patent to the Office in a new procedure that may protect the patent from an inequitable conduct charge; an inventors oath and declaration provision that for the first time allows assignee filing of a patent application; and a citation of prior art and written statements provision will enable the Office to treat the claims in a patent consistent with how a patent owner represents its claims to the courts or in other Office proceedings.

U.S. Population Reaches 314,395,013 on Constitution Day 2012

Image of Constitution with Census authorizing phrase, "in such manner as they shall by Law direct"

Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau reports that the U.S. population reached 314,395,013 at noon today—the 225th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia. Twenty-five years ago, on the 200th anniversary, the population was 243,636,172. The very first census of 1790 counted 3,929,214 residents. 

Today, September 17, is recognized as Constitution Day and Citizenship Day to commemorate the creation and signing of the supreme law of the land and to honor and celebrate the privileges and responsibilities of U.S. citizenship for both native-born and naturalized citizens. The U.S. Constitution empowers the Congress to carry out the census in "such manner as they shall by Law direct" (Article I, Section 2). Read the Census in the Constitution

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.

Exports Hit Record Highs in 200 Metro Areas

Map of U.S. highlighting metro areas

Guest post from Natalie Soroka, Economist in the Office of Industry Analysis within the International Trade Administration

2011 was a good year for U.S. Metropolitan Area Exporters. Of the 367 metro areas with available data (due to Federal disclosure regulations), 206 saw record-high merchandise exports in 2011. Overall, exports from all metropolitan areas increased by 16 percent from 2010 to total $1.31 trillion in 2011. New York was the top exporter, accounting for $105.1 billion. 

While export value is concentrated in the top metro areas (like New York, Houston, and Los Angeles), exports are an important economic driver nationwide. In 2011, 150 metro areas exported more than $1 billion of goods, thirteen of which reached this mark for the first time.

Overall, many areas experienced significant export growth in 2011, with exports increasing by more than $1 billion in 36 metro areas. Larger exporters such as Houston and New York showed the highest dollar growth, each growing by more than $20 billion compared to the previous year, but growth was not contained to big cities. Of the top 50 metro exporters in 2011, Corpus Christi showed the fastest growth, nearly doubling its goods exports since 2010. Much of this growth, along with other fast-rising metropolitan areas in Texas and Louisiana, was due to higher exports of petroleum and coal products. Higher commodity prices benefitted many cities in 2011, with major exporters of crops (Minneapolis, New Orleans, Portland), primary metals (Salt Lake City, New York), and petroleum and coal products (Houston, New Orleans, New York, Corpus Christi) showing high growth. In addition to commodities, exporters of manufactured goods such as chemicals (Houston) and transportation equipment (Detroit) showed high growth in 2011.

Jacob Taylor, NIST Physicist, Receives Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal for Public Service

On Thursday evening, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) physicist Jacob Taylor received a Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal (Sammies) for his advanced scientific research, which has potential for advances in health care, communications, computing, and technology. Presented the award by Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank, Taylor was one of just nine winners chosen from nearly 400 nominees for awards honoring excellence in public service.

A fellow at the Joint Quantum Institute, Taylor has already developed a number of original theories on the cutting-edge of theoretical physics. One such idea is a way to allow magnetic resonance imaging to more effectively be utilized on the molecular level. This holds the promise of providing more detailed health information, better diagnoses, more targeted medical treatments, and more rapid discoveries of new drugs.

Taylor also has a pending patent on a process that would increase the quantity of data that could be sent through the Internet while using less energy, and his theory on computing has the potential to advance scientists much closer to the goal of achieving quantum computing—an extraordinary development in the field of physics that would allow for unprecedented increases to calculation speed.

NIST Unveils Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility to Improve Testing of Energy-Efficient Technologies

Grass seed falls from a ribbon as officials celebrate the opening of the Net-Zero Residential Test Facility on NIST’s Gaithersburg, Md., campus.

In a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday, the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) unveiled a new laboratory designed to demonstrate that a typical-looking suburban home for a family of four can generate as much energy as it uses in a year. Following an initial year-long experiment, the facility will be used to improve test methods for energy-efficient technologies and develop cost-effective design standards for energy-efficient homes that could reduce overall energy consumption and harmful pollution, and save families money on their monthly utility bills. 

The unique facility looks and behaves like an actual house, and has been built to U.S. Green Building Council LEED Platinum standards—the highest standard for sustainable structures. The two-story, four-bedroom, three-bath Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility incorporates energy-efficient construction and appliances, as well as energy-generating technologies such as solar water heating and solar photovoltaic systems. Full release  |  Video

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 Volunteers with Serve DC to Mark National Day of Service and Remembrance

Dr. Blank seen filling tote bags

Guest blog post by Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank

It was 11 years ago when we all heard the news that our friends, neighbors and first responders had been killed in a senseless and unprovoked attack on this nation. While we cannot change what happened on that terrible day, we can use the anniversary of 9/11 to remember who we are as a nation, and to celebrate the values that make America great: a respect for diversity, a commitment to democracy, and a concern for those less fortunate.

We all owe a debt of gratitude to those who have built on the tragedy of 9/11 to make this nation stronger.

This afternoon I participated in a National Day of Service and Remembrance event at Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C. I worked with Serve DC to assemble kits for homeless veterans, which included thermal blankets, water and food, and first aid kits.

I hope that everyone is taking the time today to remember those we lost on September 11, 2001. On this day and every day, if you’re interested in actively honoring the lives that were lost, our first responders and members of our military—you can find ideas for giving back at this site:

One of the things I reflected on today is the fact that I am truly fortunate to work with thousands of veterans and members of military families who are employed at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Their spirit of teamwork and public service help advance the mission of our Department while also making it a great place to work.

Today, I encourage everyone to thank the people you know who have served and continue to serve our country. And, I think I speak on behalf of everyone at the Commerce Department when I express our deep appreciation for the first responders and military members who serve, protect, and defend our great country.

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.

NOAA: Contiguous U.S. Experiences Third-Hottest Summer on Record

Map showing U.S. states and relative temperature from below to above average

Warm and dry conditions continue in August; Isaac brings heavy rain to Gulf Coast and some drought relief to the Midwest

The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during August was 74.4°F, 1.6°F above the long term average, marking the 16th warmest August on record. The warmer than average August, in combination with the hottest July and a warmer than average June, contributed to the third hottest summer on record since recordkeeping began in 1895.

The summer season's (June-August) nationally-averaged temperature was 74.4°F, 2.3°F above the 20th century average. Only the summers of 2011 (74.5°F) and 1936 (74.6°F) had higher temperatures for the Lower 48.

The August nationally-averaged precipitation total of 2.59 inches was near the long-term average. The Southwest and Southeast were wetter than average and the Northwest and the Northern Plains were drier than average. As of August 28th, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, nearly 63% of the contiguous U.S. continued to experience drought conditions. 

August climate highlights:

  • Higher-than-average temperatures occurred across much of the West. Much of the Northeast was also warmer than average, where five states from Maine to Delaware had monthly temperatures among its ten warmest.
  • Drier-than-average conditions stretched from the Pacific Northwest, through the Rockies, and into the Upper Midwest. 
  • Hurricane Isaac made landfall along Louisiana's coast on August 28th with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph. The major impacts from the hurricane were storm surge along the Gulf Coast and heavy rainfall, both of which were driven partially by the storm's slow motion and large size.
  • Over 3.6 million acres burned nationwide, mostly across the West. The acreage burned was nearly twice the August average and the most for the month in the 12-year period record.

Full release for August and June-August climate highlights

USPTO Hosts Webinar to Discuss Provisions of the America Invents Act that Become Effective on September 16, 2012

USPTO leadership looks on as Judge Michael Tierney of the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences addresses Friday’s webinar on changes to patent laws.

In just 9 days, many provisions related to the biggest change in U.S. patent law since the 19th century go into effect, and the senior leadership of the United States Patent and Trademark Office spoke about them in an online webinar this afternoon. The America Invents Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama on September 16, 2011, modernizes our intellectual property system, ensuring that the USPTO is sufficiently resourced to operate efficiently, and affords inventors the timely and consistent patent protections they need to spur business growth and hiring.

Many of these new rules and guidelines go into effect on September 16, 2012, and they were created with input and comments from the public over the last year. Participating in today’s webinar were USPTO Director David Kappos, Commissioner for Patents Peggy Focarino, General Counsel Bernard Knight, Chief Judge James Smith, Lead Judge Michael Tierney, and Chief Communications Officer Todd Elmer.

Meanwhile, USPTO leadership will engage with the public even further when it begins traveling the country on Monday, September 10 for a series of “roadshows.” These roadshows will take place in eight cities—beginning in Minneapolis—and patent practitioners and the public can come to learn about how the America Invents Act is changing the law.

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

With EDA Help, New Mexico’s Economy Gets a Boost from Sandia Science and Technology Park

Sandia Science & Technology Park and Economic and Development Agency logos

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

Last spring, I visited one of the premier technology parks in the southwest, the Sandia Science and Technology Park (SSTP) in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Over the past five years, the Economic Development Administration (EDA) has invested $1.8 million in this industrial park, funding  infrastructure improvements such as new, high-speed fiber optic lines that help the businesses located there leverage advances in technology that have been generated by nearby universities and federal labs.

With the recent release of a report by the Mid-Region Council of Governments, we have learned what a smart investment that turned out to be. According to the authors, the $1.8 billion in economic activity generated by Sandia since it was established in 1998 has brought more than $73 million in tax revenue for the state of New Mexico and $10.4 million for the city of Albuquerque.

The effects on employment in the region are even more impressive. In addition to being responsible for nearly 2,500 direct jobs, the report found that SSTP generated more than 4,100 indirect jobs—meaning that for every job at the technology park, an additional 1.7 jobs were created in the region. Combined, these direct and indirect jobs generated $3.06 billion in wages. Average salaries at SSTP—estimated to be $73,728 in 2011—significantly exceed the average for the Albuquerque metropolitan area, which was $42,332.

Learn More About the Ocean and Great Lakes Economy on BEA’s New Web Portal


Ed. Note: This is cross-posted from the Bureau of Economic Analysis's blog. It highlights the coordination and collaboration between BEA and NOAA to bring value in data and services to the American public.

How many jobs are created from the construction of a new bridge or an increase in tourism?

The Bureau of Economic Analysis’ (BEA) new Web portal on the ocean and Great Lakes economy shows how the Bureau’s Regional Input-Output Modeling System (RIMS II) can be used to provide answers to such questions. The new Web site stems from a joint project with the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

RIMS II, a regional economic model, is used by investors, planners, and elected officials to objectively assess the returns to projects ranging from a new sports stadium to a new bridge. The returns include the short- and long-term increases in jobs and spending associated with the projects.

The idea behind the results of RIMS II is that an initial change in economic activity leads to additional changes in economic activity in other parts of an economy—for example, building a new bridge leads to increased production of concrete and steel. The increased production of concrete and steel leads to more mining. Workers benefiting from these increases may also enjoy bigger paychecks, so they may then spend more by eating out at nicer restaurants or splurging more on entertainment.

Military Vets to Help Rebuild Northern California Fisheries

Military Veterans Help Rebuild Northern California Fisheries

NOAA partners with California to offer training and employment in habitat restoration; space still available for veterans to apply

Veterans will get a chance to train and work on habitat restoration and fisheries monitoring through a project funded by NOAA and administered in partnership with the California Conservation Corps and California’s Department of Fish and Game.

During the yearlong program of paid training and hands-on experience, veterans will spend part of the time on habitat restoration and will also receive training and experience in firefighting and reducing fire hazards. 

“This is a win-win for everyone,” said Eric Schwaab, NOAA’s assistant administrator for fisheries. “Military veterans have tremendous skills to offer, and by helping to restore fish habitats they will be supporting the important role of commercial and recreational fishing in the economy. Restoration jobs pay dividends twice, first because they put people to work immediately, and then because restoration benefits our fisheries, tourism, and coastal communities for years to come.” 

Veterans will start the program by taking courses in how to collect data and evaluate the effectiveness of coastal and marine habitat restoration. By mid- to late October, they will begin monitoring several river restoration sites in Humboldt, Del Norte, and Mendocino counties that were designed to increase spawning and rearing habitat for populations of endangered coho salmon in accordance with the recovery plan developed under the Endangered Species Act. The restored habitat should also help boost populations of Chinook and steelhead trout as well as improve environmental quality generally. See the full release.

Commerce’s NIST Announces $2 Million for Small Business Innovation Research

A woman operates a prototype of an environmental chamber for humidity control by Measurement Analysis Corp. (Photo © Nicholas McIntosh)

The Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has awarded nearly $2 million in Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awards to 12 U.S. businesses. These awards provide funding to help companies develop technologies that could lead to commercial and public benefit.

"We are delighted by the high quality of SBIR proposals we received, and congratulate all the awardees," said Phillip Singerman, associate director for innovation and industry services at NIST. "Over the past year, NIST updated the solicitation process to focus on critical national priorities and provide maximum opportunities for businesses that are just starting out. With three-fourths of the Phase I recipients in business fewer than 10 years and two-thirds of them with 12 employees or fewer, the results of the solicitation demonstrate the success of that process."

NIST's SBIR program is a competitive funding opportunity that provides contracts to small businesses for federal research and development. In Phase I, small businesses can receive up to $90,000 to establish the scientific or technical merit or feasibility of ideas that support the commercial potential of their research. If after six months the Phase I awardees have accomplished their goals, they can compete for Phase II funding of up to $300,000 to continue their research and development efforts for up to two years.

Read more about the 12 winners and how NIST will provide technical assistance and direct assistance as allowed by the SBIR statute, as well as direct them to additional resources through NIST's Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

Labor Day 2012: September 3

Labor Day collage (Credit:

The first observance of Labor Day is believed to have been a parade of 10,000 workers on Sept. 5, 1882, in New York City, organized by Peter J. McGuire, a Carpenters and Joiners Union secretary. By 1893, more than half the states were observing “Labor Day” on one day or another. Congress passed a bill to establish a federal holiday in 1894. President Grover Cleveland signed the bill soon afterward, designating the first Monday in September as Labor Day.

The Department of Commerce's U.S. Census Bureau has gathered a collection of interesting statistics in its "Facts for Features" series. This edition highlights the many statistics associated with celebrating Labor Day, including:

  • 155.2 million: Number of people 16 and older in the nation’s labor force in June 2012;
  • 16.3 million: Number of commuters who left for work between midnight and 5:59 a.m. in 2010. They represent 12.5 percent of all commuters;
  • 25.3 minutes: The average time it took people in the nation to commute to work in 2010.

For more statistics, see the Labor Day Facts for Features.

New, Innovative, Online Tool to Help Weigh Benefits of Economic Development Projects Using the Triple Bottom Line Model

Screenshot of Triple Bottom Line Tool website homepage

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

Traditionally, the effectiveness of an economic development investment has been measured primarily by the number of jobs created and dollars leveraged. While critically important, the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) has partnered with Portland State University to create an innovative, web-based tool that takes into account a broader array of economic, environmental, and social impacts to more fully evaluate the potential impact of projects. This new Triple Bottom Line (TBL) Tool will help economic development practitioners, investors, and decision-makers assess, compare, and communicate the viability of potential investments.

While the TBL approach has been recognized as a valuable analytical tool among businesses—including major U.S. companies such as General Electric, Unilever, Proctor and Gamble, among many others—it has not been widely applied or considered within the public sector or by the economic development profession. The new TBL Tool developed through EDA’s investment represents a significant step forward for expanding the application of the concept by planners, nonprofits, community organizations, and governments to help support the assessment and decision making of critical development decisions.

NOAA Joins Partners to Award $800,000 for Living Shorelines, a New Way to Combat Erosion, Build Fish Habitat

Alternate Text

Eric Schwaab, NOAA’s Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, was in Annapolis Thursday with U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, Chesapeake Bay Trust Executive Director Jana Davis, Maryland Department of Environment Secretary Dr. Robert Summers, Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary John Griffin and others to announce $800,000 in federal, state and private funding to create “living shorelines” on Chesapeake Bay.

Shorelines, like those in the bay, are often stabilized with hard materials, such as bulkheads and seawalls. Ironically, these structures often increase the rate of coastal erosion, and provide little habitat for fish and wildlife. Living shorelines mimic nature by using plants, sand, and sometimes rock to stabilize banks while maintaining and improving valuable fish and wildlife habitat.

Sixteen homeowner associations, nonprofit organizations, and municipalities in Maryland and Virginia have been selected to be part of the program to develop living shorelines and increase public understanding of the technique.

Doing More with Less: Taxpayers Will Save with Commerce’s New Adobe Contract

Doing more with less logo

Guest blog post by Commerce Chief Information Officer Simon Szykman             

Last summer, President Obama launched the Campaign to Cut Waste, saying, “No amount of waste is acceptable, not when it’s your money. Just as families are living within their means, government should too, so we can invest in the things that we know will create good jobs and grow the economy.” 

We’re doing just that at the Commerce Department.

This campaign is an administration-wide effort to make government more transparent and accountable to the American people. As part of this ongoing initiative, the Commerce Department is looking for new ways to boost efficiencies and to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars. The Department’s fiscal year 2013 budget request identified a total of $176 million in savings through lower-cost acquisitions, reduced overhead expenses, and better management of facilities and vehicles. 

Today, we’re launching a blog series to highlight some of these Department-wide efforts to eliminate wasteful spending and support an economy built to last.

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.

Census Digital Transformation

Screenshots of the America's Economy App

Guest blog post by Lisa Wolfisch, chief of the Web and Social Media Branch, Center for New Media and Promotions

It has been three months since the release of the Federal Digital Strategy. At the Census Bureau, we were already undergoing a digital transformation and have continued to align our efforts with the strategy. It is part of the overall transformation effort at the Census Bureau, which now provides for Internet responses to 60 different surveys.

 At this three-month anniversary, we are excited about our most recent innovations, which work toward providing the public with access to our statistics “anywhere, anytime, on any device,” a key goal of the Federal Digital Strategy.

As of today, real-time statistics about the U.S. economy are available at your fingertips, straight from your iPhone, iPad, and Android phone or tablet through our “America’s Economy” mobile app. The app combines statistics from the Census Bureau, Bureau of Economic Analysis and Bureau of Labor Statistics and includes 16 key economic indicators. The app gives you the ability to view trends over the past few years, add alerts to your calendars, and readily share the news on both Facebook and Twitter

NIST: Baldrige Program Celebrates 25 Years of Performance Excellence

Logo: Baldrige Program Celebrates 25 Years of Performance Excellence

Not many 25-year-olds can boast that in their short lifetime they have helped thousands of organizations develop and maintain world-class operations, innovative management, efficient procedures, involved workforces and highly satisfied customers. But one certainly can: the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, the nation's premier means for organizations of all types to seek, achieve and maintain performance excellence.

On August 20, 1987, President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Improvement Act, establishing the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and its supporting program "to spark U.S. competitiveness and create a sustainable economy." Named after Malcolm Baldrige, the 26th Secretary of Commerce, the Baldrige Award and the Baldrige Program have guided organizations worldwide on their journeys toward continuous improvement and enhanced performance through the seven Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence—leadership; strategic planning; customer focus; measurement, analysis and knowledge management; workforce focus; operations focus; and results.

To celebrate its silver anniversary, the Baldrige Program has created a special Web page, "Honoring Our Past. . . Building an Even Better Future", that provides numerous links. See the full release

International Traveler Spending On Pace For a Record Setting Year

Happy tourist jumping in Glacier National Park

Guest blog post by Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar

Travel and tourism spending by international visitors is helping to boost the U.S. economy. The U.S. Department of Commerce released data yesterday showing that international visitors have spent an estimated $82.2 billion on U.S. travel and tourism-related goods and services year to date, an increase of 11 percent when compared to the same period last year. Many people do not know that this boosts exports – when foreign citizens travel to America and buy goods and services from American companies, that counts as a U.S. export. The new data indicate that the first half of 2012 set a new record for U.S. travel and tourism exports, and, if these trends continue, international visitors could end up injecting close to $170 billion into the U.S. economy by year-end.

These increases help explain why the Obama administration is working hard to make the United States the top destination for international travelers. The U.S. Departments of Commerce and Interior are implementing the National Travel and Tourism Strategy, which they presented to the President in May. The National Strategy is a blueprint for expanding travel to and within the U.S., setting out the goal of attracting over 100 million international visitors annually by 2021, more than a 50 percent increase over the number expected this year. These international visitors would spend an estimated $250 billion per year, creating jobs and spurring economic growth in communities across the country.

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.

Acting Secretary Blank Names Members of First National Public Safety Broadband Board in Minnesota

Image of logo, First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet)

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank was in Minneapolis, MN, today to address attendees at the Opening General Session of the 78th Annual Conference and Expo hosted by the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International.

In addition to thanking America’s first responders and public safety officials for keeping our country safe and secure, Acting Secretary Blank announced that she appointed twelve of the nation’s leading experts on public safety and wireless broadband communications to serve on the Board of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet).

U.S. Census Bureau Facts for Features: Back to School 2012—2013

Image of students boarding a yellow school bus

By August, summertime will be winding down and vacations will be coming to an end, signaling that back-to-school time is near. It's a time that many children eagerly anticipate—catching up with old friends and making new ones, and settling into a new daily routine. Parents and children alike scan the newspapers and websites looking for sales to shop for a multitude of school supplies and the latest clothing fads and essentials. This edition of the U.S. Census Bureau's "Facts for Features" highlights the many statistics associated with the return to classrooms by our nation's students and teachers. 

Interesting Fact: $74,000=Median earnings of full-time, year-round workers with an advanced degree in 2009. Workers whose highest degree was a bachelor's had median earnings of $56,000. Median earnings for full-time, year-round workers with a high school diploma was $33,000, while workers with less than a high school diploma had $25,000 median earnings.  Back to School 2012-2013

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.

Commerce Joins Announcement on New Public-Private Partnership to Support Additive Manufacturing Innovation

Acting Secretary Blank signs her name next to Secretary Chu's on a robot designed by a high school team from Knoxville, TN that was built via additive manufacturing (3-D printing).

Today, Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank joined White House National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling, Undersecretary of Defense Frank Kendall, and other Obama administration officials to announce the launch of a new public-private institute for manufacturing innovation in Youngstown, Ohio as part of 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), was selected through a competitive process, led by the Department of Defense, to award an initial $30 million in federal funding, matched by $40 million from the winning consortium, which includes manufacturing firms, universities, community colleges, and non-profit organizations from the Ohio-Pennsylvania-West Virginia "Tech Belt." The institute focuses on additive manufacturing, often referred to as 3-D printing, which will have implications in a wide range of industries including defense, aerospace, automotive, and metals manufacturing. In her remarks, Acting Secretary Blank discussed the role of American manufacturing in driving economic growth and creating good jobs in the United States.

Youngstown, Ohio and the surrounding region knows what happens when manufacturing production declines. But in this area once known as the "rust belt," investments like this new pilot institute demonstrate the potential within a region to bring together the capabilities of America’s companies and universities, in partnership with the federal government, to invest in the cutting-edge technologies and skills our manufacturers need to compete. With this initiative, Youngstown is poised to become the epicenter of burgeoning new industries from its leadership in additive manufacturing or 3-D printing.

Acting Secretary Blank Talks Administration Support for American Manufacturing

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

I just returned from the White House Business Council American Economic Competitiveness Forum on Manufacturing where I had an opportunity to hear from a group of American manufacturers—representing businesses of all sizes from across the country—about how the Obama administration can continue to support them as they build things here and sell them everywhere. As we have seen in recent months, manufacturing is one of the bright spots for our economy. 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. In fact, just last month, an additional 25,000 new manufacturing jobs were added.

In terms of production, manufacturing output is up 20 percent since 2009, and increased again in July. One manufacturing sector that has been consistently strong is the motor vehicles and parts industry, which has added 165,000 jobs since June 2009a sector that might not even exist in the U.S. today if not for the assistance this administration gave to the U.S. auto industry in 2009.

This matters because we know that manufacturing jobs are good jobs that pay more than average and provide greater benefits. They strengthen economic security for middle class families.

There is a powerful link between America’s ability to make things and America’s ability to innovate, compete, and create good jobs. We have come to realize that you can’t separate innovation and production—they have to sit near each other. Manufacturers perform 70 percent of all private sector R&D, investing in and producing technological advances that accounted for 90 percent of U.S. patents.  Economic research indicates that innovation—in new products or new processes—was central to three-quarters of the nation’s economic growth since World War II and it is not an accident that the manufacturing sectors where America is most competitive are all advanced manufacturing, where new technologies, new products or new production processes are central to the success of specific firms.

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.”

NOAA Provides Easy Access to Historical Hurricane Tracks

Map of U.S. with storm and hurricane trackings

Understanding historical hurricane landfalls is important in preparing for current storms

Seeing where hurricanes have hit and how often is one of the best ways to bring home a powerful hurricane preparedness message. A NOAA website, Historical Hurricane Tracks, lets users insert their zip code and see a map that contains more than 150 years of Atlantic hurricane tracking data. The site also contains global hurricane data from as far back as 1842.

“Knowing more about local hurricane history can help communities better understand their vulnerabilities so they can take steps to be more resilient if a future hurricane strikes.” says David Eslinger, Ph.D., an oceanographer with the NOAA Coastal Services Center and one of the site’s developers.

The Historical Hurricane Tracks website,, includes tropical cyclone data and information on coastal county hurricane strike data through 2011 while also providing links to detailed reports on the life history and effects of U.S. tropical cyclones since 1958.

In addition to the tracks of storms, the site provides insight to the increasing numbers of the U.S. citizens and infrastructure at risk for hurricanes, detailing population changes for U.S. coastal counties from 1900 to 2000. As the population continues to grow, so too has the number of storms with multi-billion dollars in damages to coastal infrastructure and property. Seven of the top 10 costliest hurricanes in U.S. history have occurred in the past eight years, including seventh-ranked Irene last August with $15.8 billion in damages.

The site’s popularity with the public was evident as Hurricane Irene bore down on the U.S. East Coast. Tens of thousands of people used Historical Hurricane Tracks to compare the National Hurricane Center’s projected path of Irene with past storms. User traffic peaked at over 19,000 visits on August 26, the same day Irene swirled off the North Carolina coast heading towards New York City while saturating the East Coast and New England and leaving millions without power.

U.S. Businesses Going for the Gold

Gold Key Matching Services Logo

As the 2012 Olympic Games wind to a close, American athletes have racked up nearly 40 gold medals against the best of their international competition. They achieved those victories with hours of practice, dedication, and partnership with coaches and mentors. Like America’s Olympians, American businesses are also competing on the global stage, and the Commerce Department is partnering with them through our Gold Key Matching Service to help them win.

Gold Key Matching Services, run through the International Trade Administration’s U.S. Commercial Service, is a low-cost service for American businesses to expand their global reach by making contacts with foreign firms and potential business partners.

Before business leaders go oversees to meet with prospective trade partners, the Gold Key Matching Service arranges appointments with pre-screened overseas agents, distributors, sales representatives and business partners. This cuts the time and cost to businesses in locating and vetting prospective trade partners.

The Gold Key Matching Services provide a host of other benefits for U.S. companies, including market research, industry briefings with U.S. Commercial Service trade specialists, and assistance with travel, accommodations, and interpreter services. In addition, for business leaders who aren’t able to make a trip overseas, video services are available to meet with potential business partners via videoconferencing.

ITA: Exports Bring Jobs to the Twin Cities Region!

Congressman Keith Ellison (MN-5) and Under Secretary Francisco Sánchez take questions from local companies during a business round table event in Minneapolis.

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

Since the 2012 Olympic Games began, Minnesotans have competed in sports ranging from basketball to fencing, proving that athletes from the North Star State can succeed on the global stage. The same can be said for Minnesota’s businesses.

Yesterday, I visited Minneapolis to meet with Congressman Keith Ellison, Mayor R.T. Rybak and business and community leaders. It was a great opportunity to see and hear firsthand how local entrepreneurs are designing and manufacturing quality products that are being exported all over the world.

For instance, I had the pleasure of visiting Accent Signage Systems, a small manufacturing company. A pioneer in innovative sign technology, Accent Signage is experiencing the direct benefits of exporting and has plans to increase its workforce by 25 percent in the near future. This is a gleaming example of a business that is successfully competing abroad, and, in doing so, is making a positive impact here at home.  

NOAA Raises Hurricane Season Prediction Despite Expected El Niño

Satellite image of Hurricane Ernesto taken on Aug. 7, 2012 in the Gulf of Mexico (NOAA)

Updated outlook calls for near- or above-normal Atlantic season

This year’s Atlantic hurricane season got off to a busy start, with 6 named storms to date, and may have a busy second half, according to the updated hurricane season outlook issued today by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service. The updated outlook still indicates a 50 percent chance of a near-normal season, but increases the chance of an above-normal season to 35 percent and decreases the chance of a below-normal season to only 15 percent from the initial outlook issued in May.

Across the entire Atlantic Basin for the season—June 1 to November 30—NOAA’s updated seasonal outlook projects a total (which includes the activity-to-date of tropical storms Alberto, Beryl, Debbie, Florence and hurricanes Chris and Ernesto) of:

  • 12 to 17 named storms (top winds of 39 mph or higher), including:
  • 5 to 8 hurricanes (top winds of 74 mph or higher),
  • 2 to 3 could be major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of at least 111 mph)

The numbers are higher from the initial outlook in May, which called for 9-15 named storms, 4-8 hurricanes and 1-3 major hurricanes. Based on a 30-year average, a normal Atlantic hurricane season produces 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes.  See NOAA's full release

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.

Shelling Out Evidence: NIST Ballistic Standard Helps Tie Guns to Criminals

Image of shell casing

Thanks to a new reference standard developed by Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), law enforcement agencies will have an easier time linking the nearly 200,000 cartridge cases recovered annually at U.S. crime scenes to specific firearms.

Cartridge cases—the empty shells left behind after a gun is fired—are routinely sent to forensic laboratories for analysis when they're found at a shooting scene. Using a specialized microscope called an Integrated Ballistic Identification System (IBIS), lab technicians acquire digital images of three markings, or "signatures," impressed on the cartridge case by the gun that fired it. These signatures—the firing pin impression, the breech face impression and the ejector mark—are unique when fired from a specific firearm and can serve as "fingerprints" for that gun once the digital images are entered into a national database known as the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN).

For forensic examiners to reliably match recovered cartridge cases with ones whose signatures have been recorded in the NIBIN, they need to have confidence in the accuracy of the equipment and procedures used to make the link. That's where NIST's new "standard casing" comes in. The standard contains two items: an exact replica of a master cartridge case with distinct signature marks (obtained from the Department of Justice's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF), and a "golden" digital image of those same signatures that reside on the NIBIN.  Full Tech Beat story

July 2012 Marked the Hottest Month on Record for the Contiguous United States

Map highlighting July significant weather events

Drought expands to cover nearly 63 percent of the Lower 48; wildfires consume two million acres

The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during July was 77.6°F, 3.3°F above the 20th century average, marking the hottest July and the hottest month on record for the nation. The previous warmest July for the nation was July 1936 when the average U.S. temperature was 77.4°F. The warm July temperatures contributed to a record-warm first seven months of the year and the warmest 12-month period the nation has experienced since recordkeeping began in 1895.

Precipitation totals were mixed during July, with the contiguous U.S. as a whole being drier than average. The nationally-averaged precipitation total of 2.57 inches was 0.19 inch below average. Near-record dry conditions were present for the middle of the nation, with the drought footprint expanding to cover nearly 63 percent of the Lower 48, according to the U.S. Drought MonitorSee full report

Commerce Department Needs Your Input on Digital Strategy

On May 23, 2012, the White House released the Federal Digital Strategy that outlined the use of “modern tools and technologies to seize the digital opportunity and fundamentally change how the Federal Government serves both its internal and external customers–building a 21st century platform to better serve the American People.” The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is requiring agencies to implement at least two such tools or technologies by August 23, 2012.

As part of the Digital Strategy, the Department of Commerce has identified two areas that are ripe for improvement and several platforms within each that could be updated: APIs and mobile-optimization. As such, today we are asking for your input in deciding which two items we will commit to completing by OMB’s August 23 deadline. In the comments section contained below, we welcome your feedback on the possible candidates for improvement, or other opportunities we may have overlooked. Your feedback, combined with other internal and external conversations, will guide Commerce’s digital plan in the coming months and years.

U.S. Manufacturing Continues to Create Jobs in the U.S.

Guest blog post by Mark Doms, Department of Commerce Chief Economist, Economics & Statistics Administration

Earlier today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released a report showing that the private sector added 172,000 jobs last month, and overall employment rose by 163,000. While there’s more work to be done, the economy is creating jobs on a consistent basis. The economy has added private sector jobs for 29 straight months, for a total of 4.5 million jobs. In fact, since the beginning of the year, the economy has added over 1.1 million private sector jobs. Today’s employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to recover from the deepest recession since the Great Depression.

Additionally, the BLS report also showed that the manufacturing sector continues to be a bright spot, which is especially important for middle class families, because these jobs pay high wages and provide high levels of benefits.

The good news is that the U.S. manufacturing sector’s recovery continues: 532,000 new manufacturing jobs have been created over the past 30 months, with 25,000 being added in July. In terms of production, manufacturing output is up 19.8 percent from the trough reached in June 2009.

A part of manufacturing that has been consistently strong is the motor vehicles and parts industry, which has added 165,000 jobs since June 2009. Further, production of cars and trucks in the U.S. reached 10.5 million units at an annual rate in June, a sharp contrast to the shockingly low level of 3.7 million units witnessed in January, 2009.  To continue the revival in manufacturing jobs and output, it is crucial that we implement President Obama’s proposals providing tax incentives for manufacturers, supporting training for the workforce, creating manufacturing hubs, and ending tax breaks for companies that send jobs overseas and provide tax incentives for companies bringing jobs back to the United States.

Acting Secretary Blank Speaks at White House Business Council Forum on Travel and Tourism

Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank joined business leaders from across the country earlier this week at the White House Business Council American Economic Competitiveness Forum on Travel and Tourism

Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank joined business leaders from across the country earlier this week at the White House Business Council American Economic Competitiveness Forum on Travel and Tourism to discuss the administration’s actions to help grow travel and tourism and support the millions of jobs associated with the industry. Travel and tourism is a bright spot for the American economy, leading the recovery with growth that has outpaced the growth of the overall economy by almost 800 percent and on pace for another year of record high international visitors to the U.S. 

Since even before the passage of the Travel Promotion Act in 2010, the Administration has been focused on the importance of travel and tourism.  The President recognized the importance of developing the travel and tourism industry and issued an Executive Order last January that created a new inter-agency Task Force co-chaired by the Secretaries of Commerce and the Interior and charged them with developing a National Travel and Tourism Strategy to increase both domestic and international travel throughout the United States, with the goal of increasing the United States’ market share of worldwide travel. The Task Force included representatives from every agency and department whose mission intersects with the travel and tourism industry. The Task Force released the National Strategy in May with an ambitious goal of attracting 100 million international visitors ($250 billion in spending) to the U.S. annually by 2021 -- a 60% increase above the 62 million international visitors in 2011.

The National Travel and Tourism Strategy laid out a blueprint for reaching that goal by focusing on five areas:

  • Promoting the United States
  • Enabling and enhancing travel and tourism to and within the United States
  • Providing world-class customer service and visitor experiences
  • Coordinating across government
  • Conducting research and measuring results

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.

NOAA Ship Fairweather Conducting Hydrographic Reconnaissance in the Arctic

NOAA Ship Fairweather

Mission to update measurements dating to the 18th century

NOAA Ship Fairweather begins a 30-day survey mission in the Arctic this week, scheduled to check a sparsely measured 1,500-nautical mile coastal corridor from Dutch Harbor, Alaska, north through the Bering Strait and east to the Canadian border.

The mission will collect needed information to determine NOAA’s future charting survey projects in the Arctic and will cover sea lanes that were last measured by Captain James Cook in 1778.

“Much of Alaska’s coastal area has never had full bottom surveys to measure water depths,” said Cmdr. James Crocker, commanding officer of Fairweather, and chief scientist of the party. “A tanker, carrying millions of gallons of oil, should not be asked to rely on measurements gathered in the 19th century. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what navigators have to do, in too many cases. NOAA is changing that.”

NOAA has made it a priority to update the nautical charts needed by commercial shippers, tankers, passenger vessels, and fishing fleets transiting the Alaskan coastline in ever-greater numbers. In June 2011, Coast Survey issued the Arctic Nautical Charting Plan, a major effort to update Arctic nautical charts for the shipping lanes, approaches, and ports along the Alaskan coast. Full release

New Online Tool Gives Public Wider Access to Key U.S. Statistics

U.S. Census Bureau logo

Census API lets developers create custom apps, reach new users

Commerce's U.S. Census Bureau has released a new online service that makes key demographic, socio-economic and housing statistics more accessible than ever before. The Census Bureau’s first-ever public Application Programming Interface (API) allows developers to design Web and mobile apps to explore or learn more about America's changing population and economy.

The new API lets developers customize Census Bureau statistics into Web or mobile apps that provide users quick and easy access from two popular sets of statistics:

  • 2010 Census (Summary File 1), which includes detailed statistics on population, age, sex, race, Hispanic origin, household relationship and owner/renter status, for a variety of geographic areas down to the level of census tracts and blocks.
  • 2006-2010 American Community Survey (five-year estimates), which includes detailed statistics on a rich assortment of topics (education, income, employment, commuting, occupation, housing characteristics and more) down to the level of census tracts and block groups.

The 2010 Census and the American Community Survey statistics provide key information on the nation, neighborhoods and areas in between. By providing annual updates on population changes the survey helps communities plan for schools, social and emergency services, highway improvements and economic developments.  Census press release