Commerce.gov is getting a facelift soon. See the new design.
Syndicate content

Blog Entries from April 2013

Commerce Renews Commitment to Environmental Stewardship with Awards Ceremony and New Green Store

Celebrate Earth Day Every Day Sign (photo credit: Dana Paul Franz)

As part of administration-wide efforts this week to commemorate Earth Day, the U.S. Department of Commerce held an award ceremony to recognize the 22 winners and runners-up of the Department's sixth annual Energy and Environmental Stewardship Awards yesterday. In accordance with President Obama’s Executive Order 13514, the awards recognize individual employees and teams across 13 categories for energy and environmental stewardship, including those that exemplify exceptional energy and/or environmental performance within their program, career field, or organization. Winners are selected by an award selection committee appointed by the Associate Director of the Office of Sustainable Energy and Environmental Programs, and then forwarded to Commerce's Senior Sustainability Officer for approval. The committee used degree of difficulty, cost-effectiveness, innovation, and results as criteria to evaluate the record 37 nominations received this year, up from 26 last year. Ellen Herbst, Senior Advisor to the Deputy Secretary performing the duties of the Chief Financial Officer, presented the award certificates to the winners in the Herbert C. Hoover Building (HCHB) auditorium.

Some examples of this year’s award winners include the U.S. Patent and Trademark’s Telework Team for aggressively implementing a telework program that has cumulatively saved 6,247 employees from driving over 51 million miles, avoided nearly $6 million in fuel costs, and eliminated 30,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, all just in fiscal year 2012. The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Net Zero Team won for outstanding organizational achievement in design and construction of a net-zero energy residential test facility that attains net-zero energy consumption. Another individual with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service won for leading by example in minimizing his carbon footprint around the office and in commuting by bicycle in all weather, inspiring numerous colleagues throughout his nearly 20 years with NOAA’s Fisheries Service.

The Department of Commerce also held the grand opening and ribbon cutting for a Green Store at HCHB, as part of its ongoing commitment to both environmental and financial stewardship. The store will operate under the concept that excess office supplies can be re-used by other offices. The concept came from a member of the HCHB Green Team, which led to a toner cartridge recycling program that has saved over $120,000 since it was implemented approximately a year ago. Following the success of the cartridge recycling program, the Green Team expanded to start collecting other unused but still good office supplies from offices Department-wide. All office supplies will be free to all Commerce offices within HCHB and offices are being encourage to donate their excess supplies to the Green Store. Volunteers from HCHB’s Green Team will initially staff the Green Store, but the longer term vision is for area high school student interns to operate the store to gain valuable work and business experience, while maintaining the zero net cost of operating the store.

Deputy Secretary Blank Announces 20 Companies Joining Infrastructure Business Development Trade Mission to Brazil, Colombia and Panama

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank today announced the 20 companies that will join her on an infrastructure business development trade mission to Sao Paulo, Brazil; Bogota, Colombia; and Panama City, Panama from May 12-18, 2013. The governments of these countries have each outlined ambitious infrastructure development plans for the years ahead, and this trade mission will help U.S. companies in a broad range of infrastructure industry sectors make the connections they need to expand their business opportunities in Brazil, Colombia and Panama.

The trade mission will support President Obama’s National Export Initiative, a government-wide strategy to promote American exports and create 2 million export-supported jobs by the end of 2014. Last year, exports hit another all-time record, reaching $2.2 trillion. And, between 2009 and 2012 exports have supported 1.3 million additional jobs.

The mission will also highlight the successes in the U.S. trade relationships with Colombia and Panama, specifically, since free trade agreements with each country have taken effect. The Deputy Secretary and the business delegation will be in Colombia on the one-year anniversary of the implementation of that Free Trade Agreement (FTA), May 15.

The mission will include export-ready U.S. firms in a broad range of leading U.S. infrastructure and industrial sectors, with an emphasis on project management (including construction, architecture and design), transportation (including road/highways, rail, airports, and intelligent transportation systems), energy (including distribution, transmission, and smart grid), water resources management (including water treatment, distribution and collection), and safety and security. The mission will help U.S. businesses in initiating or expanding exports to Brazil, Colombia and Panama by making business-to-business introductions, providing market access information, and facilitating access to government decision makers.

See the entire list of 20 companies and learn more about the opportunities in each of these three export markets.

Deputy Secretary Blank Highlights "Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership" Initiative

Deputy Secretary Blank Highlights "Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership" Initiative at Hexcel Corporation

Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank today highlighted the newly-announced “Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership,” an Obama Administration initiative that will help accelerate the resurgence of manufacturing and create jobs in cities across the country.

This effort rewards communities that demonstrate their plans to attract and expand manufacturing in their area, using targeted investments in workforce training, infrastructure, research, and other key assets.

Deputy Secretary Blank unveiled the initiative this week and visited Hexcel Corporation today, which is located in an area of Utah that has leveraged the resources of the public sector, private firms, and educational institutions to achieve a successful model of economic development that the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership encourages. During her visit, Deputy Secretary Blank took a tour of Hexcel’s Salt Lake City facility and participated in a roundtable with local business, government and educational leaders.

Deputy Secretary Blank Announces New Federal Partnership to Promote Manufacturing Investment in American Communities, Create Jobs

Mayor Scott Smith, Able Engineering President and CEO Lee Benson and Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank During a Tour of the Able Engineering Facility in Mesa, Arizona

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank today announced the launch of the “Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership,” an Obama Administration initiative that will help accelerate the resurgence of manufacturing and create jobs in cities across the country.

This effort rewards communities that demonstrate their plans to attract and expand manufacturing in their area, using targeted investments in workforce training, infrastructure, research, and other key assets.

Deputy Secretary Blank unveiled the initiative at the new, 200,000-square foot Able Engineering facility in Mesa, Arizona, a community that has leveraged the resources of the public sector, private firms and educational institutions to achieve a successful model of economic development. Mesa was hard-hit when Williams Air Force Base closed in 1993, leaving many aerospace engineers unemployed. The city took over the site, converted it to the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, and came up with a plan to attract aerospace companies to the area, where they could capitalize on the existing workforce and benefit from being located near similar firms and nearby colleges. In just fifteen years, Able has grown into a multi-million dollar conglomerate, servicing aircraft from around the world.  Its continued growth and support for its workforce demonstrate the benefits of operating within a community like Mesa’s.

Fact Sheet | Press Release

U.S. Department of Commerce Announces Patents for Humanity Winners

Deputy Secretary Blank Speaking during the Patents For Humanity Awards Event

The U.S. Department of Commerce announced the winners of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) Patents for Humanity pilot program during an awards ceremony on Capitol Hill supported by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Launched by the USPTO in February 2012 as part of an Obama administration initiative promoting game-changing innovations to solve long-standing development challenges, Patents for Humanity is a competition recognizing patent owners and licensees who address global challenges in health and standards of living.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank, U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Special Assistant to the President and National Security Council Senior Director Gayle Smith and Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property Teresa Stanek Rea delivered remarks at the awards ceremony.

“A strong patent system is crucial to supporting our continued economic growth, and its benefits don’t stop at our borders. Patented inventions are bringing longer, healthier, fuller lives to people across the globe,” said U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank. “As part of the President’s global development agenda, the Patents for Humanity program is a great example of how American innovation is helping solve critical global challenges and creating prosperity in emerging economies.”

Deputy Secretary of Commerce Blank Announces Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Request

Budget request cover

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank today released the Department of Commerce’s fiscal year 2014 budget request, which supports President Obama’s plan for an economy built to last with crucial investments in advanced manufacturing, innovation, trade promotion and enforcement, and research and development. These investments are designed to help grow the economy, create jobs and strengthen the middle class. The $8.6 billion budget request is an increase of $1 billion over the fiscal year 2012 level. The Department also identified a total of $195 million in administrative savings.

“The Department of Commerce has a vital mission to help American businesses thrive so they can create jobs here at home and maintain a competitive edge abroad,” said U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank. “The Department’s fiscal year 2014 budget reflects our commitment to our core priorities, including revitalizing American manufacturing, spurring innovation by investing in world-class research, science and technology, and driving export growth. Overall, this budget proposes targeted investments that will enable us to carry out our responsibility to help grow American businesses and the economy, while also spending federal dollars wisely.”

Read the key investments in the FY 2014 Department of Commerce budget.

ACE Tool Helps U.S. Businesses Fully Assess the Advantages of Manufacturing and Sourcing In America

Assess Costs Everywhere Logo

Guest blog post by Mark Doms, Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs

I have the pleasure of meeting frequently with business owners from across the country.  They talk about where their challenges are in growing and sustaining their businesses, and they also talk about how locating production abroad hasn’t always turned out as well as they had hoped.  Not surprisingly, during our current economic recovery and expansion, news reports and private consultants have repeatedly echoed that thinking.  Increasingly we hear that U.S. companies that previously took their operations or supply chains overseas are now reshoring or insourcing─bringing operations and supply chains back home to America.

To help continue that momentum, the Department of Commerce today published a new tool to help inform manufacturing firms’ location decisions.  The Assess Costs Everywhere (ACE) tool outlines the wide range of costs and risks associated with offshore production, and provides links to important public and private resources, so that firms can more accurately assess the total cost of operating overseas.  ACE also shares case studies of firms that reversed their decisions to locate offshore once the full range of costs became clear.

ACE counts as its sponsor and most ardent champion, U.S. Representative Frank R. Wolf (R-VA), who directed the Department of Commerce to build an online tool for businesses to use in assessing hidden costs to manufacturing offshore. Congressman Wolf saw ACE as a much-needed resource in the federal government’s efforts to help achieve our goals of boosting U.S. economic growth and ensuring that America remains competitive in manufacturing. 

ACE identifies and discusses 10 cost and risk factors that firms should weigh in their decision making, such as labor and shipping costs.   Although some of these factors may seem obvious, companies may not always take all of them into full account.  Over the coming weeks, the Commerce Department’s blog will examine each of the areas, and although I hate to be a spoiler, it does turn out that the United States tends to compare quite favorably.  Having said that, there are many areas in which the U.S. needs to make critical investments.  The Competitiveness and Innovative Capacity of the United States, a report  published by the Commerce Department’s Economic and Statistics Administration in January 2012, examined three key components of our nation’s competitiveness—research, education, and infrastructure.  The report concludes that in the manufacturing sector, the federal government has historically played an important role in providing a level playing field and must do so with renewed vigor to ensure that U.S. manufacturing continues to thrive.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank Honors Four Organizations for Excellence in Performance and Innovation

Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank presenting the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s highest Presidential honor for organizational performance excellence and innovation

Today, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank presented four U.S. organizations with the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s highest Presidential honor for organizational performance excellence and innovation. The recipients of the award, which is commemorating its 25th anniversary, will share their best practices as part of a national effort to improve America’s performance and competitive standing in the world. 

Deputy Secretary Blank lauded the Baldrige Award winners for being leaders in their fields and committed to the value of performance and quality. Studies have shown that Baldrige winners grow their revenues, create jobs, maintain healthy finances, and produce superior results.

At the awards ceremony, President Obama also delivered a video message to the recipients, saying that the United States’ “free market is the greatest engine of prosperity the world has ever known, and that engine is powered by our dreamers, our risk takers and our innovators.” Further, he said, “These honorees exhibit the kind of job creating innovation that’s always kept our economy growing and vibrant and prosperous.”

Honoring the Memory of Ron Brown

Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown

Cross post from the White House Blog

The following blog post was written by U.S. Commerce Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank and Special Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation Jonathan Greenblatt.

Today, we honor the anniversary of the passing of former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown. Secretary Brown was a dedicated public servant whose untimely death during a trade mission to Croatia on April 3, 1996 ended his life far too soon. His vision continues to be important and today’s work at the Department of Commerce builds on his legacy. 

Secretary Brown served his country in Korea as a soldier in the U.S. Army and in the halls of Congress as chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee. He also broke down barriers – becoming the first African American chairman of the Democratic National Committee and the first African American to serve as U.S. Secretary of Commerce. In this latter role, he made perhaps his largest impact.

During his tenure at Commerce, Secretary Brown pioneered a focus on exports that helped to boost the U.S. economy in the 1990s and contributed to one of the largest periods of economic expansion in our nation’s history. During a time when emerging markets in Asia and Latin America were opening up to trade, Secretary Brown led a concerted effort to support this advancement and to secure access for U.S. goods and services. He was a proponent of free trade, seeing business as a powerful force to create good jobs at home and to accelerate prosperity around the world. He also was an advocate of fair trade, seeking to ensure that U.S. workers would be helped and not harmed by new trading arrangements that would increase flows of capital and commerce.

2012 Peace Through Commerce Medal Award Recipients Announced

Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez announced the nine individuals and organizations that are recipients of the International Trade Administration’s 2012 Peace through Commerce Medal Award.

The award recognizes an individual, group, or organization, either domestic or abroad, whose actions have significantly promoted and developed U.S. export initiatives, encouraged innovative approaches, and improved overall U.S. trade relations.

The Peace through Commerce Medal dates back to the first Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson, who commissioned the medal in 1790. Jefferson gifted the medal, formerly known as the Diplomatic Medal, to foreign diplomats who aided the Continental Congress during the American Revolution. The medal is most renowned for its inscription, To Peace and Commerce, centered along the top. Read more about the entire list of award winners.