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Blog Entries from April 2012

Secretary Bryson Keynotes Manufacturing Summit Hosted by Senator Gillibrand in Rochester, New York

Secretary Bryson keynotes manufacturing summit, tours site with Senator Gillibrand

This morning, U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson delivered remarks at an upstate New York manufacturing summit hosted by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) at RIT’s Center for Student Innovation. He delivered the keynote address, discussing the administration’s initiatives to help businesses “build it here and sell it everywhere” around the world. Rochester, New York, has a long tradition of leadership in manufacturing and technology. Fueled by a well-educated workforce and commitment to entrepreneurship, Rochester has provided a great example of what American innovation can bring to the U.S. economy.
 
While in Rochester, the Secretary had a chance to tour RIT’s construction of their brand new facility, where students will soon be performing cutting-edge research in sustainability. The Commerce Department helped make this facility possible through a $13.1 million grant from Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
 
In the afternoon, the Secretary visited a business called Schlegel Systems, Inc., a company that specializes in seals, gaskets and brushes for the building products, automotive and copier industries. The Commerce Department’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) in New York is working with Schlegel Systems, Inc. to accelerate new products into the marketplace and expand their markets, along with many other companies. Recent annual data shows that businesses that teamed up with the New York MEP had over $400 million in sales, helping to keep or create nearly 4,000 jobs.

2010 Census Shows Interracial and Interethnic Married Couples Grew by 28 Percent over Decade

Infographic: 2010 Census Shows Interracial and Interethnic Married Couples Grew by 28 Percent over Decade

Commerce's Census Bureau Wednesday released a 2010 Census brief, Households and Families: 2010, (PDF) that showed interracial or interethnic opposite-sex married couple households grew by 28 percent over the decade from 7 percent in 2000 to 10 percent in 2010. States with higher percentages of couples of a different race or Hispanic origin in 2010 were primarily located in the western and southwestern parts of the United States, along with Hawaii and Alaska.

A higher percentage of unmarried partners were interracial or interethnic than married couples. Nationally, 10 percent of opposite-sex married couples had partners of a different race or Hispanic origin, compared with 18 percent of opposite-sex unmarried partners and 21 percent of same-sex unmarried partners. |  Full Census release

U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson Delivers Remarks to Silicon Valley Business Leaders

Secretary Bryson addresses the Silicon Valley Leadership Group in San Jose, CA.

Commerce Secretary John Bryson delivered remarks and participated in a discussion today at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG) annual “CEO Business Climate” Summit at IBM in San Jose, Calif. Bryson focused on the ways the administration is supporting American competitiveness and innovation.

In the past 25 months, the United States has added nearly four million jobs, and SVLG reported today that more than 60 percent of their members had added jobs last year. These jobs help continue to strengthen the country’s economic recovery, and Bryson laid out a few of the ways to helping businesses keep that momentum going.

Bryson discussed the importance of investment in the U.S. by both domestic and foreign firms, including through the Commerce Department’s SelectUSA initiative.

He also emphasized the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, where many job openings exist. The president’s 2013 budget requests $3 billion in STEM programs across the federal government. In addition, this week, President Obama is calling on Congress to pass legislation that would prevent interest rates from doubling for seven and one-half million students starting July 1.

Deputy Secretary Blank Keynotes Operation HOPE 20th Anniversary Bus Tour

on podium, Deputy Secretary Blank keynotes Operation HOPE

Today, Deputy U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank delivered the keynote address at the Operation HOPE 20th Anniversary Bus Tour ceremony in Los Angeles, California. She emphasized the importance of economic development and opportunity in the years following the Rodney King riots.

In 1999, the U.S. Department of Commerce awarded Operation Hope $200,000 to help bring more economic opportunities to a hard-hit area of Los Angeles. Since then, Operation HOPE has helped bring more investments, more economic opportunity, and more empowerment into underserved communities in Los Angeles as well as other cities around the U.S.

Deputy Secretary Blank also highlighted how the Recovery Act that President Obama signed in 2009 allowed the Commerce Department to provide $7.5 million dollars to the City of Los Angeles to install high-speed broadband connections and to place thousands of new computers at about 150 sites. As a result, about 130,000 people are using those computers every week–from students doing homework to unemployed workers applying for job.

She also emphasized the importance of access to education and mentoring for young people throughout the U.S. In particular, she called for preventing interest rates on student loans from doubling on over seven million students on July 1.

As an economist, the Deputy Secretary’s past work had focused on how America can address economic inequalities such as promoting more education, opportunities and jobs in underserved communities.

U.S. to See Boost in International Tourism

Secretary Bryson Speaking at the U.S. Travel Association's International Pow Wow

U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson has announced that the U.S.’ number-one services export, travel and tourism, is growing stronger, creating jobs and boosting the American economy.

The Secretary announced today that the United States can expect to see a 4-5 percent average annual growth in tourism over the next five years, predicting that 65.4 million foreign travelers are projected to visit the United States in 2012 alone.

The Spring 2012 Travel and Tourism Forecast, released semi-annually by the International Trade Association (ITA), predicts continued strong growth in tourism to the U.S. following two consecutive record-setting years.

Secretary Bryson announced the Forecast at the U.S. Travel Association’s International Pow Wow annual event in Los Angeles, where he delivered remarks before more than 5,000 people from 70 countries from the travel and tourism industry.

NIST: Iris Recognition Report Evaluates 'Needle in Haystack' Search Capability

Image of human eye/iris (Photo: Talbott/NIST)

Identifying people by acquiring pictures of their eyes is becoming easier, according to a new report from Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). NIST researchers evaluated the performance of iris recognition software from 11 different organizations and found that some techniques produced very rapid results—though this speed was often at the cost of accuracy.

Iris recognition, a form of biometric identification based on noncontact imaging of the complex texture in an individual's iris, has been purported to be both fast and accurate—claims that had not been validated until now. The Iris Exchange (IREX) III report is the first public and independent comparison of commercially available algorithms that use iris recognition for the challenging task of finding an individual match within a large database of potential identities. Previous published studies only used single algorithms or considered "one-to-one" verification, in which an individual claims an identity and the software then attempts to confirm whether the claim matches a specific record.

Earth Day 2012: Commerce Saves Trees—and Money—by Cutting Down on Printing

Image of grass, ferns and a tree

Guest blog post by Deputy Secretary of Commerce, Rebecca Blank

Earth Day is here, and Commerce is seeing the positive results of its year-long campaign to “go green” and drive down costs in print. Just this month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce’s largest bureau, announced it has removed over one-third of its desktop printers, bringing total savings from the Commerce print project to $4.7 million per year.

Commerce spends $25 million annually on print–which includes equipment, paper, toner, energy and services. Last year we took a look at where that money was going and found that:

  • Commerce printed 250 million pages on its networked printers.
  • Nearly all of those pages were printed single-sided, and a quarter were printed in color. 
  • We also had a high ratio of employees-to-desktop printers, which use more toner and are more expensive than shared printers.  
  • And we realized we had 350 contracts and 400 vendors, with very little centralized ordering.

NOAA: National Severe Weather Preparedness Week

Poster for National Severe Weather Preparedness Week

The first-ever National Severe Weather Preparedness Week begins Sunday, April 22, and Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have partnered to raise awareness and save lives.

Last year, storms raked the central and southern United States, spawning more than 300 tornadoes, claiming hundreds of lives and ranking as one of the largest tornado outbreaks in U.S. history. As the nation marks the first anniversary of that historic outbreak, from April 22-28 we’re asking each person across the country to “Be a Force of Nature” by knowing the risk, taking action and being an example. Starting April 22, visit the NOAA homepage, National Weather Service Weather-Ready Nation website and the NOAA and NWS Facebook pages to get daily tips on how you can become a force of nature.

The severe weather of 2012 has already brought to light many forces of nature across the country. There was Stephanie Decker in Indiana, who, after receiving a timely text from her husband about an imminent tornado, took immediate action and gathered her children in the basement. Shielding them from collapsing debris, Stephanie tragically lost parts of both of her legs, but her children were unharmed. Lisa Rebstock in Texas saved the lives of her children by being prepared with a plan and a kit before the storm struck. Eighty-eight-year-old Wilma Nelson survived the deadliest tornado in Oklahoma history in 1947 and proved her force of nature status yet again. She said she owes her life to a NOAA Weather Radio that alerted her of the tornado that struck Woodward, Oklahoma, April 15.

Commerce’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Invests in the Jobs and Industries of the Future

EDA logo-banner

Guest blog by Matt Erskine, Acting Assistant Secretary for Economic Development

To mark the one-year anniversary of the White House Startup America Initiative, in January President Obama sent Congress a proposal to expand tax relief and unlock capital for startups and small businesses that are creating jobs.

When he launched the initiative a year ago, the president sought to promote the success of entrepreneurs across the country. The private sector responded with the Startup America Partnership, launching new entrepreneurial networks all across the country. AOL co-founder and member of the President’s Jobs Council, Steve Case, and the Kauffman Foundation joined to form the Startup America Partnership, which is a nonprofit alliance of entrepreneurs, major corporations and service providers that has mobilized more than $1 billion in business resources to serve as many as 100,000 startups over the next three years.

This year, the administration unveiled several new agency actions to accelerate the growth of young, job-creating companies, at the same time that new entrepreneur-led regional coalitions are launching throughout the nation.

One of those efforts will fuel regional innovation. In the coming months, the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), along with several Federal partners, will launch the third round of the i6 Challenge, a multiagency competition which funds regional collaborations to bring innovative, ground-breaking ideas from the lab to the marketplace, creating new startups and jobs across the country. Commerce is also launching a new initiative to connect entrepreneurs with the resources made available through the Startup America Partnership and its partners.

Two New Advanced Laboratories Open at NIST Boulder and JILA

Ribbon cutting to dedicate the new JILA X-Wing addition at the University of Colorado Boulder. Left to right: Tom O'Brian, chief of the NIST Quantum Physics Division; Philip DiStefano, Chancellor of the University of Colorado Boulder; NIST Director Patrick Gallagher; and Eric Cornell, JILA Department Chair and Nobel Laureate. ((Photo: Casey A. Cass/University of Colorado))

Two new advanced laboratory buildings for high-precision science and measurements have officially opened in Boulder, Colo., providing upgraded facilities to support technology innovation and economic growth as well as the training of future scientists.

Federal, state and local government officials, university leaders, and Nobel laureates were among those attending the April 13, 2012, dedication ceremonies and tours at the new Precision Measurement Laboratory (PML) on the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) campus in Boulder and at the new X-Wing at JILA, a joint venture of NIST and the University of Colorado (CU) Boulder. JILA is located on the CU-Boulder campus.

Both new laboratories tightly control environmental conditions such as vibration and temperature, as is required for cutting-edge research with lasers, atomic clocks, nanotechnology and other areas of study at NIST and JILA. Both new buildings also have capabilities for micro- and nanofabrication of custom research devices. The original NIST-Boulder and JILA laboratories were built in the 1950s and 1960s.

Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Patrick Gallagher cut the ribbon to officially open the PML, which will house some of NIST's best-known experiments and technologies, including NIST-F1, the U.S. civilian standard atomic clock.