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Blog Entries from October 2011

Meet John Bryson, the new U.S. Secretary of Commerce

Photo of John Bryson

Last night the U.S. Senate confirmed John Bryson as the next U.S. Secretary of Commerce and he was sworn in today.

Before assuming his position as commerce secretary, he was the Chief Executive Officer of Edison International, the parent company of Southern California Edison and Edison Mission Group, for almost 18 years, where he led the company through times of both opportunities and crisis.  Bryson guided Edison through the California energy crisis of 2002 without going bankrupt, built a stronger company in the process and created jobs for American workers, while keeping the lights on for thousands of businesses and millions of families in California.

He was a director of The Boeing Company, The Walt Disney Company and Coda Automotive, Inc., and was a senior advisor to KKR.  He was also chairman of the board of BrightSource Energy, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), and the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) Board of Overseers.  He also served as co-chairman of the Pacific Council on International Policy (PCIP).

Mr. Bryson was a trustee of the California Institute of Technology and a director of The California Endowment and the W. M. Keck Foundation.  He served on the Advisory Board of Deutsche Bank Americas.  He also previously served on a number of educational and environmental boards, including as chairman of the California Business Roundtable, co-chairman of the Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA), trustee of Stanford University, and as a member of the U.N. Secretary-General’s Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change (AGECC).

The White House blog has quotes from individuals ranging from the COO of Facebook to the former Treasury Secretary John Snow to Mayors across the country supporting the nomination of John Bryson.  Commerce press release   |  White House statement

U.S. Dealt Another La Niña Winter but ‘Wild Card’ Could Trump It

Map of US showing expected temperature by region

Devastating drought in Southern Plains likely to continue

The Southern Plains should prepare for continued drier and warmer than average weather, while the Pacific Northwest is likely to be colder and wetter than average from December through February, according to the annual Winter Outlook released today by Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

For the second winter in a row, La Niña will influence weather patterns across the country, but as usual, it’s not the only climate factor at play. The ‘wild card’ is the lesser-known and less predictable Arctic Oscillation that could produce dramatic short-term swings in temperatures this winter. 

NOAA expects La Niña, which returned in August, to gradually strengthen and continue through the upcoming winter. It is associated with cooler than normal water temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean and influences weather throughout the world.  Full NOAA release  |  Climate Prediction Center Outlook | Temperature outlook  |  Precipitation outlook

That ® Means More Than You May Think

Chubby Checker along with the Pillsbury Dough Boy and a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup at the USPTO 2011 National Trademark Expo

Guest blog post by Debbie Cohn, Commissioner for Trademarks at the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Learning about the value of intellectual property may not sound like fun and games, but for more than 15,000 people who visited the United States Patent and Trademark Office last Friday and Saturday, that’s exactly what happened.

The 2011 National Trademark Expo featured exhibits and seminars designed to educate the public about the importance and value of trademarks in the marketplace. Trademarks help inspire confidence in a brand and build an identity for thousands upon thousands of companies making products and providing services across America. Brand and identity are both vital components for spurring growth and promoting economic development.

The United States has been registering trademarks since 1870. Through the federal registration system, the USPTO is able to assist business in protecting their valuable investments, promoting goods and services and safeguarding consumers against confusion and deception in the marketplace.

At the National Trademark Expo, the public learned about intellectual property rights for small businesses; counterfeiting and piracy; filing for a trademark registration with the USPTO; and why trademarks are important to business. And they learned this firsthand from the many exhibitors showcasing their marks and discussing the critical role they play.

And while children and adults were wowed by a variety of characters most Americans would immediately recognize as trademarked, special guest Chubby Checker sang and spoke with the audience about how important his trademarks are to him. Checker leveraged his “Twist” to build a successful business in the food industry.

The 2011 National Trademark Expo was a successful event highlighting the powerful role that trademarks play in the global economy.

EDA: Working with the Private Sector to Create Jobs

NASVF logo

Guest blog post by by John Fernandez, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, Department of Commerce

The Obama administration is collaborating with the private sector in an unprecedented way to promote American innovation, ignite entrepreneurship, and spur small business development to get the economy moving and put people back to work.

And we are seeing results. Private sector payrolls increased by 137,000 in September. And despite a slowdown in economic growth from substantial headwinds experienced throughout the year, the economy has added private sector jobs for 19 straight months, for a total of 2.6 million jobs over that period. While the economy is growing modestly, we understand that it is not fast enough for Americans who are struggling to make ends meet.

That is why it is more important than ever for the federal government to work with industry to create new jobs.

Acting Secretary Blank Delivers Keynote Address at League of Wisconsin Municipalities Conference, Discusses American Jobs Act

Touring: Palermo President & Ceo Fallucca, Blank and Mayor Barrett

Blank also toured Palermo’s Pizza with Mayor Barrett and met with local business leaders as part of White House Business Council outreach effort

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank traveled to Milwaukee today to deliver the keynote address at the 113th League of Wisconsin Municipalities Annual Conference to discuss the American Jobs Act–how it will spur economic growth, accelerate job creation and benefit Wisconsin.  The League is a nonprofit and nonpartisan association of cities and villages that serves as an information clearinghouse, advocacy organization and legal resource for Wisconsin municipalities; it is comprised of 190 cities and 392 villages.

At the Conference, Blank discussed details of President Obama’s American Jobs Act.  Blank highlighted the different ways the plan would make an immediate impact on job creation: cutting taxes for small businesses, putting more money in the pockets of consumers through an expanded payroll tax cut, and preventing the layoffs of teachers, firefighters and policemen, while putting construction workers to work through much-needed renovations to school, roads, rail and airports renovations. Blank underlined the need for Congress to act quickly on the bipartisan measures in the Jobs Act.

“Outside experts say the American Jobs Act would put nearly two million people to work, while putting more money in the pockets of workers and repairing infrastructure vital to enhancing America’s competitiveness,” Blank said. “It’s time for Democrats and Republicans in Congress to come together and swiftly pass the measures in the Jobs Act, which will put people back to work right away and put more money in the pockets of American families.”

Earlier in the day, Blank joined Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett on a tour at Palermo’s Pizza, a rapidly growing regional company that added almost 100 jobs last year and is leading the “Earn to Learn” program with the Mayor’s Office, which gives high school-aged youth a chance to develop marketable skills through direct work experience and training seminars. 

Our Biotech Trade Mission in China: Developing Prosperous Partnerships

Sánchez, officials at DiaCarta signing ceremony

Guest blog post by Francisco Sánchez, Under Secretary for International Trade, International Trade Administration

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step.”

That’s a proverb I learned during my recent trip to China, where I led a delegation of 19 U.S. biotech companies on a trade mission. Today marked the end of our journey. But, I’m confident that the steps we took will help these firms generate new opportunities in the region.     

As I get ready to depart, I’m struck by the huge possibilities in the country. China’s biotech sector is growing roughly 25 percent a year. Its market is huge in terms of sales and clinical trial opportunities, as well as potential investment. And, China’s enormous consumer base and impressive economic growth further reinforce the importance of the market for U.S. firms.

The American Jobs Act: Preventing Teacher Layoffs and Keeping First Responders on the Job

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the American Jobs Act at West Wilkes High School in Millers Creek, North Carolina, Oct. 17, 2011 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

This morning’s USA Today noted that budget cuts claim hundreds of thousands of county and city jobs due to shortfalls in local sales and property taxes. Each of these layoffs hurts the local community. Those laid off don’t spend at local businesses and they don’t purchase local services. That’s the crux of Ezra Klein’s case for rehiring public workers and why the President has put forth his American Jobs Act, to provide communities with some support while the economy gains speed.

Today President Obama is traveling to North Carolina and Virginia talking about his plan to put Americans back to work and keep teachers and emergency responders on the job. He urged Congress to pass his proposal to provide funding to prevent teacher layoffs and keep police officers and firefighters on the job. The American Jobs Act includes $30 billion in teacher stabilization funds which will support state and local efforts to retain, rehire, and hire educators as well as $5 billion for first responders.

In the afternoon, the President will travel to Greensville County High School in Emporia, Virginia. Virginia would receive more than $740 million of the $30 billion included in the American Jobs Act to prevent teacher layoffs, which would support 10,800 jobs across the Commonwealth. Greensville County Public Schools would receive an estimated $1.6 million of this funding for teacher jobs. Greensville County High School has lost six teachers over the last three years due to budget cuts and is at risk of losing additional teachers next year.

See how your state would benefit under the American Jobs Act.

Commerce and Transportation Departments Forge Partnership to Boost Domestic Manufacturing Across America

NIST logo

Partnership will help revitalize the domestic railway manufacturing sector, support Obama Administration’s historic investments in transportation and create jobs

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank today announced a partnership to encourage the creation of domestic manufacturing jobs and opportunities for U.S. suppliers through transportation investments. 

The Department of Commerce’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) will help to ensure manufacturers meet the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (U.S. DOT) strict “Buy America” and “Buy American” standards, connecting U.S. manufacturers and suppliers for work on highways, railways and transit projects, and in the process help to create jobs.

“Investment in transportation is a critical piece of President Obama’s American Jobs Act,” said Secretary LaHood.  “Not only are we improving how we move people and goods, but we are strengthening our economy by providing opportunities for American companies and their employees to build our transportation system here at home.”

With a network in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, MEP serves more than 34,000 American suppliers, helping them to retool their manufacturing capabilities to meet demand, compete in the global marketplace and sell American-made products all over the world. 

“This initiative is a win for workers and communities across America,” said Acting Secretary Blank. “The Manufacturing Extension Partnership will connect U.S. manufacturers and suppliers with hundreds of millions of dollars in upcoming highway, railway, and airport projects, providing new job opportunities in every corner of the country.”

MEP will leverage over 1,300 expert manufacturing assistance field staff in over 350 locations to provide knowledge of local manufacturing capabilities from across the nation. MEP will identify suppliers’ production and technical capabilities to match them up with viable business opportunities that may have otherwise gone to foreign suppliers, ensuring maximum economic benefit for taxpayer-funded transportation investments across all modes.

Acting Secretary Blank Visits Newark One-Stop Career Center with Mayor Cory Booker, Highlights American Jobs Act

Acting Secretary Blank, Mayor Booker and Director Nelida Valentin at One-Stop Center, Newark (Photo: office of Mayor Booker

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank joined Newark Mayor Cory Booker today for a visit to the Newark One-Stop Career Center, a city program that connects residents to career opportunities, provides vocational training and offers continuing education services that aim to meet the needs of both employers and job seekers.  The program is operated by the Newark Mayor’s Office of Employment and Training.

In her remarks, Blank said, "Outside experts say the American Jobs Act would put nearly two million people to work, while putting more money in the pockets of workers and repairing infrastructure vital to enhancing America’s competitiveness,” Blank said. “It’s time for Democrats and Republicans in Congress to come together and swiftly pass the measures in the Jobs Act, which will put people back to work right away and put more money in the pockets of American families.”  Release  |  Remarks

The American Jobs Act: Cutting Payroll Taxes Supports Consumer Spending

Image of tax forms

This morning, the U.S. Census Bureau released its latest Retail Sales figures for September and they went up sharply (1.1percent), with gains in lots of categories.  The gains in July and August were revised upwards, too.  From an economic growth point of view, this is unequivocally good news.  However, history and statistics tell us not to get too excited over a single data point. So, although this is good news, it is clear that economy is not growing as fast as it needs to. That’s why President Obama has proposed cutting payroll taxes in half for 160 million workers next year.

As the Economics and Statistics Administration has already shown, job gains combined with lower taxes equals more spending. That’s why these tax cuts make sense. They help create demand to give the economy a little breathing room while it recovers.

The president’s plan will expand the payroll tax cut passed last December by cutting workers' payroll taxes in half next year. This provision will provide a tax cut of $1,500 to the typical family earning $50,000 a year. As with the payroll tax cut passed in December 2010, the American Jobs Act will specify that Social Security will still receive every dollar it would have gotten otherwise, through a transfer from the General Fund into the Social Security Trust Fund.