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Blog Entries from January 2011

Commerce Department Invests $4.4 Million in Green Energy Growth in Southern Idaho

This week the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced a $4.4 million grant to the College of Southern Idaho (CSI) in Twin Falls to help build an Applied Technology and Innovation Center that will provide training for local technicians in wind, solar, hydro and geothermal energy; green construction; and the biofuel industry.

Driving the demand for skilled employees in green energy are recent energy development projects in the region, including the construction of more than 450 wind turbines, the development of the Raft River geothermal electrical power project, and the planned installation of a 150,000 panel solar energy array.

The Center will be a 29,600-square-foot, high-technology LEED certified facility located on CSI’s campus that will help CSI meet the ever-increasing demand for a trained workforce to fill the region’s jobs in alternative energy and applied industrial mechanics.  The building will have green energy components such as exposed mechanical systems, measurement and verification equipment, solar photovoltaic and wind energy components, day lighting, natural ventilation, and geothermal heat.

The grant is one of many investments EDA makes in support of regional competitiveness and growth. The agency focuses on economically distressed communities to help create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.  EDA Release

Repealing Health-Care Law Will Hurt American Competitiveness

This guest column by Secretary Locke was published in the Seattle Times Friday, January 14.
Secretary's Statement on U.S. House of Representatives Vote to Repeal Affordable Health Care Act (1-19-11)

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When Republicans vote next week to repeal the Affordable Care Act, they are voting to repeal a new level of control that American families have over their health-care decisions.

They are also voting to make American businesses less competitive in the global economy.

Because just 10 months after its passage, the act has brought badly needed change to the American health-care system. The law:

  • Prevents children with pre-existing conditions from being denied coverage;
  • Eliminates lifetime caps on the dollar amount insurance companies will spend on enrollees' benefits, like cancer treatment;
  • Allows children to stay on their parents' insurance plans until they are 26;
  • Gives tax credits to small businesses to help them afford health care for their employees; and
  • Takes meaningful steps to lower costs and improve the quality of health care for all Americans

But from my perspective as U.S. Commerce secretary, one of the most important benefits of the law is that it will make American businesses more competitive by reining in rapidly increasing health-care costs.

As President Obama has noted: "We are in a fierce competition among nations for the jobs and industries of the future."

The Affordable Care Act will allow American businesses, large and small, to improve their performance against foreign competitors, most of whom have significantly lower health-care costs.

The cost savings are real, and they will grow over time.

Secretary Locke to Lead 24 U.S. Businesses on High-Tech Trade Mission to India

Twenty-four U.S. businesses will join Commerce Secretary Gary Locke for a business development mission to India on February 6-11.  The businesses joining the trade mission are based in 13 states across the country and more than half of them are small- and medium-sized companies.

The delegation, which also includes senior officials from the Export-Import Bank (EX-IM) and the Trade Development Agency (TDA), will make stops in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, where Locke will highlight export opportunities for U.S. businesses in the advanced industrial sectors, of civil-nuclear trade, defense and security, civil aviation, and information and communication technologies. Locke accompanied President Obama to India in November, where they witnessed more than $10 billion in business deals between U.S. companies and Indian private sector and government entities, supporting 50,000 American jobs.

“Exports are leading the U.S. economic recovery, spurring future economic growth and creating jobs in America,” Locke said. “The business leaders joining me on this mission see the great potential to sell their goods and services to India, helping drive innovation and create jobs in both countries.”

The India business development mission will help build on the exporting success U.S. companies had 2010 – up 17 percent compared to the same period in 2009. It will be Locke’s second trade mission as Commerce Secretary; in May, he led a clean energy business development mission to China and Indonesia.

Secretary Locke Delivers Key Policy Speech on U.S.-China Commercial Relations

 Secretary Locke addresses the U.S.-China Business Council about the path to unlock the full potential of the U.S.-China commercial relationship

At a luncheon today hosted by the U.S.-China Business Council, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke laid out a path to unlock the full potential of the U.S.-China commercial relationship.  Locke discussed how leveling the playing field for U.S. businesses in the Chinese market will help spur global innovation and economic growth and create jobs in America.  

Locke applauded steps China has taken to open its markets since its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and progress made at the recent Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade meeting. And he cited examples of American and Chinese companies working together to solve big, global challenges. |  Remarks

NOAA: 2010 Tied for Warmest Year on Record

Graphic of temperature anomolies

According to scientists from Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2010 tied with 2005 as the warmest year of the global surface temperature record, beginning in 1880. This was the 34th consecutive year with global temperatures above the 20th century average. For the contiguous United States alone, the 2010 average annual temperature was above normal, resulting in the 23rd warmest year on record.

This preliminary analysis is prepared by scientists at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., and is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides government, business and community leaders so they can make informed decisions.  Release  |  State of the Climate Annual Report

Secretary Locke Meets with Indian Ambassador to the U.S. Meera Shankar

Photo of Locke and Shankar

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke met today with India’s Ambassador to the United States, Meera Shankar, to discuss bilateral trade and investment issues.

The meeting took place as Secretary Locke prepares to lead a high technology business development trade mission to India on February 6-11. Over 70 companies applied to participate in the upcoming mission, which will make stops in New Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore, in order to promote U.S. exports of high technology products and services in key economic sectors: civil-nuclear trade, defense and security, civil aviation, and information and communications technology.

Secretary Locke, White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt to Discuss Next Steps in Cybersecurity

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard A. Schmidt are in Stanford, Calif., today at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research to discuss the Obama administration’s efforts to enhance online security and privacy and next steps in meeting the challenges of a growing cyber world, with local industry and academic leaders in Silicon Valley.

The public and private sectors have critical roles to play in creating a system that allows people to complete online transactions with greater confidence that their personal information is safe. Through its forthcoming National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC), the administration aims to support private-sector cybersecurity innovations by focusing on establishing identity solutions and privacy-enhancing technologies that will make the online environment more secure and convenient for users and consumers. E-commerce worldwide is estimated at $10 trillion of business online annually.  Release | Remarks  |  Video  |  FAQ

See video

Secretary Locke Delivers Remarks at CES to Highlight Administration’s Efforts to Promote Innovation, U.S. Exports

Locke at booth inspecting new devices and equipment

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke visited the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) today, where he delivered remarks on the Obama administration’s efforts to foster innovation and the President’s National Export Initiative (NEI), which seeks to double U.S. exports by 2015, supporting several million American jobs. 

Locke also discussed Commerce’s International Buyer Program (IBP), a key component of the Department’s export promotion effort. The IBP matches international buyers with U.S. companies that want to export. The Program recruited 34 delegations, consisting of 700 delegates from key markets such as China, Brazil, Vietnam, and Indonesia, to this year’s show – an increase of over 30 percent from the 2010 show.

During the CES, Locke also visited the booths of some small- and medium-sized businesses that have increased their sales to foreign markets with the help of the Commerce Department.

The CES is an annual event hosted by the Consumer Electronics Association, the preeminent trade association that represents more than 2,000 businesses to promote growth in the consumer technology industry.  This year’s CES has more than 2,500 small- and medium-sized businesses showcasing their products and services, as well as presentations by key industry leaders, such as Microsoft, Ford and Verizon.  Remarks

What the America COMPETES Act Means for the Department of Commerce

This week, President Obama signed the America COMPETES Act, signifying the importance of science, education and technology to America’s ability to innovate and remain competitive in the 21st century. The America COMPETES Act reauthorizes spending across the federal government on a variety of programs at agencies like the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy and here at the Department of Commerce.

The act authorizes our National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to receive funding that would double its core science and technology budget by 2017, and elevates the position of the director of NIST to include the additional title of Under Secretary for Standards and Technology. It better equips our National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to conduct cutting-edge research and further innovation in oceanic and atmospheric technology development. And it establishes a new Regional Innovation Program to be administered by our Economic Development Administration that encourages and develops regional innovation strategies like clusters and science and research parks that help businesses grow and take advantage of regional strengths. Finally, the new legislation reaffirms the mission of our Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship – first announced in September 2009 – which works to unleash and maximize the economic potential of new ideas by more quickly moving them from the research lab to the marketplace.

This renewed commitment to science, education and technology illustrated through bipartisan Congressional support for the America COMPETES Act will greatly benefit the work done at the U.S. Commerce Department, and help fuel U.S. job growth, economic development and global competitiveness. |  Locke statement | White House blog | NIST release

 

Secretary Locke Meets with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi

Locke and Minister Yang

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke met today with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi at the Commerce Department to discuss a variety of bilateral trade issues, as well as President Hu Jintao’s upcoming visit. Locke and Minister Yang had a positive meeting, discussing the U.S.-China commercial relationship, as well as the implementation of commitments made from last month’s Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT). JCCT issues that were touched upon included beef market access, software asset management, indigenous innovation and government procurement. Locke said he looks forward to President Hu’s visit, and continuing to strengthen the U.S.-China commercial relationship.