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Blog Entries from 2014

Census Bureau Releases Key Statistics in Honor of Thanksgiving and the Holiday Season

Census Bureau Releases Key Statistics in Honor of Thanksgiving and the Holiday Season

In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims — early settlers of Plymouth Colony, held a three-day feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest. This event is regarded by many as the nation’s first Thanksgiving. The Wampanoag Indians in attendance played a key role. Historians have recorded ceremonies of thanks among other groups of European settlers in North America. These include the British colonists in Virginia as early as 1619.

The legacy of thanks and the feast have survived the centuries, as the event became a national holiday 151 years ago (Oct. 3, 1863) when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a national day of thanksgiving. Later, President Franklin Roosevelt clarified that Thanksgiving should always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month to encourage earlier holiday shopping, never on the occasional fifth Thursday.

The U.S. Census Bureau today released key statistics in honor of Thanksgiving and the holiday season. 

  • There were 242 million turkeys forecasted to be raised in the United States in 2014.
  • Minnesota was the leading state in the number of turkeys raised with 45 million in 2014 followed by North Carolina (35 million), Arkansas (29 million), Indiana (17 million), Missouri (17 million), and Virginia (16 million).
  • 856 million pounds of cranberries were produced in the U.S. in 2014. Wisconsin was estimated to lead all states in the production of cranberries, with 538 million pounds, followed by Massachusetts (estimated at 210 million). New Jersey, Oregon and Washington were also estimated to have substantial production, ranging from 16 to 55 million pounds.
  • 2.4 billion pounds of sweet potatoes — another popular Thanksgiving side dish — were produced in the U.S. in 2014.

For more information and other key statistics on Thanksgiving, please go to the latest issue of the Census Bureau's Facts for Features.

Businesses Commit to Alleviate Their Suppliers’ Capital Costs

Businesses Commit to Alleviate Their Suppliers’ Capital Costs

A recently released Department of Commerce report, “The Economic Benefits of Reducing Supplier Working Capital Costs,” highlighted how much the viability of our nation’s supply chain depends on large firms paying on time.  Our small manufacturing firms—which account for more than 1/3 of manufacturing shipments and close to half of employment—face elevated capital costs, relative to large firms, because of lack of access to loans and higher interest rates.  Large firms exacerbated these constraints through the Great Recession when they delayed payment for the good they ordered.  The economic recovery has not seen these times drop; indeed, one study found that corporate payables increased from an average of 35 days in March 2009 to 46 days in July 2014.

Cutting these times is not just good corporate citizenship.  It makes good economic sense, as the new report outlines.  With less working capital, suppliers’ ability to innovate or invest in their workers is inhibited, leading to lower quality goods and services. They may recoup the shortfall by raising prices, but this is not necessarily an option if they are competing with other suppliers. In the worst case scenario, they may exit the market, leaving a hole in the supply chain. Thus, an increase in suppliers’ working capital costs may ultimately accrue to the large buyer, in the form of lower quality goods and services, less stable suppliers that create risk for the buyer, and/or higher prices because of less productive suppliers.

Just last week, leaders from corporate America met at the White House to collaborate and help their suppliers succeed under the umbrella of the Administration’s SupplierPay. This initiative encourages large businesses to pay their suppliers more quickly to promote small business quality, growth, and innovation. Corporations can help suppliers avoid expensive, difficult to obtain bank loans, or other even more costly financing options. Since the SupplierPay Initiative began earlier this year, 47 companies have taken the pledge to pay their suppliers faster. These companies joined together at this week’s event to network, swap ideas, and exchange lessons learned as they take steps to help increase their suppliers’ access to working capital.

 “When buyers pay their suppliers faster, they both benefit,” said Commerce Department Chief Economist Sue Helper.  “This in turn allows suppliers’ working capital to be put to work for the benefit of the larger economy—their large customers included. Buyers also receive bottom-line benefits and fulfill their corporate social responsibility to their suppliers.”

Census Bureau Releases Key Statistics in Recognition of American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month

Census Bureau Releases Key Facts in Recognition of American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month

In recognition of American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month, the U.S. Census Bureau today released key statistics for American Indians and Alaska Natives, as this is one of the six major Office of Management and Budget race categories. 

  • The first American Indian Day was celebrated in May 1916 in New York.
  • Red Fox James, a Blackfeet Indian, rode horseback from state to state, getting endorsements from 24 state governments, to have a day to honor American Indians.
  • In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed a joint congressional resolution designating November 1990 as “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Similar proclamations have been issued every year since 1994. 
  • The nation’s population of American Indians and Alaska Natives today is 5.2 million, including those of more than one race. They made up about 2 percent of the total population in 2013. Of this total, about 49 percent were American Indian and Alaska Native only, and about 51 percent were American Indian and Alaska Native in combination with one or more other races.
  • The number of states with more than 100,000 American Indian and Alaska Native residents, alone or in combination, in 2013 include California, Oklahoma, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, Washington, New York, North Carolina, Florida, Alaska, Michigan, Oregon, Colorado and Minnesota.
  • In regards to education, 82.2% of American Indians and Alaska Natives 25 and older who had at least a high school diploma, GED certificate or alternative credential. In addition, 17.6 percent obtained a bachelor’s degree or higher. In comparison, 86.3 percent of the overall population had a high school diploma or higher and 29.1 percent had a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • Median age for those who were American Indian and Alaska Native, alone or in combination, in 2013 was 30.8 years old. This compares with a median age of 37.5 for the U.S. population as a whole.

For more information and other key statistics on the American Indian and Alaska Native population, please go to the latest issue of the Census Bureau's Facts for Features.

#DineSmall on Small Business Saturday Night

#DineSmall on Small Business Saturday Night

Cross-post by Maria Contreras-Sweet, Administrator, Small Business Administration

November 29th is Small Business Saturday – a day circled on the calendar of savvy entrepreneurs across America.

Small businesses are the engine of our economy and create two out of three new jobs. Seven in 10 Americans are now aware that the day after Black Friday is a time to shop small and support local economic growth. This year, the SBA is helping to expand this important day into the evening to support entrepreneurs in the food and beverage industry.

This year, America’s bars and restaurants are extending the hours on the daylong festivities by promoting Small Business Saturday Night. The SBA is partnering with the National Restaurant Association to encourage families who shop small to #DineSmall at local restaurants and watering holes in the evening. We’re also encouraging small business merchants to extend their hours so they can take advantage of increased nighttime foot traffic.

Nine out of 10 restaurants have less than 50 employees, and 80 percent of restaurant owners start their careers in entry-level positions. So the #DineSmall movement is this year’s important new way to support the proprietors who give Main Street its unique flavor.

Now in its fifth year, Small Business Saturday has become a time for small businesses to harness the power of social media to attract new customers into their shops and restaurants. Last year, two out of every three holiday shoppers purchased a gift they found on social media. Half of all holiday sales now are influenced by digital interactions. Purchases may still be happening predominately in person, but the influencing is happening online. Social marketing is virtualizing what has always happened on the soccer field and over the backyard fence.

To grow momentum this year, I’m inviting restaurants to promote #DineSmall by sharing their special menus for Small Business Saturday Night. Owners and chefs are invited to share their menus on social media using the #ShowUsYourMenu tag. It’s a great way to promote what your restaurant is doing to cater to America’s small shoppers. 

We all have a stake in seeing foot traffic increase on Main Street; local spending means local jobs and local growth. Holiday shoppers shouldn’t let Nov. 29 pass without investing in your local economy, and entrepreneurs should have a multi-pronged strategy to use this day to drive food and beverage sales and showcase your local business.

Join the conversation today on Twitter (#SmallBizSat#DineSmall and #ShowUsYourMenu) and spread the word about Nov. 29 and what a big difference shopping and dining small can make.

Is Your Company Ready to Export?

Is Your Company Ready to Export?

Don Aberle has one piece of advice for companies looking to export: Commit to it.

It may take time, but the marketing manager from Titan Machinery Outlet says that commitment can pay off, and “good things will happen.”

That’s the theme of a new video from the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration (ITA), which provides tips from successful exporters about how a company can become a global player.

Young companies should also be paying attention to and taking advantage of global opportunities. Startups actually can have an important advantage when it comes to pursuing exports, in that engaging in foreign markets early can make global business a continuing part of your company’s culture.

And that can set your company up for continued success in the global economy.

Here are a few tips that can help your young business find success in exporting:

  • Do Your Research: Find the right markets for your company and have a well-defined strategy for approaching them.
  • Differentiate Yourself: Everyone says their company makes the best products and provides the best customer service. Your company needs to explain – from a consumer’s perspective – why someone would want to buy your products.
  • Be Patient: Jon Engelstad of Superior Manufacturing says there are companies he’s worked with for up to three years in order to make them customers of his company. That means a lot of work for an exporter, but it also creates a strong relationship between you and your consumer.
  • Work with ITA’s Commercial Service: Our team can help you find the right research, plan your strategy, and find the most qualified partners to work with.

Just because your company is young doesn’t mean exporting is out of reach for you. If you’re ready to get started, contact your nearest Export Assistance Center.

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Is Your Company Ready to Export?

NOAA: Atlantic Hurricane Season Stays Quiet as Predicted

NOAA: Atlantic Hurricane Season Stays Quiet as Predicted

The Atlantic hurricane season will officially end November 30, and will be remembered as a relatively quiet season as was predicted. Still, the season afforded NOAA scientists with opportunities to produce new forecast products, showcase successful modeling advancements, and conduct research to benefit future forecasts. 

“Fortunately, much of the U.S. coastline was spared this year with only one landfalling hurricane along the East Coast. Nevertheless, we know that’s not always going to be the case,” said Louis Uccellini, Ph.D., director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “The ‘off season’ between now and the start of next year’s hurricane season is the best time for communities to refine their response plans and for businesses and individuals to make sure they’re prepared for any potential storm.” 

Some of the new and experimental products and services and research opportunities this year included: 

  • The upgrade of the Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF) model in June with increased vertical resolution and improved physics produced excellent forecasts for Hurricane Arthur’s landfall in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and provided outstanding track forecasts in the Atlantic basin through the season.
  • In 2014, NOAA's National Hurricane Center introduced an experimental five-day Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook to accompany its text product for both the Atlantic and eastern North Pacific basins. The new graphics indicate the likelihood of development and the potential formation areas of new tropical cyclones during the next five days.
  • NHC also introduced an experimental Potential Storm Surge Flooding Map for those areas along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the United States at risk of storm surge from an approaching tropical cyclone. First used on July 1 as a strengthening Tropical Storm Arthur targeted the North Carolina coastline, the map highlights those geographical areas where inundation from storm surge could occur and the height above ground that the water could reach. 

U.S. Census Bureau Celebrates 25th Anniversary of of Technology That Propelled GIS, Digital and Online Mapping into the 21st Century

U.S. Census Bureau Celebrates 25th Anniversary of of Technology That Propelled GIS, Digital and Online Mapping into the 21st Century

Cross-blog post by John H. Thompson, Director, U.S. Census Bureau

When you think of the U.S. Census Bureau, you probably think of surveys and statistics. But did you know that geography is also a big part of our work? Geography plays an important role in creating surveys and collecting data, and it provides meaning and context for our statistics. The Census Bureau conducts research on geographic and address topics, makes reference maps to support censuses and surveys, and creates tools to visualize geographic and statistical data.

The Census Bureau’s history of mapping population data dates back to the 1860s. Under the direction of Census Superintendent Francis Amasa Walker and Chief Geographer Henry Gannett, the Bureau produced the Statistical Atlas of the United States, a landmark publication that contained innovative data visualization and mapping techniques.

A century later, the Census Bureau was a leader in the early development of computer mapping. In the 1970s, James Corbett of the Statistical Research Division devised a system of map topology that assured correct geographic relationships. His system provided a mathematical base for most future Geographic Information Systems (GIS) work and helped spark the development of computer cartography.

However, at that time, the Census Bureau still relied heavily on paper maps. Census Bureau geographers and cartographers used some computer-scanned mapping files, covering about 280 metropolitan areas, to create paper maps for enumerators to use. For the rest of the nation, paper maps came from a variety of sources, varied in quality and scale, and were quickly outdated.

PAGE Entrepreneurs in Their Own Words – Hamdi Ulukaya

PAGE Entrepreneurs in Their Own Words – Hamdi Ulukaya

Born into a family of Turkish cheese and yogurt makers, Hamdi Ulukaya landed in New York at the age of 23 with a little money and the intent of learning English. That plan soon turned into a dream of producing affordable, natural Greek yogurt in the United States, and providing more access to delicious, healthy food.

In 2005, the Turkish cheese-maker received a piece of junk mail from a local real-estate company – the local Kraft Foods plant closed down. Ulukaya saw this as an opportunity and bought the plant with the help of a loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration. He spent the next 18 months learning everything he could to create the perfect Greek yogurt recipe. In 2007, Chobani (meaning shepherd in Turkish) opened for business.

From a factory that has grown from five employees to two plants in the US, Chobani is the  #1 yogurt brand in the US with $1 billion in revenue.

Forbes has called him “the Steve Jobs of yogurt” and Ernst & Young named Ulukaya the World Entrepreneur of the Year in 2013.

As a believer in “doing good business,” Ulukaya created the Chobani Foundation which directs 10% of brand profits to charitable groups working for positive and long lasting change.

“A cup of yogurt won’t change the world, but how we make it just might,” Ulukaya said.

Earlier this month, Ulukaya launched the Chobani Food Incubator to inspire more entrepreneurship in the food industry – and to make “Good food for more people.” He wants to start a food revolution and help nurture, support and celebrate today’s entrepreneurs.

As an inaugural member of the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) initiative, Ulukaya wants to help more Americans and people around the world believe in and gain access to their own dreams. Among the many events he has attended to inspire others by sharing his entrepreneurial journey, Ulukaya recently participated in the Social Innovation Summit and Entrepreneurship Summit, both hosted in New York City.

Remembering a Little Known Oil Spill with Out-Sized Impacts

Remembering a Little Known Oil Spill with Out-Sized Impacts

Ten years ago, there was an oil spill that you’ve probably never heard of. The spill wasn’t as large as the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico, and it didn’t occur in an environment as pristine as Prince William Sound which was affected by the Exxon Valdez accident in 1989. But this event had a significant impact on future oil spill response, restoration and maritime accident prevention. 

Just outside of Philadelphia on November 26, 2004, an oil tanker called the Athos I unknowingly ripped its hull on an 18,000 pound anchor hidden on the river bottom. This released more than 263,000 gallons of heavy oil into an industrialized stretch of the Delaware River. That accident set into motion a coordinated federal, state and local response with NOAA playing a significant role providing scientific support to the responding agencies and the eventual restoration of the damaged coastline. 

Every oil spill has impacts and this one, despite being a fraction of the Deepwater Horizon release, severely affected the region’s economy and environment. Commercial traffic on this active shipping route was halted for more than a week, delaying over two hundred vessels. Claims paid to affected businesses topped $162.6 million. 

The nearby Salem Nuclear Power Plant was also affected. Because some oil sank to the river bottom it had the potential of clogging the power plant’s critical cooling water intake system. This required operators to shut down two reactors for 11 days, at a cost of $33.1 million. Scientists at NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration were instrumental in estimating when the river was safe for the power plant to restart operations. 

The Athos incident also caused serious environmental effects. Almost 12,000 birds died as a result of the spill. Spilled oil washed up on 280 miles of shoreline, which included sensitive marshes, beaches, and mudflats. In addition, the spill affected nearly 42,000 recreational boating and fishing trips along the river. 

NOAA’s Damage Assessment, Remediation, and Restoration Program, along with state and federal partners, tallied up environmental and recreational impacts and, in 2010, received $27.5 million from the National Pollution Funds Center. This money is being used for 10 restoration projects to benefit coastal communities and natural resources affected by the Athos oil spill. These projects are creating habitat for fish and wildlife, providing public access for recreation, increasing boater safety, and enhancing flood protection. To date, five projects have been completed, restoring 131 acres out of an eventual 332 acres of habitat. 

Secretary Pritzker Celebrates Female Entrepreneurs during Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

Secretary Pritzker Celebrates Female Entrepreneurs during Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker celebrated Women’s Entrepreneurship Day this week as part of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Marrakesh, Morocco. Secretary Pritzker helped lead the U.S. delegation to the Summit to demonstrate the U.S. government’s continued commitment to fostering entrepreneurship around the world. More than 3,000 entrepreneurs at all stages of business development, business leaders, mentors and high-level government officials gathered for the 5th Annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit. 

At last year’s GES in Malaysia, President Obama asked Secretary Pritzker to chair the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) initiative, and she convened the first-ever meeting of that group this past April. PAGE is made up of 11 well-known American entrepreneurs who are dedicating their time and resources to inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs in the U.S. and abroad. Three PAGE members joined the Secretary at this year’s GES, including Alexa von Tobel, Founder and CEO of Learnvest, Daphne Koller, Co-Founder and President of Coursera, and Hamdi Ulukaya, Founder and CEOS of Chobani.  

In honor of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, Secretary Pritzker delivered the keynote address to approximately 300 women entrepreneurs. She discussed America’s leadership in empowering entrepreneurs at home and abroad and touted how a strong entrepreneurial society can lead to greater economic growth, stability and security, and a rising middle class. During her remarks, she also addressed the challenges that face women entrepreneurs today including lack of access to capital, training in vocational and technical skills, and access to information and technology. Structural obstacles also create enormous difficulties for women and men who want to grow a new business and Secretary Pritzker highlighted some of those obstacles. Secretary Pritzker discussed how female entrepreneurs all over the world need a change in culture to support their work. She expressed that countries need a strong educational system that produces students able to think broadly and creatively, and to accept and take risks while also stressing that countries need to have laws that make it easy for innovators to both start a company and wind it down. 

During her first day in Morocco, the Secretary also spoke with representatives from 80 American Chambers of Commerce headquartered throughout Africa, who were also gathered in Marrakesh for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. She discussed the Department’s Doing Business in Africa campaign, designed to leverage the power of the U.S. business community in Africa and encouraged U.S. trade promotion and investment to all regions of Africa.