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The Value of Government Weather and Climate Data

Guest blog post by Jane Callen, Economics and Statistics Administration

The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) collects weather and climate data. As we noted in a recent Commerce Department report on the Value of Government Data, the return to society on investment in government meteorological data is large.

For example, one survey found that the overwhelming majority of people said they used weather forecasts and did so an average of 3.8 times per day. That equates to 301 billion forecasts consumed per year!

The study’s authors note that, other than current news events, there is probably no other type of information obtained on such a routine basis from such a variety of sources. Certainly, the researchers say, no other scientific information is accessed so frequently. And while the information is being delivered from an array of sources, most of it directly or indirectly originates from NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS). Americans check to learn what is happening in the weather, and we plan our days – and lives – based on this data.

The researchers found a median valuation of weather forecasts per household of $286 per year, which suggests that the aggregate annual valuation of weather forecasts was about $31.5 billion. The sum of all federal spending on meteorological operations and research was $3.4 billion in the same year, and the private sector spent an additional $1.7 billion on weather forecasting, for a total of private and public spending of about $5.1 billion. In other words, the valuation people placed on the weather forecasts they consumed was 6.2 times as high as the total expenditure on producing forecasts. NOAA data is re-packaged and analyzed to produce 15 million weather products, such as air quality alerts, the three, five and ten day extended weather forecast, earthquake reports, and tornado and flash flood warnings. Many end users do not realize that NOAA provides the data they see and hear every day on The Weather Channel, AccuWeather, the radio and in the morning paper.

EDA: Helping Communities Build Economic Resilience

EDA: Helping Communities Build Economic Resilience

Guest blog post from Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, Jay Williams

Since taking office, President Obama and his administration have worked to help communities and regions impacted by natural disasters and major economic challenges respond and rebuild stronger than before.

This week, on a visit to Colorado, I was pleased to have the opportunity to announce two Economic Development Administration investments that support those efforts in two communities.

In Estes Park, a picturesque town located at the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, residents are working diligently to rebound from severe flooding that hit them hard as they were preparing for the busy snow season – and the economic tourism boon that comes with it - last fall. 

To help the town following the federally-declared flood disaster, I was honored to announce a $300,000 EDA investment to help the Town develop a strategy that will guide their economic diversification and resiliency efforts. One key component of this grant is developing specific actions to make use of Estes Park’s existing fiber optic ring to deliver improved broadband services to the town and surrounding region. By working with other affected communities – including nearby Loveland and Lyons – this strategy will help the region diversify while strengthening their existing established industry clusters.

In Colorado’s central western region, the recent closure of Oxbow Elk Creek coal mine has resulted in a regional economic emergency. 

To help the region respond, I announced a $245,000 EDA grant to the Region 10 League for Economic Assistance and Planning of Montrose, Colorado, to help create a strategy that aims to improve and enhance the economic resiliency and sustainability of Delta and Gunnison counties.

Resiliency is critical to economic prosperity: all communities—whether in a position likely to weather significant natural disasters, or struggling to deal with immediate or pending catastrophes—must have or be able to develop strategies that can mitigate an economic downturn and support long-term recovery efforts.

I am proud of the important role EDA plays in helping communities get back on their feet stronger than before.

Welcoming Investment from South America

Profile photo of Aaron Brickman, Deputy Executive Director, SelectUSA

Guest blog post by Deputy Executive Director, SelectUSA Aaron Brickman

Not only is South America the birthplace of soccer greats and the location of natural wonders, it is also an important and rapidly growing source of foreign direct investment (FDI) to the United States. According to the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), more than 85,000 men and women go to work each day at South American companies operating in the United States.

The SelectUSA South America Road Show this week connected U.S. economic development organizations (EDOs) directly with inversores and investidores in Santiago, Chile; Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Bogota, Colombia to build opportunities for even more South American companies to succeed in U.S. cities and regions.

Why did SelectUSA’s first South American Road Show focus on Chile, Brazil, and Colombia?

  • These three countries accounted for nearly a quarter of inward investment from Latin American sources in 2013.
  • Brazil is the largest source of investment from South America, with a total stock of nearly $15 billion in 2013. Brazilian companies such as JBS, Embraer, Braskem, and Chilli Beans have made significant investments in the United States over the past several years. The annual growth rate of Brazilian investment averaged 19.6 percent between 2009 and 2013, making Brazil the ninth-fastest global source of investment to our country. There is robust interest from a diversity of sectors: 325 Brazilian firms took part in our seminar and one-on-one meetings with EDOs.
  • As of 2013, the stock of FDI from Chile into the United States stood at $983 million. Investment from Chile, with which we have a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), has been growing at a compound annual growth rate of 11.9 percent since 2009. More than 130 Chilean firms registered for the Road Show, and we were joined by Arauco and Elecmetal – two well-known Chilean companies who shared their experience investing in the United States.
  • Colombia, another FTA partner, was the source of over $2 billion of FDI stock in the United States as of 2013. A recent example includes Fehr Foods, a subsidiary of Grupo Nutresa, which announced earlier this year that it will invest an additional $32 million and create 105 jobs in its U.S plant. Many more Colombian firms are looking to find success in the United States, as evidenced by the 190 participants in the Road Show in Bogota. FDI from Colombia to the United States from 2009 to 2014 grew at a compound annual growth rate of 14.6 percent.