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Blog Entries from October 2013

Day One at the SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit

President Barack Obama delivered keynote remarks at the SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit.

Guest post by Ambassador Vinai Thummalapally, Director of SelectUSA.

Cross-posted from Tradeology, the official blog of ITA.

“There’s no substitute for those three proud words: ‘Made in America.’”

President Obama has been emphatic that the United States remains the best place in the world to do business. Today at the SelectUSA Investment Summit, he reiterated that message to 1,000 business leaders from nearly 60 countries.

“When you bet on America, that bet pays off,” the president said as he closed his keynote address.

Your country is your product when you’re attracting foreign direct investment. At the Summit today, we showed the world that the United States is the absolute best product on the market.

“America is open for business,” said Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. “Our market has provided long-term stability and unmatched returns for investors.”

Attendees began making connections as soon as the doors opened. Representatives from 47 states, three territories, and Washington, D.C., showed off investment opportunities around the country.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew highlighted many advantages a company has when it invests in America – including robust infrastructure and low barriers for entrepreneurs. CEOs from major national and international companies echoed those messages throughout the day.

“We have the most resilient capital markets in the world,” said Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock.

Andrew Liveris said that when it comes to investment in research and development, “the U.S. is number one.”

Watch the SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit (Day One)

View the archived webcasts here.

  • Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker's Welcoming Remarks
  • Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew's view of the U.S. and Global Economy
  • Plenary: Why Select the USA: Perspectives on Investing and Operating in the United States
  • President Barack Obama Keynote Remarks

Commerce and President's Council of Economic Advisors Release Report on Economic Benefits of Foreign Direct Investment

SelectUSA logo

A new report from the U.S. Commerce Department and the President's Council of Economic Advisors spotlights the array of factors that have made the U.S. the destination of choice for foreign direct investment (FDI). The joint report, released at the inaugural SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit, also documents the positive impact FDI is having on the U.S. economy, including job creation, higher research and development spending and export growth.

The U.S. is the largest recipient of FDI in the world, with stock of more than $2.6 trillion dollars–including $166 billion that flowed into the country in 2012. Moreover, companies around the world now consider the U.S. to be the nation with the top FDI prospects globally.

The United States has been the world’s largest recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) since 2006. Every day, foreign companies establish new operations in the United States or provide additional capital to established businesses. With the world’s largest consumer market, skilled and productive workers, a highly innovative environment, appropriate legal protections, a predictable regulatory environment, and a growing energy sector, the United States offers an attractive investment climate for firms across the globe.

Secretary Pritzker Declares America is Open for Business

Secretary Pritzker Declares America is Open for Business

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today launched the inaugural SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit, telling the more than 1,200 attendees from nearly 60 countries, 47 states, the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories that the United States is open for business. The first-ever event is connecting foreign and domestic investors with local, state and regional economic development organizations to promote investment and job creation in the United States.

“The SelectUSA Summit is all about business. It’s all about connecting investors with communities,” Commerce Secretary Pritzker told the audience. “We want to open that first door to making an investment here in the United States. Clearly, our investment climate is strong. America is open for business.”

For centuries, the U.S. has welcomed investment into the country and the domestic market has provided long-term stability and unmatched returns for investors. Today, the U.S. is the largest recipient of FDI in the world. Last year alone, foreign direct investment was more than $160 billion dollars and the total foreign stock and assets are measured not in billions, but in the trillions of dollars.

Also at the Summit, the Department of Commerce and the President's Council of Economic Advisers released a report outlining the reasons businesses consider the U.S. a top choice for investment,  as well as the economic benefits of foreign direct investment. Significantly, the report points out that the United States is the largest recipient of FDI in the world, with stock of more than $2.6 trillion dollars – including $166 billion that flowed into the country in 2012. The report recommends that the U.S. should continue to "nurture and build upon the underlying strengths of the U.S. economy that make firms want to invest here; including an open investment regime, a large economy, a skilled labor forced, community colleges, world-class research universities, predictable and stable regulatory regime, adequately capacitated infrastructure, and new energy sources." 

Redesigning Commerce.gov

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After having the same look and feel on our website since 2010, Commerce.gov is embarking on a fresh redesign to put the user in the driver seat. Drawing on anonymized user input, we have made some significant changes and are excited to announce the launch of our new site - Beta.Commerce.gov.

First, you’ll notice that we’ve made search front and center. Our search feature was visited by one in seven users, and we’ve made it even easier to find and use. We are using the USA Search Drupal module, which allows faceted search across not just Commerce.gov, but all Commerce websites. If you know the information you need is somewhere in the Commerce family, but not sure where, our search tool should be able to find it for you.

To improve the user experience, the navigation bar follows the user down the page. No more scrolling up to the top of the page to navigate around the site. The navigation link you need is never more than a few pixels away. We’ve also simplified the navigation bar to make it easier to find what you are looking for. “Economic Indicators” has been replaced with “Find Data,” while “Newsroom” has been replaced with “Get News.” Based on user searches, we’ve added “Focus on Topics,” which groups our most searched topics into an easily navigable section.

Spotlight on Commerce: Gabriel Sanchez, Improving Operational Efficiency Program Manager, U.S. Census Bureau

Gabriel Sanchez, Improving Operational Efficiency Program Manager, U.S. Census Bureau

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.

Guest blog post by Gabriel Sanchez, Improving Operational Efficiency Program Manager, U.S. Census Bureau

The Improving Operational Efficiency (IOE) program at the U.S. Census Bureau harvests ideas from employees and brings cost saving and efficiency-improving innovation to executive staff for possible investment. The program has invested in 109 projects in the last three years and saved more than $32 million. I am currently revamping the program to streamline and improve metrics, objectives, performance and the harvesting of ideas.

There are several overarching themes within my current responsibilities that relate to the President’s blueprint for America — innovation, efficiency, saving money, avoiding costs, streamlining processes, and creating projects that add strategic value to the organization. By spurring innovation and improving operational efficiency, my program helps government run more efficiently and do more with less.

In my varied career since joining the Department of Commerce in 1998, I have worked in five of the Census Bureau’s12 regional offices as well as the headquarters building in Suitland, Md. My previous position — director of the Dallas Regional Office — was the most challenging, as at the peak of operations during the 2010 Census, it had 111,000 employees in 51 local census offices. I led the enumeration of more than 33 million people while dealing with 45 congressional districts and four of the 10 most populous cities in the country.

I was born in Uruguay and immigrated to the United States at the age of eight. I was raised in New York City, but I have been fortunate to live in various places around the country, which helped ratchet down the big city experience. I was very proud of my heritage when I became the first-ever foreign-born regional director of the Census Bureau. Still, I keep searching for another Uruguayan in the Commerce Department.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Works to Encourage North American Economic Cooperation

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker met with her Mexican and Canadian counterparts, Canadian Minister of International Trade Ed Fast and Mexican Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo

The United States, Mexico and Canada have come a long way since NAFTA launched a new era of commerce across the continent nearly 20 years ago. The trilateral relationship now accounts for more than $1 trillion in trade each year. In fact, each day, the United States conducts $3 billion dollars in trade with Canada and Mexico. 

Yesterday, at the North American Competitiveness and Innovation Conference (NACIC) in La Jolla, Calif., U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker met with her Mexican and Canadian counterparts, Canadian Minister of International Trade Ed Fast and Mexican Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo, to discuss how all three countries can continue to work together to promote mutual economic growth and prosperity. 

In a joint statement, the ministers pledged to work together to keep the region competitive and help North American businesses and workers succeed through enhanced regulatory cooperation and coordinated efforts to facilitate increased trade, including the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.

North America is already one of the most attractive places for businesses to invest and create jobs. More than 460 million consumers live in the region. Combined, the U.S., Canada and Mexico account for one-quarter of the world’s GDP. North America is a source of abundant and affordable energy, is home to a skilled workforce, and has made tremendous investments in research and development.

One Year After Sandy, Commerce Continues Helping Communities Rebuild

Satellite view of Superstorm Sandy, 10-29-12

One year ago today, Sandy made landfall along the mid-Atlantic coast. The storm devastated communities, families, and businesses. While it’s natural to reflect on the tremendous damage the storm wrought, today also presents us with an opportunity to look toward the future.

Before, during and immediately after the storm, the Department of Commerce provided information and data that helped save lives and property and get commerce flowing again. But our work hasn’t stopped and we continue to help in rebuilding efforts.

From spot-on forecasts delivered four days before the storm’s landfall to economic assistance to working to open ports, Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) and Economic Development Administration (EDA) have been standing with our federal agency partners to assist affected communities. In the last year, the Obama administration has provided direct assistance to more than 230,000 people and small businesses and has announced more than $39.7 billion in funding for recipients. 

EDA serves as the administration’s lead for economic recovery as part of the National Disaster Recovery Framework, which coordinates key areas of assistance in the wake of natural disasters. Since Sandy struck, EDA has provided targeted technical assistance through peer-to-peer forums to assist the New Jersey tourism industry, government procurement roundtables, “Access to Capital Meetings” to inform business resources of traditional and non-traditional financing mechanisms, and providing risk management resources to small businesses in the region. Ultimately, these initiatives have helped provide small businesses, local leaders, and economic development practitioners learn best practices and empowered them to undertake robust recovery efforts.

Spotlight on Commerce: Jorge Ponce, Director of the Policy and Evaluation Division, Department of Commerce Office of Civil Rights

Jorge Ponce, Director Policy and Evaluation Division, Office of Civil Rights U.S. Department of Commerce

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.

Guest blog post by Jorge Ponce, Director Policy and Evaluation Division, Office of Civil Rights U.S. Department of Commerce

Cuba is my birth place. My parents, my sister and I left our homeland for the United States when I was 11 years old in search of freedom. No, I did not come in a raft as I have strong allergies to shark-infested waters! While most people think that if you are Cuban, you must be from Cuban Mecca Miami, I am an anomaly to this assumption. I grew up in Arlington, Virginia, and attended St. Thomas More Elementary School, Bishop O’Connell High School, and graduated from Washington-Lee High School. Subsequently, I attended George Mason University, and completed my graduate studies at Catholic University.   

This year’s celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month is an important one in our history as we celebrated the 500th anniversary of the landing of Juan Ponce de Leon in Florida.

I consider myself to be a civil rights champion. As such, I’ve co-chaired the Council of Federal EEO and Civil Rights Executives from 2001 to 2012, and maintained its webpage. I have met with the top leadership of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management regularly to address civil rights issues in the Federal Government.  

MBDA Deputy Director Receives Hispanic Business Community Award

Photo of Castillo with event organizers

Cross-posted from MBDA.gov blog by Alberto Betancourt, Press Secretary

The Hispanic Heritage Foundation held their first Hispanic Business Community Awards celebration Oct. 23 at the Capital One Bank headquarters in McLean, Va. The awards recognized the impact of Latino business leaders on the Greater Washington, DC community.

Alejandra Y. Castillo, MBDA National Deputy Director, was one of five awardees honored at the event. Castillo received the Public Service Leadership award.

“I’m very honored to receive this award,” she said. “I have a rewarding job where every day I come to work and have the unique privilege of honoring my father. He emigrated from the Dominican Republic and started his own business. That’s what inspires me to help minority-owned companies grow their own business.”

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker also congratulated Castillo on the recognition. MBDA blog