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Blog Entries from 2010

Commerce Department Releases Report On Women-Owned Businesses in the 21st Century

Six women working in various careers

Commerce's Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) today released a report on Women-Owned Businesses in the 21st Century that analyzes the changing role of women-owned businesses in the U.S. economy.  The report, prepared at the request of the White House Council on Women and Girls and released today during a White House Entrepreneurship Conference, looks at trends in women-owned businesses from the late 1990s through 2007, explores the characteristics of businesses owned by women as compared to those owned by men, and discusses potential reasons why these firms look different.

“Here’s the good news: women-owned businesses are steadily expanding and now account for $1.2 trillion in economic output,” said Commerce Department Under Secretary for Economic Affairs Rebecca Blank.  “Considering the recent economic environment, this growth shows the important potential of women-owned businesses for future economic growth.”

NOAA Provides Easy Access to Historical Atlantic Hurricane Tracks

Website provides storm paths by ZIP code; includes population trends, storm history

Graphic from NOAA's Historical Hurricane Tracks tool shows all hurricanes passing within 65 nautical miles of Cape Hatteras, N.C., since 1900.An updated NOAA website lets everyone from reporters to city planners track local historical storm activity, review specific storm tracks and obtain information about a particular storm’s landfall. NOAA’s Historical Hurricane Tracks website and mapping application generates customized, downloadable maps based on more than 150 years of Atlantic hurricane data.

The Historical Hurricane Tracks tool, developed by NOAA’s Coastal Services Center in partnership with the National Hurricane Center, allows users to search by U.S. ZIP code, state or county, storm name or year, or latitude and longitude points. With the search results, users can generate a map showing the storm track accompanied by a table of related information.  Read more  |  Larger graphic

NOAA-Sponsored Scientists First to Map Offshore San Andreas Fault and Associated Ecosystems

This mulitbeam sonar image shows the San Andreas Fault cutting through the head of Noyo CanyonFor the first time, scientists are using advanced technology and an innovative vessel to study, image, and map the unexplored offshore Northern San Andreas Fault from north of San Francisco to its termination at the junction of three tectonic plates off Mendocino, California.

The team includes scientists from NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, Oregon State University, the California Seafloor Mapping Program, the U.S. Geological Survey and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The expedition which concludes Sunday is sponsored by NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research.

While the fault on land is obscured by erosion, vegetation and urbanization in many places, scientists expect the subsea portion of the fault to include deep rifts and high walls, along with areas supporting animal life. The expedition team is using high-resolution sonar mapping, subsurface seismic data and imaging with digital cameras for the first-ever three-dimensional bathymetric-structural map that will model the undersea Northern San Andreas Fault and its structure. Little is known about the offshore fault due to perennial bad weather that has limited scientific investigations.

NIST Awards $50 Million in Grants for Construction of Science Facilities

Artist rendering of new science facilityThe U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today awarded a total of $50 million in grants to five institutions to support the construction of new scientific research facilities that will explore everything from nanometer-scale electronics and “green” buildings to microbe ecosystems in the oceans. The five projects receiving funding under the NIST Construction Grant Program (NCGP) will contribute to almost $133 million in new laboratory construction projects, according to grantees.

“Strengthening research and development in the United States is critical to our ability to create jobs and remain competitive,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. “These construction grants will help the U.S. produce world-leading research in science and technology that will advance our economic growth and international competitiveness.”  Release  |  Read more on the Construction Program

NIST 'Vision Facility' Aims for Lighting Revolution

Women in fron of video screenLight-emitting diodes, or LEDs, have become popular with backpackers and cyclists who mount them on headbands for a reliable, hands-free source of illumination. Now, a new lab at Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is helping to bring these tiny but brilliant devices into your home, to help save both energy costs and the environment.

“LEDs can be very energy efficient, and they are a lot smaller and last a lot longer than light bulbs,” says NIST vision scientist Wendy Davis. “They’re what we’ll likely use in the future to light our houses and public places.”

It’s a vision of illumination’s future. And to realize it, Davis, along with Yoshi Ohno and a team of physicists, created the NIST Spectrally Tunable Lighting Facility (STLF). Their main goal is to improve the quality of the light that LEDs produce, so that when you turn them on, home feels homey.  Read more  |  YouTube video

Secretary Locke Announces Grants to Boost Exports and Promote U.S. Competitiveness

Export GrantsToday U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced more than $1.7 million in grants to support projects that increase U.S. exports, create jobs and strengthen our global competitive edge.  The grants will be awarded to five non-profit industry organizations and are expected to generate $265 million in U.S. exports. 

These awards are part of Commerce’s Market Development Cooperator Program (MDCP), which includes financial and technical assistance from the International Trade Administration to support business plans that help increase exports and U.S. competitiveness within certain industries. Projects receiving funding include efforts to increase exports among small manufacturers of water treatment equipment and independent film makers.

“These funds will help U.S. firms compete globally so they can sell more of their goods and services abroad and create jobs here in the U.S.,” Locke said. “The [Market Development Cooperator Program] is a good example of how public-private sector partnerships can leverage limited public resources to help small- and medium-sized businesses expand their exports to compete in the global marketplace.” 

These cooperative agreements help to further President Obama’s National Export Initiative, which aims to double U.S. exports within the next five years in support of several million U.S. jobs.

See the five recipients of the 2010 Market Development Cooperator Program awards.

Learn more about the Market Development Cooperator Program.  |  Release

Secretary Locke Announces Initiative to Keep Internet Open for Innovation and Trade at Cybersecurity Forum

Secretary Locke speaking at cybersecurity forum in GeorgetownSpeaking today at the 5th annual Online Trust and Cybersecurity Forum at Georgetown Univeristy, Secretary Locke announced the official launch of an initiative aimed at preserving the global, free flow of information online to ensure that the Internet remains open for commercial opportunity and innovation. This initiative coincides with President Obama's message today in his speech at the U.N. General Assembly in which he reinforced America's commitment to "a free and open Internet."

The Commerce Department is seeking public comment on the extent to which evolving policies from governments around the world may be restricting information on the Internet and inhibiting innovation and economic growth for U.S. companies. The request will seek input from all stakeholders to better understand the types of emerging government policies that restrict online information, how they are adopted, and what impact they have on innovation, job creation, economic development, global trade and investment.


Winners of i6 Challenge Announced

Secretary Locke gesturing from the podiumU.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today announced the winners of the i6 Challenge, a new $12 million innovation competition led by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), in partnership with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The i6 Challenge seeks to identify and support the nation’s best ideas for technology commercialization and entrepreneurship in six different regions of the country. The winning team from each region will receive $1 million from EDA to support their project and may be eligible for additional awards from NIH and NSF.   

“I applaud the winners of the i6 Challenge on their tremendous achievement,” Locke said. “Each of the winners exemplifies the entrepreneurial spirit that drives innovation and will help move America forward by increasing our competitiveness around the world. The i6 Challenge represents a key component of President Obama’s innovation strategy - to move great ideas from the lab to the marketplace to create jobs and economic growth.”  

Remarks | Release

Hispanic-Owned Businesses Grow by More than Double the National Rate

The Commerce Department’s Minority Business Development Agency and U.S. Census Bureau today announced that the number of Hispanic-owned firms increased by nearly 44 percent between 2002 and 2007 from 1.6 million businesses to 2.3 million, according to new data released today from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2007 Survey of Business Owners. Employment at Hispanic-owned firms also grew by 26 percent from 1.5 million to 1.9 million workers, a growth rate significantly higher than that of non-minority-owned firms.

“It is encouraging that the Hispanic business community is growing, but we need to create the right conditions for Hispanic-owned businesses to grow more quickly,” MBDA’s National Director David A. Hinson said. “We encourage Hispanic-owned businesses to explore new markets and take advantage of their existing cultural, family or business ties in foreign countries to export as a means to grow and compete in today’s global economy.”

Hispanic-owned businesses generated $345.2 billion in sales in 2007, up 55.5 percent compared with 2002. And of all Hispanic-owned firms with employees, approximately 44,000 have revenues of more than $1 million, representing an increase of more than 51 percent over 2002.

While these are welcome improvements for Hispanic-owned businesses and the minority business community, there is still significant room for growth. Learn how the Minority Business Development Agency can help you grow your minority business.

Today’s newly-released data from the U.S. Census Bureau is available by geographic area, industry and size of business.  |  Full release  |  Noticias en español

Patent and Trademark Office Incentivizes the Creation and Distribution of Technologies That Address Humanitarian Needs

Humanitarian healthcare workers with childAs world leaders prepare to meet in New York City for the 2010 Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative to discuss ways to solve the critical challenges that face our world, the Commerce Department’s U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has launched an effort to incentivize the creation and distribution of technologies that address humanitarian needs both domestically and internationally.

The USPTO is seeking comments on a proposed pilot program that would allow patent holders who make their technology available for humanitarian purposes to be eligible for a voucher entitling them to an accelerated re-examination of a patent.Because patents under re-examination are often among the most commercially valuable patents, fast-track re-examination of a patent allows a patent owner to affirm the validity of his or her patent more quickly and less expensively.  This voucher could then be used on any patent owned by the patent holder or transferred on the open market.

Technologies that address humanitarian needs among impoverished populations, such as treatments for tropical diseases, diagnostic medical tools, crops with higher yields or better nutritional value, and treatments for sanitation or clean water, would be considered eligible for the program.  Participants could qualify for the proposed pilot in two ways: by making their patented technologies available to impoverished populations for humanitarian use, or by making their patented technologies available to researchers who are developing technologies that address humanitarian needs.

Learn more about the pilot project and offer your comments (PDF).