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Early Career Commerce Scientists and Engineers honored by White House

President Barack Obama talks with the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) recipients in the East Room of the White House, April 14, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) (Official White House Photo)

The Commerce Department is home to some of the world’s leading scientists and engineers that are tackling some of the biggest challenges facing our planet and doing great work to ensure our nation remains the global epicenter of innovation. Earlier today, President Obama honored six NIST and NOAA engineers and scientists with the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) at a ceremony at the White House. The award is the highest honor given by the federal government to outstanding scientists and engineers in the early stages of their careers. The Commerce scientists are part of a group of 102 scientists from across federal agencies that received the prestigious award.

PECASE awardees are selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach. The winners represent outstanding examples of American creativity across a diverse span of issues—from adding to our understanding of the most potent contributors to climate change to unlocking secrets to some of the most pressing medical challenges of our time to mentoring students and conducting academic outreach to increase minority representation in science fields.

First Americas Competitiveness Exchange Encourages Collaboration, Drives Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Western Hemisphere

Guest Blog Post by Walter Bastian, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for The Western Hemisphere

Competition and collaboration aren’t typically mentioned in the same breath. For nations and businesses competing to innovate and prosper in a global marketplace, these concepts seem completely antithetical to one another.

That’s why the first Americas Competitiveness Exchange on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Exchange) is such a unique and exciting partnership.

As part of the Exchange, senior officials from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) and Economic Development Administration (EDA) last week led a delegation of 45 business and government leaders from 20 Latin American and Caribbean countries on a tour across the Southeast United States. They visited five cities in four days with stops in Atlanta, Ga., Greenville, S.C., Conover, Kannapolis, and Charlotte, N.C.

The delegation toured technology centers, innovation hubs, and investment zones to see how U.S. companies are working to create some of the most advanced products in the world. The tour was geared to help make the interpersonal and inter-governmental connections that can lead to future international trade and investment deals.

The Americas Competitiveness Exchange for Innovation and Entrepreneurship provided a great opportunity for decision and policy makers in the Americas to see the results of economic development initiatives and meet high level authorities, leaders of private sector associations, public and private universities with research and innovation centers, looking to explore and expand the links between our economies and key stakeholders.

The United States and Latin America maintain a very special and very important investment relationship. In 2012, the total stock of Latin American foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States was nearly $96 billion. And every day, 259,000 workers in the United States go to work in U.S. subsidiaries of Latin American firms. 

SelectUSA: Investing in the United States, Creating Jobs, and Spurring Economic Growth

Editor's note: This has been cross-posted from the White House's Blog.

Guest Blog Post by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Jeff Zients, Director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy 

Today, Lufthansa Technik announced a significant new investment in Puerto Rico that demonstrates how efforts to deploy the full resources of the federal government to win job-creating investments in U.S. states and territories pay off. Through the advocacy of several high-level U.S. officials, including the Vice President and the Secretary of Commerce, as well as the work of SelectUSA, the government of Puerto Rico was able to secure this new investment, which will create up to 400 permanent jobs and strengthen Puerto Rico’s burgeoning civil aviation sector.

Lufthansa Technik, a wholly owned subsidiary of Germany-based Lufthansa AG, is making a significant new investment in Puerto Rico to build a maintenance, repair, and operations facility. Thanks to the persistent support of the Administration through our SelectUSA investment initiative, local efforts led by Governor Garcia Padilla of Puerto Rico, and the strengths of Puerto Rico’s growing aviation industry, the United States won this new investment despite strong competition.

SelectUSA – launched in 2011 and housed in the Department of Commerce – is the first-ever federal effort to bring job-creating investment from around the world to the United States in partnership with state and local economic development organizations. Today, Ambassador-led teams at our posts overseas directly support foreign investors looking to make investments in the U.S. by providing resources and information, and when needed, connecting them to investment experts at the Department of Commerce and throughout the SelectUSA interagency network. 

Each investor, and investment case, gets tailor-made attention from our case managers at SelectUSA, who rely on ombudsman efforts to answer questions, as well as a sophisticated advocacy network that leverages key Administration officials all the way up to the President of the United States. Lufthansa is a perfect example of our coordinated efforts to bring job-creating investment here to the United States. In addition to Vice President Biden and the Secretary of Commerce and her team, SelectUSA involved other key federal officials, and coordinated with several federal agencies to provide the needed assistance to secure the project. And, when it came time to seal the deal, SelectUSA coordinated an effort across the federal government, including the support of the President’s Taskforce on Puerto Rico, to present Lufthansa with the case for locating their investment in the United States.

The Lufthansa investment is yet another example that demonstrates that the United States is an increasingly attractive location for job-creating business investment from around the world. Last year, for the first time in a decade, global business executives ranked the United States the number one destination for foreign investment. And the Department of Commerce released new data showing that foreign direct investment flows into the United States and our territories rose from $160 billion in 2012 to $187.5 billion in 2013.

With our booming natural gas sector, our skilled workforce, our status as home of the some of the top research universities and innovation hubs, and our resurgent manufacturing communities, the United States is primed for business investment. Businesses increasingly cite the U.S. open investment climate, rule of law, the ability to efficiently export their goods, access to high-quality supply chains, and proximity to robust consumer markets as key factors to locate their operations in the United States. And now, with the help of SelectUSA, the federal government is undertaking a coordinated and concerted effort to showcase our strengths and make the case with even more investors that the United States should be their top choice.

To put it simply, the United States is Open for Business. 

Jeff Zients is Director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy. Secretary Penny Pritzker is the Secretary of Commerce.