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Blog Entries from 2013

Rapiscan Hopes to Facilitate Trade and Enhance Security in Latin America

Peter Kant, President, Rapiscan Americas

Guest post by Peter Kant, President, Rapiscan Americas

ED Note: Rapiscan Systems is the largest US manufacturer and supplier of security inspection systems and services.  Rapiscan specializes in airport, cargo and major event security systems and provides high-technology security scanners and scanning operational services.

Rapiscan is honored and excited to join Acting U.S. Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank on the infrastructure trade mission to Brazil, Panama and Colombia next week. Having participated in trade missions in the past, we have always found these opportunities to be extremely beneficial and, given the mission’s focus on infrastructure, I’m sure this one will prove to be no different.

Rapiscan is focused on expanding our efforts extensively in the Latin American market. Brazil’s economy is growing at a rate second to only China, providing ample opportunities for partnerships and trade with U.S. companies. Given the numerous events Brazil will be hosting over the coming years–including the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics–security is a concern, something we hope to discuss next week. Rapiscan will actually have the opportunity to secure some of the stadiums in Brazil that will be used for the FIFA Confederations Cup next month – the same stadiums that will later be used for the World Cup.

Latin America Presents Growing Opportunities for American Companies

Upcoming trade mission to promote U.S. exports and job creation

Guest blog post by Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank

With 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside U.S. borders, helping U.S. companies find partnerships and customers in fast-growing markets is crucial to creating a strong and vibrant economy built on good middle class jobs.

As a part of our overall goal to increase American exports, next week, 20 U.S.-based companies will join me on an infrastructure-focused trade mission to Sao Paulo, Brazil; Bogota, Colombia; and Panama City, Panama.  Each of the governments of these fast-growing countries have ambitious infrastructure expansion and improvement plans for the years ahead. 

This trade mission will allow U.S. companies to highlight their cutting-edge technologies and world-class engineering services. The trade mission will also allow them to make the personal connections they need to expand their businesses and it will build on 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, U.S. exports hit another all-time record, reaching $2.2 trillion.  Between 2009 and 2012, exports have supported 1.3 million additional jobs.

Obama Administration Seeks Applicants for First Phase of ‘Investing in Manufacturing Communities’ Partnership

Effort will encourage an improved approach to economic development around the country

The Obama Administration today announced that it is accepting applications for the first phase of the “Investing in Manufacturing Communities” Partnership, a new initiative outlined in the President’s fiscal year 2014 budget that will help accelerate the resurgence of manufacturing and create jobs across the country.

Phase One of the “Investing in Manufacturing Communities” Partnership: In the first phase of this effort, the Departments of Commerce and Agriculture as well as the Small Business Administration and Environmental Protection Agency will award at least 25 grants of up to $200,000 each to help regions develop long-term economic development strategies intended to create a globally competitive environment that will attract, retain and expand investment and spur international trade and exports. These “Implementation Strategies” will encourage collaboration at the local level to identify the region’s comparative advantages and assets, and plan investments to expand the area’s appeal to manufacturers.  In addition, these grants can be used to help communities prepare for the second phase of this initiative, IMCP “Challenge” grants. 

Phase Two of the “Investing in Manufacturing Communities” Partnership: President Obama’s fiscal year 2014 budget includes funds for the Department of Commerce to award five to six IMCP “Challenge” grants, expected to be up to $25 million each.  These funds are intended to be supplemented by coordinated investments from several other federal departments and agencies. The 2014 challenge will reward communities for having the best long-term strategies for attracting private investment and increasing exports, and should combine many of the elements companies seek when they are deciding where to locate or expand, such as: specialized research centers at local universities; business incubators focused on targeted technology sectors; community college programs to train workers in targeted industries; public works projects to upgrade infrastructure or enhance energy efficiency; viable export promotion plans; well-integrated supply chains; and an engaged community of local government, education, workforce, and business leaders.  Full release

International Visitors Spent $14.4 Billion in the United States in March 2013

Firs-quarter U.S. Travel and Tourism exports contribute $43 billion to the U.S. economy

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank highlighted new data today that shows spending by international visitors to the United States in March 2013 totaled more than $14.4 billion, an increase of nearly 3 percent when compared to last year. International visitors spent $43 billion on travel to, and tourism-related activities within, the United States during the first quarter of 2013. The data release coincides with National Travel and Tourism Week, celebrated each year to recognize the positive impact the industry has on our economy.


“International travel and tourism represents our country’s largest services export,” said Deputy Secretary Blank. “So far this year, international visitor spending in the United States has markedly outpaced U.S. spending abroad by more than $13 billion, which continues our momentum from 2012’s record-setting year. Likewise, last week’s jobs report showed continued strong job growth in the leisure and hospitality industry.  Travel and tourism is an important sector of our economy, which is why we are continuing to increase our efforts to attract more international tourists to vacation in the United States.” 

Purchases of travel and tourism-related goods and services by international visitors traveling in the United States totaled $11 billion during March. These goods and services include food, lodging, recreation, gifts, entertainment, local transportation in the United States, and other items incidental to foreign travel. Fares received by U.S. carriers (and U.S. vessel operators) from international visitors also increased by nearly 3 percent to $3.4 billion for the month, an increase of $70 million when compared to March 2012. Overall, the United States enjoyed a favorable balance of trade for the month of March in the travel and tourism sector, with a surplus of $4.2 billion. Full release

USPTO Honors Inventors Hall of Fame Inductees

The National Inventors Hall of Fame 2013 Class of Inductees (seated) with living inductees attending the 41st Annual Induction Ceremony held at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Alexandria, Virginia. USPTO photo by Amando Carigo

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) had the exciting privilege of honoring 17 of America’s greatest innovators Wednesday night, when they were inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in ceremonies held at the USPTO’s Alexandria, Va., headquarters. Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Acting Director of the USPTO Teresa Stanek Rea conferred induction medals to visionary inventors whose patented innovations include the electronic synthesizer, flat panel plasma display, iris recognition technology, and the code providing the foundation for 3G cellular systems.

Garret Brown was honored for inventing the Oscar-winning Steadicam camera stabilizer, which made Rocky Balboa’s run up the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum one of the most iconic moments in movie history. Emmy award winners Don Bitzer, Gene Slottow, and Robert Willson were recognized for their invention of the flat-panel plasma display, which revolutionized home entertainment. Samuel Alderson was honored posthumously for developing the crash test dummy. From its beginnings, the dummy has proven invaluable to designing and testing advances in fields of automobile safety, aviation, and medical technology.

A complete list of the honorees and their revolutionary patented inventions is located on USPTO's website.

The National Inventors Hall of Fame is the premier non-profit organization in America dedicated to honoring legendary inventors whose innovations and entrepreneurial endeavors have changed the world. Founded in 1973 by the USPTO and the National Council of Intellectual Property Law Association, the Hall of Fame has 470 inductees with its 2013 induction. You can visit the National Inventors Hall of Fame and Museum in the atrium of the Madison Building on the USPTO campus in Alexandria, Va., Monday through Saturday. Admission is free.

Celebrating World Trade Throughout May

Cross post from Tradeology, the official blog of the International Trade Administration

The following blog post was written by Francisco J. Sánchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

May brings warmer weather, longer days, and, most importantly for us at the Department of Commerce, World Trade Month. For years, this has been a special time to reflect on the importance of trade to our nation’s economic well-being.

Over the past few months, we’ve discussed what an important year 2012 was for exports and our  economy: a record-setting $2.2 trillion in overall exports, 10 percent annual growth in tourism-related exports, and 9.8 million U.S. jobs supported by exports.

World Trade Month is an occasion to recognize the past year’s successes while looking ahead to new ways to expand exports and build a stronger economy. It’s a month for us to recognize what we know all year long: that exports are a key to our long-term economic health.

The month of May will provide many opportunities to do just that. Events and observances to look out for include:

  • National Travel and Tourism Week, a celebration of that industry’s contributions to the U.S. economy, will take place from May 4-12.
  • On May 16, the Small Business Administration and Denver U.S. Export Assistance Center will co-sponsor the 40th Annual World Trade Day.
  • May 19 will bring the start of World Trade Week, a tradition dating back to 1927 and marked by a Presidential proclamation.
  • During that week, the President’s annual “E” Awards will be presented to leading U.S. exporters.

Have a question about getting started in exporting? Twitter chats throughout the month will offer chances to learn about exporting and pose questions to government agencies involved in President Obama’s National Export Initiative.

We invite you to check this post or our World Trade Month category for regular updates on these and other events. You can also visit our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter.

As we kick off World Trade Month 2013, our team looks forward to continuing to support our nation’s exporters as they build things here and sell them everywhere.

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