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Blog Entries from October 2012

Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank Urges Hurricane Preparedness

U.S. flag over Commerce headquarters

As you know, Hurricane Sandy is making its way up the East Coast of the United States, but the large size of the storm means heavy rain and strong winds will begin affecting the National Capitol Region tonight, and parts of New York and Pennsylvania tomorrow and Wednesday, and New England by Friday.

Make no mistake--this is a large and dangerous storm that needs to be taken seriously, especially by the millions of people who live, work or travel in Sandy’s projected path.

According to our meteorologists at Commerce/NOAA’s National Hurricane Center and National Weather Service, Sandy will make landfall overnight Monday into Tuesday in the mid-Atlantic region. The storm is forecast to have significant and widespread impacts over most of the northeastern United States, both in coastal and inland areas. To follow the latest on Hurricane Sandy, please visit NOAA’s National Hurricane Center on the Web at www.hurricanes.gov, on Facebook and on Twitter at twitter.com/NHC_Atlantic. Monitor local media or listen to NOAA Weather Radio (www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/listcov.htm) for the latest developments and check your local National Weather Service forecast at www.weather.gov.

Now is the time to finalize your preparations for the coming storm. We strongly urge all potentially affected Commerce employees, their families and loved ones to take the appropriate steps to make certain they can meet their basic needs for a minimum of 72 hours. For more information on preparedness, please visit Ready.gov www.ready.gov/hurricanesandwww.listo.gov for tips on how you can make an emergency kit and put an emergency plan in place. We also encourage you to consult our Tropical Cyclone Preparedness Guide: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/os/hurricane/resources/TropicalCyclones11.pdf.

Individuals in the region should continue to monitor NOAA Weather Radio and their local news for updates and directions provided by their local officials. State and local officials make determinations and announcements about evacuations. We urge the public to listen to the instructions of officials, and if told to evacuate - evacuate.

The FEMA smartphone app provides safety tips and displays open shelter information at www.fema.gov/smartphone-app. To find an open Red Cross shelter, download the Red Cross Hurricane app or visit redcross.org.

We’re ready. Please be ready, too.

Commerce and NOAA have been actively mobilizing: Our National Hurricane Center and additional weather service meteorologists have been issuing forecasts, watches and warnings to the media, emergency managers and the public. At the same time, we’re also preparing to respond to Sandy’s aftermath in the event that the National Weather Service local forecast offices need to issue a variety of severe weather alerts for inland high winds, flooding and other severe weather.

On a final note, I want to thank all the NOAA staff who have been working hard to ensure that Americans have the most accurate and timely storm updates, watches and warnings—as well as those who will be working to see this storm through and assist in the response phase. Your service to Commerce and the nation is deeply appreciated.

Spotlight on Commerce: Michael C. Camuñez, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance

Guest blog post by Michael C. CamuÑez, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance, International Trade Administration

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.

Guest blog post by Michael C. Camuñez, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance, International Trade Administration

As Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access & Compliance, I have the great privilege of working each day to advance the President’s trade policy agenda to grow U.S. exports and help American industry compete in foreign markets under the President’s National Export Initiative. In a world where 95 percent of consumers and 80-90 percent of world GDP growth will exist in coming years outside of the United States, our work to grow U.S. exports has never been more important. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to work with my talented colleagues at Commerce and throughout the government on efforts to keep the United States globally competitive and to help to increase our access to these dynamic and emerging global markets.

I am a fourth-generation American, born and raised in southern New Mexico, not far from the U.S.-Mexico border. I am the descendant of Mexican farmers and ranchers, who settled in northern Mexico and what is today the States of New Mexico and Texas. My family left New Mexico for sunny California just as I entered high school. I spent my high school years in California’s San Joaquin Valley, one of our nation’s most productive agricultural regions. 

I was the first in my family to attend college and was lucky enough to earn a spot at Harvard College. While at Harvard, I became deeply involved in organizing and running community service programs aimed at working with at-risk populations. That led to an opportunity following college to help advocate for the creation of a nation-wide system of national service—like a domestic Peace Corps.  In fact, my first political job was in the Clinton Administration, where I was an integral part of the team that established the AmeriCorps program. 

Spotlight on Commerce: Carly Montoya, Director of Advance, Office of the Secretary

 Carly Montoya, Director of Advance, Office of the Secretary

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.

Guest blog post by Carly Montoya, Director of Advance, Office of the Secretary

I grew up in Pueblo, Colorado.  My father, Jim, started off as a migrant farm worker and later put four children and my mom through college.   My mother, Pat, started off as a beautician and later went to college when I was in middle school while still raising four kids and helping my father provide for my family.  They did everything they could to support my family so that my brother, sisters and I would have opportunities that they never had.  Because of their sacrifices and their relentless determination, I graduated from Tufts University with a world of opportunities before me.  I chose a career in public service.  

There are a lot of different fields in public service, but advance is a field I was drawn to for one big reason:  Advance is a team effort.   Like my parents taught me, if one person fails, everyone fails.  If one person succeeds, we all succeed. 

Advance is the spoke in the wheel and where everything comes together.   It involves coordinating the objectives of the various departments and bureaus at the Department of Commerce so that the Secretary can engage people who are on the front lines of job creation across America and around the world.  It’s about communicating how the work that we do here at Commerce can nurture an environment where businesses and innovators can create jobs by building things here and selling them everywhere. 

Characters Featured at the USPTO’s Trademark Expo Visit the Children’s National Medical Center

Dr. Bear ® and T.Markey, the USPTO's trademark mascot, at 2011 visit to Children's National Medical Center.  Photo by Roberto Ortiz.

The costumed characters featured at the USPTO’s upcoming Trademark Expo visited the Children’s National Medical Center today.  Volunteers passed out Trademark Activity Guides, helped children complete activities involving characters that are registered trademarks, and taught children about familiar trademarks.  The visit included an introductory statement by Commissioner for Trademarks Deborah Cohn, a musical parade of costumed characters, a presentation challenging children to identify the goods and services for which characters are registered, and visits by some of the characters to children on the hospital floors.  The children’s faces lit up with joy as they watched the characters parade around and dance to music!  T.Markey, the Trademark Expo’s own mascot, was  joined by Spuddy Buddy, Crayola “Tip,” Chester Cheetah, and GEICO’s Gecko. 

An even larger cast of costumed characters will parade in front of the USPTO’s Madison Building at 10 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 19, to begin the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 National Trademark Expo.  Representatives from Mattel, NASCAR, Inc. and the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital will join Deputy Under Secretary and USPTO Deputy Director Teresa Stanek Rea, Alexandria Mayor William Euille, and Commissioner Cohn in giving brief remarks. 

Spotlight on Commerce: Danny Meza, Senior Adviser to the Under Secretary for Industry and Security

Danny Meza, Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary for Industry and Security in the Office of Congressional and Public Affairs

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.

Guest blog post by Danny Meza, Senior Adviser to the Under Secretary for Industry and Security in the Office of Congressional and Public Affairs

As Senior Adviser to the Under Secretary for Industry and Security in the Office of Congressional and Public Affairs, I advise the Under Secretary on legislative matters that impact the administration of export controls under the Commerce Department’s jurisdiction.

I was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. I grew up during a time when local community leaders like former San Antonio Mayor and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros, voter registration activist William C. Velasquez, and Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez worked to galvanize the Hispanic community by encouraging greater civic participation. Today, that same call to public service can be seen in leaders like Mayor Julian Castro and State Representative Joaquin Castro. The same call to public service led me to the Commerce Department in November of 2009.

How New Legislation will Support Our Textile Industry

Deputy Assistant Secretary Kim Glas and Under Secretary Francisco Sanchez tour Unifi’s sewing thread manufacturing facility in Yadkinville, North Carolina on October 9, 2012.

Ed. note: Cross-posted from ITA's Tradeology blog. Kim Glas is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for textiles and apparel within the International Trade Administration’s Import Administration division.

I am visiting North Carolina today with the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez to see first-hand two state of the art textile companies–Unifi and A&E. Recently, President Obama signed into law an important set of technical fixes to the U.S.-Dominican Republic-Central America (CAFTA-DR) Free Trade Agreement that will have a direct impact on jobs at these two companies and sewing thread manufacturers across this state and country.

When the Agreement with our Central American neighbors was negotiated in 2003, there was a definitional loophole that incentivized the use of non-U.S. sewing thread in the assembly of textile and apparel products. As a result of this loophole, U.S. sewing thread manufacturers have seen their business and employment shrink. The Obama administration immediately set out to address a problem that severely impacted U.S. sewing thread manufacturers.

After years of hard work, President Obama recently signed legislation to close a loophole that has jeopardized businesses and jobs in the U.S. As a result, on Saturday, October 13, these fixes will be implemented and will have a direct impact on many sewing thread manufacturers in North Carolina. We have every expectation that once the legislation is implemented that U.S. sewing thread producers like Unifi and A&Ewill be able to recapture market share in the critical market.

This is a prime example of what can be accomplished when industry, Congress, and the administration work toward a common goal.

Spotlight on Commerce: Ana Valentin, Statistician, NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service

Ana Valentin, Survey Statistician, Fisheries Statistics Division of the Office of Science and Technology, NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service.

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.

Guest blog post by Ana Valentin, Survey Statistician, Fisheries Statistics Division of the Office of Science and Technology, NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service.

My dearest friend Albert Einstein said, "The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable receiving." Giving is the driver that motivated me to pursue a public service career.  My parents, who proudly retired from the Puerto Rico government, encouraged me to enter public service for our country. Being educated in the Puerto Rico public system and graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a bachelor in Secondary Math Education and a Masters in Public Health in Biostatistics, I prized the significance of professional education in the workplace. Today, as a doctoral candidate in Information Assurance, I embrace how diversity presents innovative solutions for the challenges of our competitive world market.

My career started in academia, where I worked as a clinical researcher in a School of Medicine, and mathematics, statistics and computer science professor for undergraduate and graduate programs in public and private universities. My experience in academia led me to accept a position as a survey statistician at the Census Bureau, where I revised statistical and mathematical protocols and the translation of census materials written in Spanish to assure the Agency’s mission. Through the observation of Spanish field interviews, I valued the contribution of Hispanics population into United States’ economy.  Currently, I work for the NOAA Fisheries Service, where I manage a survey that produces catch-effort estimates of recreational fishing activities and help oversee the budget allocated for recreational and commercial survey operations. As a Hispanic woman, I cherished the importance of a diverse workforce to outreach growing minority populations in accountability of fishery stock assessment and management in the United States and its territories.

10 Partnerships Selected through the Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge to Support American Manufacturing and Encourage Investment in the U.S.

Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge

The Obama administration announced that 10 public-private partnerships across America will receive $20 million in total awards to help revitalize American manufacturing and encourage companies to invest in the United States. These Investments will promote job creation and economic growth in local industry clusters in Arizona, California, Michigan, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Washington.

The 10 partnerships were selected through the Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, which is a competitive multi-agency grant process announced in May 2012 to support initiatives that strengthen advanced manufacturing at the local level. These public-private partnerships consist of small and large businesses, colleges, nonprofits and other local stakeholders that “cluster” in a particular area. The funds will help the winning clusters support local efforts to spur job creation through a variety of projects, including initiatives that connect innovative small suppliers with large companies, link research with the start-ups that can commercialize new ideas, and train workers with skills that firms need to capitalize on business opportunities.  

The Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge is a partnership between the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and the National Science Foundation.

As part of President Obama's commitment to creating an economy built to last, the administration has invested more than $200 million promoting regional innovation clusters. The administration created an interagency task force, known as the Taskforce for the Advancement of Regional Innovation Clusters, to develop and administer interagency grant competitions. This is the third round of the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge and, in addition to the six partnering agencies, this initiative also leverages technical assistance from up to eight other federal agencies.

See the full list of winners.

Spotlight on Commerce: Cristina Bartolomei, Equal Employment Opportunity Specialist and Hispanic Employment Manager

Phot of Cristina Bartolomei with Video equipment

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.

Guest blog by Cristina Bartolomei, Equal Employment Opportunity Specialist and Hispanic Employment Program Manager at the Office of Civil Rights, Office of the Secretary

As an Equal Employment Opportunity Specialist and Hispanic Employment Program Manager for the Office of Civil Rights at the Office of the Secretary, I work every day to serve the Hispanic community and other minorities in and outside of Commerce to identify policies, practices and procedures that may enhance or hinder their equal representation within the Department.

Growing up in San Juan, Puerto Rico as the third child of four, my father often called me the defensora de los oprimidos or “defender of the oppressed,” as I always attempted to dissect and analyze sibling disagreements until the parties involved made peace with one another. My siblings didn’t seem too fond of me doing this and, looking back, I don’t blame them. It was in those days that I found myself daydreaming about being part of something bigger than myself, about doing something truly meaningful in the lives of others. 

Many years later, I find myself working for a Cabinet department in the Nation’s Capital, proudly serving the President of the United States. Every day I work with internal and external organizations to educate about and improve Hispanic-American representation at the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Sometimes it feels as if I’m still daydreaming–but real it is, and this reality is ingrained in the choices we make.

NIST's David J. Wineland Wins 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics

Photo of Wineland

David J. Wineland, a physicist at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), has won the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics. The honor is NIST’s fourth Nobel prize in physics in the past 15 years.

Wineland shared the prize with Serge Haroche of the Collège de France and Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, France. In announcing the winners today, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences cited Wineland and Haroche "for ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems."

Wineland got the call at about 3:30 a.m. today at his home in Boulder, Colo. “I was a little sleepy. My wife got the call. I haven’t actually asked her yet what they said, but she gave the phone to me,” Wineland recalled shortly afterwards. “It’s kind of overwhelming. This could have gone to a lot of other people. It’s certainly a wonderful surprise. The fellow I shared it with–he and I have been friends for a long time, so it’s nice to share it with him.”  NIST release  |  Nobel citation