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Blog Entries from 2014

Taking Action to Attract the World’s Top Talented Professionals

Guest Blog Post by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker

Today, the Obama Administration announced new steps to make it easier for highly skilled workers and talented researchers from other countries to contribute to our economy and ultimately become Americans. These measures are part of administrative reforms first announced in 2012, and reflect our commitment to attracting and retaining highly-skilled immigrants, continuing our economic recovery, and encouraging job creation.

Specifically, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a proposed rule that would—for the first time—allow work authorization for the spouses of H-1B workers who have begun the process of applying for a green card through their employers. Once enacted, this proposed rule would empower these spouses to put their own education and skills to work for the country that they and their families now call home.  This rule change was requested in a “We the People” petition to the White House.

At the same time, DHS is also proposing another new rule to make it easier for outstanding professors and researchers in other countries to demonstrate their eligibility for the EB-1 visa, a type of green card reserved for the world’s best and brightest. Just as great athletes and performers are already able to provide a range of evidence to support their petition for an EB-1, professors and researchers would be able to present diverse achievements such as groundbreaking patents or prestigious scientific grants.

These measures build on continuing Administration efforts to streamline existing systems, eliminate inefficiency, and increase transparency, such as by the launch of Entrepreneur Pathways, an online resource center that gives immigrant entrepreneurs an intuitive way to navigate opportunities to start and grow a business in the United States.

Commerce in the Community: Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren on Public Service and Expanding Opportunity in Her City

Mayor Lovely A. Warren, Rochester, New York

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Commerce in the Community series highlighting the work of community leaders and organizations that are strengthening the middle class and providing ladders of opportunity for all Americans.

Below is an interview with Rochester, New York Mayor Lovely Warren. A Rochester native, Mayor Warren served as President of the Rochester City Council prior to the start of her first term as Mayor in 2014. This interview is part of the Commerce Department’s participation in Public Service Recognition Week.

Q1: What inspired you to pursue public service?

When I was in college, I never saw myself pursuing a career in public service.  In fact, I had a lifelong desire to become a prosecutor.  When I was 7 years old, my grandfather was shot while working security at a local grocery chain.  He almost died, but thankfully he pulled through.  From that moment on, I pursued a dream of becoming a prosecutor so I could bring people, like the man who shot my grandfather, to justice.

After college I went to law school and was still hoping to become a prosecutor.  But fate had other plans for me.  I took an internship with New York State Assemblyman David Gantt, and my life was forever changed.  Working for Assemblyman Gantt, I got my first introduction to the world of public service.  Not only did I see how laws are actually created and executed on the state level, but I also got to see how elected officials help their constituents.  People would call Assemblyman Gantt’s office when they were out of options, and we were their last hope.  I helped people who were about to lose their homes due to foreclosure,  people who needed guidance on how to navigate the legal system,  people who wanted to start a business, and people who were being taken advantage of by slumlords.  I was amazed at the incredible diversity of issues that are brought to elected officials.  But more importantly, I was impressed by the incredible potential elected officials have to positively impact the lives of so many people, particularly the poorest citizens, who often don’t have access to the knowledge and resources that more affluent citizens may enjoy.

That is still what motivates me to get up and go to work every morning; the opportunity to positively impact the lives of city residents.

Q2: As Mayor of Rochester, what are your key priorities for expanding economic opportunity?

NOAA Invites Citizens to “Come Visit Us” at the Coastal and Ocean Places It Helps Protect

Come Visit Us - kayak alongside a river bank

Conserving coastal places provides economic benefits to local communities. For example, across all national marine sanctuaries, about $4 billion annually is generated in local coastal and ocean-dependent economies from diverse activities like commercial fishing, research and recreation-tourist activities. NOAA’s National Ocean Service works to conserve marine areas — and preserve the economic benefits of these special places to local communities — through coastal management and place-based conservation programs such as the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, National Marine Sanctuaries, and the Coral Reef Conservation Program.

From May 5-9, NOAA’s National Ocean Service will celebrate these special coastal and marine places in conjunction with National Travel and Tourism Week. Their online campaign, Come Visit Us, highlights a variety of coastal and marine places that the National Ocean Service helps to protect, including

  • 28 national estuarine research reserves (1.3 million coastal and estuarine acres)
  • 13 national marine sanctuaries and 1 national marine monument (170,000 square miles of marine and Great Lakes waters)
  • coral reefs and marine protected areas in U.S. coastal waters

The campaign will include ocean facts, an audio podcast, videos, and even a guide to diving in our sanctuaries and reserves. And for those who can’t travel to our ocean and coasts in the near future, this visual campaign will help them virtually experience the coastal and marine places that NOAA strives to protect. Conserving these special places today is critical to ensuring future generations can enjoy and benefit from these valuable ocean and coastal resources tomorrow.

You can follow Come Visit Us on the NOAA Ocean Service Facebook or Twitter pages.

Commerce Department Collaborates with Regional Partners to Make the U.S. a Magnet for Advanced Manufacturing and Good Paying Jobs

This week, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker met with the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) Steering Committee 2.0 and the Manufacturing Council to discuss issues affecting the health of America’s manufacturing industry, including progress on the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI).

In his 2013 and 2014 State of the Union Addresses, President Obama called for the creation of a nationwide network devoted to innovating and scaling-up advanced manufacturing technologies and processes to create good paying jobs and spur economic growth. These efforts, known as the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) consist of regional hubs, bringing together companies, universities, community colleges, and government to accelerate the development and adoption of cutting-edge manufacturing technologies for making new, globally competitive products. The President has asked Congress to authorize a one-time $1 billion investment—to be matched by private and other non-federal funds—to create an initial network of up to 15 hubs. Over the span of 10 years, he has proposed building out NNMI to encompass 45 such hubs.

Significant progress has already been made to accelerate the development of the NNMI. In January, President Obama announced the selection of the Next Generation Power Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Institute, headquartered at North Carolina State University, to lead a manufacturing innovation institute for next generation power electronics. It is focused on enabling energy-efficient, high-power electronic chips and devices by making wide bandgap semiconductor technologies cost-competitive with current silicon-based power electronics. President Obama also announced two additional institutes in February – the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute, headquartered in Chicago, and the Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing Innovation Institute, headquartered in the Detroit area. These announcements build on the NNMI pilot – the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, now known as America Makes – launched in August 2012 in Youngstown, Ohio.

May is World Trade Month 2014

Guest blog post by Ken Hyatt, Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade.

Happy World Trade Month!

For years, May has been the time to not only recognize the benefits of international trade, but also for organizations around the country to support more American companies competing overseas.

For the United States, the benefits of trade have been great, as have our successes. We recently announced that for the fourth straight year, the United States set a record for annual exports in 2013, at $2.3 trillion. That is a 40 percent growth in total exports since 2009.

Behind those exports are millions of well-paying American jobs – a record 11.3 million jobs to be exact. That number is an increase of 1.6 million from 2009.

As more American businesses compete and succeed in the global marketplace, the entire national economy reaps benefit.

Fishing’s Impacts Ripple across the Broader Economy

1.7 million jobs supported by U.S. commercial and recreational fishing industries in 2012

Guest blog post by Eileen Sobeck, NOAA’s Assistant Administrator for Fisheries

Fishing is big business in the United States. From commercial fisheries to recreational and charter boat business owners, fishing contributes to the United States’ economy and supports jobs. According to new reports issued today by NOAA Fisheries, we continue to see positive economic impacts from commercial and recreational U.S. fisheries as well as progress in rebuilding our nation’s fish stocks.

Between 2011 and 2012 alone, U.S. commercial and recreational saltwater fishing generated more than $199 billion in sales impacts, contributed $89 billion to gross domestic product, and supported 1.7 million jobs.

Breaking down the numbers a little more, the value chain of the commercial fishing industry—harvesters, processors, dealers, wholesalers, and retailers—generated $141 billion in sales, $39 billion in income and supported 1.3 million jobs in 2012.

The recreational fishing sector generated $58 billion in sales, $19 billion in income, and supported 381,000 jobs in 2012.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. The United States is a world leader in responsibly managed fisheries, and there’s no doubt that our approach to management is directly tied to the positive economic impacts across the broader U.S. economy in the last few years as we see in the Fisheries Economics of the U.S. 2012 report.

New Expansion to Support New Opportunities

Guest blog post by Arun Kumar, Assistant Secretary for Global Markets and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service

Last week, Commerce Secretary Pritzker made an important announcement that demonstrates the United States’ commitment to supporting developing economies and the Department of Commerce’s commitment to U.S. businesses competing overseas.

The Department’s International Trade Administration will open offices in five new markets, bringing Foreign Commercial Service (CS) officers into some of the world's most rapidly developing economies. In cooperation with the U.S. State Department, we will open offices in Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Burma this calendar year.

These new offices, and our staff additions in other offices around the world, will make us more capable of supporting U.S. exporters. We can support more Gold Key Matchmaking, we can conduct more market research, and we can help connect U.S. companies to more global markets.

As a new member of the Department of Commerce team, I'm very excited to be a part of this major expansion - especially in such important markets for U.S. businesses.

Commerce in the Community: Opportunity Nation Works to Expand Economic Mobility and Promote a 21st Century Workforce

Mark Edwards, Executive Director of Opportunity Nation

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Commerce in the Community series highlighting the work of community leaders and organizations that are strengthening the middle class and providing ladders of opportunity for all Americans.

Below is an interview with Mark Edwards, Executive Director of Opportunity Nation, which he launched in 2011 with a coalition of more than 250 cross-sector partners.

Q1: What is Opportunity Nation?

Opportunity Nation is a national, cross-sector campaign comprised of more than 300 businesses, educational institutions, nonprofits and civic organizations working together to expand economic mobility and close the opportunity gap in the US. 

Our work is guided by the belief that the zip code where you are born should not determine your chances in life. If the ability to move up the ladder of opportunity grinds to a halt, we are in grave danger of losing the best of America.

Q2: How is Opportunity Nation working to promote job creation and economic development?

Working closely with nonprofits, community colleges and employers who are committed to helping young Americans gain the skills they need, we advocate for federal policies and public and private sector actions that expand opportunity, outlined in our Shared Plan. We also hold regional and national meetings that bring cross-sector leaders together.  Lastly, we’ve created a first-of-its-kind tool, the Opportunity Index, that’s sparked research, national awareness and grassroots activism on opportunity-related issues.

NIST Research Offers Guide in Formulating Cancer Treatment Drugs

NIST Research Offers Guide in Formulating Cancer Treatment Drugs

Potentially valuable drugs slowed down by sticky molecules may get another shot at success. Joint research by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Genentech, the University of Delaware and Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) has revealed the reason why a certain class of proteins tends to form clusters that lead to high viscosity in drug solutions.

The newly published results* could help drug companies create a variety of cancer and autoimmune disease treatments based on monoclonal antibodies, whose stickiness can make them difficult to administer through thin needles.

Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) are Y-shaped protein molecules that hold great promise for disease treatment. In principle, the tip region of two of their "arms" can be engineered to deliver attacks on tumor cells without harming surrounding tissue, making mAbs less dangerous to the body than standard chemotherapy, that kills both healthy and cancerous cells. However, a roadblock in the way of their bright pharmaceutical future as a subcutaneous injection—the preferred delivery technique—is their high viscosity: in solution, some mAbs become so viscous at required high concentrations that they are nearly impossible to inject.

PTO Addresses Importance of Intellectual Property for World IP Day

Blog by Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO Michelle K. Lee

Today I had the opportunity to discuss the importance of intellectual property during a World IP Day event at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. I want to share my remarks with you through this blog:

One of the challenges I’ve come to appreciate in my own career in IP law, and particularly as Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, is how to facilitate a better and broader public understanding of the importance of intellectual property in our daily lives. Let’s face it: As engineers, scientists, academics, and lawyers, we don’t always do a great job helping get the public as excited about intellectual property as we are, or in helping them see the connection between intellectual property, the products they enjoy, and the IP-related jobs created every year in our innovation economy. As recently as 2012, a Commerce Department study found that IP-intensive industries support at least 40 million jobs and contribute more than $5 trillion dollars to, or 34.8 percent of, U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). That’s a huge part of our economy.

As a child of the Silicon Valley, I saw the power of innovation and intellectual property up close and personal. My parents were immigrants, drawn across the Pacific Ocean by the promise of the American Dream. My father was an engineer, and so were all of the dads on the street where I grew up. They worked for tech companies of all sizes, often founded by just one person who grew their businesses through the power of intellectual property. Many of them had the experience of creating an invention, patenting it, and using the protection that patent provided to obtain venture capital funding, hire employees, and begin producing and selling new products and services. Seeing that process as a child made an indelible impression on me, and I never had much doubt about what I wanted to do when I “grew up.” But of course my childhood was shaped by intellectual property in other ways that I didn’t always recognize or appreciate.