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Blog Entries from 2014

US Department of Commerce Middle East Trade Mission 2014 - a Startup's Perspective

Paul Doherty, President and Chief Executive Officer, the digit group, inc.

Guest blog post by Paul Doherty, President and Chief Executive Officer, the digit group, inc.

We read that the Middle East market was exploring Smart Cities as part of their strategic growth and knew our Smart Cities solutions would be a good fit there, but being a small startup technology company from Silicon Valley, we knew we needed assistance to enter the dynamic Middle East market. Being chosen to be a delegate for the 2014 Middle East Infrastructure Trade Mission led by Secretary Penny Pritzker, gave us an opportunity to showcase American innovation, explore a dynamic market and discover opportunities.

Upon arriving in the United Arab Emirates, the digit group was immediately immersed into a journey of discovery that did not stop. Secretary Pritzker and her talented staff created the environment for us to succeed by getting to know what we do, who we wanted to meet and then making it happen. The dynamic “Lightning Rounds” of meetings with decision makers and influencers for Smart City projects was thrilling and effective (including the Dubai World Expo 2020), the keynote speeches engaging and direct while the presentations and Q&A with government agencies and officials brought transparency, frank talk and paths forward for the entire delegation to consider. Both in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the digit group was met with genuine interest and desire by government agencies and private companies, to not only learn what we do, but to immediately engage in pilot projects that showcase our Smart City solutions.

In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, our delegation was treated to clear and frank discussions on government strategy on large scale infrastructure projects and private sector aspirations, including the world’s tallest building, the Kingdom Tower in Jeddah. In fact, the digit group verbally agreed to 3D model the entire Kingdom Tower complex in our gaming engine, Orbi, during the Lightening Round in Riyadh. It was about this time during this mission that the camaraderie between the delegates roared into full swing as opportunities were shared, ideas exchanged and the mission became bigger than itself.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Wraps Up Successful Trade Mission with Visit to Qatar

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Business Delegation Wraps Up Successful Trade Mission with Visit to Qatar

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker wrapped up her Middle East trade mission in Qatar, where there are many opportunities for U.S. businesses due to the country’s growing economy as well as investments in infrastructure and transportation. As part of the National Vision 2030, Qatar’s broad strategy for growth and development, the country is focused on making meaningful advances in education, sustainability, and economic diversification. Qatar is currently preparing to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and is therefore undertaking numerous new construction projects, renovations and upgrades to prepare for the games and the influx of visitors they will bring. With more than $150 billion in infrastructure investments needed before 2022, U.S. companies are well-positioned to help Qatar meet its development goals. 

Twenty-one such companies are accompanying Secretary Pritzker on her trade mission to the Middle East, and they have been meeting with Qatari leaders to explore business opportunities. On Thursday, Secretary Pritzker and the business delegation met with His Excellency Eng. Essa Bin Hilal Al-Kuwari, President of the General Water and Electricity Corporation (Kahramaa). They discussed how U.S. companies can get more involved in future Kahramaa water, power, and smart grid projects. They also met with Nasser Al Mawlawi, President of the Public Works Authority (Ashghal), which is leading publically-funded road projects in advance of the 2022 World Cup. Ashgal has already selected several U.S. engineering and construction firms, including AECOM Technology Corporation, a member of the trade mission’s business delegation, to lead major projects. 

Secretary Pritzker also met with Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, who is in charge of preparations for the World Cup. Secretary Pritzker congratulated Al Thawadi on the successful bid to host the World Cup and highlighted the close collaboration between U.S. and Qatari companies on major infrastructure projects related to the event. 

Attracting Qatari investment to the U.S. was also a big focus of the visit. On Thursday, Secretary Pritzker met with Ahmed Al Sayed, CEO of the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), founded by the Qatari government to diversify the country’s economy. She talked about the United States as an investment destination and highlighted SelectUSA, a Commerce-led federal initiative to promote business investment, as a resource for Qatar as the country seeks to expand its investment portfolio. 

Secretary Pritzker reached out to government leaders on her visit as well, notably His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of Qatar, as well as Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani, Prime Minister and Minister of Interior. She emphasized the strong bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Qatar and the Commerce Department’s commitment to enhance our commercial relationship. 

Also on Thursday, Secretary Pritzker participated in an armchair discussion hosted by AmCham Doha and the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC). During the discussion, Secretary Pritzker expressed the Commerce Department’s strong support for U.S. companies working to help Qatar reach its development goals. 

This week’s trade mission has been a successful effort to connect U.S. businesses with export opportunities in the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. It demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a sustained economic partnership in the Gulf region.

Secretary Penny Pritzker Meets with Saudi Entrepreneurs About Challenges and Opportunities in the Region

On Tuesday night, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker met with a dozen Saudi entrepreneurs in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as part of her trade mission to the Middle East. The entrepreneurs work in a variety of sectors, including retail, real estate, food services, and more.

Secretary Pritzker briefly discussed her experiences as an entrepreneur with more than 27 years in business. Then, the male and female participants shared their own stories of entrepreneurship, and discussed challenges and opportunities for entrepreneurs in the region.

The attendees ranged from: a hamburger chain owner who built his first restaurant in 2009 with four employees and now has 17 franchises and 130 employees across the country; an entrepreneur who created a new real-estate-development division at his family’s business; and, a serial entrepreneur who launched an electronic recycling facility, an investment company, and a design school.

The group discussed the importance of education and skills training for entrepreneurs. Secretary Pritzker highlighted the success of the King Abdullah Scholarship Program, which sends tens of thousands of students to study at U.S. universities each year.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Tours Solar Park in Dubai

Secretary Pritzker speaks to the Dubai Chamber of Commerce

On Monday in Dubai, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker toured the Mohammed bin Rashid Solar Park by helicopter, getting a firsthand look at how cooperation between the U.S. and Dubai can lead to tremendous opportunities for businesses in both countries.

The solar park was built by First Solar, a company based in Tempe, Arizona that is currently accompanying Secretary Pritzker as part of her trade mission to the Middle East. Completed in October of 2013, the solar park is a 13 megawatt power plant and the largest solar facility of its kind in the Middle East.This solar park proves U.S. businesses can serve as strong business partners to the Gulf region as UAE invests in its infrastructure and transportation systems.

After the tour, Secretary Pritzker and the business delegation met with Dubai Electricity and Water Authority  (DEWA) project specialists and DEWA CEO Al Tayer to further discuss DEWA’s investments in water, electricity and renewable energy projects, all of which offer additional opportunities for American companies to serve as partners.

In addition to her tour of the solar park, Secretary Pritzker held several meetings on Monday to support U.S. companies as they explore business opportunities in Dubai’s infrastructure expansion. She met with Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) officials and World Expo 2020 committee members to congratulate Dubai on winning the World Expo 2020 bid and to offer the Commerce Department’s support in preparation for the Expo. Held every five years, the World Expo attracts millions of visitors to the six-month long exhibition of trade, innovation and products from around the world. Dubai Expo 2020 will focus on sustainability, mobility, and opportunity, and will be a platform for connectivity to help pioneer new partnerships for growth and sustainability for the future.    

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Kicks Off Middle East Trade Mission in Abu Dhabi

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Kicks Off Middle East Trade Mission in Abu Dhabi

With rapidly growing economies and an expanding middle class driving demand for U.S. products and services, countries in the Gulf region are ramping up investments in transportation, renewable energy, and other infrastructure projects. That is why U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker is leading a trade mission to the region this week, her second since being sworn in last June. Along with a delegation of 21 export-ready U.S. companies, Secretary Pritzker started her trip in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, a country with which the U.S. has a growing trade relationship. As the UAE undertakes major investment in its infrastructure and transportation systems, there are tremendous opportunities for U.S. firms to serve as strong partners. 

On Sunday morning, Secretary Pritzker led the trade mission’s business delegation on visits to two government-established entities that are making investments in infrastructure, in order to help these U.S. companies explore possible export or investment opportunities in the UAE. First they met with Khaldoon Mubarak, the CEO of Mubadala, a development company that is investing in renewable energy, educational facilities, transportation, and logistics. Mubadala has already partnered with a number of U.S. companies, including General Electric, Boeing and Lockheed Martin. The delegation also visited the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority, which currently serves approximately 40 percent of the UAE’s population and is working to expand its capacity.
 
Secretary Pritzker then delivered remarks to business and government officials at a luncheon hosted by the United States–United Arab Emirates Business Council, the United States Chamber of Commerce, AmCham Abu Dhabi, and the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce & Industry. In her remarks, she highlighted the growing U.S.-UAE bilateral trade relationship, noting that U.S. exports to the UAE have more than doubled since 2009. Secretary Pritzker underscored that the companies on the trade mission are eager to do business in the UAE, and to serve as partners on a number of infrastructure projects the country has undertaken in areas such as renewable energy and transportation.

NTIA Brings Broadband Opportunities to Alaska

Chevak village elder Maggie Atcherian displays her native artwork for sale online

Guest Blog Post by Anne Neville, Director, State Broadband Initiative, National Telecommunications and Information Administration

Last week, I traveled to Anchorage for the annual economic summit hosted by the Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference, a non-profit regional economic development organization. The Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference is working to improve the quality of life and drive responsible development across the Alaska Peninsula, the Aleutian Islands, Bristol Bay, the Kodiak Archipelago and the Pribilof Islands. 

Last week’s summit had a packed agenda, covering everything from energy conservation to sustainable fishing practices. One big topic of conversation was broadband and the power of high-speed Internet to open up economic, educational and social opportunities in some of the poorest, most isolated communities in our nation. 

It’s no wonder that the Alaska state nickname is “The Last Frontier.” The state is more than double the size of Texas, with more than 3 million lakes, 34,000 miles of shoreline, and 29,000 square miles of ice fields. But with fewer than 750,000 residents, Alaska includes some of the most remote, sparsely populated pockets of the U.S. Many Alaska Natives reside in tiny villages with just a few hundred people and lead subsistence lifestyles. 

Broadband offers these communities a way to connect with the wider world and access everything from online classes to healthcare services to job opportunities. It also offers Alaska Natives a way to preserve their indigenous culture for future generations and share it with a global audience. 

At the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, we see first-hand evidence of this through our investments in several Alaska broadband projects:

With funding from NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rasmuson Foundation, the Alaska State Library established public computer centers at 97 public libraries across the state. The federal investment helped pay for computers and terrestrial and satellite Internet connections, as well as an innovative videoconferencing network. It also helped pay for digital literacy training to help local residents take advantage of everything from electronic commerce and e-government services to online job interviews and distance education offerings. 

The Online with Libraries – or Alaska OWL – project is using the new videoconferencing capability in all sorts of creative ways. The Juneau Library organized a virtual field trip for local children to see dinosaurs on display at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Alberta, Canada. The Unalaska City Library hosted a session for students in a local high school carpentry class to learn about a union apprenticeship program from the training coordinator for the Anchorage-based Local 367 of the United Association of Plumbers and Steamfitters Union. And libraries in Craig, Haines and Kenai have used the system to facilitate an interactive Shakespeare “Reader’s Theater,” with patrons at each of the libraries taking turns reading play passages. 

Department of Commerce releases FY 2014-2018 Strategic Plan

Plan priorities are in direct alignment with the Department’s “Open for Business Agenda”

Today the Department of Commerce released its Strategic Plan for fiscal years 2014 to 2018. The five-year plan, along with the recently released FY15 budget, provides the pathway for meeting the Department’s long-term goals and objectives. The plan, summarizes the key strategies and initiatives that will drive progress in the Department’s five priority areas:

  • Trade and Investment. Expanding the U.S. economy through increased exports and foreign direct investment that leads to more and better American jobs.
  • Innovation. Fostering a more innovative U.S. economy—one that is better at inventing, improving, and commercializing products and technologies that lead to higher productivity and  competitiveness.
  • Data. Improve government, business, and community decisions and knowledge by transforming Department data capabilities and supporting a data-enabled economy.
  • Environment. Ensuring communities and businesses have the necessary information, products, and services to prepare for and prosper in a changing environment.
  • Operational Excellence. Delivering better services, solutions, and outcomes that benefit the American people.

The creation of the strategic plan was a collaborative effort involving staff from every Department of Commerce bureau and serves as a foundation for economic growth and opportunity. The plan is in direct alignment with the  “Open for Business Agenda,” which reflects the Department’s role as the voice of business, and the Administration’s focus on economic growth and job creation. Department leaders and employees will use this plan to transform strategies into actions, and actions into results.

Read a summary of the plan or the entire plan.

Files

Secretary Pritzker Committed to Strengthening the Role of Women in Business and Technology

Penny Pritzker, Secretary of Commerce

Guest blog post by U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker

As President Obama declared in his State of the Union address, “When women succeed, America succeeds.” Here at the Department of Commerce, we are committed to strengthening the role of women in business and technology. Among the Department’s many initiatives aimed toward advancing this goal are the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) efforts to empower our country’s women to innovate and create good jobs.

The USPTO provides the training and tools to encourage more women to get involved in, and contribute to, our innovation and knowledge-based economy.

In fiscal year 2013 alone, USPTO worked with over 3,000 girls through targeted programming focused on intellectual property (IP) and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) opportunities, including workshops on 3D printing, invention concepts, engineering design, game development, product packaging, and patent and trademark protection.

One of USPTO’s many successful collaborations occurred this past November when they teamed up with representatives from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority to support the 2013 Girls Rock: Emerging Young Leaders Empowerment Conference, hosted at Woodson High School in Washington, DC. Over 300 girls spent the day learning about applied chemistry, coding, and robotics, and the USPTO workshop focused on encouraging girls to combine their STEM skills with IP knowledge and entrepreneurship skills.

In an effort to build regional clusters to spur creativity and entrepreneurship and to encourage more women and minorities to innovate, USPTO has also focused greater attention on programs with school districts including Alexandria City, District of Columbia, Prince Georges County, Howard County, Detroit, MI, and Los Angeles, CA.

USPTO’s outreach also includes their participation in many public-private partnerships, like supporting the Women Veterans Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship program and providing female veterans with the tools to become successful entrepreneurs.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Begins Trade Mission to Middle East

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker leaves today for the Middle East for her second trade mission. She will lead 21 U.S. companies on the trade mission, which is focused on export opportunities for U.S. businesses in the infrastructure sector.  This trade mission will mark the first time in 15 years a U.S. Commerce Secretary has taken a trade mission to the Persian Gulf.  The delegation will make three stops over the next week including the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.

In addition to export opportunities for U.S. businesses in the infrastructure sector, this trade mission will focus on areas such as project management and engineering (including construction, architecture and design), renewable energy (solar, wind, and waste-to-energy), smart grid and energy efficiency, and environmental technologies (including water/wastewater, air pollution control, and waste management). Each of these areas is critically important to growing and expanding U.S. business opportunities in the region.

Last week, Secretary Pritzker delivered remarks to the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council, the U.S.-Qatar Business Council, and the U.S.-Saudi Arabian Business Council where she discussed the decades-long security and commercial relationship between the United States and the Middle East and the growing opportunities for expanding business in the region. She stressed the importance of this trade mission as a demonstration of the United States’ commitment to a sustained economic partnership in the Gulf region.

Secretary Pritzker recently returned from her first trade mission to Mexico which provided 17 U.S. companies with opportunities to establish relationships and promote their technologies and services in Mexico’s advanced manufacturing, information and communications technology, health IT and medical device sectors. The mission also allowed Secretary Pritzker to focus on a key pillar of the Department's "Open for Business" agenda, helping U.S. businesses export goods and services and expanding investment opportunities in the U.S.

Greeley and Hansen Sees Trade Mission as Opportunity to Advance Aggressive International Growth Objectives

John C. Robak, President & Chief Operating Officer of Greeley and Hansen

Guest post by John C. Robak President & Chief Operating Officer, Greeley and Hansen

ED Note: Greeley and Hansen is a global leader in developing innovative engineering, architecture, and management solutions for a wide array of complex water, wastewater, and water-related infrastructure challenges.  The firm has built upon 100 years of proven civil and environmental engineering experience in all phases of project development and implementation to become a premier provider of comprehensive services in the water and wastewater sectors.

Greeley and Hansen is excited to participate in the upcoming Department of Commerce Trade Mission with Secretary Pritzker and other business delegates to the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. As the individual who directs the international business operations for Greeley and Hansen, I believe the projected growth in these countries is phenomenal, and can provide significant business opportunities for Greeley and Hansen’s water and wastewater engineering, architectural, and management consulting services. We have set forth an aggressive plan for international growth, and this important trade mission will allow us to further assess the long-range needs of these countries for water and wastewater infrastructure and to better identify potential long-term project opportunities for our firm.

Traveling with Secretary Pritzker will provide unprecedented access to high-level decision makers in each of these countries.  Having had the opportunity to be a delegate on previous infrastructure trade missions with the U.S. Commerce Department, I know first-hand that Greeley and Hansen will gain valuable information and insight into the market for water and wastewater services, but more importantly, we will also be able to establish valuable contacts that can help us launch the expansion of our operations in these potential high-growth markets for our firm. Participating in these past trade missions has led to real business opportunities for us in other emerging markets across the globe that are also interested in gaining access to U.S. technology and intellectual capital to help build sustainable infrastructure that will support continued growth and expansion.