Commerce.gov is getting a facelift soon. See the new design.
Syndicate content

Blog Entries from March 2011

NIST Breaks Ground on New Green Technology and Fire Safety Facilities

Government and industry officials break ground at NIST headquarters

New facilities showcase best in green technology and fire-safety funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has begun construction on three new facilities at its Gaithersburg, Md., campus that will help to advance green technology and fire safety building practices with funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The National Fire Research Laboratory, the Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility, and structures supporting more than 2,500 new solar energy panels that will supply electricity to the NIST campus were unveiled at a ceremony with U.S. Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD-8), Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Nancy Sutley, and other industry and government officials.

The National Fire Research Laboratory will be expanded to include a National Structural Fire Resistance Laboratory, a 21,400-square-foot space that will provide a unique capability for testing full-scale structural elements, subassemblies and systems under realistic fire conditions.

Resembling a typical suburban Maryland single-family home, the Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility will serve as a test bed for new home-scale energy technologies, showing that a residence can produce as much energy from renewable resources as it consumes over the course of a year.

NIST will also launch a new solar energy system as part of its commitment to implementing renewable energy sources. The Grid-Connected Photovoltaic System will feed directly into the existing electrical grid, generating more than 700 MWh of electricity annually – enough to power 67 homes – and offsetting a portion of NIST’s electrical power needs.

For more information on these state-of-the-art initiatives at the NIST campus, visit http://www.nist.gov/el/facilities-033011.cfm

EDA Awards Christian Evangelistic Economic Development Grant That Will Make Entrepreneurial Dreams Come True for Many in Pittsburgh Region

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced a $300,000 grant to Christian Evangelistic Economic Development (CEED) of Pittsburgh, Pa., to provide technical assistance to economically distressed microenterprises in the Pittsburgh region.

“Providing technical assistance to enthusiastic entrepreneurs ready to achieve the American Dream and strengthen local economies is a key component of Christian Evangelistic Economic Development efforts. Already, efforts have seen the creation of a number of successful neighborhood businesses and its expansion will provide opportunity to 75 new microbusinesses,” said Rufus Idris, Executive Director of the Christian Evangelistic Economic Development.
 
This project, an example of the important partnership between the federal government and faith-based organizations, is expected to facilitate the creation of new jobs and generate private investment in microenterprises that are a key building block in the repositioning of challenged areas.

The EDA investment will support local efforts to address the challenges faced by start-up and existing underserved and disadvantaged entrepreneurs, by providing pragmatic technical assistance to immigrant-owned, refugee-owned, minority-owned, veteran-owned, microenterprises in the Pittsburgh region. Assistance may include business review and planning, training and counseling, market analysis, current business technology, and on-going mentoring, case management and capacity building.

Commerce Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships works to engage community groups in the national economic development process by promoting awareness of funding opportunities in order to ensure faith-based community groups, such as Christian Evangelistic Economic Development can play a role in helping to increase competitiveness.

Commerce Department to Deploy Economic Assessment Teams to Six Northeast Fishing Ports

The U.S. Commerce Department announced today that economic development assessment teams will deploy next month to conduct a two-day analysis of six Northeast fishing communities. The teams will visit Portland, Maine, Seabrook, N.H., New Bedford, Mass., Gloucester, Mass., Point Judith, R.I., and Montauk, N.Y. The assessment teams will conduct meetings with local leaders to help identify economic development challenges and opportunities facing local industries and communities. 

“The Department of Commerce is committed to supporting a vibrant and profitable fishing industry in the United States. The assessment teams will help communities identify and begin to address the economic difficulties they are facing,” Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. “We know that by rebuilding stocks, we will improve economic conditions for fishermen and coastal communities, but we recognize that transition is difficult. We are committed to help identify proactive solutions during these challenging economic times.”

“Supporting fishermen and fishing communities with economic assessment and planning assistance is a top priority for the Department of Commerce and the administration,” said Brian McGowan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “The Northeast economic development assessment teams will play an important role in providing technical expertise to local leaders as they develop strategies to increase economic and job opportunities.”

The goal of the visits is to provide customized technical assistance for fishing communities that experienced  reductions in groundfish fishing revenues in recent years.  The Economic Development Administration (EDA), in partnership with other federal agencies, will meet with local leaders to assess current and emerging economic issues. EDA, with the assistance of the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), evaluated economic and fisheries industry data, including groundfish landing revenues and the percentage of groundfish landed at a port relative to the state totals, in order to select ports for the interagency assessments.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Takes New Markets, New Jobs Export Tour to Los Angeles

Secretary Gary Locke Addresses Small Business Owners at APBO about the Resources that the Government is Providing to Connect Small- and Medium-sized Businesses with Foreign Buyers,

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke traveled to Los Angeles, Calif., today for the second stop of the New Markets, New Jobs small business outreach tour.  Joined by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and USC Marshall School of Business Dean James G. Ellis, Locke discussed the importance of exports to America’s economic recovery and job creation, and the resources that the government is providing to connect local small- and medium-sized businesses with foreign buyers, especially those from the Asia-Pacific markets, in order to help them sell more overseas and hire more at home.  

Announced on the one-year anniversary of President Obama’s National Export Initiative, New Markets, New Jobs is a year-long, interagency, multi-city outreach campaign designed to proactively bring government services to businesses across the country that are interested in exporting.  The tour was launched in Minneapolis in February, and will continue on to New Orleans, Louisiana in April and Wilmington, Delaware in May.

See video
Read the transcript: 
Exporting: A Personal Tale

NTIA Administrator Strickling Addresses Broadband Program Progress

Administrator Stricking on podium
At an event in Washington, D.C. today, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling described the progress of broadband stimulus projects, noting that Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grantees have thus far installed more than 4,000 computers for public use and provided computer training to more than 65,000 people.
“These Recovery Act projects are already providing an essential link to economic and educational opportunities for thousands of Americans,” said Strickling. 

Winning the Future Through Education and Commerce

Undersecretary Sanchez

Guest blog post by Francisco J. Sánchez who is Under Secretary for International Trade in the Commerce Department's International Trade Administration.

When we think about the vast work the Commerce Department does with exports, what do we picture? Food, perhaps. Textiles. Cutting-edge technologies. But what many don’t consider are the legions of international students who attend American colleges and universities. It might sound odd, but they are considered “exports.” Indeed, education plays a critical role in the work we do every day in the International Trade Administration.

That’s why I’m so pleased to announce that starting April 2, 2011, I will lead the largest education and services trade mission in the history of the U.S. Department of Commerce.  Accompanied by 56 U.S. colleges and universities, we will travel to Indonesia and Vietnam to expand U.S. educational opportunities for international students.

America is home to the best opportunities for higher education in the world.  More students come to the U.S. to study than any other country on the planet. International students’ tuition and living expenses alone brought almost $20 billion to the U.S. economy in the 2009-2010 academic year.

Our goals for this trip are extensive. Expanding U.S. educational opportunities for international students will have some direct benefits to our national economy.  By increasing domestic jobs and aiding innovation and research while strengthening our relations and ties abroad, the fact is that sharing our colleges with foreign-born students will make America that much more rich and robust.

U.S. Census Bureau Completes Delivery of State 2010 Census Population Totals for Legislative Redistricting

The U.S. Census Bureau announced this week that 2010 Census population totals and demographic characteristics have been released for communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico – ahead of the April 1 deadline. The data have provided the first look at population counts for small areas and race, Hispanic origin, voting age and housing unit data released from the 2010 Census. With the release of data for all states, national-level counts of these characteristics are now available.

In April, the Census Bureau will release the National Summary File of Redistricting Data, providing the same population, housing unit counts and demographic characteristics for the United States and other cross-state geographies, such as regions, divisions, metropolitan areas and American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian areas.

Census data are now being used by state officials to realign congressional and state legislative districts in their states, taking into account population shifts over the last decade.

Find more information about the redistricting data program or to find news releases and data for your state.

Secretary Locke and the Department of Commerce Celebrate the Accomplishments and Legacy of the Late U.S. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown

Secretary Locke and Others Watch the Unveiling of Ron Brown Way

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke participated in a ceremony this morning dedicating a stretch of 14th Street in front of the U.S. Commerce Department building as Ron Brown Way.

With Secretary Brown’s wife, Alma, his children Michael and Tracy and their families as honored guests, Locke joined in paying tribute to the late Secretary who, with 34 others, lost his life while on a trade mission to Croatia 15 years ago.

“This is a fitting tribute to a man who was born in Washington, D.C. and spent his life working to deliver economic and social justice for people in this city, across America and, indeed, around the world,” Locke said. “The dedication of Ron Brown Way will help ensure that what Ron Brown did and what he stood for won’t ever be forgotten.”

Speakers at the celebration of Brown’s legacy included Ron’s son Michael, who is D.C. Councilmember at Large, and D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray.

Following the dedication ceremony, the Brown family joined Locke at the Commerce Department for a presentation of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) flag that was flown aboard the NOAA ship Ronald H. Brown, and a ceremonial wreath laying. Locke spoke of Brown’s trailblazing efforts to extend economic opportunity to all, and of his fierce advocacy for the Department and the great people who work here.

Locke said that Brown’s work endures through the hundreds of dedicated Commerce employees who still believe in his mission for the department and work hard each day to continue his legacy of service.

Spotlight on Commerce: Michelle O'Neill, Deputy Under Secretary for International Trade

Michelle O'Neill, Deputy Under Secretary for International Trade

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series, which highlights members of the Department of Commerce who are contributing to the president's vision of winning the future through their work.

Michelle O'Neill has been serving as Deputy Under Secretary for International Trade since November 2005.

I started my career in ITA as an intern in 1983 -- looking up tariff rates in Latin American countries for companies that called in.  Many of you are probably amazed that anyone could spend so many years in one organization, but during this course of time, I have moved around quite a bit across ITA – at least eight official jobs spanning our five business units.  These experiences have given me a deeper appreciation of what we can do as an organization to advance U.S. business interests globally.  Five Administrations, 11 Secretaries of Commerce, and 12 Under Secretaries of International Trade later, I am still as passionate for advancing fair and free trade today as when I first arrived in Washington.  (And I never imagined that I would be part of the organization’s leadership team!)

When I started my career in international trade, U.S. exports were $205 billion. Today, we export more than five times that amount, totaling more than $1 trillion worth in goods and services exports.  While we remain the number one exporter of goods and services, the volume of global trade has grown substantially over this period of time, and with that comes some challenges – and in many ways, the same challenges.  Back in the 1980s, the big concern was the $58 billion trade deficit and what we could do about it; today our trade deficit is nearly $380 billion – still a concern.  It’s been very interesting for me as a career civil servant, implementing and shaping trade policy across five Administrations. In many ways, I think the importance of international trade has stood the test of time with bipartisan support for increased trade liberalization, to varying degrees, across every Administration in my career. When I officially started ITA in 1987, the Uruguay Round had just begun; now we are in the midst of trying to bring a close to the Doha Round.  There was only one Free Trade Agreement in place with Israel. Now we have 17 FTAs in force – and hopefully three more in the horizon.  While the issues we debated have evolved -- reflecting changes in industry, new business models, and future technologies -- there has been general agreement that an open and competitive global marketplace is good for citizens, consumers, businesses, and governments.

Secretary Gary Locke visited NOAA's Science Center to Highlight Education as a Key Pillar for Enhancing American Competitiveness

Secretary Locke Talks with a Student at NOAA's Science Center in Silver Spring, MD about His Research

Secretary Gary Locke visited the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Science Center in Silver Spring, MD today, to highlight the importance of education in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields in enhancing the United States’ global competitiveness.  He emphasized President Obama’s strategy of results-driven education investments, which will allow the U.S. to out-educate, out-innovate and out-build the rest of the world. 

Locke participated in the NOAA Education Partnership Program’s Annual Cooperative Science Center Directors meeting, where he heard a presentations by NOAA-sponsored undergraduate, Master’s and Ph.D. STEM students about their latest research and findings.  He also held a roundtable discussion with the NOAA Science Center Directors and some of the NOAA Cooperative Institute Directors to exchange ideas about how to bolster STEM education programs for undergraduate and graduate students across the country.  Graduates of these programs are the workforce of the future and will contribute to the recovery and growth of America’s economy. 

The NOAA Education Partnership Program supports five Cooperative Science Centers, housed in Minority Serving Institutions in Washington D.C., Maryland, New York, Florida, and North Carolina.  These Cooperative Science Centers have awarded over 800 Bachelors, Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in the STEM fields in the last 10 years; over 600 of these graduates are from under-represented minorities.