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Blog Entries from November 2011

Investments in the Seattle Region’s Innovation Clusters Spur Economic and Job Growth

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Development Matthew Erskine with i6 Green Seattle winners from Puget Sound Regional Council, South Seattle Community College and Cleantech Open.

Guest blog post by Matthew S. Erskine, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

The Seattle region is noted as one of our nation’s hotbed of innovation and entrepreneurship with world-class cleantech, health sciences, biotechnology and advanced manufacturing clusters. It is home to the headquarters of companies like Microsoft, Amazon and Starbucks and its regional assets are fueling job growth.

This week, I traveled to Seattle to spotlight Obama administration investments to advance these critical innovation clusters, promote entrepreneurship and small business development and create the jobs and industries of the future.

I met with the leaders of the Washington Clean Energy Partnership, awardees of the i6 Green competition. This collaboration between the Puget Sound Regional Council, South Seattle Community College, Cleantech Open and the Innovate Washington Foundation will work to foster collaboration between industry and institutions of higher education to expand the clean energy cluster.  This will spur the creation of new jobs, companies and export opportunities in the market for energy efficient technologies.

Transatlantic Economic Council Discussions Highlight Need for Cooperation in Innovation and Regulatory and Standards Collaboration

Secretary Bryson joins his Cabinet colleagues and senior European Officials at the TEC meeting

On Tuesday, Secretary Bryson and other U.S. government officials had a valuable conversation with senior European Union (EU) leaders on ways to cooperate and achieve the Obama administration’s National Export Initiative (NEI) goals. Since the EU is America’s largest trading partner, they are key to meeting the ambitious goal of doubling exports by the end of 2014.

The economic relationship between the EU and the United States is the largest and most dynamic in the world. The combined gross domestic product accounts for more than $30 trillion – roughly 40 percent of global GDP – and more than 800 million consumers. In 2010, bilateral trade in goods and services surpassed $873 billion. With this relationship so vital, in April 2007 the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) was established to provide Cabinet-level political guidance for implementation of specific work programs like intellectual property rights protection and regulatory cooperation.

Tuesday’s discussions made it clear that both the United States and the EU recognize innovation to be the main driving force for continuing this economic success and creating more jobs. In his comments, Secretary Bryson noted that the innovations created through the partnerships of American and European companies can be a greater catalyst for new jobs than innovation done without such collaboration. The Commerce Department is currently working tirelessly in that vein, developing transatlantic links between companies and research centers.

Stolen Intellectual Property Harms American Businesses Says Acting Deputy Secretary Blank

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank joins Attorney General Holder and other Administration Officials at the kickoff event for the IP campaign “Counterfeits Hurt. You Have The Power to Stop Them.”

This afternoon, Acting Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank participated in an event at the White House to announce the Administration’s progress in cracking down on intellectual property (IP) theft crimes and the launch of a public education campaign intended to increase Americans’ knowledge of the threat these crimes pose to economic prosperity and public safety.  The campaign is entitled “Counterfeits Hurt. You Have The Power to Stop Them.

Counterfeit goods not only can cause harm to the safety of our families, but they also cause harm to our economy and to American businesses.  That’s because the success of the U.S. economy relies heavily on intellectual property; virtually every industry either produces IP or uses it. IP theft costs domestic industries an estimated $200 to $250 billion a year.  This robs American workers of hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Only when American ideas and American inventions are protected, so that innovators receive the rewards from their creativity, can American business prosper and the American economy continues to   grow. It’s also important to remember protecting intellectual property has a multiplier effect, helping create jobs not only within the original firm that owns the IP but also within all the firms that it buys from and sells to.

Thanksgiving Day: November 24, 2011

Image of colorful Fall fruits and vegetables (Photo: Westmont.IL.gov)

In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims, early settlers of Plymouth Colony, held a three-day feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest, an event many regard as the nation's first Thanksgiving. Historians have also recorded ceremonies of thanks among other groups of European settlers in North America, including British colonists in Virginia in 1619. The legacy of thanks and the feast have survived the centuries, as the event became a national holiday in 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a national day of thanksgiving. Later, President Franklin Roosevelt clarified that Thanksgiving should always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month to encourage earlier holiday shopping, never on the occasional fifth Thursday. 

  • 248 million:  The number of turkeys expected to be raised in the United States in 2011. That's up 2 percent from the number raised during 2010. The turkeys produced in 2010 together weighed 7.11 billion pounds and were valued at $4.37 billion.
  • 1.1 billion pounds:  Total production of pumpkins in the major pumpkin-producing states in 2010. Illinois led the country by producing 427 million pounds of the vined orange gourd. Pumpkin patches in California, New York and Ohio also provided lots of pumpkins: Each state produced at least 100 million pounds. The value of all pumpkins produced by major pumpkin-producing states was $117 million.
  • 13.3 pounds:  The quantity of turkey consumed by the typical American in 2009, with no doubt a hearty helping devoured at Thanksgiving time. Per capita sweet potato consumption was 5.3 pounds.
  • 37:  Number of places and townships in the United States named Plymouth, as in Plymouth Rock, the landing site of the first Pilgrims.

Facts, features and more for Thanksgiving Day

Spotlight on Commerce: Dee Alexander, Program Analyst, U.S. Census Bureau

Dee Alexander with an Alaskan Husky during the Census Enumeration on January 25, 2010 in Noorvik, Alaska.

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.

Guest blog by Dee Alexander, Program Analyst, Decennial Management Division’s Outreach and Promotion Branch, U.S. Census Bureau

As an employee in the U.S. Census Bureau, I serve as a program analyst in the Decennial Management Division’s Outreach and Promotion Branch. My key responsibilities include responding to internal and external stakeholders, and the planning implementation and evaluation of assigned American Indian and Alaska Native and decennial communication program activities and products related to the 2010 Census. 

My journey into this profession started many years ago. I grew up in a suburb of Del City, Oklahoma. Both of my parents were government employees and they worked at the Tinker Air Force Base in Midwest City, Oklahoma until they retired. After high school, I attended Rose State College on a basketball scholarship and graduated with an Associate’s Degree in Travel and Tourism. Later, I received my Masters Degree in Project Management from George Washington University in 2007. 

In 1998, the Oklahoma Department of Commerce recommended me to the Census Bureau’s Kansas City Regional Office for a Partnership and Data Services Specialist.  This position was responsible for developing partnerships primarily with federal, state, local and tribal governments for pre-census and Census 2000 promotion activities.  This position allowed me to develop partnerships with the 39 Federally-recognized tribes in the state of Oklahoma for pre-census and post Census 2000 activities.  I also felt that being a member of the Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribe was instrumental in forming these partnerships.  These partnerships helped in producing and creating a new geographic delineation now known as an Oklahoma Tribal Statistical Area, (OTSA).   This delineation is documented on the Census 2000 and current 2010 AIAN Wall map.  The AIAN wall map is the product most requested from the AIAN population.  The work accomplished for Census 2000 helped in my employment to the Census Bureau Headquarters office.

Spotlight on Commerce: Pete Garrison, Official In Charge, Bethel Alaska, National Weather Service

Pete Garrison, Official In Charge, Bethel  Alaska, National Weather Service

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.

Guest blog by Harold "Pete" Garrison, Official In Charge, National Weather Service, Bethel Alaska

As a NOAA employee, I am in charge of the weather service office in Bethel, Alaska, a hub for more than 50 communities and villages with about 25,000 native residents. It is located in the delta regions of the mighty Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers. The office has a number of responsibilities that include upper-air and aviation observations, climate data collection, and the dissemination of weather products.

I am Inupiat Eskimo with some Russian, from the early explorers, on my mother’s side. After my father died in the US Air Force, My mother, three younger siblings and I moved to Unalakleet. I attended BIA school in Unalakleet and then went to a Native boarding school in Sitka until my high school graduation in 1968. Afterwards, I went to college in Fairbanks, Sitka, and Anchorage; however, I did not complete a degree because I decided I wanted to stay with NWS long-term.

U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) Concludes with Significant Agreements

Vilsack, Bryson, Wang and Kirk in stage with JCCT logo

This week marked the conclusion of the 22nd sssion of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) in Chengdu, China. U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson and United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk co-chaired the JCCT along with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan. The trip was highlighted by meaningful progress on key elements of the U.S.-China trade relationship, though much more work remains to be done to open China’s market to U.S. exports and investment.

The work done at JCCT will help boost U.S. exports and jobs through:

  • the removal of important barriers related to electric vehicles,
  • strengthened measures to eliminate discriminatory indigenous innovation policies,
  • and stricter enforcement of intellectual property rights in China. 

“Both sides worked hard to produce some meaningful progress that will help provide a needed boost to U.S. exports and jobs,” Secretary Bryson said.  “This is a step in the right direction.  But we must continue to actively engage our Chinese counterparts to open additional opportunities for U.S. businesses.”

Specifically, China agreed to make a significant systemic change in its enforcement of intellectual property rights. Through a high-level central government enforcement structure, China will make permanent its 2010 Special IPR Campaign.  China will continue high-level involvement that will enhance its ability to crack down on intellectual property rights infringement. And in addition, China’s leadership committed to increased political accountability–the performance of provincial level officials will be measured based on enforcement of intellectual property rights in their regions.

Spotlight on Commerce: Jan Jacobs, Tribal Intergovernmental Affairs Specialist, U.S. Census Bureau

Jan Jacobs at the I’n-lon-shka dances with her granddaughter

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.

Guest blog by Jan Jacobs, Tribal Intergovernmental Affairs Specialists, Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, U.S. Census Bureau

As Tribal Intergovernmental Affairs Specialist in the Census Bureau’s Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, I work with Tribal, state, county and local governments directly or through our partner advocate groups. More specifically, I’m the Subject Matter Specialist on American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) programs and policy for Census – as part of that role, I offer guidance and support to the bureau’s divisions, branch offices and regional offices. 

My journey to this role began as a child growing up in the deer clan of the Osage Nation of Oklahoma. My father served for more than four decades as the high school’s band director near the Osage reservation. My mother made traditional Osage clothes to wear at the I’n-lon-shka dances, our traditional annual gathering. She made exquisite Osage ribbon work and won national recognition for her skill. I remember her being active in tribal affairs – both regionally and nationally – and she often took me with her to meetings and events. These experiences gave me an opportunity to travel around the country learning from a host of Indian people. I still return home every June with my family for my ceremonial dances, a time to reconnect with family and my Osage culture.  I am Osage every day, but the dances help to revitalize and re-energize me for the coming year.  

My upbringing differed from many others who grew up in and around the reservation. My father worked his way through college and my mother attended college at a time when most American Indian women were not able to do so. It was important for me to continue this tradition of valuing learning and so after I graduated with my Master’s degree, I taught for nine years in the Bureau of Indian Affairs system and I’m proud to say that all four of my children graduated from college and are active in their local Native community.

Secretary Bryson Meets with American Business Community and Chinese Investors While in Beijing

Secretary Bryson Visits Beijing Airport to See American-Made Service Vehicles

This weekend Secretary Bryson will be in Chengdu, China for the 22nd Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT), the annual bilateral trade negotiations between the U.S. and China. Before going to Chengdu, the Secretary stopped in Beijing to meet with American business community and Chinese investors. He participated in a meeting with the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) and the U.S.-China Business Council (USCBC), and met with members of the Chinese business community to discuss bilateral trade and investment issues. Even though he was surrounded by wonderful local cuisine, Bryson stopped off at a local U.S. franchise–Subway–to highlight the success of American brands in China, and joined U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to tour Wisconsin-made airport vehicles at the Beijing Airport.

During the meeting with the American business community, Bryson shared his commitment to opening markets and leveling the playing field for U.S. companies in China and he pledged to take their issues to the JCCT meeting in Chengdu. The discussion focused on intellectual property protection, bilateral investment and China’s indigenous innovation practices.

Bryson also met with Chinese business leaders to encourage them to invest–by establishing factories, facilities, operations and offices–in the United States and to help them better understand the opportunities and ease of investing in the U.S. China's foreign direct investment in America increased nearly twelve-fold (from $0.5 billion to $5.8 billion) between 2008 and 2010. The Obama administration recently announced Select USA–the first coordinated federal effort to aggressively pursue and win new business investment in the United States while cutting red tape and removing barriers.

Promoting Competitiveness in the U.S.-Mexico Relationship

Sánchez on podium, gesturing

Guest blog post by Francisco J. Sánchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Secretary, Department of Commerce

One billion dollars.

That number represents the two-way trade that happens between the United States and Mexico—every day. 

It’s a remarkable statistic, and a powerful symbol of the growing trade relationship and friendship between our two countries. Clearly, the story of the U.S. and Mexico is a story of progress. And, many from both countries are committed to ensuring that the next chapter of this story is full of greater opportunities for both peoples.

That’s why, earlier today, I was privileged to co-host the California Mexico Binational Mayor’s Conference with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

We were joined by U.S. and Mexican government and business leaders who came together to identify ways to strengthen our trade relations. Thankfully, we already have a solid foundation to build on.

Combined two-way trade in goods and services was nearly $400 billion dollars in 2010. From the United States’ vantage point, Mexico is our third-largest trading partner. It’s our-second largest export market. And, in California alone, $21 billion in merchandise exports went to Mexico last year—15 percent of the state’s total merchandise. 

Clearly, this partnership has been a key to the success of President Obama’s National Export Initiative, which has the goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014. Last year, exports supported 9.2 million jobs—and Mexico has obviously helped fuel this positive economic activity. 

But, today’s global economy is moving fast. And, no country can afford to stand pat and be satisfied. We’ve got to keep changing and evolving.