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Blog Entries from 2013

Census Bureau Projects U.S. Population of 317.3 Million on New Year’s Day

U.S. smart grid map at night population prediction

As our nation prepares to begin the new year, the U.S. Census Bureau today projected that on Jan. 1, 2014, the United States population will be 317,297,938. This represents an increase of 2,218,622, or 0.7 percent, from New Year’s Day 2013.

In January 2014, one birth is expected to occur every 8 seconds in the United States and one death every 12 seconds.

The projected world population on Jan. 1, 2014, is 7,137,577,750, an increase of 77,630,563, or 1.1 percent from New Year’s Day 2013. In January 2014, 4.3 births and 1.8 deaths are expected worldwide every second. India added 15.6 million people over the one-year period, which led all countries, followed by China, Nigeria, Pakistan and Ethiopia.

U.S. POPClock Projection

The. U.S. Department of Commerce wishes you a happy 2014!

25 Years of Supporting U.S. Manufacturing

Logo for MEP

Guest blog post by Dr. Patrick Gallagher, NIST Director and Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology

The year’s end is a natural time to look back on past accomplishments. This year, we’re reflecting on 25 successful years of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Holling’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). MEP is a public-private partnership that helps mostly small and mid-size manufacturers enhance productivity and technological performance, and strengthen their global competitiveness. Through a network of more than 400 centers in every state and Puerto Rico, about 1,300 MEP experts help make these businesses—and the U.S. economy—stronger.

Manufacturing in the U.S. has seen some significant changes during the past two and a half decades. Today’s manufacturing is robotics, 3-D printing, and nanotechnology. And today’s manufacturing produces everything from large-scale industrial equipment, to medical devices, to handcrafted, consumable products we use every day. Our latest data show that for every dollar spent in manufacturing, another $1.48 is aded to the economy – the highest multiplier of any sector. Manufacturing also supports good jobs—with starting salaries 38 percent higher than other sectors.

Innovation is crucial for ensuring the U.S. remains competitive in the global economy–and manufacturing is a key indicator of our nation’s innovative capacity. A recent MIT study points out that innovation occurs not only at the point of invention, but at every stage of product development and delivery, which is why it is so important that we help companies “Make it in America.” The Commerce Department’s recently unveiled “Open for Business Agenda” also prioritizes supporting American manufacturing at all stages of the product life cycle.

Census Facts for Features: The 2013 Holiday Season

View of the Commerce Building with large red bows

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 Census Bureau will release its annual U.S. population projection for 2014 on Friday, December 27.

Happy holidays from the U.S. Department of Commerce and all our bureaus and agencies!

Census Bureau's 2013 Holiday Facts for Features

U.S. Delegation Participates in the 24th session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT)

U.S. Delegation Participates in the 24th session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT)

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman today in Beijing led the American delegation in the 24th session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT).  Hosted by Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang, the JCCT discussions also included U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. The United States announced key outcomes in the areas of intellectual property rights, government procurement, and regulatory obstacles.

The JCCT holds high-level plenary meetings on an annual basis to review progress made by working groups that focus on a wide variety of trade issues. These working groups meet throughout the year to address topics such as intellectual property rights, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, information technology, tourism, commercial law, environment, and statistics.

Established in 1983, the JCCT is the main forum for addressing bilateral trade issues and promoting commercial opportunities between the United States and China. The 2012 JCCT meeting was held in Washington, DC.

The meetings included a number of specific outcomes, which can be found here:

Celebrating 40 Years Protecting and Recovering Endangered Species

Eastern Steller sea lion, the most recent delisting from NOAA Fisheries

This December is the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act (ESA)—the legislation protecting our country’s diverse wildlife and the legacy left for future generations. The Act, signed into law on December 28, 1973, by President Nixon, provides a critical safety net for fish, wildlife, and plants. It has prevented the extinction of hundreds of imperiled species and promotes the recovery of many others while conserving the habitats upon which they depend.

Endangered species recovery is complex and difficult work, requiring the efforts of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and many committed partners. Just as it takes a long time for species to reach the brink of extinction, it takes a long time to bring them back. 

Big Turnout in NYC Puts Spotlight on Exporting Anniversary

Image of mayor's proclamation

Cross-post, ITA's blog Tradeology by Curt Cultice, Senior Communications Specialist

The Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House in New York City was the setting on a wintery Monday, December 16, as more than 250 businesspeople and other participants turned out for the 100th anniversary celebration of the opening of the New York U.S. Export Assistance Center. Mayor Michael Bloomberg also proclaimed December 16 as “NY U.S. Export Assistance Center Day,” further recognizing the impressive milestone.

Acting Assistant Secretary for Global Markets and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service Judy Reinke keynoted the event, saying, “New York businesses recognized 100 years ago what we know holds true today: The world is full of consumers who highly value U.S.-made products.”

Last year, the New York City metro area exported $102.3 billion in merchandise exports to world markets, making it the 2nd largest metropolitan export source in the United States.  Read ITA's full blog

Acting Deputy Secretary Gallagher Praises Commerce Employees as Top Innovation Leaders in Government

Acting Deputy Secretary Patrick Gallagher praised four Commerce Department employees today for being among the most innovative employees working in government information technology. Employees at both the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) were among the top forward-thinking people working in government IT. 

The employees were chosen by FierceGovernmentIT, the publication that annually recognizes a group it calls the "Fierce 15” and tracks federal government information technology developments in U.S. government. The Commerce employees included on this list are the U.S Census Bureau’s Lisa Wolfisch, along with Patrick Grother, Naomi Lefkovitz and Kevin Stine from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Acting Deputy Secretary Gallagher praised the employees saying they "represent the best the Commerce Department has to offer in spurring innovation across the Federal IT sector. Their efforts have helped provide greater access to our data by businesses and communities and have furthered the administration’s efforts in cybersecurity, privacy standards and biometric technology.” 

Commerce Department Installs Solar Panels on Headquarters for First Time

Categories:
Officials atop the HCHB in Washington with solar panels

The Department of Commerce this week installed three solar panels on the roof of its headquarters, the Herbert C. Hoover Building (HCHB) in downtown Washington, D.C. The first of its kind for the building, the installation is part of Commerce’s efforts to increase its use of renewable energy and commitment to environmental stewardship.

The installation also supports President Obama’s December 5 memo challenging federal agencies to obtain 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

Two Commerce agencies–the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)–have already installed solar panels on some of their facilities in recent years. The Department is challenging all Commerce bureaus to pursue renewable energy, implement energy conservation campaigns, and lead by example as good stewards of the environment.

NOAA Dedicates Daniel K. Inouye Regional Center in Honolulu

Alternate TextNOAA dedicates Daniel K. Inouye Regional Center in Honolulu

On Monday, December 16, the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) held a dedication ceremony to unveil the
Daniel K. Inouye Regional Center located on Ford Island in Honolulu. The facility, named for the late Senator Daniel K. Inouye in January 2013, is the last phase of a campus environment that will house 15 NOAA offices with more than 700 staff, and most of the NOAA assets in Hawai'i.

Acting NOAA Administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan attended the dedication ceremony along with the late senator's wife, Mrs. Irene Hirano Inouye, members of the Hawai'i Congressional delegation, as well as Navy, state, and local representatives. Senator Inouye passed away in December 2012, after a distinguished, nearly 50-year career in the United States Senate.

In her remarks, Dr. Sullivan stressed the fact that Senator Inouye was a great friend to NOAA and a great advocate for Hawaiians and our country's natural resources. The late Senator Inouye, with support from the Hawai'i Congressional delegation and the state of Hawai'i, led the effort to redevelop Ford Island and secure the necessary funding for a world class facility to support NOAA's science, service and stewardship mission in the Pacific Region. The $331 million project was partially funded under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act and represents the largest capital facility project in NOAA's history.

In January 2013, the facility was named in Senator Inouye's honor, in recognition of his significant contribution to ocean and environmental issues and his steadfast support for the construction of the campus.

The center is a 35-acre parcel on federally owned property and combines new facilities with the historic preservation of four buildings culminating into a campus which is environmentally sustainable, state of the art, and Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) Gold Certified. Specifically, the project involves the renovation and construction of a new central office and laboratory facility, logistics warehouse and seawater facility, port facility, and piers for both large and small vessels.

NOAA anticipates the new facility will save more than $3 million per year in operating and other costs by eliminating office leases, lower energy costs, and consolidation of information technology infrastructure. The site location inspired the designers to feature three key natural resources - water, wind, and sun - into a high-performance facility well adapted to its site, climate and culture.

Secretary Pritzker Holds First Twitter Chat And Tweets About Open For Business Agenda

Secretary Penny Pritzker held a Twitter chat today where she took questions about the Department’s Open for Business agenda.

The “Open for Business Agenda” focuses on a revitalized National Export Initiative, an enhanced and expanded program to attract foreign investment, a first-of-its-kind, Commerce effort to ensure skills training programs meet industry needs, and a focus on public-private partnerships that enable businesses and communities to make better use of government data.

During her thirty minute chat, she answered 12 questions submitted with the #Open4Biz hashtag. She answered questions from Steve Case, prominent business organizations and a small business owner, among others.

The Secretary answered questions about trade, innovation, job skills, and data. You can see the entire Twitter chat below.

Why Immigration Reform Matters

Secretary Pritzker visited the “Fast for Families” tent on the National Mall to show support for passing commonsense immigration

Guest blog post by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker

This week, I visited the “Fast for Families” tent on the National Mall with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to show our support for passing commonsense immigration reform. I was humbled by the courageous men and women we spoke with, who are making a personal sacrifice to end the human suffering they have witnessed as a result of our current immigration system. 

The “Fast for Families” was launched by faith, immigrant rights and labor leaders on November 12 and has been ongoing since.  The dedicated leaders who have gathered to fast on the National Mall have been driven by their individual experiences, but they are united in their commitment to seeing Congress pass comprehensive immigration reform.

Those I met with included Rudy Lopez, who had already completed 21 days of his fast. I spoke with the son of Iranian immigrants, the daughter of migrant workers, and an undocumented immigrant from Mexico City who was on the fifth day of her fast. They each had a different story, but they all expressed their desire to live in a country that remains the source of hope and opportunity for people all over the world.

The fact is, the vibrant fabric of this nation has always been made up of immigrants. My great grandfather came to the United States in the 1800s from Czarist Russia, dirt poor, at the age of 10. He taught himself English, worked several jobs, earned his law degree at night, and opened a law practice at the age of 30 in 1902. His story is the story of countless immigrants to this country, who come to America seeking a better life and better opportunities. In doing so, they have contributed to our success as a nation.

In 2011, immigrants started 28 percent of all new businesses in the United States, though they only accounted for 13 percent of the U.S. population. And, more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or children of immigrants.

The President and the Senate’s bipartisan proposal builds a smart, effective immigration system that continues efforts to secure our borders and makes sure that every business and every worker plays by the same set of rules. Estimates are that the Senate-passed immigration reform bill can grow the economy by $1.4 trillion over the next two decades and reduce the deficit by nearly $850 billion. Commonsense reform will also attract the best minds to America by providing visas to foreign entrepreneurs looking to start businesses here. As well, it will provide our nation’s best and brightest foreign students with an opportunity to pursue an education and stay in this country after graduation.  Immigration reform will also reunite families in a timely and humane manner.

I have traveled all over the country since I was sworn in as Secretary of Commerce nearly 6 months ago, and I have heard tremendous support for passing immigration reform. The business community understands the numerous ways in which immigrants to this country not only benefit our economy but enrich our nation. The passionate example set by the fasters – who are so dedicated to making their voices heard – is one we can all emulate. Their courage and commitment is shining a light on what is morally right for this country and the values we, as Americans, represent. 

Acting Deputy Secretary Gallagher Addresses First-Ever American Energy and Manufacturing Competitiveness Summit

Acting Deputy Secretary Patrick Gallagher yesterday spoke at the first-ever American Energy and Manufacturing Competitiveness Partnership Summit in Washington, DC. Co-hosted by the Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Office and the Council on Competitiveness, the first annual gathering brought together leaders from government, academia, industry and more to address national priorities in energy and manufacturing.

Dr. Gallagher gave brief remarks on the importance of energy and manufacturing to the Administration, the Commerce Department, and to our country as a whole. For many reasons, including the generation of more renewable energy than ever before, the U.S. has become an increasingly attractive place for foreign direct investment.

Several Commerce agencies are working to help companies continue to deepen their investments in the United States in order to maintain the U.S. position as the world's leading producer of environmental technologies in the 21st century.  Specifically, Gallagher cited National Institute of Standards and Technology scientists who are reengineering America's electric grid and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's efforts to fast-track patent applications related to renewable energy and greenhouse gas emission reduction.

The Commerce Department is at the intersection of issues like energy, sustainability, the environment, innovation and competitiveness, whose links are becoming stronger and more complex. Manufacturing in particular is a key indicator of our country’s innovative capacity, which is why strengthening manufacturing is a major focus of the Commerce Department's recently released "Open for Business Agenda." As the federal agency responsible for leading the government’s manufacturing policy, Commerce plans to support manufacturing at every stage of the product life cycle. Specific initiatives include promoting pre-competitive collaboration among leading-edge manufacturers nationwide and investing in communities that develop comprehensive strategies that strengthen their competitive edge in attracting global manufacturers.

Travel and Tourism Leaders Provide Four Recommendations to the Secretary to Further President’s National Travel and Tourism Strategy

Guest blog post by Todd Davidson, Chair and Sam Gilliland, Vice Chair, of the United States Travel and Tourism Advisory Board

The United States Travel and Tourism Advisory Board (Board) serves as the advisory body to the Secretary of Commerce on matters relating to the travel and tourism industry in the United States. The Board held its final meeting this week and provided the following recommendations to Secretary Pritzker for priority issues to be examined over the next three years.

This week, the US Travel and Tourism Advisory Board had its final meeting with Secretary Pritzker and submitted our top priority recommendations to enhance travel and tourism to and within the United States. The President’s National Travel and Tourism Strategy last year identified the exciting and overarching goal of welcoming 100 million international visitors by the end of 2021. Here are our top priorities aimed at achieving this goal:

Visa and Entry Process. Our country will not get a second chance to make a positive first impression on international travelers, and long entry wait times at ports of entry are seriously undermining that impression. We need more Customs and Border Patrol officers, but we also need to use technology to move people more efficiently. We must commit to processing all visitors to our country within 30 minutes of their arrival. The travel and tourism industry supports passage of the Jobs Originated through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act. This legislation is chock full of goodness: it would reauthorize Brand USA, modernize and expand the Visa Waiver Program, facilitate the use of secure videoconferencing for visas, reduce visa wait times, and expand the highly successful Global Entry program.

Infrastructure Investment. With more international and domestic travelers visiting the United States, we must improve America’s transportation infrastructure, including our airports, rail system and highways. Substantial investment and new requirements for sustainable practices are urgently required. Commerce should identify and address the nexus between inadequate transportation infrastructure and hindered economic growth and create a public-private forum to formulate solutions. We need speedy investment and implementation of the Next Generation Air Traffic Control System (NextGen) and a public awareness campaign about how NextGen improves the travel experience by enhancing safety, reducing delays, saving fuel and reducing emissions. 

NOAA Issues Arctic Report Card: Long-Term Warming and Environmental Change Trends Persist in 2013

NOAA Announces 2013 Arctic Report Card

According to a new report released today by NOAA and its partners, cooler temperatures in the summer of 2013 across the central Arctic Ocean, Greenland and northern Canada moderated the record sea ice loss and extensive melting that the surface of the Greenland ice sheet experienced last year. Yet there continued to be regional extremes, including record low May snow cover in Eurasia and record high summer temperatures in Alaska.

The findings were released today by David M. Kennedy, NOAA’s deputy under secretary for operations, during a press briefing at the American Geophysical Union annual meeting in San Francisco. Kennedy stated the Arctic caught a bit of a break in 2013 from the recent string of record-breaking warmth and ice melt of the last decade.  Kennedy joined other scientists to release the Arctic Report Card 2013, which has, since 2006, summarized changing conditions in the Arctic. One hundred forty-seven authors from 14 countries contributed to the peer-reviewed report. 

In 2006, NOAA’s Climate Program Office introduced the State of the Arctic Report which established a baseline of conditions at the beginning of the 21st century. It is updated annually as the Arctic Report Card to document the often-quickly changing conditions in the Arctic. In addition, for the first time, scientists also released new information on marine fishes and black carbon.  

Secretary Pritzker to Lead Business Development Mission to Middle East

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker will lead a senior-executive Business Development Mission to the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) of the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar March 8-14, 2014.

The trade mission is critical to building on export growth and furthering the Obama Administration’s efforts to help U.S. businesses compete and succeed in the global economy. It is also an important component of the Department of Commerce’s “Open for Business Agenda,” which prioritizes trade and investment.

This mission will highlight export opportunities for U.S. businesses in three leading industry sectors with an emphasis on project management and engineering (including construction, architecture and design), renewable energy (solar, wind, waste-to-energy), smart grid and energy efficiency, and environmental technologies (including water/wastewater; air pollution control; and waste management).

Secretary Pritzker Announces Administration-Wide Initiative to Attract Manufacturing and Investment in American Communities

Secretary Penny Pritzker announced the launch of Phase 2 of the “Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership” (IMCP), an administration-wide initiative led by the White House and the U.S. Department of Commerce that will encourage communities to devise comprehensive economic development strategies that strengthen their competitive edge in attracting global manufacturers and their supply chains.

Pritzker announced the initiative during her opening remarks at the White House Mayor’s Manufacturing Community Summit. During this phase, communities will have an opportunity to compete for a special designation that will elevate them in consideration for $1.3 billion in federal dollars and assistance from 10 cabinet departments/agencies. These communities could also potentially receive catalytic additional federal investments to further support their economic development strategies.

The IMCP is a critical component of the Department of Commerce’s “Open for Business Agenda,” which prioritizes trade and investment. The initiative seeks to enhance the way we leverage federal economic development funds to encourage American communities to focus not only on attracting individual investments one at a time, but transforming themselves into globally-competitive manufacturing hubs.

During Phase One, 44 communities were awarded a total of $7 million to support the creation of economic development strategies that recognize the community’s comparative advantages as a place to do business, invest in public goods, and encourage collaboration between multiple entities to expand the area’s commercial appeal to investors.

Under Secretary Hirschhorn Highlights Benefits of Export Control Reform for Small Businesses

Under Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Security Eric L. Hirschhorn today highlighted the significant progress of President Obama’s Export Control Reform Initiative (ECR) during a conference call with members of the National Small Business Association and its international trade arm, the Small Business Exporters Association.  ECR is aimed at bolstering national security and improving the system used by businesses for exporting sensitive items.  Small and medium-sized businesses stand to benefit from ECR’s emphasis on helping to improve the strength of the U.S. defense industrial base.

Hirschhorn told the group today that over the past four years, the Obama Administration has sought, through export control reform, to achieve greater regulatory efficiency and rationality and focus controls on the most significant items and destinations.

ECR encompasses defense and high technology commercial goods and technology.  A private industry study suggested that ECR could create hundreds of thousands of jobs over the long term. As ECR moves forward, BIS will continue to engage industry leaders, small business owners, and other stakeholders on these efforts to enhance national security, increase U.S. interoperability with allies, strengthen the American defense industrial base, and importantly, reduce unnecessary burdens, expenses, and red tape on American exporters.

BIS has an active outreach program of seminars, webinars, and teleconferences like today’s event, to assist exporters in understanding and complying with changes related to the ECR. The current schedule for seminars around the country is regularly updated on the BIS website.

America Is Open for Giving

Combined Federal Campaign Logo for 2013

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

Cross-post from LinkedIn.

After Thanksgiving, you may have stood in long lines for Black Friday, supported your local businesses on Small Business Saturday, and clicked endlessly on Cyber Monday. And today, there is a relatively new tradition that demonstrates America’s incredible capacity for generosity – Giving Tuesday.

Along with businesses and charities worldwide, I am proud to support #GivingTuesday today, an event designed to support our communities by helping charities raise money online. Spearheaded by the United Nations Foundation and 92nd Street Y, a non-profit cultural and community center in New York City, #GivingTuesday allows you to support your favorite causes across the nation and around the world.

Last year, $10 million in online donations rolled in on the inaugural #GivingTuesday. The number of PayPal mobile donations jumped nearly fivefold over the previous year, and the value of those donations increased more than 200 percent. Clearly, Americans are showing that they are ready to use technology and innovation to give back.

This year promises to deliver much more in positive impact. Already, the number of #GivingTuesday partners has already tripled from 2,500 to 7,500, and I’m glad to see businesses like eBay, Johnson & Johnson and AT&T all have efforts to support Giving Tuesday. Some examples are Microsoft launching a campaign to raise $500,000 for Give for Youth to create education, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for young people in conjunction with Giving Tuesday. And the Case Foundation is helping to host an online site where donors can support selected nonprofits and get their contributions matched. These are just a few of the many signing on.

Schools and community groups are also getting involved. This is the type of creative collaboration between public, private, and nonprofit entities that I love seeing.

Thanksgiving Day: Nov. 28, 2013: 150th Anniversary of Lincoln Proclamation

Image of Fall fruits and vegetables

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. The Wampanoag, the Indians in attendance, also played a lead role. Historians have 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 150 years ago (Oct. 3, 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.

  • 242 million: the number of turkeys forecasted to be raised in the U.S. in 2013.
  • 768 million pounds: The forecast for U.S. cranberry production in 2012. 
  • 2.6 billion punds: The total weight of sweet potatoes produced by major sweet potato producing states in 2012.

More Thanksgiving Facts for Features

Let's Talk Turkey: U.S. Turkey Production and International Trade

Map of U.S. showing top turkey production states

This year is the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation establishing Thanksgiving as a national holiday. Today we are presenting some data tidbits on U.S. production and international trade in turkeys and turkey products–the main course of many Thanksgiving celebrations. (The wild turkey would also have been our national symbol if Benjamin Franklin had had his way).  While we hope you find these facts tasty, our main motive is to showcase the vast amounts of delectable and highly detailed data on production and international trade that our federal statistical agencies harvest and dish out.  Read more

New Census Mobile App Showcases Local Statistics for People on the Go

New Census Mobile App Showcases Local Statistics for People on the Go

America has always been a nation on the move. Whether you are looking for a career change or a new neighborhood to call home, life decisions affect each of us every day. With roughly half of Americans now owning smartphones, everyone should be able to access the wealth of statistics the Census Bureau collects to make informed decisions on the go, whether at home or on the road. What good are data if nobody but the experts can easily access them? The Census Bureau uses 21st century technology to meet its centuries-old mission, making the statistics that define our growing, changing nation more accessible to the public than ever before.

The Census Bureau’s new mobile app, dwellr, (iOS / Android) provides those on the go with immediate, personalized access to the latest demographic, socio-economic and housing statistics from the American Community Survey for neighborhoods across the nation. Using the level of importance you places on a location’s characteristics, the app generates a list of top 25 towns or cities most suitable for you. Once you have used the app, it saves your selections on your phone so you can see how they match up against each new place you visit.

With more than 30 million Americans moving last year, dwellr allows for quick and easy access to information to help make the decision, including the ages of residents, how many families have children, median income and housing costs. Dwellr allows Apple and Android smartphone users to explore a range of questions making it a powerful tool for homebuyers, members of the military being deployed domestically, real estate agents, new businesses and teachers helping students learn about their communities.

The statistics in dwellr are only the beginning of a powerful story you can tell with Census Bureau data. Imagine if an app matched your preferences with restaurant reviews, places with museums or most visited parks. With the Census Bureau’s Application Programming Interface, developers can take the same statistics found in dwellr and apply them to any app they can imagine. We are eager to see new applications of these American Community Survey statistics that help people learn more about their communities using the same information businesses use to plan investments and services. These statistics, along with the Census Bureau’s other economic information, provide timely, critical information on the health of the U.S. economy.

The app is just the latest product from the Census Bureau’s digital transformation and provides statistics to more Americans in a new and user-friendly way. It follows the successful release of our hugely popular America’s Economy mobile app, which now has more than 100,000 downloads. Coming soon, you will see an upgraded census.gov website with enhanced search and navigation features that are based on several years of customer feedback. We continue to open up more of our data to developers as part of our API, including 30 years of decennial statistics in addition to the American Community Survey statistics that power dwellr.

As we continue to align ourselves with the Digital Government Strategy, our free mobile apps are just one way we are making our statistics available anytime, anywhere, and on nearly any device.

Download dwellr from the Google Play or Apple store today and begin learning more about where you are and where you could go in the future.

Spotlight on Commerce: Helena Carapellatti, Statistician, U.S. Census Bureau

Helena Carapellatti was awarded a 2012 Public Service Recognition Award for Diversity Champion and Leadership by Census Director Bob Groves and Deputy Director & Chief Operation Officer Tom Mesenbourg, Jr.

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 Helena Carapellatti, Statistician, U.S. Census Bureau

I work as a statistician in the Human Resources Division at the U.S. Census Bureau and my responsibilities include reporting on Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey results for the bureau and working on policies and issues related to excepted-service field data collection employees.

I grew up on the Navajo reservation spanning parts of New Mexico and Colorado. We lived off the grid and were ranchers with livestock that needed daily attention. Summers meant camping on the outer parts of our land and sleeping under a blanket of stars.  We explored on horseback and lived a semi-nomadic lifestyle free from the world outside the traditional Navajo culture. This lifestyle meant my brothers and I learned to be responsible and self-sufficient at an early age. Being the only girl in the family meant I had to be fearless if I wanted to keep up with all my brothers.

When I graduated high school, there were no opportunities on the reservation so I enlisted in the military. The military offered me an opportunity to pursue higher education and to serve in an honorable profession. I started going to school part-time and got an Associates degree in Logistics with the Community College of the Air Force. Later I got a B.S., in Social Science with a minor in Journalism. I made some lasting friendships and after 25 years, I retired and completed my M.A. in Applied Sociology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Outside the workplace, I help my husband with our small business most weekends. When you are in business, you have to be willing to adapt so you can provide the type of service that sets you apart.  We have to network, be informed and sensitive to the economy just like our customers so it is a constant balancing act to remain competitive in an ever-changing market.

Acting Deputy Secretary Gallagher Advocates Increased U.S. Exports through Doing Business in Africa Campaign

Acting Deputy Secretary Gallagher Advocates Increased U.S. Exports through Doing Business in Africa Campaign

Today, Acting Deputy U.S. Commerce Secretary Patrick Gallagher delivered remarks at “From DC to Africa: Growing Local, Going Global,” a business forum hosted by the D.C. Office on African Affairs to raise awareness of opportunities for U.S. companies to do business in Africa. D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray also gave remarks at the forum and introduced Dr. Gallagher.

The event also marks the first anniversary of the launch of the Commerce Department’s Doing Business in Africa Campaign (DBIA) by then-Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Last year, President Obama issued the U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa and said the region is poised to be the world’s next greatest economic success story. In fact, sub-Saharan Africa is home to six of the ten fastest-growing economies in the world. U.S. exports to Africa currently top $21 billion a year, and enormous opportunities exist for more U.S. companies to export goods and services there. DBIA works to take advantage of those export and investment opportunities by encouraging more robust commercial engagement in sub-Saharan Africa.

In speaking to an audience of more than 200 local businesses, Acting Deputy Secretary Gallagher emphasized why U.S. companies should see sub-Saharan Africa as an export destination. In the first half of this year, U.S. companies have exported more than $1 billion more in goods exports to the region compared to the same period in 2012. However, U.S. exports to Africa represent only two percent of our total exports.

Dr. Gallagher also highlighted DBIA campaign successes through the work of the Commerce Department and their partner trade agencies in the last year, including holding nationwide outreach sessions with sub-Saharan Africa commercial experts, and bringing hundreds of African companies and buyers to U.S. trade shows in sectors like water, power, oil and gas, and agribusiness. In the second year of the DBIA campaign, the Department of Commerce aims to bring even more potential African partners and buyers to U.S. trade shows, collaborate on the administration’s Power Africa initiative to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa, and address trade barriers in the region.

The DBIA campaign also supports NEI 2.0, an initiative laid out in the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda,” which aims to revitalize efforts to partner with industry to help businesses become more globally fluent, increase American exports and support the creation of millions of jobs.

NOAA’s Stunning Science On a Sphere® Now in 100 Locations Worldwide

Image of the Spehere

A glowing six-foot diameter sphere, suspended from the ceiling of NOAA headquarters in Silver Spring, Md., is the 100th Science On a Sphere® installed around the world. The 3-D display system, which was unveiled November 22, illuminates awe-inspiring animations of planet Earth and is used by educators, curators and scientists alike to explore global environmental data, such as swirling hurricanes, clouds and ocean currents. 

Science On a Sphere® (SOS) is seen by 33 million people annually in 15 countries, 27 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and American Samoa. Using computers and video projectors, the system displays planetary data on an opaque carbon fiber sphere, and presenters can draw from more than 400 annotated datasets to highlight weather observations, climate models, ocean acidification plus the latest solar system imagery.  Read more

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Visits iwis Motorsystems in Munich, Germany

Secretary Pritzker poses with members of iwis Motorsystems after a tour of the facilities

On her visit to Munich today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Secretary Pritzker toured iwis Motorsystems, a family-owned company that is making investments and creating jobs in the United States. One key aspect of U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker’s “Open for Business Agenda” is the importance of attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) to the United States. A report recently released by the Department of Commerce and the Council of Economic Advisors found that foreign-owned companies employ 5.6 million people in the United States, so it is clear that FDI is a major driver to job creation and economic growth.

A “Mittelstand” (medium-sized) company, iwis is a leading supplier of automotive products used in a vast array of engines and vehicles, and has growing investments in the United States. The company has a production facility in Indianapolis, Indiana, and a subsidiary, iwis engine systems, in Troy, Michigan. Additionally, operations have recently begun at a new facility in Murray, Kentucky, to produce timing drive systems. This latest facility accounts for a $12.5 million investment and, when fully operational, will employ 75 people.

The Commerce Department’s SelectUSA program is working to attract even more of these job-creating investments. German firms like iwis are poised to make an even bigger impact in the United States – Germany sent one of the largest delegations to the SelectUSA Summit that President Obama and Secretary Pritzker hosted on Octover 31 – November 1. For 2012, FDI from Germany totaled more than $272 billion.

Secretary Pritzker Tours BMW Factory and Training Facilities in Germany

Groupf photo of Pritzker and apprentice training program students

Following the announcement of her strategic vision for the Department of Commerce last week, which includes a focus on ensuring that workers are prepared with the skills that employers need, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today toured BMW's training facilities at their headquarters in Munich, Germany with CEO Dr. Norbert Reithofer and Head of Apprentice Training Jan Eggert.  

Secretary Pritzker went to BMW to learn more about how the company implements the German Dual System of Vocational training, through which students receive a technical degree at a local educational institution while simultaneously participating in on-the-job training. BMW has a unique apprenticeship program, which is currently training 4,500 apprentices worldwide with the skills the company anticipates it will need from future employees. BMW has spent 1.2 billion euros on professional development since 2007.

While the majority of BMW apprentices are located in Germany, the company is expanding its program internationally, including at their Spartanburg, South Carolina plant. BMW employs more than 7,000 workers in South Carolina, and they have 70 apprentices at the facility who they are training for BMW careers. The apprenticeship program in Spartanburg has been in place since 2011 and works with three local technical colleges. 

Secretary Pritzker has made skills development a top priority of the Commerce Department for the very first time, and is encouraging businesses to partner with local education institutions on programs that train high-quality workers for in-demand jobs. She will work closely with her counterparts, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, on these workforce training initiatives. BMW's model is one that can help inform these efforts.

NOAA: Much Colder Air In Store for Plains, Heavy Rain, Snow and Mixed Precipitation

Map of U.S. with temperature predictions

Arctic front will bring coldest weather so far this season

The Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued its annual winter outlook today through the National Weather Service. 

A cold front moving across the Plains will bring temperatures plummeting as much as 10-25 degrees below normal across much of the central and northern Plains on Thursday, as well as areas of heavy snow across parts of the Rockies and central Plains Thursday into Friday. Mixed precipitation is forecast for parts of the southern Plains into the Southwest, with heavy rain possible across the Desert Southwest. Read more For interactive map, visit http://www.weather.gov/.

NIST Investigation of Joplin, Mo., Tornado Details Proposed Measures for Saving Lives and Property

Destruction caused by the Joplin, Missouri, tornado that struck on May 22, 2011 causing 161 fatalities and more than 1,000 injuries. The tornado was the deadliest single tornado since official U.S. recordkeeping began in 1950.

The Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released a report today on the impacts of the May 22, 2011 tornado that struck Joplin, Mo. Nationally accepted standards for building design and construction, public shelters and emergency communications can significantly reduce deaths and the steep economic costs of property damage caused by tornadoes were among the key conclusions of the two-year technical investigation.

The recommendations are featured in a draft report issued for public comment today and announced at a press briefing held at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin. The NIST study is the first to scientifically assess the impact of a tornado in four major categories: tornado characteristics, building performance, human behavior and emergency communication—and the impact of each on life-safety, the ability to protect people from injury or death. It also is the first to recommend that standards and model codes be developed and adopted for designing buildings to better resist tornadoes.

The NIST report includes a number of recommendations for future research and development of technologies and strategies to advance tornado wind measurements, strengthen emergency communications, increase warning time, derive more accurate tornado hazard maps and significantly improve public response during tornado events.

NIST welcomes comments on the draft report and recommendations—available online at http://www.nist.gov/manuscript-publication-search.cfm?pub_id=914787 — which must be received by 5 p.m. Eastern Time on Monday, Jan. 6, 2014. Comments may be submitted via email todisaster[at]nist[dot]gov or mailed to NIST Technical Investigation Joplin, 100 Bureau Dr., Stop 8611, Gaithersburg, Md. 20899-8611.

Census Bureau Releases New Interactive Visualization of Jobs, Businesses and Other Key Economic Statistics

Census Bureau Releases New Interactive Visualization of Jobs, Businesses and Other Key Economic Statistics

Today, the U.S. Census Bureau released a new interactive tool designed to visualize the key economic findings found in the statistical agency's most recent Business Dynamics Statistics report released in July. The Business Dynamics Statistics Visualization Tool spans four decades of information about America's economy - providing key insights on job creation and loss during the most recent recession. Economic measures such as employment, number of establishments and number of firms can be analyzed for a single year or multiple years from 1977 to 2011.

The tool has three major components: an interactive thematic map for the 50 states, interactive bar charts that give side-by-side comparisons of states and business sectors as well as time series data comparisons over a range of time.  It also is providing a new and easy way for users to look at key economic trends about America's economy by visualizing statistics over time.

In partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the Census Bureau has produced annual data series for the Business Dynamics Statistics since 2008. For more information on the Business Dynamics Statistics program, go to <http://www.census.gov/ces/dataproducts/bds/>.

Guidance on how to use the visualization tool can be found at <http://www.census.gov/ces/dataproducts/bds/what_to_do_first.html>.

Other Economic Statistics Tools for Use

The Census Bureau's first mobile app, America's Economy, provides smartphone and tablet users with real-time releases of the economic statistics that drive decisions on employment, housing construction, international trade, retail sales and manufacturing, and are important tools for businesses, economists, planners and policymakers. For more information on the app, visit the mobile app home page.

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker Discusses "Open for Business Agenda" at Lake Shore Cryotronics in Ohio

Pritzker touring plant with Lakeshore Cryotronics officials

Secretary Penny Pritzker traveled to Westerville, Ohio yesterday to deliver a speech highlighting the Obama Administration’s economic growth agenda and the Department of Commerce’s priorities. Secretary Pritzker announced a new strategic vision for the Department, the “Open for Business Agenda,” November 14.  In Ohio, Secretary Pritzker toured and delivered remarks at Lake Shore Cryotronics, an international leader in the development of cryogenic temperature sensors and instrumentation.

Promoting trade and investment is a major part of Secretary Pritzker’s “Open for Business Agenda.” Nationwide, America’s businesses are exporting: the United States hit a record $2.2 trillion dollars in exports last year, up $600 billion dollars from 2009 when President Obama launched his National Export Initiative. Lake Shore Cryotronics, for example, generates 60 percent of sales from exports. Nearly 10 million U.S. jobs are now supported by exports, up 1.3 million since 2009. But the United States still under-exports, which is why the Secretary is gearing up to launch NEI 2.0, which will aim to help more U.S. companies sell their goods and services to more markets around the world.

In order to achieve greater economic growth and create more good jobs, Secretary Pritzker talked about the need to attract more foreign investment to the United States. According to Columbus 2020, an economic development organization for the 11-county Columbus Region, about 39,000 people in Central Ohio are employed by foreign-owned companies. But as of 2011, 5.6 million jobs nationwide million jobs are supported by foreign direct investment, supporting $437.8 billion in wages to U.S. employees. Global businesses want to be here in the United States because of our stable rule of law, intellectual property protections, solid financial markets, world-class universities, strong consumer base, and our low-cost and abundant energy. That is why President Obama launched SelectUSA at the Commerce Department in 2011. SelectUSA has been working with foreign CEOs and economic development groups across the country to put even more deals in the pipeline.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Selects San Jose City Hall as Permanent Space for Silicon Valley Satellite Office

View of exterior of City Hall (credit: Atsuke)

Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced that the San Jose City Hall building will be the permanent location for the USPTO’s Silicon Valley satellite office, and is scheduled to open by the end of 2014.

The selection of a permanent USPTO office in the Silicon Valley is a key part of the Commerce Department and Obama administration’s efforts to strengthen American innovation. As a driver of U.S. competitiveness and job growth, promoting and strengthening innovation is a major priority in U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker’s “Open for Business Agenda,” which was launched last week.

The USPTO plays a vital role in helping protect cutting-edge, American ideas that drive our economy and keep the U.S. globally competitive. The satellite offices specifically advance the Department’s innovation agenda by helping entrepreneurs get their products to market more quickly, provide tailored resources to local start-ups and industries, and create good paying, high-skilled jobs.

Secretary Pritzker Outlines Bold Policy Agenda Focused on U.S. Trade and Investment, Innovation, and Data

Secretary Pritzker Outlines Bold Policy Agenda Focused on U.S. Trade and Investment, Innovation, and Data

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today outlined a bold new policy agenda for the Department of Commerce, centered on U.S. trade and investment, innovation, and data.  This “Open for Business” Agenda reflects the department’s role as the voice of business, and the Obama Administration’s focus on economic growth and job creation. Additionally, this new vision recognizes the demands of a globally competitive economy.

Among the new initiatives Secretary Pritzker announced are a revitalized National Export Initiative, an enhanced and expanded program to attract foreign investment, a first-of-its-kind, Commerce effort to ensure skills training programs meet industry needs, and a focus on public-private partnerships that enable businesses and communities to make better use of government data.

Secretary Pritzker also committed to leading a robust environmental agenda at Commerce, and to ensuring that operational excellence and public accountability are top priorities of departmental leadership. 

Watch Secretary Pritzker Unveil Her New Strategic Vision and Top Priorities for the Department of Commerce

Please tune in today, as U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker unveils her new strategic vision and top priorities for the Department of Commerce in a speech at 1776 in Washington, D.C.

The event will be webcast below. You can follow the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #OpenForBusiness.

Shortly after the event, Secretary Pritzker will take questions via Facebook from 12:15-12:45 pm Eastern time. We encourage you to participate by visiting the Department of Commerce’s official Facebook page and asking her a question about the Department’s priorities and the Obama administration’s efforts to spur economic growth and job creation.

 

Secretary Pritzker Announces Winners of the 2013 Baldrige National Quality Award

Three U.S. Organizations Honored with the 2013 Baldrige National Quality Award

U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker today announced that three U.S. organizations will receive the 2013 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation's highest Presidential honor for performance excellence through innovation, improvement and visionary leadership. All of this year's winners are from the health care and education sectors.

The 2013 Baldrige Award recipients—listed with their category—are:

The Baldrige program has had a tangible impact on the success of thousands of organizations worldwide and our nation's economy, and the winners announced today will undoubtedly continue that legacy and serve as role models for their peers in the health care and education sectors.

The 2013 Baldrige Award recipients were selected from a field of 22 applicants that were evaluated rigorously by an independent board of examiners in seven areas defined by the Baldrige Criteria: leadership; strategic planning; customer focus; measurement, analysis and knowledge management; workforce focus; operations focus; and results. An organization may compete for the award in one of six categories: manufacturing, service, small business, health care, education and nonprofit (including government agencies).

USPTO Celebrates Our Next Generation of Inventors

USPTO Deputy Director Teresa Stanek Rea and Winning Inventors of the “PrestoPatch”

Today Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Teresa Stanek Rea, welcomed America’s future innovative leaders to the USPTO headquarters for this year’s Collegiate Inventors Competition.

Introduced in 1990 and co-sponsored by the USPTO and Invent Now, the competition encourages invention, entrepreneurship and creativity in students who are working on cutting-edge inventions at their colleges and universities. Outstanding inventions in science, engineering, mathematics, technology (STEM) and other creative fields are judged by a panel of National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductees and USPTO officials.

The competition recognizes inventors and scientists early in their careers, and rewards students’ pioneering ideas as they address the problems of today’s world. Past finalists and winners have gone on to start their own companies based on their inventions, win prestigious fellowships and grants and receive national attention for their work.

This year’s finalists and winners trended strongly towards medical advances. Entries included a next-generation cancer chemotherapy patch; a powered upper body exoskeleton for physical therapy and occupational lifting applications; a mechanical leech for post-surgical treatment of tissue reattachment patients; a DNA sequence-based invention for the early detection of ovarian and endometrial cancers; and an intravenous drip designed to enable clinicians in developing countries to provide dehydrated children with life-saving intravenous fluids without the risk of overhydration.

Commerce Achieves Record Veteran Hiring Numbers in 2013

Veterans Day 2013 - Honoring All Who Served

In honor of Veterans Day, we wanted to take a moment to highlight the Department of Commerce’s commitment to hiring veterans. In Fiscal Year 2013, 13.2 percent of new Commerce hires were veterans and 3.6 percent were disabled veterans, the highest numbers of veterans the Department has employed in over 20 years.

The Department of Commerce (DOC) Veteran Employment Council, made up of volunteer human resources (HR) specialists, advisors, and program managers, plays a major role in hiring and retaining veterans and works with the individuals once they come on board.

“Here at Commerce, we take hiring veterans very seriously,” said Kevin Mahoney, Commerce’s Chief Human Capital Officer and Director, Office of Human Resources Management. “I would like to thank the DOC Veteran Employment Council for their hard work throughout the year, and we look forward to seeing even higher numbers next year.”

This year, the Department of Commerce trained over 3,100 hiring managers and human resources specialists on veterans’ preference and special appointing authorities for veterans and disabled veterans. Top performing agencies in the Department of Commerce for veteran hiring include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at 31.8 percent, the Office of the Secretary (OS) at 20 percent, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) at 16.2 percent and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) at 13.2 percent.

Secretary Penny Pritzker Returns to Chicago for First Official Visit

Secretary Penny Pritzker Returns to Chicago for First Official Visit

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker returned to Chicago yesterday, making her first visit to her hometown in her official capacity as head of the Department.
 
Speaking at an event hosted by Google and World Business Chicago, a public-private partnership that seeks to foster private sector growth and jobs through the advancement of a business-friendly environment, Secretary Pritzker delivered remarks and participated in a “fireside chat” with Chicago Tribune reporter Melissa Harris.

She focused on the Obama administration’s efforts to grow the economy and create jobs, as well as some of her top priorities going forward: the need to invest in infrastructure, help workers develop skills for 21st century jobs, reform the immigration system and support R&D and innovation.
 
As Secretary Pritzker noted, infrastructure is critical to the economy. Unfortunately, the United States has deferred trillions of dollars in infrastructure investment over the years. Under President Obama’s leadership, however, the United States has improved 350,000 miles of roads, 6,000 miles of rail, and 20,000 bridges. The Commerce Department has deployed more than 100,000 miles of broadband since 2009.

Spotlight on Commerce: Dr. Daniel Meléndez, Meteorologist, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service, Department of Commerce

Photo of Daniel Meléndez

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 Dr. Daniel Meléndez, Meteorologist, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service, Department of Commerce

At the National Weather Service, my main responsibility at the Office of Science and Technology is to support and manage science and technology infusion in the areas of radar meteorology, severe weather, and tropical cyclones. I also handle grants for the Hurricane Forecast Improvement Program. During my detail in the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorology, I staff the National Hurricane Operations Plan, road weather management, air transport and dispersion, Multipurpose Phased Array Radar, air domain awareness issues, and the Interdepartmental Hurricane Conference.

I am committed to public service because weather information is ultimately an economic driver and because science provides enormous benefits to the public. Strengthening science and technology that enables better weather information provides many benefits to both the public and private sectors, saves lives and property, and even provides the foundation for new businesses. My role in managing science and technology infusion helps improve performance through new science and technology strengthens core economic and public infrastructure. In my current detail I support various interagency meteorological efforts that allow me to see and contribute to larger governmental aims to advance the economic and security interests of society.

New Spectrometry Standard for Handheld Chemical Detectors Aids First Responders

Christopher Neary of the NIST Environmental Management Group demonstrates the use of a handheld Raman spectrometer to determine the identity of an unknown sample.

When it comes to detectors for dangerous chemicals, toxins or nefarious germs, smaller and faster is better. But size and speed must still allow for accuracy, especially when measurements by different instruments must give the same result.

The recent publication of a new standard—a culmination of years of research at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)—provides confidence that results from handheld chemical detectors can be compared, apples-to-apples.

Such detectors are used by emergency responders to check for the presence of explosives or toxic chemicals that threaten public safety. Quality control managers in the pharmaceutical industry use them to verify the identity of chemicals going into their production lines.

Commerce Teams Receive GreenGov Presidential Award

Today, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) announced the fourth annual winners of the GreenGov Presidential Awards, which honor Federal civilian and military personnel, as well as agency teams, facilities and programs that have taken innovative steps to reduce energy use and carbon pollution, curb waste, and save taxpayer dollars.

The Department of Commerce and a team from Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) were recognized as two of the eight award winners during a ceremony with senior administration officials today.

A team of National Marine Fisheries Service scientists and engineers at the Ted Stevens Research Institute in Juneau, Alaska, received an award in the category of Lean, Clean and Green for using seawater as a heat source to replace oil-fueled heat pumps and eliminate all carbon emissions. The staff developed a system to extract heat from seawater already being pumped through the lab to support research activities. The seawater heat pump is the latest of three projects the facility has spearheaded in order to reach zero carbon emissions.

The Department of Commerce was recognized for its joint efforts with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Global Change Research Program in the Climate Champion award category. The Federal agencies partnered to create an interactive sea level rise mapping and calculator tool that helps city planners identify and prepare for future flood risks. The team released the tool less than a year after Hurricane Sandy, allowing state and local planners to make better informed decisions that consider the risk in location and design of redevelopment projects. The tool uses the most up-to-date scientific information by providing assessments of future risks beyond current conditions.

Startup Culture Flourishes on America’s College Campuses

Image or report cover

Cross-posted from White House Office of Science and Technology Policy blog by Doug Rand, Assistant Director for Entrepreneurship at OSTP

Today—marking the first full week of National Entrepreneurship Month—the Department of Commerce released a new report entitled The Innovative and Entrepreneurial University, underscoring the increasingly diverse ways in which colleges and universities across America are promoting cultures of entrepreneurship on campus and encouraging students to start companies.

As hubs of learning, networking, mentorship, and creativity, colleges and universities provide particularly fertile ground for the cultivation of world-changing, entrepreneurial ideas. The report released today, which is based on more than 130 interviews with university leaders and builds on prior work by the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, highlights more than 50 of the most promising initiatives that have sprouted up on campuses across the country, including those that promote entrepreneurship among students and faculty; accelerate the transition of research innovations from the lab to the marketplace; and encourage engagement between universities, industry partners, and regional economies.

SelectUSA Investment Summit Concludes with a Focus on Forging Stronger Global Business Alliances

SelectUSA Investment Summit Concludes with a Focus on Forging Stronger Global Business Alliances

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker wrapped up the inaugural SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit this afternoon, following two high-impact days of meetings and discussions among senior government officials, major business executives, global economic experts and U.S. economic development officials about strategies to increase foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States.

Secretary Pritzker also opened the final day of the Summit, where she announced changes to the eligibility requirements for the Manufacturing Council that will allow representatives from U.S. subsidiaries of foreign-owned or controlled firms to become members. The expanded eligibility rules will add new perspectives to the Council, which advises the Commerce Secretary on policies and initiatives to increase FDI in the U.S. manufacturing sector, including SelectUSA.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivered remarks focused on deepening U.S. economic alliances around the world. Following his address, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman moderated a panel with Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, BMW North America CEO Ludwig Willisch, and Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman on how global companies can use their U.S. operations as an export platform by taking advantage of free trade agreements and bilateral investment treaties. 

Watch the SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit (Day Two)

View the archived webcast here.

  • Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Opening Remarks
  • Secretary of State John Kerry Keynote Address
  • Why Select the USA: Using the U.S. as an Export Platform
  • Why Select the USA: Taking Advantage of the U.S. Energy Opportunity
  • Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Closing Remarks

Day One at the SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit

President Barack Obama delivered keynote remarks at the SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit.

Guest post by Ambassador Vinai Thummalapally, Director of SelectUSA.

Cross-posted from Tradeology, the official blog of ITA.

“There’s no substitute for those three proud words: ‘Made in America.’”

President Obama has been emphatic that the United States remains the best place in the world to do business. Today at the SelectUSA Investment Summit, he reiterated that message to 1,000 business leaders from nearly 60 countries.

“When you bet on America, that bet pays off,” the president said as he closed his keynote address.

Your country is your product when you’re attracting foreign direct investment. At the Summit today, we showed the world that the United States is the absolute best product on the market.

“America is open for business,” said Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. “Our market has provided long-term stability and unmatched returns for investors.”

Attendees began making connections as soon as the doors opened. Representatives from 47 states, three territories, and Washington, D.C., showed off investment opportunities around the country.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew highlighted many advantages a company has when it invests in America – including robust infrastructure and low barriers for entrepreneurs. CEOs from major national and international companies echoed those messages throughout the day.

“We have the most resilient capital markets in the world,” said Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock.

Andrew Liveris said that when it comes to investment in research and development, “the U.S. is number one.”

Watch the SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit (Day One)

View the archived webcasts here.

  • Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker's Welcoming Remarks
  • Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew's view of the U.S. and Global Economy
  • Plenary: Why Select the USA: Perspectives on Investing and Operating in the United States
  • President Barack Obama Keynote Remarks

Commerce and President's Council of Economic Advisors Release Report on Economic Benefits of Foreign Direct Investment

SelectUSA logo

A new report from the U.S. Commerce Department and the President's Council of Economic Advisors spotlights the array of factors that have made the U.S. the destination of choice for foreign direct investment (FDI). The joint report, released at the inaugural SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit, also documents the positive impact FDI is having on the U.S. economy, including job creation, higher research and development spending and export growth.

The U.S. is the largest recipient of FDI in the world, with stock of more than $2.6 trillion dollars–including $166 billion that flowed into the country in 2012. Moreover, companies around the world now consider the U.S. to be the nation with the top FDI prospects globally.

The United States has been the world’s largest recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) since 2006. Every day, foreign companies establish new operations in the United States or provide additional capital to established businesses. With the world’s largest consumer market, skilled and productive workers, a highly innovative environment, appropriate legal protections, a predictable regulatory environment, and a growing energy sector, the United States offers an attractive investment climate for firms across the globe.

Secretary Pritzker Declares America is Open for Business

Secretary Pritzker Declares America is Open for Business

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today launched the inaugural SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit, telling the more than 1,200 attendees from nearly 60 countries, 47 states, the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories that the United States is open for business. The first-ever event is connecting foreign and domestic investors with local, state and regional economic development organizations to promote investment and job creation in the United States.

“The SelectUSA Summit is all about business. It’s all about connecting investors with communities,” Commerce Secretary Pritzker told the audience. “We want to open that first door to making an investment here in the United States. Clearly, our investment climate is strong. America is open for business.”

For centuries, the U.S. has welcomed investment into the country and the domestic market has provided long-term stability and unmatched returns for investors. Today, the U.S. is the largest recipient of FDI in the world. Last year alone, foreign direct investment was more than $160 billion dollars and the total foreign stock and assets are measured not in billions, but in the trillions of dollars.

Also at the Summit, the Department of Commerce and the President's Council of Economic Advisers released a report outlining the reasons businesses consider the U.S. a top choice for investment,  as well as the economic benefits of foreign direct investment. Significantly, the report points out that the United States is the largest recipient of FDI in the world, with stock of more than $2.6 trillion dollars – including $166 billion that flowed into the country in 2012. The report recommends that the U.S. should continue to "nurture and build upon the underlying strengths of the U.S. economy that make firms want to invest here; including an open investment regime, a large economy, a skilled labor forced, community colleges, world-class research universities, predictable and stable regulatory regime, adequately capacitated infrastructure, and new energy sources." 

Redesigning Commerce.gov

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After having the same look and feel on our website since 2010, Commerce.gov is embarking on a fresh redesign to put the user in the driver seat. Drawing on anonymized user input, we have made some significant changes and are excited to announce the launch of our new site - Beta.Commerce.gov.

First, you’ll notice that we’ve made search front and center. Our search feature was visited by one in seven users, and we’ve made it even easier to find and use. We are using the USA Search Drupal module, which allows faceted search across not just Commerce.gov, but all Commerce websites. If you know the information you need is somewhere in the Commerce family, but not sure where, our search tool should be able to find it for you.

To improve the user experience, the navigation bar follows the user down the page. No more scrolling up to the top of the page to navigate around the site. The navigation link you need is never more than a few pixels away. We’ve also simplified the navigation bar to make it easier to find what you are looking for. “Economic Indicators” has been replaced with “Find Data,” while “Newsroom” has been replaced with “Get News.” Based on user searches, we’ve added “Focus on Topics,” which groups our most searched topics into an easily navigable section.

Spotlight on Commerce: Gabriel Sanchez, Improving Operational Efficiency Program Manager, U.S. Census Bureau

Gabriel Sanchez, Improving Operational Efficiency Program Manager, 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 Gabriel Sanchez, Improving Operational Efficiency Program Manager, U.S. Census Bureau

The Improving Operational Efficiency (IOE) program at the U.S. Census Bureau harvests ideas from employees and brings cost saving and efficiency-improving innovation to executive staff for possible investment. The program has invested in 109 projects in the last three years and saved more than $32 million. I am currently revamping the program to streamline and improve metrics, objectives, performance and the harvesting of ideas.

There are several overarching themes within my current responsibilities that relate to the President’s blueprint for America — innovation, efficiency, saving money, avoiding costs, streamlining processes, and creating projects that add strategic value to the organization. By spurring innovation and improving operational efficiency, my program helps government run more efficiently and do more with less.

In my varied career since joining the Department of Commerce in 1998, I have worked in five of the Census Bureau’s12 regional offices as well as the headquarters building in Suitland, Md. My previous position — director of the Dallas Regional Office — was the most challenging, as at the peak of operations during the 2010 Census, it had 111,000 employees in 51 local census offices. I led the enumeration of more than 33 million people while dealing with 45 congressional districts and four of the 10 most populous cities in the country.

I was born in Uruguay and immigrated to the United States at the age of eight. I was raised in New York City, but I have been fortunate to live in various places around the country, which helped ratchet down the big city experience. I was very proud of my heritage when I became the first-ever foreign-born regional director of the Census Bureau. Still, I keep searching for another Uruguayan in the Commerce Department.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Works to Encourage North American Economic Cooperation

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker met with her Mexican and Canadian counterparts, Canadian Minister of International Trade Ed Fast and Mexican Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo

The United States, Mexico and Canada have come a long way since NAFTA launched a new era of commerce across the continent nearly 20 years ago. The trilateral relationship now accounts for more than $1 trillion in trade each year. In fact, each day, the United States conducts $3 billion dollars in trade with Canada and Mexico. 

Yesterday, at the North American Competitiveness and Innovation Conference (NACIC) in La Jolla, Calif., U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker met with her Mexican and Canadian counterparts, Canadian Minister of International Trade Ed Fast and Mexican Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo, to discuss how all three countries can continue to work together to promote mutual economic growth and prosperity. 

In a joint statement, the ministers pledged to work together to keep the region competitive and help North American businesses and workers succeed through enhanced regulatory cooperation and coordinated efforts to facilitate increased trade, including the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.

North America is already one of the most attractive places for businesses to invest and create jobs. More than 460 million consumers live in the region. Combined, the U.S., Canada and Mexico account for one-quarter of the world’s GDP. North America is a source of abundant and affordable energy, is home to a skilled workforce, and has made tremendous investments in research and development.

One Year After Sandy, Commerce Continues Helping Communities Rebuild

Satellite view of Superstorm Sandy, 10-29-12

One year ago today, Sandy made landfall along the mid-Atlantic coast. The storm devastated communities, families, and businesses. While it’s natural to reflect on the tremendous damage the storm wrought, today also presents us with an opportunity to look toward the future.

Before, during and immediately after the storm, the Department of Commerce provided information and data that helped save lives and property and get commerce flowing again. But our work hasn’t stopped and we continue to help in rebuilding efforts.

From spot-on forecasts delivered four days before the storm’s landfall to economic assistance to working to open ports, Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) and Economic Development Administration (EDA) have been standing with our federal agency partners to assist affected communities. In the last year, the Obama administration has provided direct assistance to more than 230,000 people and small businesses and has announced more than $39.7 billion in funding for recipients. 

EDA serves as the administration’s lead for economic recovery as part of the National Disaster Recovery Framework, which coordinates key areas of assistance in the wake of natural disasters. Since Sandy struck, EDA has provided targeted technical assistance through peer-to-peer forums to assist the New Jersey tourism industry, government procurement roundtables, “Access to Capital Meetings” to inform business resources of traditional and non-traditional financing mechanisms, and providing risk management resources to small businesses in the region. Ultimately, these initiatives have helped provide small businesses, local leaders, and economic development practitioners learn best practices and empowered them to undertake robust recovery efforts.

Spotlight on Commerce: Jorge Ponce, Director of the Policy and Evaluation Division, Department of Commerce Office of Civil Rights

Jorge Ponce, Director Policy and Evaluation Division, Office of Civil Rights U.S. Department of Commerce

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 Jorge Ponce, Director Policy and Evaluation Division, Office of Civil Rights U.S. Department of Commerce

Cuba is my birth place. My parents, my sister and I left our homeland for the United States when I was 11 years old in search of freedom. No, I did not come in a raft as I have strong allergies to shark-infested waters! While most people think that if you are Cuban, you must be from Cuban Mecca Miami, I am an anomaly to this assumption. I grew up in Arlington, Virginia, and attended St. Thomas More Elementary School, Bishop O’Connell High School, and graduated from Washington-Lee High School. Subsequently, I attended George Mason University, and completed my graduate studies at Catholic University.   

This year’s celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month is an important one in our history as we celebrated the 500th anniversary of the landing of Juan Ponce de Leon in Florida.

I consider myself to be a civil rights champion. As such, I’ve co-chaired the Council of Federal EEO and Civil Rights Executives from 2001 to 2012, and maintained its webpage. I have met with the top leadership of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management regularly to address civil rights issues in the Federal Government.  

MBDA Deputy Director Receives Hispanic Business Community Award

Photo of Castillo with event organizers

Cross-posted from MBDA.gov blog by Alberto Betancourt, Press Secretary

The Hispanic Heritage Foundation held their first Hispanic Business Community Awards celebration Oct. 23 at the Capital One Bank headquarters in McLean, Va. The awards recognized the impact of Latino business leaders on the Greater Washington, DC community.

Alejandra Y. Castillo, MBDA National Deputy Director, was one of five awardees honored at the event. Castillo received the Public Service Leadership award.

“I’m very honored to receive this award,” she said. “I have a rewarding job where every day I come to work and have the unique privilege of honoring my father. He emigrated from the Dominican Republic and started his own business. That’s what inspires me to help minority-owned companies grow their own business.”

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker also congratulated Castillo on the recognition. MBDA blog

Secretary Pritzker meets with business leaders in New York City

Secretary Pritzker and her Chief of Staff, Bruce Andrews, Meet with Mayor Bloomberg in his City Hall Office

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker traveled to New York City for a series of events and meetings with business leaders from a variety of sectors. The trip also included a meeting with New York City Michael Bloomberg in his City Hall “bullpen.”

The Secretary’s first stop was to a give remarks at the Association for Better New York, a leading organization of business leaders dedicated to improving the quality of life for those that live and work in New York City and for those that visit. In her remarks, Secretary Pritzker discussed her message that America is “Open for Business” and the work that the Obama Administration and the Commerce Department are doing to help grow the economy and create jobs.

Next, Secretary Pritzker met with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in his City Hall office. The discussion focused on ways to improve skills training efforts, spur infrastructure, immigration reform, cities as key drivers of growth, and ways the Commerce Department and the City are collaborating to strengthen the economy and create jobs.

Finally, the Secretary participated in the fall dinner of G100, a private peer-learning community of current, future and recent chief executives of global companies. Secretary Pritzker talked about ways to create jobs, economic growth, immigration reform, and the need for putting an end to the manufactured crises in Washington.

Celebrating National Seafood Month

fish, salmon, and shrimp in a display case

Hey, seafood lovers—did you know it’s National Seafood Month? The United States is a global leader in sustainable seafood, supporting an industry with 1.2 million jobs nationwide and adding $55 billion of value to the nation’s GDP in 2011 (Fisheries Economics of the U.S.). To celebrate, NOAA Fisheries is publishing great seafood stories, including science features, culinary Q&As, and seafood videos and podcasts.

Ensuring that both present and future generations can enjoy the benefits of sustainable seafood is a core responsibility of the Department of Commerce through NOAA Fisheries. From Alaska to Maine, U.S. seafood is responsibly harvested under a strong monitoring, management, and enforcement program that works to keep the marine environment healthy, fish populations thriving, and our seafood industry on the job.

Responsibly harvested seafood starts with sound science, and at the heart of fisheries science is the stock assessment. We break it down for you in this animated video—the ABC’s of stock assessments.

Sound science makes effective management possible. Since 2000, 34 overfished stocks have been rebuilt, including the most recent—the southern stock of black sea bass.

NIST Releases Preliminary Cybersecurity Framework, Will Seek Comments

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today released its Preliminary Cybersecurity Framework to help critical infrastructure owners and operators reduce cybersecurity risks in industries such as power generation, transportation and telecommunications. In the coming days, NIST will open a 45-day public comment period on the Preliminary Framework and plans to release the official framework in February 2014, as called for in Executive Order 13636—Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity

In February 2013, President Obama directed NIST to work with stakeholders to develop a voluntary framework for reducing cyber risks, recognizing that U.S. national and economic security depends on the reliable functioning of critical infrastructure. Through a request for information and a series of workshops held throughout 2013, NIST engaged with more than 3,000 individuals and organizations on standards, best practices and guidelines that can provide businesses, their suppliers, their customers and government agencies with a shared set of expected protections for critical information and IT infrastructure. 

The Preliminary Framework outlines a set of steps that can be customized to various sectors and adapted by both large and small organizations while providing a consistent approach to cybersecurity. It offers a common language and mechanism for organizations to determine and describe their current cybersecurity posture, as well as their target state for cybersecurity. The framework will help them to identify and prioritize opportunities for improvement within the context of risk management and to assess progress toward their goals. 

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

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

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

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

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Discusses Tackling the Skills Gap

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling with members of the Business Leaders United for Workforce Partnerships

Millions of jobs have been created in the years since the recession ended, but many Americans are still out of work. In fact, there are about 4 million job openings right now, and yet about 4 million Americans have been job-searching more than 6 months. Many employers simply cannot find workers with the skills necessary to do the jobs available.

Business Leaders United for Workforce Partnerships (BLU) is working to address the skills mis-match by creating sector partnerships that align employers’ hiring needs with local and regional training systems.  Yesterday, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker joined Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling to speak to BLU about what the Administration is doing to invest in workforce skills training and to hear about ways employers are proactively developing partnerships to create a pipeline of skilled workers in their local areas.

Business leaders cited how their initiative, investments, and partnerships with local community colleges, Workforce Investment Boards, non-profits, and each other industry peers and others have reduced nursing shortages in Louisville; helped the long-term unemployed train for and gain employment in the financial services industry in southern California; and developed an electrical contracting apprenticeship program with 100% job placement in Tennessee. An export-oriented metal forming manufacturer in Minnesota described how he has worked with local community and technical colleges to create certificate programs to develop the skilled workforce the company needs.  

International Trade Administration Streamlines its Business Divisions to Help Companies More Efficiently and Effectively

International Trade Administration Seal

The International Trade Administration (ITA) for the first time in 30 years has fully implemented its first major organizational change.  The change will better align key functions to support U.S. businesses and their workers more efficiently and effectively. The change reflects ITA’s adaptation to the evolution of global markets, technology, and competition.

ITA’s reorganization consolidates its four business divisions into three more efficient and functionally aligned units.  The new units are Global Markets, Industry and Analysis, and Enforcement and Compliance.

The Global Markets unit combines ITA’s country and regional experts, overseas and domestic field staff, and specific trade promotion programs. The unit, which provides U.S. firms with the full suite of country-specific export promotion services and market access advocacy, also promotes the United States as an investment destination.

The Industry and Analysis (I&A) unit brings together ITA’s industry, trade, and economic experts to advance the competitiveness of U.S. industries through the development and execution of international trade and investment policies and promotion strategies. I&A will leverage ITA’s relationships with manufacturing and services industries to increase U.S. exports.

The Enforcement and Compliance unit enhances ITA’s responsibilities to enforce U.S. trade laws and ensure compliance with trade agreements negotiated on behalf of U.S. industry.

United States Department of Commerce Plan for Orderly Shutdown Due to Lapse of Congressional Appropriations

Annual funding for the government expired on September 30. The Administration strongly believed that a lapse in funding should not occur. The Department is prepared for a lapse in funding that would necessitate a significant reduction in operations. Prior to a potential lapse in funding, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) required the Department to submit a draft plan for agency operations (PDF) in the absence of appropriations (a “shutdown plan”).

The plan may be modified with additional guidance from the Office of Personnel Management and OMB, and may be changed by the Department, as circumstances warrant. This plan (PDF) complies with the guidance provided by the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Justice and the Department of Commerce. All employees who are Presidentially Appointed, Senate Confirmed will remain on duty.

In compliance with the restrictions of the Anti-Deficiency Act, the Department of Commerce will maintain the following services and activities during a lapse in FY14 appropriations:

• Weather, water, and climate observing, prediction, forecast, warning, and support
• Law enforcement activities for the protection of marine fisheries
• Fisheries management activities including quota monitoring, observer activities, and regulatory actions to prevent overfishing
• Essential natural resource damage assessment activities associated with the Deepwater Horizon incident
• Water level data for ships entering U.S. ports, critical nautical chart updates and accurate position information.
• Patent and trademark application processing
• Operation of the national timing and synchronization infrastructure as well as the National Vulnerability Database
• Maintenance, continuity and protection of certain research property and critical data records
• All services of the National Technical Information Service
• Export enforcement – the ongoing conduct of criminal investigations, and prosecutions, and coordination with other law enforcement and intelligence agencies in furtherance of our national security
• Budget operations required to support excepted activities under a shutdown, such as tracking of obligations and funds control.

The following services and activities will not be available during a lapse in FY14 appropriations:

• Most research activities at NIST and NOAA (excluding real-time regular models on research computers used for Hurricane and FAA flight planning)
• Assistance and support to recipients of grant funding
• Technical oversight of non-mission essential contracts
• Services and activities provided by:
−Bureau of Economic Analysis
−Economic Development Administration
−Economics and Statistics Administration
−Minority Business Development Agency
−Bureau of the Census
• Most services and activities provided by the International Trade Administration

Manufacturing Award Grants Will Invite Lasting Investment for Our Communities

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

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

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

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

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

Back in Black: Black Sea Bass Stock is Rebuilt

Black Sea Bass

The wait wasn’t easy but it’s over. NOAA Fisheries has declared the southern stock of black sea bass successfully rebuilt. With that, the combined commercial and recreational catch limit for this popular species has more than doubled, to 1.8 million pounds.

The southern stock of black sea bass ranges from Cape Hatteras, NC to the Florida Keys. For the communities along that stretch of coast, the higher catch limit is extremely good news.

According to the latest Fisheries Economics of the U.S. report, in 2011 recreational fishing in this region supported more than 52,000 jobs and added just short of $3 billion of value to the nation’s GDP.

Among recreational anglers, black sea bass is one of the most popular fish throughout its range. Those anglers will now be chasing black sea bass for about 6 months each summer and fall. In recent years, the season lasted about half that long.

Black sea bass is also an important commercial species. Although the economic impact from commercial fishing is less overall, it will be felt strongly in the Carolinas, where the commercial black sea bass fleet is concentrated.

Acting Deputy Secretary Pat Gallagher Highlights Programs to Help Entrepreneurs at #GovFest Event

Acting Deputy Secretary Pat Gallagher Speaking at #GovFest

Yesterday, Acting Deputy Secretary Pat Gallagher participated in a panel discussion on "Bridging the Gap Between Government and Entrepreneurs" at an event hosted by #GovFest. Acting Deputy Secretary Gallagher was joined by Tameka Montgomery, Associate Administrator of the Office of Entrepreneurial Development at the Small Business Administration, and Jason Kessler, Program Executive for NASA's Asteroid Grand Challenge, in addition to Aneesh Chopra, the first U.S. Chief Technology Officer, who moderated the panel.

The conversation focused on efforts to increase communication between entrepreneurs and the federal government in order to help innovators grow businesses, create jobs and increase America's competitiveness.

Acting Deputy Secretary Gallagher highlighted the many areas where the Commerce Department is already working to support entrepreneurs. For example, two years ago, the White House called for a consumer-friendly button on utility company websites that would give consumers easy access to their own energy usage data and, in turn, save both money and support the environment. The aptly named Green Button Initiative has been a great success - 12 million households had access to the Green Button last year, which is expected to rise to 27 million in the near future. Entrepreneurs have already started to save consumers money and build value for themselves by using this data. The Green Button Initiative was built on a technical standard which was developed by a public-private partnership supported by the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology. Similar efforts are underway in the fields of health information technologies, smart grid systems, cybersecurity, and climate data.

State Broadband Grants Are Helping States Embrace Digital Government

Anne Neville, Director, State Broadband Initiative

Cross-post from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration 

The following blog was written by Anne Neville, Director, State Broadband Initiative

With the Internet on our phones, our tablets, at the office and in our homes, most Americans have come to expect that our government, too, will be online. Still, whether it’s due to a lack of resources or skepticism over the need, some local governments have yet to fully embrace the potential of e-Government.

As part of our efforts to expand broadband access and adoption, NTIA’s State Broadband Initiative (SBI) has been working with states to help them provide the tools for citizens to participate in government online. These efforts are providing real benefits for consumers in many states, including allowing residents to communicate with government officials, make online tax or fine payments, and access numerous government forms.

With NTIA’s state broadband grants, states have taken a variety of approaches to helping localities better utilize the Internet. In Arkansas, Connect Arkansas, a nonprofit corporation focused on increasing broadband adoption and access, has used an SBI grant to work with 17 counties to help them launch engaging, transactional, and informational websites or to enhance existing sites. Six Arkansas counties have launched or are expected to launch new e-Government websites by the end of the year. 

Often, the savings created by a new or expanded website offsets the costs of creating and maintaining these sites by allowing county and city employees to spend less time taking in-person payments or answering questions over the phone. Since the launch of the property tax feature on its new e-government website in March 2012, Sharp County, Ark., has collected $360,000 in property taxes online.  This new feature has saved county staff as much as a full week in time as well as postage and stationery fees, according to County Collector Charlotte Ratliff.

U.S. Department of Commerce Invests Approximately $21 Million to Support Economic and Job Growth in Eleven States

Economic and Development Administration Seal

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding $21.1 million in grants to support economic development projects in Alabama, California, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah. The projects are expected to create more than 2,500 jobs and attract $505 million in private investment, according to grantee estimates.

The Obama administration is committed to supporting critical business infrastructure for growth and economic competitiveness. The EDA grants announced today will help implement economic development projects that aim to boost job creation and sustainable economies in 11 states throughout the country.   

The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation's regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth. Find more information on the $21.1 million in EDA investments announced today.

Secretary Pritzker Co-Chairs U.S.-Mexico High Level Economic Dialogue And Outlines Future Engagement

 Secretary Penny Pritzker speaking with the American Chamber of Commerce of Mexico alongside Ernesto M. Hernández, President & Director General of General Motors Mexico, and Jose Zozaya, President and Executive Representative, Kansas City Southern de Mexico

Today, in Mexico City, Secretary Penny Pritzker co-chaired the U.S.-Mexico High Level Economic Dialogue (HLED) along with her colleagues from the U.S. Department of State, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and their Mexican counterparts. The goal of the HLED is to advance strategic economic and commercial priorities central to promoting mutual economic growth, job creation, and global competitiveness.

Specifically, the two countries discussed how to attract foreign direct investment, jointly promote travel and tourism, improve manufacturing within integrated supply chains, promote entrepreneurship, and provide 21st century workforce development. They will also work on improving transportation and telecommunications links and networks. The two countries will work collaboratively in regard to international institutions and negotiations, as well. During the proceedings, participants agreed on the HLED work plan, which are broadly defined under three pillars: Promoting Competitiveness and Connectivity; Fostering Economic Growth, Productivity, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation; and Partnering for Regional and Global Leadership.

After concluding the HLED, Secretary Pritzker spoke with the American Chamber of Commerce of Mexico and highlighted the results of the Dialogue. She recognized that the private sector, including small business, civil society, and labor organizations, is vital to building the U.S.-Mexico relationship and to drive mutual prosperity.

American Community Survey Statistics Give Communities Detailed Look at Income, Poverty, Health Insurance and Many other Statistics

Categories:
U.S. Map

Cross-post from Random Samplings, the official blog of the U.S. Census Bureau

The following blog was written by James B. Treat

The American Community Survey statistics released today provide information for geographies with populations of 65,000 or more on many different topics, including income, poverty and health insurance. While national level statistics on these topics were released earlier this week from the Current Population Survey, many states and communities also rely on getting this information from the American Community Survey.

These ACS statistics that cover 2012 will be followed by new releases of statistics from data collected over three- and five-year periods later this year, allowing you to explore these topics for every community in the nation.

As the nation’s most comprehensive survey, the American Community Survey is unique in its ability to produce annual statistics on housing, economic and population measures for even the smallest geographic areas and population groups.  With today’s release, you can find statistics on a variety of topics including commute times, housing costs, educational attainment and characteristics of veterans.

Retailers, homebuilders, police departments, and town and city planners are among the many private- and public-sector decision makers who count on these annual results.

Looking at income, poverty and health insurance statistics provided by the American Community Survey helps communities measure their economic well-being as well as plan resource needs, such as allocating funds for food, health care, job training, housing and other assistance programs.  For more information on the American Community Survey please visit census.gov/acs.

Secretary Pritzker Speaks to Rhode Island Business Owners at Senator Jack Reed’s Rhode Island Business Leaders Day

This afternoon, Secretary Penny Pritzker attended Senator Jack Reed’s Rhode Island Business Leaders Day to affirm that Rhode Island, and America as a whole, are open for business. She noted the role that the Department of the Commerce is playing in helping to fortify the state’s economy by strengthening manufacturing, increasing exports, and making critical infrastructure and economic development investments.

Through the local United States Export Assistance Center, the Department of Commerce is promoting Rhode Island’s exports. Nationwide, U.S. exports hit $2.2 trillion last year, supporting nearly 10 million good-paying jobs. In 2009, Rhode Island exports were just $1.5 billion.  But last year, they hit $2.4 billion – representing a 60% jump. International trade now supports approximately 130,000 jobs in the state.  And exports now support 17% of manufacturing workers in Rhode Island.  Today, Rhode Island has seen growth in export areas like chemicals, machinery, electronics, and textiles, in addition to its biggest export, scrap metal, which often leaves from the Port of Providence.

A recent example is the Warwick-based firm named Astro-Med. They asked the Commerce Department for help entering into new markets in Latin America. They contacted one of our aerospace specialists in our International Trade Administration’s Commercial Service, who helped connect them with Embraer. As a result, just two weeks ago they won a major contract for cockpit equipment from Embraer. This contract means jobs for Rhode Islanders.

Rhode Island Business Leaders Day is an annual event co-hosted by Senator Jack Reed and the Rhode Island Food Dealers Association. Invitees include Rhode Island business owners from the manufacturing, defense, services, and financial sectors, economic development officials, and state politicians. The event consists of speeches and question and answer sessions with members of Congress, cabinet officials and journalists.

Commerce’s NIST Awards Grants to Improve Online Security and Privacy

NIST Awards Grants to Improve Online Security and Privacy

The U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced more than $7 million in grants to support the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC).  The funding will enable five U.S. organizations to develop pilot identity protection and verification systems that offer consumers more privacy, security and convenience online.

These new pilots build on the successful launch of five NSTIC pilots awarded in 2012Launched by the Obama administration in 2011 and housed at NIST, NSTIC is an initiative that aims to support collaboration between the private sector, advocacy groups and public-sector agencies. The selected pilot proposals advance the NSTIC vision that individuals and organizations adopt secure, efficient, easy-to-use, and interoperable identity credentials to access online services in a way that promotes confidence, privacy, choice and innovation.

The grants announced today will support privacy-enhancing technologies that help make Internet transactions more secure, including better protection from fraud and identity theft, and are an important step toward giving American companies and consumers greater confidence in doing business online.  Release

Secretary Penny Pritzker Delivers Keynote Remarks at the U.S.-Saudi Business Opportunities Forum

 Secretary Penny Pritzker Delivers Keynote Remarks at the U.S.-Saudi Business Opportunities Forum

Today Secretary Penny Pritzker delivered keynote remarks at the U.S.-Saudi Business Opportunities Forum currently underway in Los Angeles, an event being hosted by the Saudi Committee for International Trade, the U.S.-Saudi Business Council, and the Saudi-U.S. Trade Group. The event brought together approximately 1,200 American and Saudi businesses, government officials, academics and opinion leaders to highlight the U.S.-Saudi commercial and trade relationship and inform participants about business opportunities in Saudi Arabia.

During her remarks, Secretary Pritzker noted that the United States and Saudi Arabia have a strong trade and investment relationship, and last year, trade between our two countries hit all-time record highs. Our bilateral trade is now triple what it was just a decade ago.

Secretary Pritzker also noted that the Commerce Department, over the past four years, has helped more than 450 U.S. companies export to Saudi Arabia for the first time. More such partnerships are expected as Saudi Arabia’s plans for infrastructure growth allow U.S. companies opportunities to team up to build strong and vibrant Saudi communities, she said.

Secretary Pritzker also met with staff from the Los Angeles U.S. Export Assistance Center, which is part of the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA). Her visit with USEAC employees was an opportunity to thank them for their work and part of her ongoing efforts to meet with Department of Commerce employees all over the country.

USPTO Marks Second Anniversary of Milestone Patent Law—The America Invents Act

Deputy Director Teresa Stanek Rea of the United States Patent and Trademark Office provides opening remarks at a public forum marking the 2nd anniversary of the America Invents Act, the biggest overhaul of the nation’s patent laws since the 19th century.

When President Obama took office, he made overhaul of the patent system one of his top priorities. New innovations and ideas play a crucial role in creating American jobs, stimulating our economy, and remaining globally competitive.

And it was two years ago today that the president signed the America Invents Act (AIA) into law, setting in motion the most significant changes to the U.S. patent system since 1836. In just two years, the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) implementation of AIA has contributed to a more internationally harmonized, more predictable, and more flexible patent system for the United States, and one that is much more responsive to 21st century realities.

USPTO Deputy Director Teresa Stanek Rea marked the anniversary during a public forum at USPTO’s headquarters in Alexandria, Va., today. The meeting served as an opportunity to bring stakeholders together with USPTO experts to address and answers questions on AIA provisions.

New Center for Advanced Science, Innovation and Commerce Comes Online at Auburn

Auburn University officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday for the new Mike Hubbard Center for Advanced Science, Innovation and Commerce

The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) hosted a ceremony Friday, September 13 to dedicate the Mike Hubbard Center for Advanced Science, Innovation and Commerce at Auburn University in Alabama.

The Center is a $28.8 million research facility designed to support multidisciplinary research in bioenergy, water quality, food safety and engineering, genomics, information science and ecosystem health. The new lab includes 20 high-tech laboratories with specialized equipment, a super computer, seminar rooms and outside features such as two 5-ton cranes for biofuels work.

The lab was partially financed by a cost-share award of $14.4 million from NIST’s Construction Grants Program as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The grants program has helped to fund either new construction or expansions at 24 research facilities across the country in fields as diverse as marine ecology, quantum physics, earthquake simulation and nanoscale measurement. The grants were designed to foster cutting-edge research in science and technology to advance economic growth and international competitiveness.

A Joint Imperative to Strengthen Skills

A Joint Imperative to Strengthen Skills

Guest blog post by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez

As two of the newest members of President Obama’s cabinet, we’ve both spent the past few months lending a fresh set of eyes and ears to the opportunities and challenges facing middle-class workers and American businesses. One concern facing both communities that requires our full attention and our joint efforts is making sure that every American has the skills needed to succeed in the workforce.

This week we visited Anne Arundel Community College (AACC) in Maryland, where we were joined by U.S. Congressman Steny Hoyer, to hear from local business, education, labor, and government leaders about the importance of skills training as both a workforce development and an economic development imperative.

In 2011 Anne Arundel Community College received a $19.7 million grant from the Labor Department to lead the National STEM Consortium, which is made up of 10 community colleges in nine states. Together, they’re working with employers, labor unions, and industry groups to develop certificate programs designed to train workers for mid-skill technical careers that have a high volume of openings in a particular region. Over the next decade, more than half of the new jobs created will be middle skills jobs meaning they require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year college degree.

For Army veteran and current AACC student Gary Pollard, the National STEM Consortium has meant a second shot at serving his country, this time as a trained cyber security analyst ready to take on one of the 15,000 related job openings in Maryland alone. The National STEM Consortium is just one example of the type of partnership that can be replicated around the country as we work to find ways to ensure American workers have the skills employers are looking for when they want to hire.

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

Director Steve Landefeld

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

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

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

Arts and “First Friday” Contribute to Overall Economic Activity in Missoula, Montana

Guest blog by Rob Rubinovitz, Deputy Chief Economist, Economics and Statistics Administration

Secretary Penny Pritzker’s visit to Missoula, Montana last week coincided with one of the community’s “First Friday Gallery Night” events.  “First Friday’s” are part of a larger effort of the Cultural Council in Missoula to support the arts to benefit the community as a whole.  These events include various art galleries, museums, and retail locations, and may feature musical performances, poetry readings, dance and lectures. The effort seem to be paying off, as one study found that Missoula’s nonprofit arts organizations are responsible for close to $40 million annually in local economic activity, from both the direct spending on arts activities as well as spending on related activities such as restaurant meals, and support more than 1,400 full-time jobs. Missoula is not alone in this; over the last three years, the U.S. economy has added 140,000 jobs in the arts and entertainment sector, as many communities recognize the benefits of a thriving artistic community.

It used to be that communities invested in the arts solely as a local amenity that produces value in and of itself.  In times of tight budgets, this justification has not always been enough to continue support for the arts; however, research has found there are many ways in which the arts economically benefit communities.  A framework for thinking about these benefits can be found in what is known as “new growth theory,” which is based on the idea that individuals, firms and governments make a conscious choice to invest in skills, knowledge acquisition and in innovative activities.  With investment in skills and innovation comes the development of technology that enhances growth, and technological changes have been found to be responsible for most of the long-run growth in income per capita.  Further, there are spillovers of knowledge between firms and individuals that are near each other, leading to clusters of knowledge-based industries. 

Secretary Pritzker Wheels Around the United Bicycle Institute in Portland, Oregon

Today, as part of Secretary Penny Pritzker’s nationwide listening tour, she toured the United Bicycle Institute in Portland, Oregon. It is the bicycle industry’s leading technical school offering courses in repair, frame building, and mechanic certification for technicians. She also held a roundtable discussion with representatives from the bicycle industry.

In 2012, Bicycling magazine rated Portland as the No. 1 cycling city in the U.S. The United Bicycle Institute (UBI) has established itself as a critical part of the cycling culture in the region. UBI has two facilities, the main facility in Ashland, Oregon and the Portland facility, which includes a 3,000 square foot mechanics classroom and a 2,400 square foot frame building shop.  Founded in 1981, UBI has educated nearly 20,000 students since it opened, many of whom have gone on to careers in the bicycle industry. 

During her tour, Secretary Pritzker viewed the mechanics classroom where students work on a component-by component study of bicycle repair, as well as a study of the bicycle as a complete system. This enables mechanics to work on all types of bicycles. She also visited the frame room, where students are taught by master frame builders. The course of study provides certification for students who want to become professional frame builders. The frame building classes are intensive, but no prior frame building, welding or brazing experience is required. Students learn all the skills they need during the coursework.

Following her tour, Secretary Pritzker participated in a roundtable with business owners in the bicycle industry who expressed their optimism about their ability to grow in the future.

Portland was Secretary Pritzker’s 12th stop on her nationwide listening tour. She has been meeting with businesses, thought leaders, entrepreneurs, academics and Department of Commerce employees. In these discussions, Secretary Pritzker has heard about their priorities, concerns and ideas on how the public and private sectors can work together to strengthen the economy and create American jobs.

Secretary Pritzker Tours NOAA’s Western Regional Center in Seattle

Secretary Pritzker is joined by Commerce employees at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Western Regional Center in Seattle, Washington

As part of her nationwide listening tour, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker yesterday visited the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Western Regional Center in Seattle, Washington, the largest NOAA facility outside of Washington, D.C. She thanked NOAA employees for their hard work, which she said was critical to Commerce’s mission. The Secretary also toured parts of NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration and NOAA Fisheries Service. 

On the tour of the Western Regional Center, Secretary Pritzker learned specifically about two different kinds of tsunami detection buoys that NOAA has developed and has now been commercialized by private industry. The buoys are now built commercially and sold to many different countries, thus providing a standardized tsunami detection and warning system for the world as well as creating U.S. jobs and increasing U.S. exports.  A partnership between the National Weather Service and Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory has made tsunami forecasting and warning more accurate than ever before, while helping to promote the development of tsunami forecasting capabilities in other countries.

Secretary Pritzker also visited the Office of Response and Restoration where Secretary Pritzker learned about the tools they build and maintain that emergency responders depend on nationwide. These tools provide the best available science data to federal, state, and local responders when they need it most, predicting chemical reactions, oil spill and marine debris trajectories, and oil weathering during emergencies.  From preparedness and response through recovery, the NOAA Office of Response and Restoration protects the United States’ coastal and marine environment from threats including marine debris, releases from hazardous waste sites, and oil and chemical spills.

Secretary Pritzker Tours Year Up Skills Center in Seattle, Washington

Secretary Pritzker visiting the IT Apps class where students use office productivity applications to build their own business plan, which they present to the class as a final project.

Today, as part of her nationwide listening tour, Secretary Pritzker visited Year Up in Seattle, WA. Year Up is a national non-profit organization operating in 12 cities that provides urban young adults with the skills, experience, and support that will empower them to pursue professional careers and higher education.

She toured the facilities with Lisa Chin, Executive Director of Year Up Puget Sound Seattle, and John Stanton, Year Up Board Chair. On the tour she saw a Business Communications class where students learn the fundamentals of effective communication in a professional setting.  Some of the skills taught include public speaking, email etiquette, and giving presentations in a business setting. She also visited the IT Apps class where students use office productivity applications to build their own business plan, which they present to the class as a final project.

Students at Year Up focus on learning skills and obtaining needed credentials during their first six months in the program. In the second six months, students apply those skills through corporate sponsorships. Students can earn up to 23 college credits during their year of study. Year Up is an excellent of example of how employers, community colleges and non-profits can come together to teach young adults the skills valued by employers.

Today’s Investments in Infrastructure and Workforce Are Ensuring Our Future Economic Growth

Deputy Assistant Secretary Matt Erskine Presents EDA Investment Grants to Tennessee and Kentucky (Photo courtesy of Jeremy Nash, News-Herald and The Connection)

Guest blog post by Matt Erskine, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Devleopment, U.S. Economic and Development Administration

Making investments in our workforce and building out critical business infrastructure are key elements of any strategy to ensure our nations’ future economic growth. And when these investments are matched locally and amplify existing local and regional technological assets and expertise, they are doubly effective. 

I saw evidence of this today and yesterday when I travelled to Kentucky and Tennessee to announce three new EDA investments in these states. I was accompanied by Earl Gohl, federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, which is doing impressive work that is critical to the competitiveness of this region. 

In Barbourville, Kentucky this morning, I was honored to participate in Union College’s opening convocation where I announce a $1.5 million EDA disaster assistance grant that will help Knox County and the surrounding region rebound and diversify in the wake of 2011 flooding and tornadoes.  Specifically, the grant will support the region’s workers and its growing health-care sector by helping to renovate the former Knox County hospital building on the college’s campus to serve as the new Department of Nursing and Health Sciences. 

As U.S. House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers said, “When our rural communities face natural disasters, they need financial support to rebuild, which secures the hope of a full recovery…I commend the EDA for supporting these efforts in Southern and Eastern Kentucky.” 

This EDA grants will ensure a full recovery for the region by helping them prepare for a greater healthcare workforce. The grant adds to the more than $42 million in EDA investments that have gone to projects in Kentucky since 2009, supporting the creation of 6,000 new jobs in the state. 

Secretary Pritzker Tells Employees in the Northwest their Efforts are Key to American Innovation

Secretary Pritzker today in Seattle kicked-off her first visit to the Northwest as Commerce Secretary by visiting with EDA employees and employees from U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC), part of the International Trade Administration (ITA), U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) and Office of Inspector General (OIG). The secretary's visit is part of her latest stop on a nationwide listening tour and was an opportunity to thank the employees for their work for the Department of Commerce. 

At the meeting, the Secretary told employees gathered at the EDA regional office that the common thread in the bureaus throughout the department is working together to protect, promote, anticipate and inform what America needs to be competitive and innovative in the 21st century. This is the mission of the Commerce Department.

Secretary Pritzker praised the agencies in attendance for the great work they are doing in the region.

  • U.S. PTO patent examiners were spotlighted for helping Americans turn ideas into businesses quickly, even as PTO has had several straight years of 5 to 7 percent increases in patent applications.
  • The Seattle U.S. Export Assistance Center was praised by the Secretary for their work in industries like aerospace and defense which has proven to be crucial in growing exports and reaching record breaking numbers in the first half of this year. Recent Commerce data show that exports support nearly 40% of all manufacturing workers in Washington.
  • EDA’s regional office was acknowledged for their efforts in serving 8 states and a number of territories. EDA funds helped build a Pipeline Training Center in Alaska, expand a fiber optic network in California and launched several of new Jobs Accelerators. 
  • And, the Inspector General’s office was recognized for the crucial role they play. From reviewing NOAA’s fisheries enforcement efforts, climate monitoring systems, and other NOAA programs, their work ensures the Department is doing the best possible job.

Secretary Pritzker concluded her visit by encouraging the employees to continue their great work. She believes America is more competitive than ever before. Over the past 41 months, 7.3 million jobs were created. She said the Commerce Department’s goal is to accelerate that momentum through the great work of Commerce employees in the Northwest region, throughout the country, and across the world.

Commerce Department Encourages Businesses to Prepare Now for Future Emergencies and Disasters

National Preparedness Month Graphic

September is National Preparedness Month. It is crucial that businesses, in addition to government officials and the public, take steps now to prepare for future emergencies or natural disasters. The Commerce Department is encouraging business owners to be good corporate citizens by establishing a plan to help lessen the economic impact of disasters within their communities. Here are three things business owners can do today to prepare for future emergencies and disasters:

  1. Have a business continuity plan. This plan can help protect businesses, employees, and infrastructure, and increase chances of recovery after a disaster.
  2. Know your risks. Gather information about local hazards by contacting your local emergency management office, American Red Cross chapter and NOAA's National Weather Service forecast office.
  3. Become a StormReady community. Being StormReady means your business has multiple ways to receive forecasts and warnings from the National Weather Service, monitors local weather conditions, communicates effectively with employees, promotes public readiness through community seminars, and has a formal hazardous weather plan. 

According to a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center, Americans coped with 11 weather and climate disaster events in 2012, including seven severe weather and tornado events, two tropical cyclone events, a year-long drought and wildfires. The impacts of this weather have a significant effect on the U.S. economy. In addition to killing over 300 people, the events in 2012 caused more than $110 billion in damages, having particularly devastating economic effects on the impacted areas. That makes last year’s disaster costs second only to 2005, which incurred $160 billion in damages. 

These effects can be felt by businesses that don't reopen after a storm, which also negatively impacts communities and the local economy. The American Red Cross reports that as many as 40 percent of businesses fail following a disaster. But businesses that are weather-ready don't have to be part of this statistic. 

The time is now. Businesses can’t afford to be unprepared, particularly with the peak of hurricane season now in full swing. Implementing the suggested recommendations can help businesses and communities survive natural disasters and sustain their local economies. 

For more information on how businesses can prepare for an emergency, visit www.ready.gov/business.

NIST Releases Study on Reducing Damage and Loss from Wildfires

A wooded area aflame during the 2007 Witch Creek/Guejito wildfire in Southern California. A new report from NIST looks at the fire's impact on structures in one community based on their pre-fire exposure risk to direct fire contact and embers (both seen in the photo). Credit: With permission from Dan Tentler, lightbending.net

recent study of one of California's most devastating wildland fires by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) strongly suggests that measures for reducing structural damage and property loss from wildland urban interface (WUI)* fires are most effective when they are based on accurate assessments of exposure risks both for individual structures and the community as a whole.

The report also describes how the NIST-USFS WUI Hazard Scale provides a state-of-the-art tool for making such assessments and how that data could be linked to improved building codes, standards and practices that will help communities better resist the threat of wildfires.

The Witch Creek/Guejito WUI fire (commonly known as the Witch Fire) was the largest of a series of wildfires that began burning across Southern California on Oct. 20, 2007. It affected areas north and northeast of San Diego, starting in Witch Creek Canyon near Santa Ysabel and quickly spreading westward toward the coast because of strong Santa Ana winds. The Witch Fire burned some 80,000 hectares (nearly 200,000 acres), destroyed more than 1,600 structures, caused an estimated $1.8 billion in property damages and cost $18 million to fight. It also was responsible for two civilian deaths and 39 firefighter injuries.  Full release

Back to School: 2013-2014

Image of students boarding a yellow school bus

By August, summertime is 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 Facts for Features highlights the many statistics associated with the return to classrooms by our nation's students and teachers. Here are a few:

  • $8.5 billion: The amount of money spent at family clothing stores in August 2012. Sales at bookstores in August 2012 totaled $2.0 billion.
  • 79 million: The number of children and adults enrolled in school throughout the country in October 2011—from nursery school to college. They comprised 26.9 percent of the entire population age 3 and older.
  • 42%: Percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds enrolled in college in 2011. 

School Enrollments in the United States (report)

More Facts for Features

Labor Day 2013: September 2

Categories:
Labor Day greeting

The first observance of Labor Day was likely on Sept. 5, 1882, when some 10,000 workers assembled in New York City for a parade. That celebration inspired similar events across the country, and by 1894 more than half the states were observing a "workingmen's holiday" on one day or another. Later that year, with Congress passing legislation and President Grover Cleveland signing the bill on June 29, the first Monday in September was designated "Labor Day." This national holiday is a creation of the labor movement in the late 19th century—and pays tribute to the social and economic achievements of American workers.

  • 155.7 million: Number of people 16 and over in the nation's labor foce in May 2013
  • 84.7%: Percentage of full-time workers 18 to 64 covered by health insurance during all or part of 2011. 
  • 4.3%: Percentage of workers 16 and over who worked from home in 2011.
  • 76.4%: Percentage of workers 16 and over who drove alone to work in 2011.
  • 25.5 minutes: The average time it took workers in the U.S. to commute to work in 2011. 

See more stats in the Census Bureau's Facts for Features

Secretary Pritzker Labor Day statement.

Confirming the Partnership Between the United States and Asia

Industry representatives from nations within the Asia-Pacific region attend a business ethics workshop with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Academy in August 2013.

The Department of Commerce has taken advantage of several opportunities to support its commitment to Asia, an important region with some of the world’s fastest growing economies.

Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez visited Brunei this month for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Business and Investment Summit. His message to the Summit was that ASEAN remains an important partner to the United States and a key player in the global marketplace.

As ASEAN looks to form an integrated economic community, the United States wants to make sure every nation in the region understands America’s commitment to ASEAN and the broader Asia-Pacific region. The United States and ASEAN are working within the Expanded Economic Engagement framework, designed to expand trade and investment ties and create new business opportunities and jobs in all eleven countries.

The United States and the Commerce Department support the important initiatives ASEAN is taking on to support the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). All governments in the region are actively working to put greater emphasis on protecting intellectual property and enforcing intellectual property rights. This encourages innovation, as it ensures that SMEs will be able to profit from their ideas without worry of them being compromised.

Secretary Pritzker Meets With Commerce Employees in Houston

Secretary Penny Pritzker meets with Houston-area Commerce Employees.

While in Houston, Texas today, Secretary Pritzker visited a U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC), part of the International Trade Administration (ITA), and met with USEAC employees and employees from the Bureau of Industry and Security’s (BIS) Houston field office. The secretary's visit was part of her latest stop on a nationwide listening tour and was an opportunity to thank the employees for their work for the Department of Commerce. 

USEACs are the domestic arm of ITA’s U.S. Commercial Service, which is comprised of an extensive network of trade specialists located in more than 100 U.S. cities and 80 countries worldwide. The specialists help American companies start exporting or expand their international business presence. Specific services include: world class market research; trade events that promote companies’ product or service to qualified buyers; introductions to buyers and distributors; and counseling and advocacy through every step of the export process.The Houston USEAC in particular has been working with companies in the energy, information technology and transportation sectors to support and increase U.S. exports.

The secretary also met with representatives from BIS’ Houston field office. The Houston office’s mission is to protect U.S. national and domestic security, foreign policy and economic interests. BIS operates a law enforcement program focused on sensitive exports to hostile entities or those that engage in onward proliferation, prohibited foreign boycotts and related public safety laws. The office accomplishes its mission through preventative and investigative enforcement activities and then pursuing appropriate criminal and administrative sanctions against export violators.

Partnership Between the Port of Houston and Department of Commerce is Crucial for Continued Economic Success

Categories:
Len Waterworth, Executive Director of the Port of Houston Authority

Guest blog post by Len Waterworth, Executive Director of the Port of Houston Authority.

It was an honor to host the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker, at one of the nation’s busiest and most critically important ports, the Port of Houston.

As a civic and business leader and entrepreneur, Secretary Pritzker understands that excellent transportation infrastructure allowing manufacturers to access materials and deliver products is key to increasing exports. It is how a port like Houston, geographically positioned as the gateway to America’s heartland with exceptional rail and roadway connections, has grown to be the nation’s number one port in terms of foreign tonnage.

The Port of Houston's economic activity helps keep Texas the nation's top exporting state. For the past 11 years, Texas has outpaced the rest of the country in exports. In 2012, Texas exports totaled $265 billion, up by 5.4 percent from 2011, according to Commerce Department data. Top export markets include Mexico ($94.8 billion), Canada ($23.7 billion), China ($10.3 billion), Brazil ($10 billion), and the Netherlands ($9.5 billion).

Exports from the Houston metro area topped $110 billion in 2012, an annual increase of almost $6 billion. That was enough to surpass New York for the first time since 2006 as the top export region in the U.S.

The partnership between the Port Authority and Department of Commerce is crucial for continued success and for making America awesome. A good example is Foreign Trade Zone 84, which is number one in the nation for merchandise received in warehouse/distribution centers. The FTZ program in the Houston region is providing economic stimulus in the form of jobs, tax base and revenue.  

Secretary Penny Pritzker Announces $600,000 Investment to Support Entrepreneurship and Job Creation in Louisiana

Secretary Penny Pritzker hears from entrepreneurs at Idea Village in New Orleans, Louisana

Secretary Penny Pritzker today announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $600,000 grant to The Idea Village, Inc., of New Orleans, La., to support programs that assist entrepreneurs in building their businesses and creating jobs. Secretary Pritzker is in New Orleans today as part of her nationwide listening tour, and made the announcement at The Idea Village after meeting with local entrepreneurs, mentors and business leaders.

The EDA investment announced today will support more than 300 businesses, according to grantee estimates. Specifically, it will fund additional technical assistance programs, especially in such growing fields as technology, biomedical engineering, and media production; help with expansion of The Idea Village’s successful “Entrepreneur Season,” a six-month-long program of business assistance and education; and support more forums, workshops, and networking sessions that will be offered during New Orleans’ Entrepreneur Week. EDA previously awarded two grants to The Idea Village – $800,000 in 2009 and $400,000 in 2011 – which helped the organization build their capacity to assist entrepreneurs.

To learn more about the U.S. Economic Development Administration, visit www.eda.gov.

The 50th Anniversary of the "I Have a Dream" Speech and the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom: August 28

View of the National Mall teeming with thousands around the Reflecting Pool (photo: National Archives)

On Aug. 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to more than 200,000 people from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. His famous "I Have a Dream" speech and the march were key moments in the American Civil Rights Movement.  To mark the anniversary, the U.S. Census Bureau has gathered key statistics that measure changes in some aspects of the black population to date.

There has been tremendous progress over the past 50 years. The diversity that we see in the classrooms and boardrooms around the country is a testament to that. And that impulse towards making sure everybody gets a fair shot is one that found expression in the Civil Rights Movement, but then spread to include Latinos and immigrants and gays and lesbians. “As we reflect back on the progress made over the last five decades, there still remains a lot of work to ensure that everyone who works hard can succeed, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation,” Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said in an anniversary statement.

On August 23, President Obama signed a Presidential Proclamation commemorating the 50th  Anniversary of the March in 1963. Review the U.S. Census Bureau’s Facts for Features Special Edition for information about population, voting, elected officials, income, housing and many other demographic categories.

Non-English Language Use in the United States Mapped

Language Mapper Screenshot showing dots for where Spanish language is spoken

The U.S. Census Bureau has released a web-based map application built to display language data collected from the American Community Survey. 

Language use, English-speaking ability, and linguistic isolation data are currently collected in the American Community Survey. In the past, various questions on language were asked in the censuses from 1890 to 1970. The current language use questions, in use since 1980, gather how many people speak a language other than English at home, what languages are spoken, and how well English is spoken.

For most people residing in the United States, English is the only language spoken in the home. However, many languages other than English are spoken in homes across the country. Data on speakers of languages other than English and on their English-speaking ability provide more than an interesting portrait of our nation. Routinely, these data are used in a wide variety of legislative, policy, legal, and research applications.

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

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

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

The Billion Dollar Roundtable

Guest blog post by David Hinson, National Director of the Minority Business Development Agency. Cross-posted from MBDA.gov.

Each year, since 1955, Fortune Magazine ranks the 500 largest corporations in the United States.  Corporations that are part of the Fortune 500, purchase goods and services from other businesses which in turn support thousands of other companies and millions of jobs across the nation.  Becoming a supplier to a major corporation is a growth strategy that many minority-owned firms incorporate into their business plans, and Fortune 500 corporations have responded by launching supplier diversity programs.  Some are more successful than others. 

The Billion Dollar Roundtable (BDR) was created 12 years ago to identify and honor those Fortune 500 corporations that have embraced the value of working with diverse suppliers and procuring quality products and services to satisfy their corporate needs.   Every corporation that is a member of the Billion Dollar Roundtable is formally committed to procuring at least $1 billion annually in goods and services from minority and women-owned businesses.  Today, there are 18 corporate members of the BDR, with many more on their way to achieving the $1 billion threshold.

Although $1 billion is the benchmark for joining the Billion Dollar Roundtable, AT&T is one corporation exceeding that goal.

On August 21st, I attended the Billion Dollar Roundtable annual summit, where attendees shared best practices in supply chain diversity excellence. There were also discussions about new strategies and opportunities to increase the number of Fortune 500 corporations in the Billion Dollar Roundtable. The Roundtable has accomplished a lot since its founding in 2001.

Secretary Pritzker Visits Census Bureau’s Atlanta Regional Office

Secretary Pritzker meets with Reggie Bigham (Deputy Regional Director) and Katrina Carter (Assistant Regional Director) of the Census Bureau's Atlanta Regional Office on Friday, August 23.

Earlier today, Secretary Pritzker visited the Census Bureau’s Atlanta Regional Office. She met with Census Bureau employees as well as staff from the Economic Development Administration and Minority Business Development Agency. Her latest stop on her listening tour, and the first at a Census Bureau regional office, gave her the opportunity to thank the employees for their hard work collecting the data that allows the Census Bureau to measure America’s people, places and economy.

The Census Bureau’s six regional offices form the backbone of the data collection process. Field representatives in the Atlanta region follow up with respondents from South Carolina to Louisiana to gather data for surveys such as the American Community Survey, which provides the only local statistics available for every neighborhood in the nation.

Secretary Pritzker toured the regional office and thanked staff for their hard work and dedication to gathering data critical to the nation: “The information you collect helps government at all levels — federal, state and local. Your data is critical for entrepreneurs and business owners who want to make good decisions. I’ve discussed the importance of the Census Bureau to the President himself, and we talked about how we need to capitalize on our data-rich environment to promote the administration’s initiatives.”

Atlanta Regional Office Deputy Director Reggie Bigham, along with assistant director Katrina Carter, led the office tour. He thanked Secretary Pritzker for including Atlanta on her tour: “We are thankful that you have taken the time to visit our regional office and that you took the time to personally hear from our staff about the many quality activities we perform to collect the vital statistics needed for our nation. We look forward to hearing from you about your vision for our organization as members of the Department of Commerce.”

Brand USA and Commerce: Partners in Travel Promotion

Daniel Halpern, President and CEO of Jackmont Hospitality, Inc., and the Chair-Elect of the Corporation for Travel Promotion, dba Brand USA

Guest blog post by Daniel Halpern, President and CEO of Jackmont Hospitality, Inc., and the Chair-Elect of the Corporation for Travel Promotion, dba Brand USA.

I had an inspiring conversation today with Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. I joined Secretary Pritzker and the heads of several Atlanta companies to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing the Atlanta business community. I think we all felt inspired by the conversation and the work that the Department of Commerce is doing to lead the economic recovery.

Travel and tourism was a key topic the Secretary and I discussed. Travel and tourism is the United States’ largest services export. In 2012 international visitors spent nearly $166 billion and produced a $47 billion trade surplus, supporting 1.2 million jobs. Tourism benefits virtually every sector of the U.S. economy, from hotels and attractions to restaurants, transportation, retail, and professional services.

The travel and tourism industry has advanced under the leadership of the Obama administration and the Department of Commerce. We’ve witnessed the signing of the Travel Promotion Act, which created Brand USA, and the development of a National Travel Tourism Strategy to attract 100 million international visitors by 2021.

Secretary Pritzker Tours Global Center for Medical Innovation in Atlanta, Georgia

Secretary Pritzker views a prototyping machine at the Global Center for Medical Innovation

Today, as part of her nationwide listening tour, Secretary Pritzker visited the Global Center for Medical Innovation (GCMI) in Atlanta, Ga. GCMI is an independent, non-profit organization that works with universities, research centers, and investors to help accelerate the commercialization of innovative medical technology.

GCMI, which opened in 2010, houses facilities that local entrepreneurs can use to design, engineer, and build their products, and provides access to a growing network of experts that can help bring cutting edge ideas to market. The secretary toured the facility with GCMI executives and CEOs from two of the four startup businesses that reside at GCMI.

During her tour, Secretary Pritzker learned about some of the daily on-site activities at GCMI, including medical device design engineering and prototyping, and explored the organization’s design lab. She also learned about the center’s rapid prototype machine, which is a 3D printer that enables innovators, and entrepreneurs to bring their ideas from concept to reality in a matter of hours. Typically, prototypes take days or weeks to manufacture. GCMI is able to support a relationship between Georgia Tech and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta to develop and commercialize new medical devices for the pediatric market. They are also helping an Atlanta-based entrepreneur and an inventor from Georgia Tech develop a functional prototype to help quadriplegics GAIN greater mobility.

Secretary Pritzker also met with some of the students who are part of GCMI’s apprentice program. This program provides opportunities to students and recent graduates from leading engineering and medical schools around the country who participate in a range of development activities that help bring new medical technology from the lab to the clinic.

Obama Administration Announces CEOs for U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs Caroline Atkinson today announced the U.S. private sector members who will serve the next term on the U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum. The Forum will meet during the State visit of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to Washington, D.C., in October and will provide joint recommendations to both presidents on opportunities to advance the U.S.-Brazil bilateral relationship. Pritzker and Atkinson will co-chair the ninth meeting of the CEO Forum along with Brazilian Presidential Chief of Staff Minister Gleisi Hoffmann and Minister of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade Fernando Pimentel. 

“During his recent trip to Brazil, Vice President Biden asked what the United States and Brazil can do together. The U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum seeks to answer that question through a public-private dialogue in which business leaders from the United States and Brazil make recommendations to the highest levels of our respective governments about the future of our bilateral economic and commercial relationship,” said Secretary Pritzker. “I am looking forward to meeting the new and returning CEOs along with both Ministers Pimentel and Hoffmann and Deputy National Security Advisor Atkinson to discuss issues of mutual interest.”

 The Forum has had success opening discussions between the United States and Brazilian governments on a number of important issues, including visa reform, aviation, and education, and was instrumental in concluding the recent U.S.-Brazil Tax Information Exchange Agreement.

Secretary Pritzker Discusses Power of Immigration Reform to Drive Florida’s Economy

National Entrepreneur Center Welcomes Secretary Penny Pritzker

Secretary Pritzker visited Orlando, Florida, today as part of her overall listening tour to hear directly from business leaders on how the public and private sectors can work together to strengthen the economy and create American jobs.

While in Orlando, Secretary Pritzker met with local business leaders on the need to pass comprehensive immigration reform, which is key to the country’s economic growth. She shared her story as an entrepreneur coming from a family of entrepreneurs, including her great-grandfather who emigrated from Russia to the United States.

Pritzker referenced a recent White House report citing the Economic Benefits of Fixing Our Broken Immigration System. The value of immigrants to the American economy cannot be understated. More than 40% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children. One-fourth of U.S. Nobel Prize winners over the years have been foreign-born. While immigrants account for only about 13% of the U.S. population, they start about 28% of all new businesses, according to an analysis of Census Bureau data.

Florida businesses were very aware of the power of immigrants to drive an economy. Nearly one-fourth of the labor force is foreign-born and about 30% of business owners are immigrants who generate over $13 billion in annual income. Through reform, it’s estimated that Florida’s economic output would increase next year by $1.8 billion and create 22,000 new jobs. According to one model, reforms in the Senate bill including a pathway to earned citizenship and an expansion of high-skilled and temporary worker programs would increase personal income for Florida families by over $6.5 billion in 2020.

Secretary Pritzker Visits Universal Studios Orlando and Speaks with Leading Executives of Travel and Tourism Companies

Secretary Penny Pritzker at Universal Studios Wizarding World of Harry Potter with COO Bill Davis (left) and John Sprouls, Executive VP (right)

Today, as part of her nationwide listening tour, Secretary Penny Pritzker toured Universal Studios Orlando with Bill Davis, President & COO, Universal Orlando and John McReynolds, SVP External Affairs, Universal Parks and Resorts and held a roundtable with Presidents and CEOs of local travel and tourism companies. Orlando is home to a vibrant travel and tourism industry that doesn’t contribute just to the state of Florida’s economy, but to the nation’s economy as a whole. In fact, international travel is the country’s largest service export with the travel and tourism industry accounting for nearly $1.4 trillion to the U.S. GDP and providing more than 7.5 million jobs for American workers, according to the Department of Commerce.

According to the Orlando Tourism Bureau, in 2011, Orlando benefited from $31.7 billion in visitor spending. Orlando was the fifth most visited U.S. city in 2011 with 2.8 million international visitors and Florida ranked third among states in 2011 with 5.7 million international visitors.

During the roundtable, Secretary Pritzker not only discussed the value of the travel and tourism industry to the overall American economy, but also the key role the Commerce Department plays in supporting and promoting the United States as the premier destination for international travelers. In fact, the Department’s NOAA manages the nation’s marine sanctuaries – a great destination for marine life lovers and history buffs.

Commerce Agencies Participate in Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force

Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force

President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, chaired by Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan, released a rebuilding strategy to serve as a model for communities across the nation facing greater risks from extreme weather and to continue helping the Sandy-affected region rebuild.  The Commerce Department made significant contributions to the Rebuilding Strategy containing 69 policy recommendations that will help homeowners stay in and repair their homes, strengthen small businesses and revitalize local economies and ensure entire communities are better able to withstand and recover from future storms. 
 
The Rebuilding Strategy includes policy recommendations that will have a significant impact on how the region rebuilds and how we will improve our ability to withstand and recover effectively from future flood-related disasters across the country.

Federal agencies collected and disseminated vast quantities of scientific data that aided Hurricane Sandy preparation, response, and recovery. Interagency data sharing has been central to this process. Before the storm, the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) worked with FEMA to deliver Geographical Information System (GIS)-ready storm surge depth grids and forecasts. After the storm, FEMA, state, and local emergency managers used aerial imagery collected by NOAA to guide evacuations, monitor local conditions, assess damages, and allocate response resources. Hours after the storm passed, NOAA also began surveying the waterways that lead to critical petroleum facilities within the Port of New York/New Jersey, helping to ensure safe navigation and restoring the flow of emergency fuel supplies by morning. Within five days, NOAA, working with the Coast Guard and Army Corps, restored maritime commerce, including transportation of food, fuel, and rebuilding supplies, to all major ports in the affected region.

Fostering Technology Transfer and Entrepreneurship

Green Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Showcase

This week the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) welcomed dozens of representatives from Maryland businesses to learn about collaboration and technology licensing opportunities at a “Green Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Showcase.” The event was hosted by the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO), an independent organization that provides entrepreneurial business assistance and seed funding for the development of startup companies in Maryland.

In a 2011 Memorandum, President Obama wrote, “Innovation fuels economic growth, the creation of new industries, companies, jobs, products and services, and the global competitiveness of U.S. industries. One driver of successful innovation is technology transfer, in which the private sector adapts federal research for use in the marketplace.”

The memo instructed agencies to take steps to enhance successful technology innovation networks by fostering increased federal laboratory engagement with external partners. TEDCO is one of the partners working with NIST to foster tech transfer and its economic benefits.

Attendees at today’s event learned about the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which supports small- and mid-size manufacturers across the U.S.; how to work with NIST; and technologies available for license from NIST’s Engineering and Material Measurement laboratories.