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Blog Entries from May 2011

Building Opportunities for Latino Businesses

Anna Gomez Addresses the Latin Tech-Net Initiative

Guest blog post by Anna Gomez, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

On Tuesday, I joined a group of Hispanic community development leaders in San Francisco to launch the Latino Tech-Net Initiative, a Recovery Act project spearheaded by the Mission Economic Development Agency, or MEDA, which is equipping 17 computer centers in 11 cities across the country with equipment, software, and training to help Latino entrepreneurs and small businesses build online skills, spur local economic development, and support job creation in their communities.

The “digital divide” remains a serious issue for the Latino community, and MEDA is on the front lines of addressing this problem. Data from NTIA’s Digital Nation report show that the broadband adoption rate among Hispanic households is only 56.9 percent - more than ten percent lower than the overall national rate. In fact, even after adjusting for socioeconomic characteristics like income and education, Latino households significantly lag White households in broadband adoption.

Through Recovery Act projects like Latino Tech-Net, we are working to bridge the technology gap among economically vulnerable populations such as minorities, low-income communities, people with disabilities and seniors. We know there is no simple ‘one size fits all’ solution to closing the digital divide and that a combination of targeted approaches makes sense.

NOAA Hurricane Outlook Indicates an Above-Normal Season

Hurricanes Karl, Igor and Julia

Urges residents in hurricane-prone areas to be prepared

The Atlantic basin is expected to see an above-normal hurricane season this year, according to the seasonal outlook issued by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center – a division of the National Weather Service.

Across the entire Atlantic Basin for the six-month season, which begins June 1, NOAA is predicting the following ranges this year:

  • 12 to 18 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which:
  • 6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including:
  • 3 to 6 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher)

Each of these ranges has a 70 percent likelihood, and indicate that activity will exceed the seasonal average of 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.

Now is the time to get your plan together for what you and your family would do if disaster strikes. Visit ready.gov to learn more and if you’re a small business owner, visit www.ready.gov/business to ensure that your business is prepared for a disaster.

Hurricane impacts are not limited to the coastline; strong winds and flooding rainfall often pose a threat across inland areas along with the risk for tornadoes.

Next week, May 22-28, is national Hurricane Preparedness Week. To help prepare residents of hurricane-prone areas, NOAA is unveiling a new set of video and audio public service announcements featuring NOAA hurricane experts and the FEMA administrator that are available in both English and Spanish. These are available at http://www.hurricanes.gov/prepareRelease 

Secretary Locke Discusses Small Business Competitiveness at APEC Green Growth Forum, Meets with APEC Trade Ministers

Secretary Locke Delivering the Keynote Remarks at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Small and Medium Enterprise Enhancing Competitiveness through Green Growth Forum

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today delivered keynote remarks at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Small and Medium Enterprise Enhancing Competitiveness through Green Growth Forum in advance of the APEC 2011 SME Ministerial Meeting.  He urged small- and medium-sized businesses throughout the Asia-Pacific region to incorporate green growth strategies into their business development plans to increase their global competitiveness.

The Competitiveness and Green Growth Forum provided an opportunity to discuss ways to help APEC economies incorporate green growth policies into the business development plans of SMEs.  The Forum also paved the groundwork for the APEC SME Ministers’ discussions on green growth-focused technical and financial assistance programs for SMEs.

Locke met with representatives from U.S. companies during a luncheon to highlight how APEC meetings can help connect American companies with public and private sector officials from all the 21 APEC economies and open up more business opportunities.  In 2010, 60 percent of U.S. goods exports were to the APEC economies.

Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau Reports 55 Percent of Americans Have Married Once in their Lifetimes

Categories:
Wedding Rings (credit: firemedic58 from Flickr)

A new U.S. Census Bureau report released today shows that among all people 15 years and older in the United States in 2009, 55 percent had been married once and 30 percent had never married. At the same time, 15 percent of Americans had married more than once, including 12 percent who had married twice and 3 percent who had married three or more times.

The findings come from a new report, Number, Timing, and Duration of Marriages and Divorces: 2009, which uses data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation to look at topics such as changes in the age at marriage, divorce and remarriage over the years, how long first marriages last, people who have been married multiple times, those who have been divorced or experienced other marital events, and the percentage of currently married couples that include spouses who are both in their first marriage.

More than half of currently married couples had been married for at least 15 years as of 2009, with 35 percent having reached their 25th wedding anniversary and 6 percent having passed their golden wedding anniversary, marking 50 years of marriage. In comparison to figures from 1996, these percentages were 1-2 percentage points higher, reflecting the leveling of divorce rates and increases in life expectancy.

Spotlight on Commerce: Suresh Kumar, Assistant Secretary for Trade Promotion and Director General for the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service

Suresh Kumar cutting a ribbon opening the Commercial Service Pavillion

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.

Suresh Kumar is the Assistant Secretary for Trade Promotion and Director General for the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service.

Asian Pacific American Month gives you time to reflect on your origin, your country of birth and learning through and across cultures.  It is conveying these assets, experiences and skills that build a better community and a better country.   At the U.S. Commercial Service, improving opportunities for American businesses domestically and abroad is what drives me.  It is why I'm behind President Obama's plan to win the future. To do so, we must out-innovate, out-educate and connect U.S. businesses to the 95% of consumers who live outside the U.S.  This is my key responsibility:  connecting U.S. businesses to global opportunities.  This lays the foundation for a strong, sustainable economy in the United States and beyond.

I am privileged to lead a service with almost 1500 trade professionals who assist American enterprises everyday to connect to global partners and to new markets.  Of the U.S.'s 30 million companies, only 1% or 280,000 companies export and of those who do, 58% export to only one market.  We can and we must do better, and it is this challenge and opportunity that the US&FCS trade specialists and I focus on each day.   This country needs more exporters and potential entrepreneurs and exporters amongst you do not have to go it alone - you have the full support of the U.S. Government in connecting you to global partners and global markets.

Hearing From Local Businesses in Minneapolis, MN: Secretary Locke Joins a White House Jobs and Competitiveness Council Listening and Action Session

UPDATED: Secretary Locke wrote about his time in Minneapolis on the White House blog.

Today, Secretary Locke traveled to Minneapolis to take part in a White House Jobs and Competitiveness Council Listening and Action Session. There, he heard suggestions from local business leaders on how the public and private sectors can work together to create jobs and enhance competitiveness for small businesses.

Secretary Locke was joined by Antonio M. Perez, Chairman and CEO, Kodak, Don Graves, President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, Department of Treasury, Ron Bloom, Senior Counselor for Manufacturing Policy, President’s National Economic Council, and Darlene Miller, President and CEO, Permac Industries.

Ms. Miller and Permak Industries, located just outside Minneapolis, played host to the session. They provided Administration officials and Jobs Council Members with a tour the Permac Industries facility and then held forum discussions and Q and A sessions with local business owners to discuss ideas for creating jobs and growing business in this country.

These sessions are part of an ongoing series of regional Council Listening and Action Sessions that will take place around the country.  The purpose of the regional sessions is to respond to the President’s challenge that the Council bring new voices to the table and ensure that everyone can participate and inform the work and recommendations of the Council.  The ideas and information exchanged at these events will help inform the future policy work of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. The first Listening and Action Session took place in Dayton, Ohio and focused on creating new markets and customers for small businesses through supply chain development, in-sourcing, and partnerships with large businesses.

Commerce’s EDA Partners with Fraunhofer USA, Boston City Leaders to Build Sustainable Energy Research and Innovation Center

U.S. Assistant Secretary John Fernandez with Mayor Thomas Menino, Fraunhofer USA, and local leaders at the groundbreaking of the $19.5 million Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems in Boston’s Innovation District.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez was in Boston this week with Mayor Thomas Menino for the groundbreaking of the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems, a sustainable energy research and building innovation center at 5 Channel Center in Boston's Innovation District. The 50,000-square-foot facility will support area entrepreneurs and advance the commercialization of sustainable energy technologies and next-generation building efficiency systems.

Commerce’s Economic Development Administration awarded $3.5 million to Fraunhofer USA in 2009 to support the project, which is expected to create an estimated 180 jobs and generate $30 million in private investment. The applied research facility and building technology showcase will serve as a unique factory of innovation in support of established companies and startups that are developing and demonstrating the next generation of energy efficiency technologies.

Boston city leaders hope the Center will become a living laboratory, attracting building technology pacesetters from around the country and the international business community to demonstrate the future of sustainable buildings. The project serves as an innovation platform for collaborative research and development activities in the region, as well as an enduring pipeline for new technologies and startup companies.

“The U.S. Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration is pleased to work with Mayor Thomas Menino, Fraunhofer USA and local leaders to help build the $20 million Center for Sustainable Energy Systems, which will serve as a catalyst for job and economic growth in the region,” Fernandez said. “This smart investment to advance the development of the 5 Channel Center and commercialize sustainable energy technologies and next-generation building efficiency systems will provide a much needed boost to the local economic ecosystem as new businesses are attracted to the community.”

Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau Provides First-Ever Look at Veteran Business Ownership

VetBiz.gov

New data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau for the first time provides detailed information on veteran-owned businesses in the United States. It shows U.S. military veterans owned 2.4 million businesses in 2007, which accounted for 9 percent of all businesses nationwide. Veteran-owned businesses generated $1.2 trillion in receipts, or about 4.1 percent of all business receipts in 2007, and employed nearly 5.8 million people.

Businesses in which veterans were majority or half-owners numbered 3.7 million, representing 13.5 percent of all businesses nationwide and accounting for more than $1.6 trillion in receipts in 2007. These 3.7 million businesses employed 8.2 million people.

This new data come from the Survey of Business Owners: Veteran-Owned Businesses: 2007, which reports the number of veteran-owned firms in the United States, their sales and receipts, number of paid employees and annual payroll. Today’s release is the first of its kind to track business ownership by America’s veterans.

The three states with the largest number of veteran-owned businesses in 2007 were California, Texas and Florida. California had 239,422 veteran-owned businesses, representing 9.8 percent of all veteran-owned businesses in the United States. Texas had 199,476 businesses, or 8.1 percent, and Florida was home to 176,727 businesses, or 7.2 percent. Nearly one-third of veteran-owned businesses operated in the professional, scientific, and technical services and construction sectors.

Spotlight on Commerce: Anita Ramasastry, Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance

Anita Ramasastry, Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance

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.

Anita Ramasastry is the Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance

In my role as the Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance, I develop and advance strategies to keep markets open for U.S. exporters. In the International Trade Administration, we do this by trying to reduce or eliminate trade barriers in other countries. Recently I was asked to establish a new initiative focused on preventing corruption in global trade. In addition, as part of the President’s National Export Initiative, I coordinate new strategies for increasing trade in six growing markets including Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey. I also am a member of the Commerce Department’s Internet Policy Task Force – tasked with promoting the growth of the knowledge economy and supporting our Internet and technology companies overseas. In this role, I have focused on how restrictions on Internet data flows can be a trade barrier, hindering innovation and competition in many markets.

Before coming to the International Trade Administration, I was a tenured law professor at the University of Washington, School of Law in Seattle, where I taught and researched commercial and banking law. My research focused on the impact of corruption on economic development in countries with natural resources.

President Obama has spoken of the devastating cost of corruption. And the need for change: “In too many places, the culture of the bribe is a brake on development and prosperity.  It discourages entrepreneurship, destroys public trust, and undermines the rule of law while stifling economic growth. With a new commitment to strengthening and enforcing rules against corruption, economic opportunity and prosperity will be more broadly shared.”

Secretary Locke Takes New Markets, New Jobs Tour to Wilmington, Delaware

Secretary Gary Locke continued the New markets, New Jobs nationwide tour to its fourth city, Wilmington, Del., today where he gave remarks on the administration’s efforts to implement President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI). New Markets, New Jobs tour is an interagency, multi-city outreach campaign spearheaded by the Commerce Department, designed to help connect small- and medium-sized businesses with the resources they need to sell more of what they make overseas.

“The purpose of this nationwide trip is simple:  To help small and medium-sized American businesses sell more goods and services around the world, so they can create more jobs here at home,” he said in his remarks. 

Locke was joined by U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), Governor Jack Markell, U.S. Small Business Administration Deputy Administrator Marie Johns, U.S. Department of Agriculture Acting Under Secretary Michael Scuse, and Export-Import Bank Board Member Diane Farrell.

New Markets, New Jobs kicked off in Minneapolis in February, made its second stop in Los Angeles in March and third stop in New Orleans in April before coming to Wilmington.  Businesses from Delaware exported $5 billion worth of goods in 2010 – a 15-percent increase ($4.3 billion to $5.0 billion) from 2009. 

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