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Blog Entries from 2012

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank Tours CES Promoting American Innovation and Competitiveness

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank and Dean Kamen Listen on a Panel

On Thursday, Acting Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank visited the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where she delivered opening remarks and participated in a panel discussion. The panel, titled “Getting Us Back on Track: How Technology and Innovation Can Save America” focused on the integral role innovation and technology play to the U.S. economy.

Blank said, “Innovation is crucial to the economy.  And while private citizens and private businesses are the primary source of new ideas—from concept to commercialization—the government plays a key role in this effort. The returns in new jobs and new technologies have traditionally far exceeded the money invested on the front end by the federal government.”

Referencing the recently released COMPETES report, Blank stated, “Only with a laser-sharp focus on education, innovation and infrastructure, will we build the basis for a 21st century economy that allows American businesses to flourish in an increasingly competitive global market. And only when American businesses flourish will we see the sort of job growth and income growth that assures economic opportunity to middle class Americans.”

Also while at the show, Blank toured the International Trade Agency’s International Buyer Program’s International Commerce Center and met domestic and foreign commercial service officers who assist American businesses in exporting. Afterwards, she presented an Export Achievement Award to Meridrew Enterprises. Meridrew Enterprises is a small, woman-owned company that is an industry leader in high performance screen cleaning technology. Their products have been used on the windows of the Space Shuttle and International Space Station.

Exporting Products “Made in America” Supports Jobs Here at Home

Under Secretary Sánchez jwith representatives from U.S. companies who have partnered with the Department of Commerce on its New Market Exporter Initiative

Guest blog post by Francisco J. SánchezUnder Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

It’s been called the beginning of a manufacturing renaissance. 

As President Obama noted at yesterday’s “Insourcing American Jobs” forum, 334,000 manufacturing jobs have been created in the past two years. And, in the third quarter of 2011, manufacturing profits were up more than 7 percent compared to the first quarter.

These positive trends are very good news because manufacturing is a key to our economy. As the Department of Commerce’s report—“The Competitiveness and Innovative Capacity of the United States”—recently highlighted, in 2009, manufacturing made up more than 11 percent of GDP.

It employed nearly 12 million workers. And, these are good jobs. In the manufacturing sector, total hourly compensation is, on average, 22 percent higher than the services sector.

That’s why the Obama administration is firmly committed to working with the manufacturing industry to keep this momentum going.

Today, I had the honor of serving as the keynote speaker at the National Association of Manufacturers’ Council of Manufacturing Associations (NAM CMA) winter meeting.

I talked about the work we are doing at the International Trade Administration to support their efforts. Exports and manufacturing are intimately linked. U.S. businesses produce the best and most innovative products in the world. But, what good is a product if it sits on a shelf? Businesses need to sell them.

February Forums Help Manufacturers Get on Track to Build Next Generation Rail

Image of high-speed rail with multi-colored streaks

Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) will host two forums in February 2012 to help U.S. manufacturers prepare for upcoming opportunities to become suppliers for the next generation of railcars and locomotives. The first forum will be held Feb. 8 in Sacramento, Calif., and the second will be Feb. 15 in Chicago.

The Next Generation Rail Supply Chain Connectivity Forums will bring together large railcar builders and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) with smaller, capable and interested U.S. manufacturers. Smaller manufacturers will have the chance to learn what products are needed and what investments they should consider when entering the rail industry. The idea is to identify a broader domestic supply base that includes both traditional and non-traditional rail suppliers, with the goal of 100 percent domestic content in railcars that will be funded by state and federal dollars.  Full release

Insourcing American Jobs Forum at the White House

President Obama at the Insourcing American Jobs Forum (WH photo)

Cross post to the White House Blog

At today's "Insourcing American Jobs" forum, President Obama talked about his hope for the future:

I don’t want America to be a nation that’s primarily known for financial speculation and racking up debt buying stuff from other nations. I want us to be known for making and selling products all over the world stamped with three proud words:  “Made in America.”  And we can make that happen.

I don’t want the next generation of manufacturing jobs taking root in countries like China or Germany. I want them taking root in places like Michigan and Ohio and Virginia and North Carolina. And that’s a race that America can win. 

There are signs that the country might be moving closer to that vision, and the President is hard at work to help deliver it.

"[My] message to business leaders today is simple: ask yourselves what you can do to bring jobs back to the country that made our success possible," the President said. "And I'm going to do everything in my power to help you do it. We're going to have to seize this moment."

Learn more:

Obama Administration Applauds Opening of Innovation Hub in Gainesville, Florida

View of incubation hub lobby from balcony

Guest blog post by U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John R. Fernandez

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, Gainesville Mayor Craig Lowe, and University of Florida President J. Bernard Machen, all gathered for the opening of the Florida Innovation Hub on January 11, 2012. I was proud to address the large crowd that was here to support the unveiling of a new tech business incubator that will help entrepreneurs, innovators, and start-up companies commercialize their research and bring it into the marketplace.

As Florida seeks to diversify beyond tourism and agriculture, and transition to a more innovation-based economy, the $8.2 million grant that the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) invested in the University of Florida in Gainesville to build this facility will promote a more diverse economy in the state. It will lead to the creation of new higher-skill, living-wage jobs that are vital to the prosperity of this region. This incubator is expected to create 300 jobs and generate $30 million in private investment.

Secretary Bryson Stops by the Motor City

Bryson and Ford chat

Earlier this week, Secretary and former CEO John Bryson made his first trip to Detroit, as Commerce Secretary, where he met with representatives from nearly every major auto maker that produces cars in the United States. In addition, Bryson met with United Auto Workers (UAW) President Bob King, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, as well as members of the Michigan Congressional delegation. The trip came on the heels of President Obama’s announcement late last year naming Secretary Bryson as co-chair of the White House Office of Manufacturing Policy.

Secretary Bryson’s day-long trip began with a breakfast meeting with members of the Michigan Congressional delegation including Senator Debbie Stabenow, Representatives John Dingell, John Conyers and Hansen Clarke. The group discussed a wide variety of topics including what the Federal government can do to further support the Nation’s manufacturing sector and automotive industry.

Secretary Bryson reiterated that the Department of Commerce is focused on doing everything possible to help support manufacturers. He also talked about the various services at the Commerce Department that are available everyday to manufacturers large and small. For example, the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration helps promote the U.S. auto industry through trade missions, trade shows and buying missions in addition to conducting market research and business matchmaking to U.S. exporters, particularly to new-to-export and new-to-market automotive suppliers.

Following the breakfast meeting, Secretary Bryson hit the auto show floor and first met with GM CEO Dan Akerson at the Cadillac exhibit.  Mr. Akerson showed Secretary Bryson and members of the Michigan Congressional delegation the newest Cadillac CTS.  After that, the group walked over to the 2013 Chevy Malibu exhibit where Mr. Akerson showed the group Chevy’s newest midsized sedan.  They also ran into Detroit Mayor Dave Bing who was also checking out the latest GM vehicles.

Secretary Bryson then visited with Chrysler/Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne and saw the new Dodge Dart.  Both Secretary Bryson and Senator Stabenow took turns in the driver’s seat while Mr. Marchionne pointed out the features of the Chrysler’s newest compact sedan.

Secretary Bryson’s final stop on the floor was with Ford Chairman Bill Ford, where he saw the new 2013 Ford Fusion, which will include three engine options, including a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid version.  The Ford Chairman also showed the Secretary the new Lincoln MKS, before the pair ran into Michigan Governor Rick Snyder who was also checking out the newest Fusion.  The three briefly chatted about the importance of manufacturing and the auto industry to the state.

The Secretary then left the show floor to meet with UAW President Bob King.  The two discussed how the Commerce Department can ensure that they are doing everything they can to support American manufacturing so that companies build their products here and sell them everywhere.

The Secretary’s final meeting was with the Global Automakers, a group that represents members of the international automakers community, including companies from Japan, Germany, and other countries around the world.  Secretary Bryson talked about how foreign direct investment in the United States is one of his top priorities, and members of the group discussed the investments they had made to create jobs here at home.

Overall it was a quick, but productive trip to Michigan, where the Secretary met with business, and political leaders, and discussed what more the Department of Commerce can do to support job creation here at home – and saw some great cars.

Brundage Post: Resurgence of the American Auto Industry

Cross post blog by Amy Brundage, White House Deputy Press Secretary for the Economy

Yesterday, the North American International Auto Show kicked off in Detroit, with companies unveiling their new vehicles and folks eager to get their first peek. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was on hand for the opening events, and Commerce Secretary John Bryson, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, and the Labor Department’s Director Office of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers Jay Williams are all taking part in auto show activities this week.

The auto industry had a strong year in 2011. It’s easy to forget, but just a few years ago many people doubted whether there would even be an American auto industry in 2011.

When President Obama took office, we faced the worst recession since the Great Depression, and the American auto industry was hit hard. Hundreds of thousands of jobs were lost in the auto industry, and entire communities that depended on a dealership or a parts manufacturer were affected.

Both GM and Chrysler faced the stark choice of seeking government support or facing almost certain uncontrolled liquidations, which would have had a ripple effect across the industry, causing at least one million more jobs to be lost. The President refused to let that happen.

In the face of stiff opposition, the president made a tough choice to help provide the auto industry the temporary support it needed to rebuild their companies and get moving again. This was a difficult decision, and came with significant risk. But the president was not willing to walk away from these workers and this great American industry.

Obama Administration Invests $2 Million to Spur Advanced Manufacturing in South Central Kansas

Assistant Secretary Fernandez participates in roundtable discussion at Wichita State University

Guest blog post by U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John R. Fernandez

The Obama administration recently announced a $2 million Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge award to the Center for Innovation and Enterprise Engagement to support the south central Kansas region’s efforts to jumpstart advanced manufacturing and create the jobs of the future. The $37 million Jobs Accelerator competition leverages funding from three federal agencies and technical assistance from 13 additional agencies to support the development of 20 high-growth industry clusters across the country. Funding for workforce training and technical assistance is provided by the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA), the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), and the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Two manufacturing industries—wind turbine and medical equipment—are specific targets of the initiative being led by Wichita State University. The effort encourages the migration of technology into the region’s economy to develop composite and advanced materials products and processes and bring with it new, high-paying jobs. But other opportunities will undoubtedly come from exploitation by other industries of the composite materials sector in the region.

The investment will help assure that south central Kansas will remain a dynamic center of manufacturing and a generator of jobs for years to come.

What Others Are Saying About the COMPETES report

On Friday, the Commerce Department unveiled the COMPETES Report: A Roadmap for Strengthening U.S. Competitiveness. The report makes three important findings:

  • Federal investments in research, education and infrastructure were critical building blocks for American economic competitiveness, business expansion and job creation in the last century;
  • Failures to properly invest in, and have comprehensive strategies for, those areas have eroded America’s competitive position; and,
  • In a constrained budgetary environment, prioritizing support for these pillars are imperative for America’s economic future and provide a strong return on investment for the U.S. taxpayer.

The Business Roundtable and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce wrote about the report and CNN asked a Commerce Innovation Advisory Board member about it (below).

Additionally, members of the Innovation Advisory Board recorded their own videos highlighting parts of the report they felt were most important.

Commerce Department Releases COMPETES Report: A Roadmap for Strengthening U.S. Competitiveness

Secretary Bryson Releases the America COMPETES report on American competitiveness

The U.S Department of Commerce today delivered to Congress a comprehensive report on “The Competitiveness and Innovative Capacity of the United States.”  The report serves as a call to arms, highlighting bipartisan priorities to sustain and promote American innovation and economic competitiveness. 

At 10am ET, watch Secretary Bryson present the report and then a distinguished panel discuss the findings. [The event has now concluded]

The report makes three important findings:

  • Federal investments in research, education and infrastructure were critical building blocks for American economic competitiveness, business expansion and job creation in the last century;
  • Failures to properly invest in, and have comprehensive strategies for, those areas have eroded America’s competitive position; and,
  • In a constrained budgetary environment, prioritizing support for these pillars are imperative for America’s economic future and provide a strong return on investment for the U.S. taxpayer.

The report was mandated as part of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, which was signed into law by President Obama in January last year. The report addresses a diverse range of topics and policy options, including: tax policy; the general business climate in the U.S.; barriers to setting up new firms; trade policy, including export promotion; the effectiveness of Federal Research and Development policy; intellectual property regimes in the U.S. and abroad; the health of the manufacturing sector; and science and technology education.

The full report, as well as additional resources, can be found online at www.commerce.gov/competes

Some key findings of the report include: