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Blog Entries from August 2013

Confirming the Partnership Between the United States and Asia

Industry representatives from nations within the Asia-Pacific region attend a business ethics workshop with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Academy in August 2013.

The Department of Commerce has taken advantage of several opportunities to support its commitment to Asia, an important region with some of the world’s fastest growing economies.

Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez visited Brunei this month for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Business and Investment Summit. His message to the Summit was that ASEAN remains an important partner to the United States and a key player in the global marketplace.

As ASEAN looks to form an integrated economic community, the United States wants to make sure every nation in the region understands America’s commitment to ASEAN and the broader Asia-Pacific region. The United States and ASEAN are working within the Expanded Economic Engagement framework, designed to expand trade and investment ties and create new business opportunities and jobs in all eleven countries.

The United States and the Commerce Department support the important initiatives ASEAN is taking on to support the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). All governments in the region are actively working to put greater emphasis on protecting intellectual property and enforcing intellectual property rights. This encourages innovation, as it ensures that SMEs will be able to profit from their ideas without worry of them being compromised.

Secretary Pritzker Meets With Commerce Employees in Houston

Secretary Penny Pritzker meets with Houston-area Commerce Employees.

While in Houston, Texas today, Secretary Pritzker visited a U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC), part of the International Trade Administration (ITA), and met with USEAC employees and employees from the Bureau of Industry and Security’s (BIS) Houston field office. The secretary's visit was part of her latest stop on a nationwide listening tour and was an opportunity to thank the employees for their work for the Department of Commerce. 

USEACs are the domestic arm of ITA’s U.S. Commercial Service, which is comprised of an extensive network of trade specialists located in more than 100 U.S. cities and 80 countries worldwide. The specialists help American companies start exporting or expand their international business presence. Specific services include: world class market research; trade events that promote companies’ product or service to qualified buyers; introductions to buyers and distributors; and counseling and advocacy through every step of the export process.The Houston USEAC in particular has been working with companies in the energy, information technology and transportation sectors to support and increase U.S. exports.

The secretary also met with representatives from BIS’ Houston field office. The Houston office’s mission is to protect U.S. national and domestic security, foreign policy and economic interests. BIS operates a law enforcement program focused on sensitive exports to hostile entities or those that engage in onward proliferation, prohibited foreign boycotts and related public safety laws. The office accomplishes its mission through preventative and investigative enforcement activities and then pursuing appropriate criminal and administrative sanctions against export violators.

Partnership Between the Port of Houston and Department of Commerce is Crucial for Continued Economic Success

Categories:
Len Waterworth, Executive Director of the Port of Houston Authority

Guest blog post by Len Waterworth, Executive Director of the Port of Houston Authority.

It was an honor to host the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker, at one of the nation’s busiest and most critically important ports, the Port of Houston.

As a civic and business leader and entrepreneur, Secretary Pritzker understands that excellent transportation infrastructure allowing manufacturers to access materials and deliver products is key to increasing exports. It is how a port like Houston, geographically positioned as the gateway to America’s heartland with exceptional rail and roadway connections, has grown to be the nation’s number one port in terms of foreign tonnage.

The Port of Houston's economic activity helps keep Texas the nation's top exporting state. For the past 11 years, Texas has outpaced the rest of the country in exports. In 2012, Texas exports totaled $265 billion, up by 5.4 percent from 2011, according to Commerce Department data. Top export markets include Mexico ($94.8 billion), Canada ($23.7 billion), China ($10.3 billion), Brazil ($10 billion), and the Netherlands ($9.5 billion).

Exports from the Houston metro area topped $110 billion in 2012, an annual increase of almost $6 billion. That was enough to surpass New York for the first time since 2006 as the top export region in the U.S.

The partnership between the Port Authority and Department of Commerce is crucial for continued success and for making America awesome. A good example is Foreign Trade Zone 84, which is number one in the nation for merchandise received in warehouse/distribution centers. The FTZ program in the Houston region is providing economic stimulus in the form of jobs, tax base and revenue.  

Secretary Penny Pritzker Announces $600,000 Investment to Support Entrepreneurship and Job Creation in Louisiana

Secretary Penny Pritzker hears from entrepreneurs at Idea Village in New Orleans, Louisana

Secretary Penny Pritzker today announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $600,000 grant to The Idea Village, Inc., of New Orleans, La., to support programs that assist entrepreneurs in building their businesses and creating jobs. Secretary Pritzker is in New Orleans today as part of her nationwide listening tour, and made the announcement at The Idea Village after meeting with local entrepreneurs, mentors and business leaders.

The EDA investment announced today will support more than 300 businesses, according to grantee estimates. Specifically, it will fund additional technical assistance programs, especially in such growing fields as technology, biomedical engineering, and media production; help with expansion of The Idea Village’s successful “Entrepreneur Season,” a six-month-long program of business assistance and education; and support more forums, workshops, and networking sessions that will be offered during New Orleans’ Entrepreneur Week. EDA previously awarded two grants to The Idea Village – $800,000 in 2009 and $400,000 in 2011 – which helped the organization build their capacity to assist entrepreneurs.

To learn more about the U.S. Economic Development Administration, visit www.eda.gov.

The 50th Anniversary of the "I Have a Dream" Speech and the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom: August 28

View of the National Mall teeming with thousands around the Reflecting Pool (photo: National Archives)

On Aug. 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to more than 200,000 people from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. His famous "I Have a Dream" speech and the march were key moments in the American Civil Rights Movement.  To mark the anniversary, the U.S. Census Bureau has gathered key statistics that measure changes in some aspects of the black population to date.

There has been tremendous progress over the past 50 years. The diversity that we see in the classrooms and boardrooms around the country is a testament to that. And that impulse towards making sure everybody gets a fair shot is one that found expression in the Civil Rights Movement, but then spread to include Latinos and immigrants and gays and lesbians. “As we reflect back on the progress made over the last five decades, there still remains a lot of work to ensure that everyone who works hard can succeed, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation,” Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said in an anniversary statement.

On August 23, President Obama signed a Presidential Proclamation commemorating the 50th  Anniversary of the March in 1963. Review the U.S. Census Bureau’s Facts for Features Special Edition for information about population, voting, elected officials, income, housing and many other demographic categories.

Non-English Language Use in the United States Mapped

Language Mapper Screenshot showing dots for where Spanish language is spoken

The U.S. Census Bureau has released a web-based map application built to display language data collected from the American Community Survey. 

Language use, English-speaking ability, and linguistic isolation data are currently collected in the American Community Survey. In the past, various questions on language were asked in the censuses from 1890 to 1970. The current language use questions, in use since 1980, gather how many people speak a language other than English at home, what languages are spoken, and how well English is spoken.

For most people residing in the United States, English is the only language spoken in the home. However, many languages other than English are spoken in homes across the country. Data on speakers of languages other than English and on their English-speaking ability provide more than an interesting portrait of our nation. Routinely, these data are used in a wide variety of legislative, policy, legal, and research applications.

Commerce Announces $15 Million to Boost Competitiveness of U.S. Manufacturers

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today announced $15 million in U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) grants to support 11 Trade Adjustment Assistance Centers (TAACs) in California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington that help manufacturers affected by imports adjust to increasing global competition and create jobs.

“The Obama administration is committed to providing communities with the resources they need to succeed in a global marketplace,” Secretary Pritzker said. “The grants announced today will strengthen the competitiveness of the U.S. economy by providing funding for programs that help companies make improvements in such critical areas as advanced manufacturing, engineering, marketing, quality control, information technology, and market development.”

The Billion Dollar Roundtable

Guest blog post by David Hinson, National Director of the Minority Business Development Agency. Cross-posted from MBDA.gov.

Each year, since 1955, Fortune Magazine ranks the 500 largest corporations in the United States.  Corporations that are part of the Fortune 500, purchase goods and services from other businesses which in turn support thousands of other companies and millions of jobs across the nation.  Becoming a supplier to a major corporation is a growth strategy that many minority-owned firms incorporate into their business plans, and Fortune 500 corporations have responded by launching supplier diversity programs.  Some are more successful than others. 

The Billion Dollar Roundtable (BDR) was created 12 years ago to identify and honor those Fortune 500 corporations that have embraced the value of working with diverse suppliers and procuring quality products and services to satisfy their corporate needs.   Every corporation that is a member of the Billion Dollar Roundtable is formally committed to procuring at least $1 billion annually in goods and services from minority and women-owned businesses.  Today, there are 18 corporate members of the BDR, with many more on their way to achieving the $1 billion threshold.

Although $1 billion is the benchmark for joining the Billion Dollar Roundtable, AT&T is one corporation exceeding that goal.

On August 21st, I attended the Billion Dollar Roundtable annual summit, where attendees shared best practices in supply chain diversity excellence. There were also discussions about new strategies and opportunities to increase the number of Fortune 500 corporations in the Billion Dollar Roundtable. The Roundtable has accomplished a lot since its founding in 2001.

Secretary Pritzker Visits Census Bureau’s Atlanta Regional Office

Secretary Pritzker meets with Reggie Bigham (Deputy Regional Director) and Katrina Carter (Assistant Regional Director) of the Census Bureau's Atlanta Regional Office on Friday, August 23.

Earlier today, Secretary Pritzker visited the Census Bureau’s Atlanta Regional Office. She met with Census Bureau employees as well as staff from the Economic Development Administration and Minority Business Development Agency. Her latest stop on her listening tour, and the first at a Census Bureau regional office, gave her the opportunity to thank the employees for their hard work collecting the data that allows the Census Bureau to measure America’s people, places and economy.

The Census Bureau’s six regional offices form the backbone of the data collection process. Field representatives in the Atlanta region follow up with respondents from South Carolina to Louisiana to gather data for surveys such as the American Community Survey, which provides the only local statistics available for every neighborhood in the nation.

Secretary Pritzker toured the regional office and thanked staff for their hard work and dedication to gathering data critical to the nation: “The information you collect helps government at all levels — federal, state and local. Your data is critical for entrepreneurs and business owners who want to make good decisions. I’ve discussed the importance of the Census Bureau to the President himself, and we talked about how we need to capitalize on our data-rich environment to promote the administration’s initiatives.”

Atlanta Regional Office Deputy Director Reggie Bigham, along with assistant director Katrina Carter, led the office tour. He thanked Secretary Pritzker for including Atlanta on her tour: “We are thankful that you have taken the time to visit our regional office and that you took the time to personally hear from our staff about the many quality activities we perform to collect the vital statistics needed for our nation. We look forward to hearing from you about your vision for our organization as members of the Department of Commerce.”

Brand USA and Commerce: Partners in Travel Promotion

Daniel Halpern, President and CEO of Jackmont Hospitality, Inc., and the Chair-Elect of the Corporation for Travel Promotion, dba Brand USA

Guest blog post by Daniel Halpern, President and CEO of Jackmont Hospitality, Inc., and the Chair-Elect of the Corporation for Travel Promotion, dba Brand USA.

I had an inspiring conversation today with Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. I joined Secretary Pritzker and the heads of several Atlanta companies to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing the Atlanta business community. I think we all felt inspired by the conversation and the work that the Department of Commerce is doing to lead the economic recovery.

Travel and tourism was a key topic the Secretary and I discussed. Travel and tourism is the United States’ largest services export. In 2012 international visitors spent nearly $166 billion and produced a $47 billion trade surplus, supporting 1.2 million jobs. Tourism benefits virtually every sector of the U.S. economy, from hotels and attractions to restaurants, transportation, retail, and professional services.

The travel and tourism industry has advanced under the leadership of the Obama administration and the Department of Commerce. We’ve witnessed the signing of the Travel Promotion Act, which created Brand USA, and the development of a National Travel Tourism Strategy to attract 100 million international visitors by 2021.