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Blog Entries from January 2012

Public-Private Standards Efforts to Make America Strong

Blog post by U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and Patrick Gallagher, Under Secretary for Standards and Technology and Director of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology

Standards—agreed upon parameters such as the size and shape of electrical outlets, the number of threads per inch on machine bolts, or the tolerances allowed for various medical tests—are critical to American competitiveness, technological innovation, and global trade because they facilitate manufacturing, speed delivery, and enable the widespread use of countless products and services in the market today. Standards also play a key role in public safety, as a new report (PDF) makes clear.

Most standards are developed and adopted by industry, but in cases where we face national challenges, the Federal Government can help accelerate the process.

That’s why the administration recently highlighted its commitment to the United States’ industry-led, voluntary and consensus-driven standards system with the release of a White House Memorandum that lays out principles for Federal engagement in standards activities that address national priorities. The administration recognizes the importance of the Federal Government working with the private sector to address common standards-related needs and taking on a convening or active-engagement role when necessary to ensure a rapid, coherent response to national challenges.  Full joint blog by Chopra and Gallagher

MBDA Presents $1.775 Million Grant to Open New Business Center

MBDA National Director David Hinson Presents SoCal Corporate Growth Partners for with a grant for $1.75 million

Today the Commerce Department’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) presented a grant to SoCal Corporate Growth Partners for $1.775 million to operate a new MBDA Business Center in Riverside, California. 

MBDA National Director David Hinson was joined by Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge and Daniel Sieu, CEO & President of SoCal Corporate Growth Partners to celebrate the opening of the new Riverside MBDA Business Center, which will be operated over five years. 

This Business Center is a part of a network of 45 centers that operate nationally under the auspices of MBDA designed to help minority-owned firms secure capital for new equipment and facilities; compete for public and private sector contracts; and prepare for exporting opportunities.  The Centers also provide strategic advice on supplier diversity programs to help make buyers more effective and efficient in meeting their goals.

The most recently opened business centers were in Boston, MA, Minneapolis, MN and Manhattan, NY. 

Assistant Secretary for Trade Promotion and Director General of the U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service Suresh Kumar to Return to the Private Sector

After two years leading the Commerce Department’s U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service (USFCS), Assistant Secretary for Trade Promotion Suresh Kumar announced his decision today to return to the private sector.

The USFCS, which is part of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, is a global network of trade specialists with offices across America and in more than 70 countries around the world. The organization’s job is to help connect U.S. companies looking to sell their products overseas with foreign buyers.

On Kumar’s watch, the Commercial Service has gotten better results with fewer resources. It’s also gone from an organization that tended to measure its progress with difficult-to-quantify anecdotes to one that’s metrics driven – a change that’s been critical in helping determine what’s working and what isn’t in the Department’s efforts to meet President Obama’s National Export Initiative goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014.

“Ultimately, leaders are measured by whether they leave an organization better than they found it,” U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson said. “With the changes Suresh helped usher in, the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service is, without question, in a better position to succeed today.  “Improvements to the technology available to USFCS staff and the repositioning of Commercial Service Officers to markets with the best potential for U.S. export growth will benefit American businesses eager to export for years to come.”

Just a few statistics illustrate how the organization has grown stronger and more effective during Kumar’s tenure:In 2009, 158 U.S. companies went on Commerce-organized trade missions. Last year, there were 527.In 2009, there were 8,900 participants in Commerce’s International Buyers Program, which recruits qualified foreign buyers, sales representatives and business partners to U.S. trade shows. Last year, there were 15,600.

“Those measurements tell a good story, but the statistic that’s most important to me and to the President is 303,000; that’s the number of jobs supported last year by the exports the USFCS helped facilitate,” Bryson said.That figure has more than doubled since 2009. “We wish Suresh the best in his future endeavors, and I know he’ll continue to support the expansion of global trade in the private sector.”

Kumar has agreed to stay on until March 2 to help with the transition.

Commerce Secretary John Bryson Visits Manufacturing Facility in Columbus, Ohio

Secretary Bryson learning about the newest line of Entrotech lacrosse handles

Today, three days after attending the president’s State of the Union address, Commerce Secretary and former CEO John Bryson traveled to Columbus, Ohio, where he toured Entrotech, a manufacturing facility, and met with local business leaders. The Secretary also toured EWI before giving brief remarks about the Department of Commerce’s focus on supporting American manufacturers so they are able to build their products in America and sell them everywhere around the globe.

Following his remarks, the Secretary participated in a White House Business Council Roundtable discussion with business leaders. The final stop was at the Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, directly adjacent to Ohio States campus, where the Secretary saw old innovations, such as one of the first Xerox copiers, to the latest technologies in development.

The Commerce Department’s SelectUSA program is helping ensure that more domestic and foreign firms are investing here in the U.S. We want to build on the momentum that we see in bringing jobs back. That’s exactly what companies like Entrotech are poised to do. They are generating innovative ideas on product design and development that can change entire industries, making them more globally competitive.

The Critical Role Broadband Plays in Today's Economy

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

This week I had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion hosted by the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women, or NOBEL, that examined how broadband is helping to address many of America’s most pressing challenges.

A robust broadband infrastructure is critical for America to remain competitive in the 21st century. Broadband provides a foundation for innovation, job creation and economic growth. Broadband is also transforming healthcare by enabling patients in rural areas to consult with medical specialists hundreds of miles away. It is opening doors in education by allowing students to take online classes at universities across the country. And it is changing the way we communicate, form personal connections, access information, shop and conduct many everyday transactions.

The Obama administration is working to ensure that more Americans have the resources and skills to share in these benefits and opportunities. This is particularly critical in today’s job market, since many job openings are posted only online and since digital literacy skills are a requirement in many workplaces.

One highlight of the administration’s work in this area is the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, or BTOP, a Recovery Act program administered by the NTIA that is investing nearly $4 billion in roughly 230 projects to expand broadband access and adoption across the country. These projects are building networks in rural America and other places where existing systems are inadequate, and connecting schools, hospitals and other vital community anchor institutions. They are opening computer centers in schools, libraries and other public buildings to provide broadband access for people who want to go online but lack the resources at home. And they are teaching computer and digital literacy skills, providing online job search and resume writing assistance, and even training people for technical jobs in the information-age economy.

Acting Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank Visits Tech Town in Dayton, Ohio

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank Inspects an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

Two days after President Obama laid out plans in his State of the Union address to support innovation and bolster U.S. manufacturing, Acting U.S. Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank visited Tech Town, a premier commercial technology campus, in Dayton. There, she toured UA Vision and Persistent Surveillance, startup companies that are commercializing federally-supported research, and delivered remarks about the importance of investing in innovation and a skilled labor force to create jobs in a 21st century economy.

While in Dayton, Blank also participated in a roundtable with local business leaders to discuss how Department of Commerce resources can help them become more innovative and competitive. In addition, she toured the Wright-Patterson Air Force Research Laboratory, a major area job magnet which conducts critical research and development work, among other services.

The Commerce Department is also working hand-in-hand with local companies to continue innovating and exploring. Through the Ohio Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Commerce has worked with more than 300 companies in southwest Ohio. Commerce’s Economic Development Administration even teamed up with the state to help build Tech Town. 

2010 Census Shows Nearly Half of American Indians and Alaska Natives Report Multiple Races

National Museum of the American Indian Director Kevin Gover (Photo: Heather Schmaedeke )

U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves released a 2010 Census brief on the American Indian and Alaska Native population (PDF) yesterday and joined an expert panel in addressing the current social and economic impact of this population and at a forum held at the National Museum of the American Indian. The event highlighted statistics from the 2010 Census, providing a portrait of the American Indian and Alaska Native population in the U.S. and its size and growth at various geographic levels.

The brief, The American Indian and Alaska Native Population: 2010, shows almost half (44 percent) of this population, or 2.3 million people, reported being American Indian and Alaska Native in combination with one or more other races. This multiracial group grew by 39 percent from 2000 to 2010.  Census infograph

Secretary Bryson Meets with Business Leaders in Virginia, Highlighting Manufacturing Priorities

Secretary Bryson tours Paramount Sleep in Norfolk, VA with Richard Diamonstein, President of their Commercial Division

Today, a day after attending the president’s State of the Union address, Secretary Bryson had the opportunity to tour Paramount Sleep, a family-owned mattress factory, and meet with local business leaders in Norfolk, Virginia to talk about manufacturing and how the Commerce Department can help businesses build products here and sell them everywhere.

Like many other businesses across the country, Paramount Sleep was hit by the recent recession–but they pressed on. Today, they manufacture high-end products using about 90% U.S. content. They have been an anchor in the community for three generations.

Many of the businesses in Norfolk have followed a similar path, and people throughout America have created companies like this that are “built to last.” As the president said last night, it’s now time for us to ensure that the American economy as a whole is also “built to last.”

The question now is: How do we keep moving forward to build an economy that creates jobs and supports a strong middle class–both in the short and long term? As the president said last night, “our blueprint begins with American manufacturing.” Today, over 11 million Americans have manufacturing jobs. Over the last two years, manufacturing has added more than 330,000 jobs, the strongest jump since the 1990s.

Commerce is building on that momentum by focusing its efforts specifically on advanced manufacturing, recently creating a national office to coordinate government-wide efforts with private sector and university partners. And companies like Paramount are poised to become powerhouses of American manufacturing. Paramount mattresses are Made in America, using domestic suppliers almost exclusively. Recently, they have been working with our Commercial Service officers to sell their products in China.

North Carolina Manufacturing is Supporting an Economy Built to Last

Sanchez tours manufacturing plant in North Carolina

Guest blog post by Francisco J. SánchezUnder Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

Good things are happening here in North Carolina.  

Today, I’ve had the pleasure of spending some time in the Tar Heel state, visiting companies, meeting with business and community leaders, and seeing up close just how a thriving manufacturing sector is positively impacting jobs and the economy.

The morning began with a tour of Parkdale Mills, a yarn company that was founded nearly a century ago with one mill and less than 200 employees.

In the years since—despite all the changes that have occurred in the industry—Parkdale has done more than survived. It’s thrived. The numbers are staggering.

Federal Government Help for Manufacturing Companies: How Commerce Contributes

US-Made Auto Parts

In last night's State of the Union address, President Obama laid out proposals for how to bring about a new era of American manufacturing, with more good jobs and more products stamped Made in the USA.  A few of the proposals are:

  • Reward companies for bringing jobs back to America.
  • Lower tax rates for companies that manufacture and create jobs in the United States.
  • Get tough on trade enforcement.
  • Create more jobs and make us more competitive by rebuilding America using half of the savings from ending foreign wars.

These proposals build upon the efforts already underway by the White House.

At the Department of Commerce, we support manufacturers in a multitude of ways: