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

Blog Entries from 2014

NOAA Ship & National Aquarium Co-Host Star-Spangled Events & Tours

NOAA Ship & National Aquarium Co-Host Star-Spangled Events & Tours

On Sept. 10, NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, America’s Ship for Ocean Exploration, joined a parade of tall ships, Navy vessels, and other boats entering Baltimore Harbor as part of the Star-Spangled Spectacular, a week-long festival celebrating the 200th anniversary of the national anthem. 

Okeanos Explorer will be moored next to the National Aquarium through Sept. 16. During that time, the Aquarium and the ship will co-host a range of events, including public tours. 

Star-Spangled Spectacular events also include living history demonstrations, a family fun zone, live musical performances, and food vendors. Public events culminate on Sept. 13, when two concerts will take place, as well as a fireworks display over Fort McHenry and the Baltimore harbor. For more information about NOAA and National Aquarium-hosted events go to http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/about/what-we-do/oer-updates/2014/baltimore-090914.html

The Okeanos Explorer is the only federal vessel assigned to systematically explore the ocean for the purpose of discovery and the advancement of knowledge. She methodically maps the deep seafloor and conducts several major expeditions each year using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to investigate seafloor habitats. ROV expeditions are live-streamed to the oceanexplorer.noaa.gov website, where anyone can follow along as a virtual explorer. Through telepresence technology, scientists on shore are able to participate remotely in real time, helping aid in discovery and identification of species, geological features, and other deep-sea phenomena. Okeanos Explorer is in port between Legs II and III of her current expedition, Our Deepwater Backyard: Exploring the Atlantic Canyons and Seamounts. The expedition, taking place Sept. 16-Oct. 7, will explore the diverse deep-sea environments just off the Northeast coast—in other words, within a couple of hundred miles of one of the most densely populated areas of the U.S.  This area is home to deep-sea corals, chemosynthetic communities, and unique geological features. Much of the area is unknown and has never been seen by humans. 

 



President’s Export Council to Participate in Administration’s First-Ever Fact-Finding Mission

President’s Export Council to Participate in Administration’s First-Ever Fact-Finding Mission

Guest blog post by Stefan M. Selig, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

Yesterday, Secretary Pritzker and I announced that we will lead a high-level delegation on an economic fact-finding trip to Poland and Turkey later this month. I am excited to participate in the first PEC fact-finding mission for the Obama administration. 

That delegation — members of the President’s Export Council (PEC) — is the principal advisory committee on international trade to the president. It includes both public officials and private sector leaders. 

The private sector leadership that will participate during the trip represent many of the most successful and important companies doing business globally today. That includes the PEC vice chair, Ursula Burns, Chairman and CEO of Xerox Corporation. 

CEOs and senior executives from Lockheed Martin, Marriott International, Archer Daniels Midland, Boeing, Dow Chemical, eBay, IBM, and Pfizer, among others, will also participate in the fact-finding mission. 

With Poland as the sixth largest economy in the EU, and Turkey tripling its GDP per capita since 2002, the trade and investment opportunities are plenty and promising, particularly as they relate to economic growth for American businesses. 

After exploring potential opportunities in these countries, the PEC will report its findings to President Obama later this year. This trip is also an occasion for both the administration and American businesses to expand its presence in the field of commercial diplomacy. Working together as partners, we are deepening U.S. economic ties and continue to strengthen our presence on the global stage. 

In fact, one of the reasons I am excited to lead ITA at this moment in time, is because I believe we have a significant role in shaping international economic priorities.  

We can drive commercial diplomacy to new heights. 

From our Doing Business in Africa campaign, which helps facilitate business deals that result in trade-based development for the continent and jobs for the United States, to our Look South Initiative, which is designed to increase trade and investment with our neighbors to the south, or trade missions that promote clean, renewable energy throughout the world, the linkages between our trade and our diplomatic priorities is clearer than ever. 

For more information about the PEC, its members, or history, visit http://trade.gov/pec. Stay tuned for our report to the president. 

The Survey of Business Owners and Self-Employed Persons Is Key to Explaining America’s Economy

The Survey of Business Owners and Self-Employed Persons Is Key to Explaining America’s Economy

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

Did you know that there are 27.1 million non-farm businesses in America? The U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners and Self-Employed Persons provides the only comprehensive source of statistics about business ownership in the U.S. The Census Bureau conducts the SBO every five years. This is the first time the SBO is being conducted primarily online.

If you own a business, such as a salon or a landscaping company, you may be one of the one million Americans selected to participate in the Survey of Business Owners. Even if you do not have employees other than yourself, we want to hear from you. By participating online now, you can help provide consistent, comparable, and comprehensive statistics on U.S. business performance. For example, the 2007 SBO showed us that 5.9 percent of responding firms reported income from e-commerce – an important insight into how the Internet is shaping our economy.

Right now we are in the process of asking respondents to fill out the Survey of Business Owners, which is part of, and benchmarked to, the 2012 Economic Census. We begin the Survey of Business Owners after the data collection phase of the Economic Census is complete. It provides information every five years on business characteristics (e.g., if a business is home-based, or how much start-up capital it received) and owner characteristics (such as gender, race and ethnicity, and veteran status) for businesses of all sizes across America.

Businesses of all sizes are crucial to the U.S. economy and having quality statistics on businesses is critical. Some of the ways that government leaders and others use SBO statistics include:

  • Business owners are able to analyze their operations in comparison to similar firms, compute their market share, and assess their growth prospects.
  • Entrepreneurs can make informed decisions about what types of products and services to sell, and where to sell them. They can also use SBO data in business plans and loan applications.
  • The Small Business Administration can assess business assistance needs and allocate available resources.
  • Local government commissions are able to establish and evaluate contract procurement practices.
  • Federal, state, and local government agencies have a framework for planning, directing, and assessing programs that promote veteran-, women-, and minority-owned businesses.
  • Researchers can analyze long-term economic and demographic shifts, and differences in ownership and performance among geographic areas.

“Built to Last” – Secretary Pritzker Talks to Investors about the Build America Investment Initiative

 Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker discussed the Administration’s efforts to “Build America” at the Infrastructure Investment Summit hosted by the U.S. Departments of Treasury and Transportation.

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker discussed the Administration’s efforts to “Build America” at the Infrastructure Investment Summit hosted by the U.S. Departments of Treasury and Transportation.  The Summit brought together senior Administration officials and more than 100 leaders from industry, finance, philanthropy, and local and state governments to highlight the urgent need to invest in our country’s infrastructure, build public-private partnerships, and develop strategies for increasing investment in sectors like transportation, water, telecommunications, and energy.

During her address, Secretary Pritzker described the central role the Department of Commerce is playing in expanding infrastructure investments and facilitating connections between government, investors, and local leaders.

The Secretary outlined several of the ways the Department is taking the lead. First is through SelectUSA, the first-ever government-wide program designed to attract and retain investment in the United States, which works to connect current and potential investors with local communities interested in attracting infrastructure investment.

Second is the work of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which has strengthened our digital infrastructure though more than $4 billion in grants since 2009 to increase broadband access to underserved communities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

1776 Roundtable: Businesses Growing Out of Data

Under Secretary Mark Doms Addresses Entrepreneurs at 1776

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

This morning, I visited start-up hub 1776, to discuss the Department of Commerce’s efforts to make government data more accessible and informative – to build businesses, grow the economy and help governments and individuals make more informed decisions.

One of my roles as the Under Secretary for Economic Affairs is to connect with our data users, (our customers), to discuss our strategic initiatives in the data space, and gather feedback from interested businesses, government officials, and the public.

At 1776, we met with key stakeholders from innovative start-ups like ID.me, Haystack, Narrative Science, Brigade, Ride Scout (just purchased by Daimler), and firms like Yelp, which has graduated from the start-up phase to employ thousands with offices around the world.

All are users of federal, state and local data, and all are making a contribution to our economy, through employment and the deployment of new technologies that spur innovation and improve peoples’ lives. It was a great conversation, and we gathered some excellent ideas to explore, such as the possibility of using private sector developed APIs for public sector data dissemination.

As a convener and facilitator of world class talent, 1776 sets the model for start-up hubs across the country. Thanks to our hosts and participants for a great event!

Calling Kids of All Ages: USPTO Launches Web Page Encouraging Invention and Science and Tech in School

Calling Kids of All Ages:  USPTO Launches Kids Page Encouraging Invention and Science and Tech in School

Did you know that only one U.S. president earned a patent? Do you know which one? Have you ever wondered where the famous expression “The Real McCoy” comes from?

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) launched a newly redesigned section of its website for kids, but not kids alone! Parents, teachers, and teens will find lots of resources as well as hands-on activities for anyone from preschool to high school. The website encourages students of all ages to engage making, inventing, and discovering the importance of intellectual property. The site also exposes future inventors and entrepreneurs to the inventive thinking process. 

When the children in your life check out the new USPTO KIDS! pages, they’ll discover interesting facts about inventors and learn how they can bring ‘creations of the mind’ to life!  

The website includes games, coloring pages, an audio library of sound marks, videos created by NBC Learn in collaboration with the USPTO and the National Science Foundation (NSF), Girl Scouts’ intellectual property patch activities, lesson plans for teachers, and a list of upcoming events. 

Students can explore collectible cards featuring interesting facts about past and current inventors from diverse walks of life. They’ll also see profiles of inventors their own age, such as Marissa Streng, who while still in elementary school received a utility patent for her dog dryer invention and is the owner of a federally registered trademark. Marissa’s story was featured earlier this year on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Another featured student, Rebecca Hyndman, received a patent for the invention of an under-floor that she designed as an 8th grader. Rebecca was called upon to introduce President Obama at the signing of a historic patent reform bill, the America Invents Act.  

Deputy Secretary Andrews Highlights Efforts to Boost Rural Exports in Upstate New York

Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews says that his native Syracuse is 'poised to succeed' at the White House Rural Council "Made in Rural America" Forum

Today, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews highlighted efforts to boost rural exports in upstate New York at a “Made in Rural America” forum at SUNY Cortland. Deputy Secretary Andrews was joined by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) at the event, where both delivered remarks on how to position rural America for success in the 21st century.

Co-hosted by the White House, U.S. Commerce Department, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Appalachian Regional Commission, the forum convened local business leaders, industry representatives, economic development organizations and local, state and federal leaders to discuss ways to help rural businesses grow. The forum supports the Administration’s “Made in Rural America” Export and Investment Initiative that President Obama announced earlier this year to help rural businesses and leaders take advantage of new investment opportunities and access new markets abroad.

In his remarks, Deputy Secretary Andrews discussed Commerce Department work to ensure small and medium-size businesses have the tools needed to begin or expand exports and create good jobs. Specifically, he outlined goals to expand the national and global footprint of our local and rural businesses; create good-paying jobs for our workers; and cultivate prosperity in communities across Central New York.

Back to School -- Census Bureau Introduces the Statistics in the Schools Program

Statistics in Schools

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

A lot of our work at the Census Bureau looks toward the future – next year’s American Community Survey, or the decennial Census in 2020, for example. One exciting forward-looking initiative is our Statistics in Schools (SIS) program. Research shows that jobs related to statistics are expected to increase by more than 25 percent over the next decade, and SIS is part of our efforts to help make sure students are prepared for them.

Statistics in Schools supports statistics education by providing grade-appropriate classroom activities in math and history, and many resources – such as maps, news articles, videos, infographics, and games – for K-12 teachers to use. Staff from all areas of the Census Bureau worked together to create these activities, which are available online at no charge. Some examples of the activities teachers can find are:

  • Tools for identifying the demographics of specific states and metro areas.
  • Activities to analyze information correlating income to educational attainment.
  • Specific data, such as the number of single-father households, vehicles per household, and salary based on industry sector.
  • Worksheets to graph state population demographics.
  • Activities for estimating how many people in the U.S. walk to work.

The activities are aligned to national standards, including Common Core State Standards and the UCLA National Standards for History. They aren’t intended to replace existing curricula, but rather complement existing lesson plans.

U.S. Department of Commerce Announces $15 Million Grant Competition to Spur Regional Innovation

U.S. Department of Commerce Announces $15 Million Grant Competition to Spur Regional Innovation

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today announced the launch of the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) $15 million 2014 Regional Innovation Strategies Program competition to spur innovation capacity-building activities in regions across the nation. Under this program, EDA is soliciting applications for three separate funding opportunities, including: the i6 Challenge, Science and Research Park Development grants, and cluster grants to support the development of Seed Capital Funds.

“President Obama and I are committed to strengthening American innovation, which is crucial for sustained economic growth and competitiveness,” said Secretary Pritzker. “The EDA Regional Innovation Strategies Program announced today, which builds on the highly successful i6 Challenge, will help spur innovation through the development and strengthening of regional innovation clusters. Innovation clusters strengthen communities by creating good jobs and growing regional economies nationwide.”

“EDA helps foster connected, innovation-centric economic sectors to support commercialization and entrepreneurship, including through regional innovation clusters,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams. “EDA’s new funding opportunity will provide more communities and regions with the resources they need to help local businesses start and grow. Specifically, EDA will help regions across the country develop regional innovation strategies, including proof of concept and commercialization centers, feasibility studies for the creation and expansion of science and research parks, and opportunities to close the funding gap for early-stage companies. This new funding opportunity is also an important component of the Administration’s commitment to build globally competitive regions.”.

The 2014 Regional Innovation Strategies Program originally started as the Regional Innovation Program under the reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act of 2010. This year’s program includes $15 million in funding for the following programs:

  • i6 Challenge ($8M): Launched in 2010 as part of the Startup America Initiative, the i6 Challengeis a national competition based on the most impactful national models for startup creation, innovation, and commercialization. The 2014 i6 has been broadened to include growing or expanding existing centers or programs and considering funding for later-stage Commercialization Centers, which provide opportunities for fine tuning and refinement of innovations. Special consideration will be given to programs which include initiatives focusing on innovative manufacturing and exports. 

NIST Team Honored for Work on Military Smartphone Apps, Security

NIST Team Honored for Work on Military Smartphone Apps, Security

The U.S. Department of Commerce's today announced researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have earned a 2014 GCN Award for Information Technology Excellence* for speeding development and delivery of secure, battlefield-handy—and sometimes lifesaving—smartphone apps to U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

The four-year NIST effort included distilling soldiers’ needs into app requirements, evaluating app performance, and designing a unique smartphone security architecture. It is among 10 GCN-recognized public-sector projects “showing the power of mobile technology to transform the government IT enterprise.”

The NIST team of engineers and computer scientists was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), under its Transformative Apps (TransApps) program. Working with soldiers, contract app developers and others, NIST contributed two brands of expertise—cybersecurity and software performance evaluation. And it organized the collaboration to accomplish DARPA’s objective, "Develop a diverse array of militarily relevant software applications using an innovative new development and acquisition process."

Within about a year after its 2010 start, DARPA-funded collaborators delivered a batch of commercially available smartphones and an initial set of secure, soldier-defined apps to an Army brigade in Afghanistan. By 2013, about 4,000 mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) were deployed in Afghanistan, and an online apps store was up and running for soldiers. The site now features about 60 apps—from map displays to a calculator for estimating blast distances to language games—and it offers regular upgrades.

One of the most popular apps is HeatMap, which color codes routes to indicate frequency of troop use, helping soldiers to vary their travel patterns.