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Blog Entries from 2011

Secretary Locke visits Arc Energy in Nashua, New Hampshire

Secretary Locke speaks during a question and answer session

Yesterday, Secretary Gary Locke traveled to New Hampshire and met with regional business leaders and toured Arc Energy, a renewable energy equipment manufacturer that specializes in solid state lighting technologies.

One day after President Obama delivered his State of the Union address, Locke reinforced the importance of strengthening America’s competitiveness by out-innovating, out-educating and out-building the rest of the world.  He discussed how a more competitive America will help rebuild the economy, create more jobs and prepare the country for challenges ahead.

Locke also discussed how the recently-passed tax cut package, which reduces the payroll tax, expands the Earned Income Tax Credit and allows businesses to temporarily expense 100% of their capital investments in 2011, benefits companies like Arc Energy.  The tax cuts package provides tax relief to 800,000 people in New Hampshire and extends unemployment benefits to 12,627 residents whose benefits would have otherwise expired.

Arc Energy develops cutting-edge technologies that substantially reduce the cost of LED lighting.  It exports products to several countries, including China and Korea, and has signed multiple contracts worth several hundred million dollars in 2011.  President Obama visited Arc one year ago and since then the manufacturer has experienced significant growth – expanding its workforce by 300 percent.  Because of the industry’s expansive supply chain, for every person Arc Energy hires, roughly four to five additional jobs are created elsewhere in the United States.

Laying a Foundation to Double Our Exports, Increase Competitiveness

Today Secretary Locke wrote an op-ed posted in The Hill with a focus on how the administration and the Commerce Department are working to increase America's global competitiveness and create U.S. jobs by selling more American-made goods and services around the world.

Cross posted at The Hill

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As 2011 begins, the American economy is stronger than at any time since the Great Recession began in December 2007.

Retail sales just had their strongest quarterly gain since 2001. Private sector employment grew every single month in 2010, with the manufacturing sector posting its first increase in annual employment since 1997.

These are strong indications that the steps President Obama took to foster economic recovery are working — beginning with the Recovery Act and continuing through the December 2010 tax-cut package.

But that’s not to suggest that anyone within the administration or the Commerce Department is satisfied — not with unemployment still over 9 percent.

As we move forward, policymakers should remember that the most important contest is not between Democrats and Republicans, but between America and countries around the world that are competing like never before for the jobs and industries of the future.

Making the U.S. more competitive will require us to focus on two things: supercharging innovation and selling more American-made goods and services around the world, so that U.S. firms can hire more workers and reinvest in the research and development they need to keep growing.

Although the private sector will take the lead on innovation, we can’t forget that the government has always had an important, supportive role to play, and the Commerce Department is engaged in a variety of areas.

U.S. Commerce Department, NIST Host Standards Setting Forum

The three principal speakers at forum table

Secretary Locke opened a discussion with thought leaders from industry and academia today at the Commerce Department on the federal government’s role in setting, developing, using and adopting standards for critical national needs.

Together with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the department hosted the panel discussion led by Phil Weiser, senior advisor on technology and innovation at the White House National Economic Council. U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and NIST Director and Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology Patrick Gallagher also participated.

Achieving national priorities – which include a smart grid for electricity distribution, electronic health records, cybersecurity, cloud computing and interoperable emergency communications –depends upon the existence of sound technical standards. The standards being developed through public-private partnerships for these new technology sectors are helping to drive innovation, economic growth and job creation.

The roundtable provided key insights for the National Science and Technology Council's Sub-Committee on Standards, administered by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. NIST, on behalf of the subcommittee, recently published a Federal Register notice seeking input on effective federal participation in standards and conformity assessment activities related to technology.  Learn more at http://www.nist.gov/el/standards_roundtable.cfm.

Department of Commerce Takes Steps to Implement Export Control Initiatives to Facilitate High-Tech Trade with India

Today Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security published a Federal Register Notice which updates the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) in several ways, including:

  • Removing several Indian space- and defense-related companies from the Entity List.  Removal from the Entity List eliminates a license requirement specific to the companies, and results in the removed companies being treated the same way as any other destination in India for export licensing purposes.
  • Removing India from several country groups in the EAR resulting in the removal of export license requirements that were tied to India’s placement in those country groups.
  • Adding India to a country group in the EAR that consists of members of the Missile Technology Control Regime, to recognize and communicate India's adherence to the regime, the U.S.-India strategic partnership, and India's global non-proliferation standing.  .

These are the first steps in implementing the export control policy initiatives announced by President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Singh on November 8, 2010.

“Today’s action marks a significant milestone in reinforcing the U.S.-India strategic partnership and moving forward with export control reforms that will facilitate high technology trade and cooperation,” said Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. He is preparing to lead 24 U.S. businesses on a high-tech trade mission to India in early February.  |  Release

Commerce Department Highlights the Role of Intellectual Property in U.S. Innovation, Competitiveness

Kappos on podium at the Newseum in Washington with U.S. Capitol in background

The Commerce Department’s David Kappos, Under Secretary for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), stressed intellectual property’s vital role in the innovation economy and its importance to increasing America’s global competitiveness today at a Patents, Innovation and Job Creation conference at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

Patent-related industries make up the most dynamic parts of our economy, he said, and as a share of gross economic value, the United States invests more in intangible assets than any of its major trading partners.

As our country seeks to regain the jobs lost during the recession, inventions that could spark new businesses and jobs are waiting in the USPTO’s backlog. The Harvard Business Review recently described the USPTO as “the biggest job creator you never heard of.”  Reducing the time it takes to examine those applications is one of the highest priorities for Director Kappos and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.

Kappos and the USPTO have launched several initiatives to shorten patent pendency and improve patent quality, and the agency will soon outline yet another plan that would give applicants the option to accelerate examination of a patent application. In his remarks today, Kappos also applauded the efforts of Congress to continue pushing for bipartisan legislation that would help the USPTO improve the patent system, expressing the agency’s strong support for patent reform.  |  Director's remarks

Commerce Secretary Locke Delivers Opening Remarks at the U.S.-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum in Chicago

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke delivered the opening address at the U.S.-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum with the Chinese Minister of Commerce, Chen Deming.  The Forum is jointly hosted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade. 

Representing the Obama administration for Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to Chicago, Locke highlighted the progress that the United States and China have made to strengthen the bilateral relationship, emphasizing the benefits of Chinese foreign direct investment in the U.S. on the American economy.  He also reiterated the concerns that American business leaders continue to express about the commercial environment in China. 

While in Chicago, Locke also attended a dinner hosted by Chicago Mayor Richard Daley in honor of President Hu.  Remarks

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