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Blog Entries from March 8, 2012

Working Locally to Boost Exports Nationally

Under Secretary Sanchez at the Brookings Institute (Photo Credit: Paul Morigi)

Guest blog post by Francisco Sanchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

America is made up of different communities — each with its own character, challenges and opportunities.  Regional leaders have a unique view of these issues and bring to the table incredible insight into their respective regions.  That’s why the International Trade Administration (ITA) is firmly committed to working with these local leaders to utilize their insight, and ultimately help more American businesses expand into overseas markets.

This is important work because exporting supports American jobs, provides new opportunities for businesses, and makes significant contributions to the growth of the American economy. 

In recognition of these positive economic benefits, President Obama launched the National Export Initiative (NEI) in 2010 with the goal of doubling U.S. exports.  On the eve of the NEI’s two-year anniversary — officially on March 12 — I’m proud to say that we are on track to meet this goal.  Last year, there were a record $2.1 trillion in exports.  Plus, exports comprised nearly 14% of U.S. GDP — another record.

Progress has been made, and we are determined to keep it going.  Key to this work is our partnerships with local and regional partners.  While ITA has a talented and dedicated staff doing great work in 108 offices throughout the nation, we recognize that we can have an even greater reach through partnership.

Case in point: Our work with the Brookings Institution.

Today, Brookings’ Metropolitan Policy Program released a report called “Export Nation 2012: How US Metropolitan Areas Are Driving National Growth.”  

Obama Administration Releases New $15 million Federal Funding Opportunity to Strengthen Rural Economies and Create Jobs

EDA Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge Logo

The Obama Administration today announced a $15 million multi-agency Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator challenge to spur job creation and economic growth in distressed rural communities. This competition, which is being funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Delta Regional Authority (DRA), and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), was designed by the Taskforce for the Advancement of Regional Innovation Clusters and the White House Rural Council.

The Rural Jobs Accelerator Challenge is expected to give out approximately 20 awards, depending on the number of eligible applications. To be eligible for an award, projects must benefit rural communities, but the applicant is not required to be located in a rural area. Nonprofits, higher education institutions, tribes and state and local governments can collaborate to apply for funding. Although businesses are not eligible to apply directly, applicants can also partner with the private sector on implementation.

Prospective applicants should register for a webinar on Tuesday, March 20, 2012, 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. EDT. Read the guidelines for submissions and note the deadline for applications is May 9, 2012. The complete FFO is available on grants.gov.

In addition to the four funding partners the initiative is supported by nine other Federal agencies: Commerce’s U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership; Denali Commission; U.S. Department of Education; U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration; U.S. Department of Energy; Environmental Protection Agency; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; and the Small Business Administration.

Secretary Bryson Meets with Advanced Manufacturing Partnership Steering Committee

Nanofabrication facility at NIST where manufacturers come to study new ways to make advanced computer chips, nanoscale batteries, and other high-tech products.  Photo credit:  Photo by Kristen Dill

Yesterday, U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson delivered remarks at a meeting of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) Steering Committee. At yesterday’s meeting, held at the White House, the Steering Committee discussed recommendations targeting issues in manufacturing, focusing on technology development, policy, education and workforce development, and shared facilities and infrastructure.

AMP is a collaboration between industry, academia and government leaders to accelerate the development of the U.S. advanced manufacturing sector and to shape the administration’s Advanced Manufacturing Strategy. AMP is guided by a Steering Committee, which is co-chaired by Andrew Liveris, President, Chairman and CEO of the Dow Chemical Company, and Susan Hockfield, President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Their final report will be reviewed by PCAST, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, in April. Though AMP is still at work on the recommendations, several were prioritized for early action and implementation by Secretary Bryson.

NOAA Issues Severe Weather Outlook Three Days Ahead of Tragic Tornado Outbreak

NOAA Infographic of Severe Storm and Tornado Watches and Warnings, March 2, 2012

Each year, the United States experiences approximately 1,300 tornadoes. No state is invulnerable to the twisting, destructive winds that emanate from dark thunderstorms–and last week, Nature’s fury was focused on the central and southern states. 

Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has in place a multifaceted tornado early warning system that includes general area outlooks days in advance and that gives individual cities and towns an average of 14 minutes warning before the potentially deadly tornadoes strike. Through a tremendous investment in research, observing systems and forecasting technology, NOAA’s National Weather Service issues more than 1,000 watches and nearly 30,000 warnings for severe storms and tornadoes each year. 

On February 29, 2012 that investment resulted in an outlook issued by NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center a full three days ahead of the deadly outbreak. This outlook advised forecasters and the emergency management community that conditions would become favorable for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. 

Advances in research and technology have increased the average warning lead time from only five minutes in the early 1990s to 14 minutes in 2010, thereby giving people and communities more time to seek shelter and reducing loss of life. But technology can only do so much; individuals also need to be prepared for disaster. Visit www.ready.gov to learn more. NOAA Weather Radio webpage  The Weather Channel, "Tornado Outbreak: As It Happened"