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Blog Entries from 2012

Summary of Twitter #MFGChat on February 14, 2012

Today @CommerceGov, @USNIST_gov, @NIST_MEP, @ExportGov and @TradeGov joined the manufacturing community on Twitter to discuss federal resources that are available to manufacturers and how the President's FY2013 budget requests additional support for manufacturers. #MFGChat is held monthly and organized by @MFGChat. Below is a selected transcript of the conversation. A complete transcript of all tweets can be found in this PDF.

Support for Manufacturers in the President’s FY2013 Budget Request

President's Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Request Logo

Yesterday the president released his FY2013 budget request and Secretary Bryson announced the Department of Commerce’s requests. In the president’s budget, there is strong support for manufacturers by increasing investments in advanced manufacturing, new trade promotion efforts, and innovation investments.

To strengthen and extend Advanced Manufacturing research, Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology is requesting an increase of $45M for a total of $135M. These laboratory efforts are further leveraged with a request of $21M to support the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia Program, and $20M for a NIST Centers of Excellence program. These programs will strengthen public-private partnerships and accelerate innovation focused on manufacturing and technology development.

The president’s budget provides $128 million for the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) to improve the competitiveness of small- and medium-size firms in manufacturing and service industries through custom consulting and product testing.

U.S. Department of Commerce FY 2013 Budget Request

President's Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Request Logo

Secretary John Bryson today released the Department of Commerce’s fiscal year 2013 budget request that includes support for advanced manufacturing, new trade promotion efforts, innovation investments, finds $176 million in administrative savings.

The Commerce budget makes critical investments in advanced manufacturing, innovation, entrepreneurship and competitiveness and trade promotion and enforcement to help create jobs. The nearly 5 percent increase reflects President Obama and Secretary Bryson’s commitment to encouraging U.S. manufacturing and helping more American companies sell their goods and services overseas. The fiscal year 2013 request is $8 billion and requests $2.3 billion in mandatory funding. The Department also identified $176 million in administrative savings, reflecting a strong commitment to wisely stewarding taxpayer dollars and making tough choices to prioritize programs that support the Department’s core mission areas.

  • Advanced Manufacturing: Advanced Manufacturing: $156 million to expand NIST research in areas such as smart manufacturing, nanomanufacturing, advanced materials, and biomanufacturing, including  $21 million for the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia program, which will provide grants to industry consortia to tackle common technological barriers to the innovation and manufacturing of new products.
  • Increasing U.S. Exports: $517 million for the International Trade Administration (ITA), including several key initiatives. The administration requests $30 million for critical investments in trade promotion to help more U.S. businesses reach the 95 percent of consumers who live outside our borders. This proposal also includes $30 million to send Foreign Commercial Service officers and locally engaged staff to high-growth markets to help support the National Export Initiative to meet the President’s goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014. The budget also supports a new trade enforcement unit-- the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC), which will significantly enhance the administration’s capabilities to aggressively challenge unfair trade practices around the world (details below).
  • Attracting Investment to the U.S.: The $517M for ITA includes $13 million for SelectUSA to encourage, facilitate and accelerate foreign direct investment in the U.S. to create jobs and spur growth.

Additionally, as part of the administration’s efforts to revitalize manufacturing, the president’s budget proposes $1 billion in mandatory funding to establish a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation.

Secretary Bryson Tours and Joins a Discussion with Business Leaders, Educators at Minneapolis Community and Technical College

Secretary Bryson Enjoys Mayor Rybak's Attempts at Welding

Today, Secretary John Bryson traveled to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to tour facilities at Minneapolis Community Technical College (MCTC), along with Mayor R.T. Rybak and U.S. Representative Keith Ellison. After the tour, Bryson held a discussion with business leaders, students and educators—including Steven Rosenstone, Chancellor of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, MCTC Graduate Mike Palm and Kimberly Arrigoni, President-Elect of Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association—on how the Obama Administration can continue to support successful partnerships between community colleges and businesses to train and place skilled workers. 

The rigorous education and hands on technical training offered at MCTC and other workforce training campuses has made a difference in the lives of people across the country. As President Obama said during his State of the Union Address a few weeks ago, having a strong workforce is a critical part of ensuring that our economy is built to last. 

Bryson noted that over the past two years, we’ve added over 3.7 million new jobs, including 404,000 manufacturing jobs. But there is still work to be done. That’s why the President has called for more programs and partnerships like the ones at MCTC. We need to support more colleges that teach people the skills that businesses need, and investing in the next generation of skilled workers is a smart investment that will pay off.

Advancing Economic Development Strategies: the First White House Community Partnership Summit, Atlanta, GA

EDA banner

Guest blog post by Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Development and Chief Operating Officer for Economic Development Administration Matt Erskine

Hundreds of small business owners, community leaders, and state and local elected officials in Atlanta, Georgia, convened during the first in a series of White House Community Partnership Summits today for the opportunity to meet face to face with senior Obama administration officials and discuss key local issues.

I had the pleasure of representing the Commerce Department and engage participants about steps the administration is taking to promote economic and job growth in Georgia and across America. I especially enjoyed the open space dialogues where participants set the agenda and identify action steps with officials.

Why Investing in R&D Matters

BEA logo

What do the electric light bulb, the internal combustion engine and the transistor have in common? They are all examples of how innovative ideas can bring rapid change and growth to our economy. Innovation has long been recognized as an important driver of economic growth.  New ideas can spark wave upon wave of new goods and services that literally transform the economy, making it more robust and vibrant.

What exactly is innovation? A precise explanation can be elusive, but common to every definition is the idea of realizing commercial value by creating something that did not previously exist. And, while economists agree that innovation is important for economic growth, actually measuring it is quite a challenge. Innovation is what’s known as an intangible asset. It’s hard to quantify. Understanding the role of intangible assets–and thus the role of innovative activity in general–is critical to understanding the modern economy.

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank Meets with Frédéric Lefebvre, French Minister

Blank with minister Lefebvre shaking hands

Yesterday, Acting Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank met with Frédéric Lefebvre, French Minister for Commerce, SMEs, Tourism, and Consumer Policy, at the Commerce Department to discuss ways to increase cooperation in the U.S.-France commercial relationship. Lefebvre is in Washington briefly before traveling to Miami for the World Symposium of French Trade Advisors on February 9–10.
 
In light of the Euro crisis, Blank and Lefebvre discussed French growth prospects and U.S. exports, as well as government initiatives, such as BusinessUSA, aimed at improving competitiveness, creating jobs and cutting bureaucratic red tape. They also talked about strategies that each government is pursuing to increase tourism and ideas for cooperation in order to increase trade and investment flows. In addition, Blank and Lefebvre talked about foreign direct investment through the SelectUSA program. Blank said she looks forward to continuing to strengthen the trade relationship between the two countries.

Acting Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank Highlights Skills Initiatives in Madison, Wisconsin

Image of a "truck classrom": Bringing the Classroom to the Community

President Obama recently laid out plans in his State of the Union address to foster an economy that’s built to last by ensuring that America has the highly skilled workers necessary for 21st century jobs. Yesterday, Acting Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank traveled to Madison, Wisconsin, where she visited the Madison Area Technical College, a training ground for students that leads directly to skilled manufacturing jobs nationwide. Blank met with students and sat in on a training class focused on hybrid vehicle technology. Blank also delivered remarks on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce training and met with business and university leaders. Commerce’s Economic Development Administration recently teamed up with Madison College to provide mobile technical training opportunities both on-campus and throughout the region. The training focused on advanced manufacturing and automotive technology.

Blank also visited with several business and academic leaders, who are vital partners in the area of technical training at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery.

Science at Sea: Teaching Our Youth About the Jobs that Make it Happen

"If I Worked on a NOAA ship" book cover

As NOAA’s Teacher at Sea Program (TAS) prepares for its 2012 season, the lessons and materials created by its participants from the 2011 season are making it into the hands of their eager students around the U.S. In 2011, 34 teachers representing 21 states, participated in NOAA research cruises, involving science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts that can be integrated into their daily lessons. One of the goals of the TAS program is that teachers understand and use NOAA data in their classrooms. Teachers also obtain and translate this STEM knowledge for their students and the public in their blogs.

Another goal of the TAS program is for teachers to learn how different STEM occupations support NOAA’s mission and to then convey this information to their students. Each teacher is required to meet with, and sometimes interview, multiple crewmembers during the research cruise.  Often times, these interviews are featured in their blogs, but sometimes, teachers have the students create a product that explains the different jobs.

BTOP Case Study: Building 21st Century Job Skills in California

In today’s information-age economy, broadband is becoming a necessity for anyone searching for or applying for a job. Many job openings are only posted online. And about 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies only accept applications online. What’s more, in the current job market, digital literacy skills are often a requirement. For example, about 60 percent of working Americans use the Internet as an integral part of their jobs. Yet too many Americans lack the broadband access or skills needed to succeed in the workforce.

To help address this gap, the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, or BTOP, is investing approximately $4 billion in roughly 230 projects to increase broadband access and adoption around the country. The Recovery Act program, which is administered by the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, recognizes that broadband can be a key to economic empowerment.