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Blog Entries from 2014

Cities Launch Prize Competitions to Spur Economic Development Planning

SC2 Challenge logo

Last week, Greensboro, NC; Hartford, Connecticut; and Las Vegas, Nevada launched economic development competitions as part of the SC2 Visioning Challenge (SC2 Challenge). Created by the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), the SC2 Challenge selected the three cities to receive $1 million each to solicit innovative strategies that advance local economic development planning.

Through a fair and open process of participation, these competitions are expected to attract a wide range of new approaches to help the communities succeed in reaching their economic and job growth goals. Leveraging an extensive array of innovative ideas from a diverse field of participants is a key benefit of challenge initiatives. 

The SC2 Challenge is part of the Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative (SC2), launched by the Obama administration in June 2011. SC2 is aimed at creating new partnerships between federal agencies and localities to spark economic development in communities that have faced long-term development challenges. 

A Vision for Mexico’s Future

Anne Altman, general manager of IBM US Federal Government and Industries, and Dan Pelino, general manager of IBM's public sector business

Guest blog post by Anne Altman, general manager of IBM US Federal Government and Industries, and Dan Pelino, general manager of IBM's public sector business.

IBM believes in a vision of economic development and vitality where technology helps drive more active and engaged communities through citizen-based services, including health care, infrastructure, public safety, supply chain and education, all enabling "smarter" regions and societies.

The dominant cities, regions and countries around the world today are planning for long-term growth to build their economic competitive advantage.  They are doing this by collaborating across levels of government, industry and academia - working across political, social and technological divides to achieve bigger, better and more sustainable outcomes in jobs, business environments and citizen quality of life.

This is why we were honored to be part of the U.S. business delegation to Mexico - deepening our relationships with government and business leaders, some of which we’ve held for many years, since IBM first opened for business in Mexico in 1927.  We share Secretary Pritzker’s belief that Mexico is an important growth market on its own, a key trade partner to the USA and perhaps the world.  This is why we are investing in opening up a cloud computing data center in Mexico City later this year. We believe that Mexico can benefit from the adoption of new technology to enable their cities and States for the future.

As the general managers of IBM’s public sector and Federal business units, respectively, we are always looking for opportunities to share best practices in business and government and learn from the experience of others.  Mexico is our neighbor and partner, and it was rewarding to spend several days in such insightful discussions with the leaders in business, academia and government.

Uncovering History’s Black Women Inventors

Dr. Patricia E. Bath and a drawing of her patent

Editor's note: This has been cross-posted from Inventor's Eye, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Publication for the Independent Inventor Community

February and March are Black History Month and Women’s History Month, respectively. Inventors Eye takes a look at past and present to salute the many Black women inventors who have contributed to the growth of innovation in America.

Black women throughout American history have impacted and contributed to our nation’s culture of innovation. Patents offer a unique lens through which to view history. By tracing the technologies patents protect—or once protected—as well as the inventors listed on those patents, an image of the past emerges. The United States Patent and Trademark Office has granted patents for more than 200 years. That’s a lot of history, and it contains many stories of successful black women who have changed the technological face of America. Today, black women continue to ignite the spark of genius and make key and meaningful contributions to America’s inventive process. 

The trove of historical information locked in patents can be a challenge to extract, as patents do not record extensive personal details about inventors such as race. Adding to the difficulty is the common practice of early inventors to use initials as a way to conceal their identity or gender. There is ongoing debate about the first black woman inventor, but modern research tools have made it less difficult to assemble the pieces of the puzzle. Though we may never be able to tell the full story of black women inventors, the findings reveal that they have consistently conceived innovative ideas and aggressively filed patent applications throughout history.

Martha Jones of Amelia County, Va., might have become the first black woman to receive a United States patent. Her application for an “Improvement to the Corn Husker, Sheller” was granted U.S. patent No. 77,494 in 1868. Jones claimed her invention could husk, shell, cut up, and separate husks from corn in one operation, representing a significant step forward in the automation of agricultural processes. Five years later in 1873, Mary Jones De Leon of Baltimore was granted U.S. patent No. 140,253 for a novel cooking apparatus. De Leon’s invention consisted of the construction and arrangement of a device for heating food by dry heat and steam. The design of the apparatus shows that it was an early precursor to the steam tables now found often at food buffets.

Other documented 19th century black women inventors include Judy W. Reed and Sarah Goode. Reed, from Washington, D.C., was granted a patent in 1884 for a dough kneader and roller (U.S. patent No. 305,474) and Goode, from Chicago, was granted a patent in 1885 for a folding cabinet chair (U.S. patent No. 322,177).

U.S. Exports Set Records in 2013

U.S. Exports Set Records in 2013 infographic

The United States is the world’s largest exporter and importer of goods and services, and the world’s largest recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI). Trade and investment are critical to the prosperity of the world’s largest economy. They fuel our economic growth, support good jobs—and spread the delivery of ideas, innovation, and American values. Trade and investment are an important engine for U.S. economic growth and jobs. With nearly 14% of U.S. GDP in 2013 accounted for by exports, and 95% of potential consumers living  broad, promoting trade and investment helps more U.S. companies compete in the global marketplace.

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U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Concludes Her First Trade Mission in Mexico

Secretary Pritzker is joined by U.S. Ambassador Wayne and  Mexico's Secretary of Economy, Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal during her trade mission to Mexico City and Monterrey, Mexico.

On Friday, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker concluded her five-day trade mission in Monterrey, the largest business center in Mexico after Mexico City.

Among her many trade mission events, Secretary Pritzker met with Margarita Arellanes Cervantes, Mayor of Monterrey, and Jose Luis Pier Castello, President of Lowe's Mexico - one of the leading hardware chains in the world - to highlight the importance of promoting corporate social responsibility and to recognize Lowe's and other American companies doing business in Mexico for their focus on these efforts. At a Lowe's store in Monterrey, Secretary Pritzker expressed her appreciation for employee volunteerism and acknowledged the importance of companies' involvement in the communities in which they operate.

After Lowe's opened its first two stores in Monterrey in 2010, the company, began looking for ways to get involved in the Monterrey community. The company has since supported local schools with donations, volunteer time, and construction expertise. Secretary Pritzker said that Lowe's commitment to the Monterrey community reflects the values of many American companies that invest in Mexico, and that U.S. companies are committed to staying active in the region.

In addition to meeting with Mexican government officials in Monterrey, Secretary Pritzker met with employees at the U.S. Consulate in Monterrey as well as the Department of Commerce’s Monterrey team, thanking them for their public service and for their assistance in promoting Mexican investment in the United States.

Helping the Long-Term Unemployed Get Back to Work

President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden, delivers remarks at an event to outline new efforts to help the long-term unemployed, in the East Room of the White House, Jan. 31, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Editor's note: This has been cross-posted from the White House's Blog.

Guest Blog Post by Gene Sperling, Director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, and Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement

In this year’s State of the Union address, President Obama called attention to a stubborn legacy of the Great Recession that remains despite the progress we have made in creating new jobs: a historically high number of Americans who are ready and eager to work, but have found themselves among the ranks of the long-term unemployed.

Although many of these Americans could help employers fill their hiring needs if given the chance, they often face particular barriers in getting back to work. Research shows that the long-term unemployed are frequently overlooked and sometimes excluded from job opportunities – one study found that candidates who had been out of work eight months were called back for interviews only about half as often as candidates who had been out of work one month, even with an otherwise identical résumé.

"I've heard from too many of these folks," President Obama told a group of CEOs and business leaders the week of his State of the Union address. "They fill out 100 applications, 200 applications. They’re sending out résumés, still finding time to volunteer in their community, or helping out at church. Sometimes they have more experience and education and skill than newly unemployed Americans."

"They just need that chance," he said.

BusinessUSA Recognized for Leading Innovative Collaboration to Support Businesses

Categories:
BusinessUSA

BusinessUSA was named as one of six winners yesterday for the 2014 Igniting Innovation Award, which recognizes government and industry individuals and teams who bring innovative thinking through their IT products, services, systems and solutions that benefit federal government and citizens.

Managed by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Small Business Administration (SBA), BusinessUSA is the federal government’s official assistance resource for American businesses. The platform was launched in February 2012 to serve as a “one-stop-shop” that provides businesses and entrepreneurs with access to the full range of government services and resources available to them at every stage of development.

With thousands of federal, state and local resources, BusinessUSA makes it easier for businesses to locate, access, and utilize resources most relevant to their needs. The website also saves businesses valuable time by providing easy access to information and services through several customer service channels.

In fact, President Obama today called for the White House Rural Council, in coordination with the Commerce Department, SBA and other agencies, to utilize the BusinessUSA platform as part of a new “Made in Rural America” initiative. Specifically, the agencies were tasked with using BusinessUSA to better connect rural businesses with export and investment resources through coordinated support from across the government.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Tours Research and Technology Park In Monterrey, Mexico

Secretary Pritzker is joined by Secretary of Economic Development Rolando Zubiran and Institute for Innovation and Technology CEO Jaime Parada at  Monterrey’s Research and Technology Park

Yesterday, U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker toured Monterrey’s Research and Technology Park (Parque de Investigación e Innovación Tecnológica; PIIT in Spanish), a project that seeks to build competitiveness in the state of Nuevo Leon and northern Mexico by leading the transformation into an innovation and knowledge-based economy. 

PIIT is based on a model that aligns the government, universities, and the private sector to achieve economic growth through innovation. To that end, the PIIT serves both as a R&D Center and incubator, focusing on 10 industry clusters considered strategic by the state of Nuevo Leon – including IT and software, medical services, biotechnology, automotive and auto parts and advanced manufacturing among others.

Accompanied by Secretary of Economic Development Rolando Zubiran and Institute for Innovation and Technology CEO Jaime Parada, Secretary Pritzker praised PIIT and its staff for encouraging public and private partnerships and spurring innovation in Mexico.

Innovation is a major pillar of the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda,” and Secretary Pritzker saw how Monterrey utilizes R&D dollars and cutting-edge sites such as PIIT to  create dynamic clusters that accelerate economic growth and international competitiveness.

In fact, PIIT also includes university and public research centers, private research centers and incubators. Specific entities at PIIT include the University of Texas’ Global Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, as well as PepsiCo, General Electric and Motorola – each maintaining a facility in collaboration with a Mexican partner.

Another Year, Another Export Record

Editor's note:  This has been cross-posted from Tradeology, the Official Blog of the Internatational Trade Administration

Guest Blog Post by Ken Hyatt, Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade and Mark Doms, Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs

Four years ago, President Obama made export promotion a national priority, launching the National Export Initiative to renew and revitalize American exports.

That initiative is working.  Today, the Department of Commerce announced that for the fourth year in a row, the United States has set a record for annual exports. Total U.S. exports for 2013 reached $2.3 trillion.

There were record highs in both goods and services exports. Goods exports totaled 1.58 trillion, with records in a number of important sectors, including industrial supplies, consumer goods, and capital goods.

Service exports hit an all-time high of $682 billion, with records in several major service sectors. Travel and tourism was one record sector, as international visitors contributed $139 billion to the American economy.

Mexico was a particularly bright spot for U.S. exporters, as we saw a 4.7 percent increase to $226 billion in exports to our southern neighbor. Commerce Secretary Pritzker is currently leading a business development mission in Mexico, helping even more American companies find new opportunities and qualified business partners in one of our most important export markets.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Highlights Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Growth in U.S.-Mexico Relationship

Secretary Penny Pritzker Highlights Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Growth in U.S.-Mexico Relationship

As part of her first trade mission, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker spoke at a breakfast event focused on entrepreneurship, innovation, and overall growth in the U.S.-Mexico commercial and economic relationship.  The event was hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce and the Mexico-United States Entrepreneurship and Innovation Council (MUSEIC).  She was joined by Enrique Jacob Rocha, President of the Mexican National Entrepreneurship Institute (INADEM).

MUSEIC builds on the long history of U.S.-Mexico economic cooperation.  Founded shortly after President Obama’s visit to Mexico in May 2013, MUSEIC brings together stakeholders from both countries to strengthen regional economic competitiveness and support entrepreneurship. In 2013, MUSEIC sponsored a number of entrepreneurship-related activities, including an angel investment conference, a startup boot camp for young Mexican entrepreneurs, and an international forum on women’s entrepreneurship.

In her remarks, Secretary Pritkzer discussed the Commerce Department’s involvement in MUSEIC. For example, the Department is helping to map out the commercial and educational assets in the border regions of Tijuana-San Diego and Monterrey-Texas.  Also, in April, the Commerce Department will host government, business, and university leaders from Mexico and other countries to tour research, innovation, and entrepreneurship hubs in the Southern United States.  The event will spotlight public-private partnerships that accelerate new technologies, attract foreign direct investment, and more. Secretary Pritzker also announced that the next MUSEIC meeting will take place in April in San Antonio, Texas.

As the Chair of the President’s Committee on Global Entrepreneurship (PCGE), Secretary Pritzker is committed to working with leaders from around the world to help create an economic environment that encourages entrepreneurship in North America and around the world.  She said, "The United States and Mexico can set the stage for entrepreneurs on both sides of the border to come together, make breakthroughs, launch new firms, and strengthen our economic competitiveness."