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Blog Category: Competitiveness

Emphasizing Efforts to Improve Manufacturing Competitiveness

Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank listens to members of the Council on Competitiveness Executive Board

Guest blog post by Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank

Yesterday, I spoke to the Council on Competitiveness Executive Board about how the Commerce Department, working with the National Economic Council, leads the administration’s efforts across the federal government to promote a vibrant manufacturing sector in the United States.

Manufacturing is vitally important to supporting an economy that is built to last. Manufacturing accounts for 90 percent of our patents, 70 percent of private sector R&D and 60 percent of our exports–including a record $1.3 trillion in goods exported last year. The manufacturing sector has grown strongly over the past two years. After decades of losing manufacturing jobs, the manufacturing sector has been adding jobs for over two years. In the past 25 months manufacturing has added nearly a half million new jobs and 120,000 of those came in the first three months of this year. Importantly, these tend to be high-paying jobs with good benefits.

Even with these improvements in the manufacturing sector, there is much more work to do to ensure America remains competitive. The Department of Commerce recently released a report, “The Competitiveness and Innovative Capacity of the United States,” that discusses some of the challenges the U.S. faces in retaining its global leadership, particularly in manufacturing, and lays out a policy agenda to address these challenges.

Commerce has long worked on this issue through its Manufacturing Extension Partnership at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which supports centers in every state that consult with companies facing technological problems and puts them in touch with scientists and engineers who can help solve those problems. For every dollar of federal investment, the MEP generates around $30 in new sales growth. This translates into $3.6 billion in new sales annually.

Some of the more recent efforts within the Commerce Department to build a policy environment in which manufacturing can flourish include:

U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson Delivers Remarks to Silicon Valley Business Leaders

Secretary Bryson addresses the Silicon Valley Leadership Group in San Jose, CA.

Commerce Secretary John Bryson delivered remarks and participated in a discussion today at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG) annual “CEO Business Climate” Summit at IBM in San Jose, Calif. Bryson focused on the ways the administration is supporting American competitiveness and innovation.

In the past 25 months, the United States has added nearly four million jobs, and SVLG reported today that more than 60 percent of their members had added jobs last year. These jobs help continue to strengthen the country’s economic recovery, and Bryson laid out a few of the ways to helping businesses keep that momentum going.

Bryson discussed the importance of investment in the U.S. by both domestic and foreign firms, including through the Commerce Department’s SelectUSA initiative.

He also emphasized the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, where many job openings exist. The president’s 2013 budget requests $3 billion in STEM programs across the federal government. In addition, this week, President Obama is calling on Congress to pass legislation that would prevent interest rates from doubling for seven and one-half million students starting July 1.

Commerce's EDA Promotes American Manufacturing

EDA logo

Manufacturing represents nearly 60% of total U.S. exports and will play a vital role in America’s economic recovery.

During his State of the Union address, President Obama laid out a blueprint for an "America Built to Last." That starts with American manufacturing. And in his FY2013 budget request, the president outlined strong support for manufacturers by increasing investments in advanced manufacturing, new trade promotion efforts, and innovation.

Today, the president toured the Boeing assembly facility in Everett, Washington, to announce new steps aimed at promoting American manufacturing and increasing U.S. exports. This visit comes on the heels of his trip to Milwaukee, Wisc., where he toured Master Lock, a company that is insourcing and selling their products all over the world.

Federal agencies are making significant investments in innovation and American manufacturing. During the past two years, we have begun to see positive signs in American manufacturing, with the manufacturing sector adding more than 400,000 jobs-the first period of sustained job growth in manufacturing since the 1990s.

President Obama Meets with the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness

Cross post to the White House Blog

Today, President Obama convened a meeting of the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, a group of 27 leaders from business, labor and academia tasked with providing the President advice on strengthening our nation’s economy.

Since its first meeting about a year ago, the Council has put forward a host of recommendations that foster growth, competitiveness, innovation, and job creation, both now and for the future. Of the 35 specific recommendations the Council has made that don’t require legislative action, President Obama has taken action on 33 of them and his administration has already implemented 16.

Some of the implemented recommendations include proposing new tax rules that encourage businesses to invest and create jobs in the United States instead of overseas, expediting job-creating infrastructure projects across the country, eliminating inefficient and burdensome federal regulations, and streamlining government.

At today’s meeting, President Obama praised the Jobs Council for the work they are doing to help our country move forward.

"I recognize a lot of these issues are difficult. They’ve proven challenging for decades. The good news is on each of these fronts we’ve made progress this year. I feel confident in being able to say that every one of the agencies in this government has been focused on how do they improve, get smarter, get better, get faster, become more focused on delivering good value to the end user. And I believe that we’ve made genuine progress on all these fronts. We would not have made this progress without this Jobs Council."

The Jobs Council released a new report in advance of today's meeting that details recommendations to improve our nation's long-term competitiveness by investing in our education system, building on our strengths in manufacturing and energy, and reforming our regulatory and corporate tax systems. Read the full report here.

Green Buildings, Green Jobs: A Closer Look at the Clean Energy Economy

Image of covered walkway (iStock photo)

Guest blog by Andrew Bennett, International Trade Specialist and Smart Grid Industry Analyst at Commerce's International Trade Administration in the Office of Energy and Environmental Industries.

With the Department of Commerce focused on winning the future and driving the president’s vision for a growing clean energy economy, it’s good to see early results from these efforts in the form of the green jobs of today. Green Buildings is a key sector where we’re laying the foundations for the green jobs of the future.

Last month, Siemens USA announced 400 new positions across 39 states in its green technologies division, which is focused on helping cities across the country reduce energy costs through the implementation of a host of green building technology systems.

Meanwhile, in Baltimore, MTC Logistics is working with Virginia-based solar energy services provider HelioSage and Southern Energy Management, a green building services company from North Carolina, to build one of the largest roof mounted solar installations in the state of Maryland.

These ambitious green building projects not only create jobs, they also drive innovation, cut costs for businesses and government and help achieve important environmental benefits.

Standards Boost Business: Competing in a 21st Century Economy

Standards Boost Business logo

Guest blog post from S. Joe Bhatia, President and CEO, American National Standards Institute

From alternative energy and nanotechnology to electric vehicles, vast opportunities for U.S. innovation and economic growth are developing in new and expanding industry sectors. As the U.S. ramps up its efforts to create jobs for the 21st century economy, there is an incredibly powerful tool at hand that can help U.S. industry tap into these technologies and out-innovate competitors in the global market.

I’m talking about standardization – and there has never been a better time for American businesses to leverage standards and conformance to gain a powerful trade advantage. Standardization not only informs the direction of innovation, it impacts the strength of the American workforce. Standards have the potential to accelerate the idea-to-market cycle, increase the number of U.S. products and services, and save companies millions of dollars. In short, standards have the power to turbo-charge innovation and fuel business growth.

That’s why the U.S. standardization community has launched the Standards Boost Business outreach initiative – to help companies understand the strategic and economic value of standards to business and to our overall national competitiveness.

Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security Annual Update Conference Focuses on Export Control Reform

Conference logo

White House Chief of Staff and former Commerce Secretary William Daley delivered the keynote address to the Bureau of Industry and Security's 24th Annual Update Conference on Export Controls and Policy. Mr. Daley and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, who also addressed the conference, both highlighted the administration’s continued priority for the Export Control Reform Initiative as a national security imperative.  In his remarks, Under Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Security Eric Hirschhorn emphasized that the call for export reform by President Obama and Secretary Locke is real and long overdue.

 “The Obama administration’s commitment to export control reform reflects an overriding national security imperative. The current system—based on Cold War-era laws, policies, practices, and controls—is not responsive to current threats and emerging challenges of the twenty-first century. The administration launched ECR to rectify these shortcomings and to increase U.S. security and competitiveness.”

The annual Update Conference discusses reforms to the U.S. export control system that will strengthen national security and improve the competitiveness of key U.S. manufacturing and technology sectors.  White House statement

Hearing From Local Businesses in Minneapolis, MN: Secretary Locke Joins a White House Jobs and Competitiveness Council Listening and Action Session

UPDATED: Secretary Locke wrote about his time in Minneapolis on the White House blog.

Today, Secretary Locke traveled to Minneapolis to take part in a White House Jobs and Competitiveness Council Listening and Action Session. There, he heard suggestions from local business leaders on how the public and private sectors can work together to create jobs and enhance competitiveness for small businesses.

Secretary Locke was joined by Antonio M. Perez, Chairman and CEO, Kodak, Don Graves, President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, Department of Treasury, Ron Bloom, Senior Counselor for Manufacturing Policy, President’s National Economic Council, and Darlene Miller, President and CEO, Permac Industries.

Ms. Miller and Permak Industries, located just outside Minneapolis, played host to the session. They provided Administration officials and Jobs Council Members with a tour the Permac Industries facility and then held forum discussions and Q and A sessions with local business owners to discuss ideas for creating jobs and growing business in this country.

These sessions are part of an ongoing series of regional Council Listening and Action Sessions that will take place around the country.  The purpose of the regional sessions is to respond to the President’s challenge that the Council bring new voices to the table and ensure that everyone can participate and inform the work and recommendations of the Council.  The ideas and information exchanged at these events will help inform the future policy work of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. The first Listening and Action Session took place in Dayton, Ohio and focused on creating new markets and customers for small businesses through supply chain development, in-sourcing, and partnerships with large businesses.

Secretary Gary Locke visited NOAA's Science Center to Highlight Education as a Key Pillar for Enhancing American Competitiveness

Secretary Locke Talks with a Student at NOAA's Science Center in Silver Spring, MD about His Research

Secretary Gary Locke visited the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Science Center in Silver Spring, MD today, to highlight the importance of education in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields in enhancing the United States’ global competitiveness.  He emphasized President Obama’s strategy of results-driven education investments, which will allow the U.S. to out-educate, out-innovate and out-build the rest of the world. 

Locke participated in the NOAA Education Partnership Program’s Annual Cooperative Science Center Directors meeting, where he heard a presentations by NOAA-sponsored undergraduate, Master’s and Ph.D. STEM students about their latest research and findings.  He also held a roundtable discussion with the NOAA Science Center Directors and some of the NOAA Cooperative Institute Directors to exchange ideas about how to bolster STEM education programs for undergraduate and graduate students across the country.  Graduates of these programs are the workforce of the future and will contribute to the recovery and growth of America’s economy. 

The NOAA Education Partnership Program supports five Cooperative Science Centers, housed in Minority Serving Institutions in Washington D.C., Maryland, New York, Florida, and North Carolina.  These Cooperative Science Centers have awarded over 800 Bachelors, Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in the STEM fields in the last 10 years; over 600 of these graduates are from under-represented minorities.

Laying a Foundation to Double Our Exports, Increase Competitiveness

Today Secretary Locke wrote an op-ed posted in The Hill with a focus on how the administration and the Commerce Department are working to increase America's global competitiveness and create U.S. jobs by selling more American-made goods and services around the world.

Cross posted at The Hill

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As 2011 begins, the American economy is stronger than at any time since the Great Recession began in December 2007.

Retail sales just had their strongest quarterly gain since 2001. Private sector employment grew every single month in 2010, with the manufacturing sector posting its first increase in annual employment since 1997.

These are strong indications that the steps President Obama took to foster economic recovery are working — beginning with the Recovery Act and continuing through the December 2010 tax-cut package.

But that’s not to suggest that anyone within the administration or the Commerce Department is satisfied — not with unemployment still over 9 percent.

As we move forward, policymakers should remember that the most important contest is not between Democrats and Republicans, but between America and countries around the world that are competing like never before for the jobs and industries of the future.

Making the U.S. more competitive will require us to focus on two things: supercharging innovation and selling more American-made goods and services around the world, so that U.S. firms can hire more workers and reinvest in the research and development they need to keep growing.

Although the private sector will take the lead on innovation, we can’t forget that the government has always had an important, supportive role to play, and the Commerce Department is engaged in a variety of areas.