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Blog Entries from May 2012

Secretary Bryson Awards Presidential Export Honors to U.S. Exporters, Including 35 Small- or Medium-Sized Enterprises

Secretary Bryson delivers remarks, congratulates recipients

Thirty-five outstanding small- or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) took center stage at the President’s “E” Awards ceremony at the White House today. This morning, Commerce Secretary John Bryson and Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Michelle O’Neill joined Senior Adviser to the President Valerie Jarrett to honor U.S. companies and organizations that have made significant contributions to increasing American exports. A total of 41 companies and organizations—the largest group to receive the award in the past twenty years—were honored at the ceremony, which marks the 50th annual “E” Awards.

Winners of the 2012 “E” award represent diverse communities across the country from places like Bakersfield, Calif., Baton Rouge, La., Bolingbrook, Ill., and Bradford, Pa. Of the honorees recognized at today’s ceremony, 35 are SMEs, 20 are manufacturers, and 17 are both.

“E” Award recipients contribute to the President’s National Export Initiative (NEI) goal of doubling U.S. exports in order to support American jobs. A key component of the NEI is ensuring that America’s small businesses have the tools, resources and relationships they need to make exporting a growing part of their business operations and creating jobs in the United States.

Deputy Secretary Blank Delivers Remarks on Manufacturing at the Aspen Institute

Deputy Secretary Blank delivers remarks at the Aspen Institute (Photo: Steve Johnson, Aspen Institute)

This morning, Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank delivered the keynote address at “Manufacturing, Innovation, and Workforce Training: What Works In Germany and The United States For Jobs and Growth,” a conference co-sponsored by the Aspen Institute, the German Center for Research and Innovation, the German Embassy, and the Representative of German Industry and Trade. Her remarks come the week before Commerce Secretary John Bryson travels to Dusseldorf and Berlin to meet with government and business leaders.

Deputy Secretary Blank noted how both America and Germany have shown strength in areas such as manufacturing and exporting. She emphasized the importance of maintaining economic growth by strengthening the U.S.-German economic relationship.

NOAA, BOEM: Historic, 19th Century Shipwreck Discovered in Northern Gulf of Mexico

While most of the ship's wood has long since disintegrated, copper that sheathed the hull beneath the waterline as a protection against marine-boring organisms remains, leaving a copper shell retaining the form of the ship.

During a recent Gulf of Mexico expedition, NOAA, BOEM and partners discovered an historic wooden-hulled vessel which is believed to have sunk as long as 200 years ago. Scientists on board the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer used underwater robots with lights and high definition cameras to view remnants of the ship laden with anchors, navigational instruments, glass bottles, ceramic plates, cannons, and boxes of muskets.

Equipped with telepresence technology, Okeanos Explorer reached audiences around the world who participated in the expedition through live streaming Internet video. As members of the public ashore watched live video from the ocean bottom, they became “citizen explorers,” sharing in the discovery with maritime archaeologists, scientists and resource managers from a variety of federal, academic and private organizations.

The NOAA-funded 56-day expedition that ended April 29 was exploring poorly known regions of the Gulf, mapping and imaging unknown or little-known features and habitats, developing and testing a method to measure the rate that gas rises from naturally-occurring seeps on the seafloor, and investigating potential shipwreck sites.  Full story

Advanced Manufacturing Gets a Boost in Conover, North Carolina

An architect’s rendering of Conover Station in Hickory, North Carolina. The new home of the Manufacturing Solutions Center is being built with help from the Economic Development Administration. (photo courtesy Conover Station)

Guest blog post by Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Matt Erskine

Speaking last week at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Secretary of Commerce John Bryson focused on the importance of manufacturing to boosting U.S. economic growth, job creation and exports. To see evidence of that, we need only look to the city of Conover, North Carolina, where Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) has been supporting elected officials and local private and public sector leaders—including a community college and a nonprofit manufacturing center—in their efforts to make this area a regional hub for advanced manufacturing expertise and to expand the region’s reach into international markets.

A $1.5 million EDA investment made in 2010 to the city of Conover and Catawba Valley Community College is helping build a new home at Conover Station in Hickory, North Carolina, for the Manufacturing Solutions Center (MSC) and its business incubator. The two establishments are already cultivating a new form of manufacturing, one based in smaller and smarter factories that nourish innovation. The new 30,000 square foot facility, which is being built on the premises of a former furniture manufacturing plant, will allow for the expansion of those efforts.

U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson Delivers Remarks to Steel Manufacturers Association

This afternoon, Commerce Secretary Bryson delivered keynote remarks at the Steel Manufacturers Association (SMA) 2012 Annual Members conference, where he discussed the importance of the steel industry and the administration’s efforts to support U.S. manufacturers.

As the Secretary said, this administration understands the importance of supporting U.S. manufacturers. When President Obama came into office, the United States was at risk of losing over one million auto industry jobs. The ripple effect on the supply chain would have been devastating, potentially eroding the U.S. manufacturing base and driving the economy from a deep recession into depression. Instead, due to the president’s leadership, the auto industry survived and is now thriving, adding more than 200,000 jobs over the last two and one-half years.

There is an inextricable link between America’s ability to produce and America’s ability to innovate, compete and create jobs. Manufacturing is responsible for 70 percent of U.S. private sector R&D, 90 percent of patents, and 60 percent of our exports. In addition, the Commerce Department released a report just last week showing that manufacturing workers earn pay and benefits about 17 percent higher than other workers.

NOAA: April Global Temperatures are Fifth-Warmest

Most of the globe's land areas experienced warmer-than-average temperatures, resulting in the second-warmest April land temperature, behind 2007 (Credit: NOAA Visualization Lab)

La Niña ends; neutral conditions return over equatorial Pacific Ocean

According to NOAA scientists, the globally-averaged temperature for April marked the fifth warmest April since record keeping began in 1880. April 2012 also marked the largest departure from the 20th century average temperature in more than a year.

La Niña, typically associated with cooler global temperatures, dissipated and transitioned to neutral conditions during April as sea surface temperatures continued to warm across the equatorial Pacific Ocean. According to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, neutral conditions are expected to continue through the Northern Hemisphere's summer.

April analysis

U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement Now in Force!

Colombian porches superimposed on map of Colombia

Ed Note: The following is a cross-post that originally appeared on ITA's blog, "Tradeology."

Christopher Blaha is a Senior International Economist within the Office of Trade and Policy Analysis and Julie Anglin is the Colombia Desk Officer within the International Trade Administration.

Today more than 80 percent of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial products to Colombia become duty-free as part of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement. This includes agricultural and construction equipment, building products, aircraft and parts, fertilizers, information technology equipment, medical scientific equipment and wood. Also, more than half of U.S. exports of agricultural commodities to Colombia become duty-free, including wheat, barley, soybeans, high-quality beef, bacon and almost all fruit and vegetable products.

The agreement also provides significant new access to Colombia’s $180 billion services market, supporting increased opportunities for U.S. service providers. For example, Colombia agreed to eliminate measures that prevented firms from hiring U.S. professionals, and to phase-out market restrictions in cable television.

Prior to the enactment of this agreement, the average tariff that U.S. manufactured goods faced entering Colombia was 10.8 percent. With entry into force today, Colombia’s average tariff rate for manufactured goods from the United States has been reduced to 4 percent.

Department of Commerce and Environmental Protection Agency Announce New Initiative to Boost exports and Create Jobs

Secretary Bryson, second from right, poses with government and university officials

Today, at a Technology Market Summit held at American University, Commerce Secretary John Bryson and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson launched an environmental technology initiative to help create American jobs in the growing environmental industry.

The Environmental Technologies Export Initiative builds on President Obama’s National Export Initiative, which aims to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014 and support millions of American jobs.

As Secretary Bryson pointed out in his remarks at the event, the American environmental industry generates approximately $312 billion in revenues each year, with a global market of more than $800 billion. This growing industry employs nearly 1.7 million Americans and includes over 60,000 small businesses across the country.

The initiative will include a web-based tool, which is scheduled to be launched in the fall at export.gov. This will help environmental firms find the tools and information they need to sell their goods abroad.

Summary of Twitter #MFGChat on ESA's Manufacturing Jobs report

Today @CommerceGov, @EconChiefGov, and @TheMFGInstitute joined the manufacturing community on Twitter to discuss the Economic and Statistics Administration’s “The Benefits of Manufacturing Jobs” report. #MFGChat is held monthly. Below is a selected transcript of the conversation.

Robin Chase, Founder of Zipcar and Buzzcar, Discusses Opportunities to Leverage Excess Capacity for Innovation

Robin Chase, Founder of Zipcar and Buzzcar

Guest blog post by Nish Acharya, director of the U.S. Commerce Department Economic Development Administration’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship

In the second of the series of conference calls with national leaders in innovation and entrepreneurship, we had small business owners, entrepreneurs, innovators and stakeholders join me for an in-depth conference call with Ms. Robin Chase, founder and former CEO of Zipcar, founder and CEO of Buzzcar, and a member of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE).

Ms. Chase started the conversation by giving us some background about how she started Zipcar in June 2000 with $75,000 that she had raised. She was able to raise more money from the Boston venture capital community by attending every start-up meeting she could, using the fact that she obtained degrees from a “local” college and university to pitch her idea. Her efforts paid off: for example, an MIT angel venture group funded a significant portion of the early investment in Zipcar.

Ms. Chase shared that she spends a lot of time thinking about the use of excess capacity and believes that this is a fertile area for innovation. She provided several examples of companies that have been built around this concept, including Skype and Buzzcar.