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Blog Entries from 2012

MBDA Achieves 130x Return on Taxpayer Investment in FY2011

Front Cover of the Minority Business Development Agency's FY 2011 Annual Performance Report

Guest blog post by David Hinson, National Director, Minority Business Development Agency

When Muhammad Ali, the legendary world heavyweight boxing champion, was asked by reporters why he kept boasting about being the greatest in the ring, he used to say, “It isn’t bragging if you can back it up.”

The MBDA FY2011 Annual Performance Report (APR) (7MB PDF) backs up what we’ve been saying about MBDA’s achievements under President Obama. In 2011, we registered the best performance in our 43-year history. It was our third record-breaking year in a row.

The recently released APR presents detailed information about the contracts and capital MBDA helped obtain for minority-owned businesses, along with the number of new jobs created. It also highlights our strategic and organizational accomplishments.

Let me give you just a few of those highlights.

Despite the serious head winds the economy is facing, more than 5,780 new jobs were created by minority-owned firms working with MBDA and its network of MBDA Business Centers in FY 2011.  MBDA assisted minority-owned businesses in obtaining access to nearly $4 billion in contracts and capital.

During the first three years of the Obama Administration,

  • MBDA facilitated a total of more than 16,300 new jobs, an increase of 20% over the prior three-year period.  
  • MBDA directly served more than 17,400 minority-owned businesses and indirectly served thousands more, a 36% increase over the prior three-year period.
  • And MBDA achieved a Return on taxpayer Investment (ROI) between 102x and 130x, an impressive 86% increase over the prior three-year period. 

MBDA’s FY2011 APR also presents a state-by-state detailed analysis of the performance of minority-owned businesses broken down by industry.

Dallas, Denver and San Jose Join Detroit as Regional U.S. Patent Offices

United States Patent and Trademark Office Seal

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank and Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) David Kappos today announced plans to open regional USPTO offices in or around Dallas, Texas, Denver, Colorado, and Silicon Valley, California. These offices are in addition to the already-announced first USPTO satellite office to open on July 13 in Detroit, Michigan. The four offices will function as hubs of innovation and creativity, helping protect and foster American innovation in the global marketplace, helping businesses cut through red tape, and creating new economic opportunities in each of the local communities.

The offices announced today will help the USPTO attract talented IP experts throughout the country who will work closely with entrepreneurs to process patent applications, reduce the backlog of unexamined patents, and speed up the overall process, allowing businesses to move their innovation to market more quickly, and giving them more room to create new jobs.

Patents are a significant factor in private sector job creation. In fact, the U.S. Commerce Department issued a recent report finding that IP-intensive industries are the source – directly or indirectly – of 40 million jobs, contributing $5.06 trillion to the U.S. economy in 2010.

Selection of the four sites was based upon a comprehensive analysis (PDF) of criteria including geographical diversity, regional economic impact, ability to recruit and retain employees, and the ability to engage the intellectual property community. The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act of 2011 (AIA), signed into law by President Obama in September, requires the USPTO to establish regional satellite locations as part of a larger effort to modernize the U.S. patent system over the next three years.

“Intellectual property protection and innovation are engines of economic growth and the bedrock of America’s private sector,” said Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank. “The Obama administration is committed to making certain our businesses and entrepreneurs have the resources they need to grow, create jobs and compete globally. These new offices are an historic step toward further advancing our world’s best IP system, and reinforcing the United States as the number one destination for innovation capital, and research and development around the world.”

General Counsel Kerry Leads Administration Efforts to Support Long-Term Economic Growth in Iraq

General Counsel Kerry standing a podium

Guest blog post by Cameron F. Kerry, Department of Commerce General Counsel

On June 28, 2004, Iraq's first democratically elected government assumed full sovereign authority. Eight years later, I joined Iraqi counterparts to discuss Iraq's next great challenge: integrating itself into the world economy. Overcoming this challenge is a critical step in Iraq's transition since, as President Obama has noted, “Iraq is assuming its rightful place among the community of nations.”

The Department of Commerce mission in Iraq is to help the country assume this role while working to expand and facilitate increased U.S. business opportunities. As part of this mission, I had the honor of co-hosting two conferences focused on Iraq’s economic growth strategy. Iraq faces the challenge of generating trade and investment at the same time as managing the expansion of its resource wealth to ensure economic diversification. While these challenges are significant, I was encouraged by the universal agreement between panelists, government officials, and private sector representatives that these challenges can be overcome by the adoption of a commercial law framework that emphasizes predictability, transparency, and economic security.

The first of these conferences, co-hosted by Iraq’s Minister of Finance Rafi al-Issawi, brought together experts from U.S., multilateral, and private institutions to discuss with Iraqi counterparts how under-developed commercial law and financial mechanisms can act as barriers to trade and investment. A common theme in the two days of discussion was how the rule of law is vital to a welcoming economic environment in Iraq in which U.S. and Iraqi businesses can predict and plan their investments, purchases, and sales with greater certainty.

NIST Kicks Off New National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence

NIST’s Curt Barker, Karen Waltermire, and Henry Wixon are seen explaining how interested parties can get involved

Guest blog post by Donna Dodson, Chief, Computer Security Division and Acting Director, National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence, National Institute of Standards and Technology

This week, Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) hosted a workshop to kick off the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE), a new public-private collaboration that will bring together experts from industry, government and academia to design, implement, test and demonstrate integrated cybersecurity solutions and promote their widespread adoption.

IT is central to financial, communications, healthcare and physical infrastructures and even entertainment systems. It is also under constant attack by cybercriminals looking to steal business data, personal information and devices, or disrupt private and government business with malicious code, denial of service and Web-based attacks.

We were excited to bring together representatives from various industry sectors (health, utility, financial, and more), along with those from government agencies, academia and other organizations to learn how the center will operate and how the public can participate. In the photo here, NIST’s Curt Barker, Karen Waltermire, and Henry Wixon are seen explaining how interested parties can get involved.

The NCCoE will provide a state-of-the-art computing facility where researchers from NIST can work collaboratively with both the users and vendors of products and services on holistic cybersecurity approaches. NIST is hosting the center in collaboration with the state of Maryland and Montgomery County, Md.

By providing a test bed where new ideas and technologies can be tried out before being deployed, the center provides the opportunity to thoroughly document and share each solution, supporting specific industry sector business challenges. This will encourage the rapid adoption of comprehensive cybersecurity templates and approaches that support automated and trustworthy e-government and e-commerce.

Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank Wrapped up Her Visit to Turkey with Concrete Steps to Advance the U.S-Turkish Commercial Relationship

Acting Secretary Blank Co-Chairs the U.S.-Turkey Framework for Strategic Economic and Commercial Cooperation  with U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk,  Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan and Minister of the Economy Zafer Caglayan

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank wrapped up her visit to Turkey after co-chairing the second meeting of the U.S.-Turkey Framework for Strategic Economic and Commercial Cooperation (FSECC) with U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk in Ankara yesterday. The Turkish delegation was led by Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan and Minister of the Economy Zafer Caglayan.

The FSECC was created following the first meeting between President Obama and Turkish President Gul in April 2009. The two leaders tasked the U.S. and Turkish governments to create a framework to help substantially increase the trade and investment flows between both countries to help strengthen the economic dimension of our partnership. The meeting focused on opportunities for increased bilateral trade and investment relations to create jobs in both countries, and the ministers agreed on several concrete steps to advance the U.S-Turkish commercial relationship. The Acting Secretary promoted increased Foreign Direct Investment, including calling for greater Turkish FDI to the U.S., highlighting Commerce’s SelectUSA initiative. The four principals made a joint statement after the meeting.

During the meeting, Acting Secretary Blank announced that the Commerce Department's International Trade Administration will lead an Aerospace and Defense Industry Trade Mission to Turkey in December 2012. She also applauded the work that has been done so far to increase bilateral trade between the U.S. and Turkey.  She emphasized the work that must be done to continue to advance the U.S.-Turkey trade relationship, such as overcoming market access barriers, furthering cooperation on intellectual property rights, and enabling businesses to take advantage of opportunities in key sectors such as renewable energy, financial services, and infrastructure.

Chicago Today, Russia Tomorrow

Under Secretary Francisco Sanchez and Chicago U.S. Export Assistance Center Director Julie Carducci present Export Achievement Certificate to BayRu CEO Aaron Block. (Photo Commerce)

Cross-posted from ITA Tradeology blog by Francisco Sánchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

Today I was fortunate enough to speak at the SMC3 conference in Chicago about the progress we’ve made toward achieving the President’s goal of doubling U.S. exports. SMC3 is a supply chain industry association that provides technology to shipping and logistics companies across the country, the very same companies who ensure the efficient transportation of American exports. Each year, the conference brings together representatives from America’s most active manufacturing, trucking, rail, shipping, and logistics firms.

The success of U.S. exporters depends in part on U.S. businesses being able to quickly and efficiently get their products to market. So it was fitting that I gave these remarks in Chicago, home to some of America’s most important freight and transportation corridors. According to the latest data, the Chicago metropolitan area is the 7th largest export market in the U.S. with merchandise shipments totaling nearly $34 billion.

Chicago is also home to some of America’s top exporters. I was pleased to honor an innovative company, BayRu, with an Export Achievement Certificate while in Chicago. Their online store, http://www.bay.ru, BayRu is one of the fastest growing e-commerce sites in Russia. On bay.ru, Russian shoppers can buy a wide range of American consumer goods found in catalogues like E-bay and Amazon and then have those products shipped to more than 160 cities across Russia and other CIS states.

NIST Goes the Distance for the Olympics

NIST technician Christopher Blackburn uses a microscope to precisely align a retroreflector over the center of a hash mark on a measuring tape. Photo credit: Bruce Borchardt

In yet another Olympian feat of measurement, researchers at Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recently calibrated a tape that will be used to measure out the distance of this summer's Olympic marathon—a distance of 26 miles 385 yards—to 1 part in 1,000.

Measurement is a vital aspect of the Olympic Games. Officials measure the height of jumps, the speed of races, and the mass of weights to determine who wins a medal and who goes home. The marathon is no different. Because of the difficulties in measuring out the distance, the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) only recognized best times and didn't begin awarding world records for marathons until 2004 when a method using a device called a Jones Counter was officially recognized as sufficiently accurate.

Developed by a father-son duo in the early 1970s, the Jones Counter is a simple geared device that counts the revolutions of a bicycle wheel. To calibrate the device, course measurers lay out a calibrated measuring tape at least 30 meters in length. Once they have determined the number of revolutions that equal that distance—and a couple of successively longer distances—they follow painstaking procedures for laying out the rest of the course. The measurements, which can take hours to complete, will ensure that the shortest distance a runner will run will be at least the required distance and no more than about 40 meters over, corresponding to an error of about one part in 1,000.  Full story

Disaster Recovery Funding Available Now for Counties with FY 11 Disaster Declarations

Map of eligible and ineligible U.S. counties for disaster assistance

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

Applications are now being accepted for investments in regions experiencing severe economic distress as a result of natural disasters that were declared as major federal disasters between October 1, 2010, and September 30, 2011. The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) received an appropriation of $200 million from Congress to address economic recovery challenges in regions impacted by a major disaster.

More than 1,400 counties in 44 states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia are eligible for the federal funding. Successful projects will support long-term economic recovery; demonstrate a clear connection between the project scope of work and the applicable disaster; demonstrate that the project will foster job creation and promote private investment; align with a relevant strategic, economic development, or disaster recovery plan; and demonstrate the incorporation of disaster resiliency. Applications are accepted on a continuing basis and processed as received.

Minority Businesses Export to Support Jobs in Long Island

Under Secretary Sanchez (center), Congressman Tim Bishop (right) and Shakir Farsakh, director of the Long Island Export Assistance Center (left)

Cross-posted from ITA Tradeology blog by Francisco Sánchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

Washington can be a sweltering place in the summer. And this year is no exception. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to escape the heat of Washington today for Long Island, New York. There, I joined forces with my friend and colleague Congressman Tim Bishop to help highlight the benefits of exports and the impact they have in strengthening the economy.

We’ve always known exports to be among best ways to boost domestic economic output. Just last year, the United States had a record-setting $2.1 trillion in exports which supported nearly 10 million American jobs.

Rather, the question has always been “how can we expand the message of exporting to more businesses?”

This was the challenge laid forth by President Obama in 2010 when he announced the National Export Initiative, which aims to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014.

Well, the data are in! One of the great things about our country is our diversity. And according to the U.S.  Census Bureau, that same diversity is boosting our economy. A report released this month, using data from 2007, shows that exports by minority-owned American businesses make significant contributions to our economy.

Acting Secretary Blank Encourages Turkish Investment to Create American Jobs

U.S.-Turkey

U.S. Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank visited Istanbul today to meet with U.S. and Turkish business leaders to advance commercial and trade relations between the United States and Turkey. This is the first visit to Turkey by a U.S. Commerce Secretary in 14 years.
 
Acting Secretary Blank, along with U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, are leading a delegation of senior U.S. Government officials, including representatives from the Department of State, the Department of Energy, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, U.S. Export-Import Bank and the National Security Staff.
 
Throughout the meetings and events, Acting Secretary Blank highlighted President Obama and Prime Minister Erdogan's goal of elevating our commercial relationship with Turkey to the strategic level, contributing to the peace and prosperity of citizens of both countries and the world.
 
Acting Secretary Blank and Ambassador Kirk met with U.S. companies that are active in the Turkish market to hear their views on the commercial environment in Turkey, and learn how the U.S. government can help grow their businesses, and support jobs and growth in Turkey and in the United States.