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Blog Category: Investment

Delivering an American Economic Comeback

Guest blog post by Penny Pritzker, Secretary of Commerce

All Americans love a comeback story. And that is the story that President Obama weaved in his powerful State of the Union address.

Thanks to the grit, resilience and hard work of the American people and our businesses, more than 2 million jobs were created last year and we hit the lowest unemployment rate in more than five years. We have a manufacturing sector that has added over half-a-million jobs. Our stock market is booming. We have record exports. Our housing market is rebounding. And we've cut our deficits by more than half.

And while we have more work to do to lift incomes, expand opportunity for our people and help businesses with the tools they need to grow and hire, both President Obama and I are optimistic about America's future.

We both know that 2014 can be a breakthrough year for America, and we are better positioned for this century than any nation on earth.

New, Innovative, Online Tool to Help Weigh Benefits of Economic Development Projects Using the Triple Bottom Line Model

Screenshot of Triple Bottom Line Tool website homepage

Guest blog post by Matt Erskine, Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

Traditionally, the effectiveness of an economic development investment has been measured primarily by the number of jobs created and dollars leveraged. While critically important, the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) has partnered with Portland State University to create an innovative, web-based tool that takes into account a broader array of economic, environmental, and social impacts to more fully evaluate the potential impact of projects. This new Triple Bottom Line (TBL) Tool will help economic development practitioners, investors, and decision-makers assess, compare, and communicate the viability of potential investments.

While the TBL approach has been recognized as a valuable analytical tool among businesses—including major U.S. companies such as General Electric, Unilever, Proctor and Gamble, among many others—it has not been widely applied or considered within the public sector or by the economic development profession. The new TBL Tool developed through EDA’s investment represents a significant step forward for expanding the application of the concept by planners, nonprofits, community organizations, and governments to help support the assessment and decision making of critical development decisions.

EDA: By Attracting Investment in America, We Create New Jobs

Today, Acting Assistant Secretary for Economic Development Matt Erskine joined Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, Rochelle Mayor Chet Olsen, and Members of Congress at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for this new Nippon Sharyo railcar production facility in Rochelle, Illinois

Guest blog post by Matt Erskine. Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

Attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) to the United States, and the jobs that come with it, has been a priority of the Obama administration since it came into office. Business programs from every federal agency have been thoroughly ramped up, and a new initiative targeting foreign companies thinking about locating in the United States, SelectUSA, was launched in 2011.

The United States is already the largest recipient of FDI in the world. In 2010, such investment totaled $228 billion, up from $153 billion in 2009, supporting more than five million jobs throughout the country. Those workers made up 4.7 percent of total private-sector employment in the United State, with an annual payroll of $410 billion.

Success in attracting FDI doesn’t happen without a lot of hard, collaborative work on the part of states, municipalities, development agencies, and the federal government. I saw an excellent example of this today in the city of Rochelle, Illinois, where I participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of a new manufacturing facility for Nippon Sharyo U.S.A., the U.S. subsidiary of a Japanese manufacturer of railcars.

$6 Million i6 Challenge to Spur High Growth Entrepreneurship and Expand Proof of Concept Centers

i6 Challenge logo

Guest blog post by Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Matt Erskine

The Obama administration has unveiled several actions that are designed to speed up the growth of new, job-creating companies. Today, a new $6 million i6 Challenge, the third round of the national innovation competition, was announced. Six winning teams from around the country will get awards of up to $1 million this fall for innovative proposals to create and expand Proof of Concept Centers, such as the Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Stevens Institute for Innovation at the University of Southern California.

Centers like these incorporate a range of services—such as technology and market evaluation, business planning and mentorship, and early-stage access to capital—that are critical to regional economic growth and job creation.

The i6 competition series has generated great momentum since it was first introduced as part of the roll-out of the White House’s Startup America initiative last year. Projects funded in 2010 and 2011 are already starting to show results.

Europe Travel Log: Secretary Bryson’s Meetings and Events in Berlin, Germany

Photo of Bryson and others on elevated walkways

On May 24-25, U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson visited Berlin, Germany–the final stop on his European trip this week–to meet with senior business and government leaders and to address a major conference on trans-Atlantic trade. The Secretary delivered remarks on the importance of trans-Atlantic trade and a strong bilateral investment relationship between the United States and Germany. He also highlighted Germany's vocational training system, which he witnessed first-hand earlier in the week, as an important model for the United States.

‪While in Berlin, Secretary Bryson also met with Minister for Economics and Technology Philipp Roesler, State Secretary Harald Braun of the Foreign Ministry, and Chancellor Merkel's Senior Economic Adviser Lars-Hendrik Roeller. These meetings focused on how the U.S. and Germany can work together to advance economic growth and increase jobs by reducing barriers to trans-Atlantic trade.

‪Secretary Bryson also met with Hans-Peter Keitel, Chairman of the Federation of German Industries (BDI) along with representatives from companies across various sectors, ranging from industrial to IT to automotive and manufacturing. The Secretary encouraged the businesses to consider further investment in the United States, highlighting the attractiveness of the investment climate, including the resources provided by SelectUSA, the first coordinated effort by the U.S. government to attract new business investments to America.


Exports, Foreign Direct Investment, and Greener Fuel to Jumpstart Georgia’s Economy

Image of Georgia biomass facility

Guest blog post by Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Matt Erskine

As they search for opportunities to grow their economies and create jobs, no region in the United States can really choose to ignore the global marketplace—in fact, it just makes common sense. The latest export numbers bear this out: Since 2009, record-breaking levels of U.S. exports have supported an additional 1.2 million American jobs. And in March, the latest figures show that U.S. exports increased 2.9 percent, the largest increase since July 2011.

The benefits of increased engagement with world markets is something that the city of Waycross, Georgia, has experienced firsthand. In 2010, local authorities successfully concluded negotiations with a German energy firm, RWE Innogy, to build a new $135 million wood pellet manufacturing plant in the Waycross–Ware County Industrial Park. The pellets, which are produced from locally-sourced wood, are used as a cleaner-burning substitute for coal in the generation of electricity. A challenge was making sure that these pellets could be shipped quickly and cost effectively to major transportation hubs. A $1.3 million grant from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) resolved this by funding the construction of a new rail spur, ensuring that the pellets could be shipped to the port of Savannah and from there to overseas buyers.

Europe Travel Log: Secretary Bryson Travels to Paris, France

This week, U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson visited Paris, France for the first leg of a European trip to reaffirm the United States’ commitment to lowering trade barriers and encouraging European businesses to invest in the U.S. In France, Bryson is meeting with several key members of the U.S. and French business communities, as well as with a minister in the new French government. These meetings focused on increasing French investment in the United States, supporting U.S. companies with operations in France, and learning about the new government’s economic policy plans.

On Monday, Secretary Bryson met with the leadership and key members of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in France to discuss investment and trade issues facing U.S. industry and to support U.S. company operations and interests in France. He also met with the leadership and key members of MEDEF, a major French business association, to highlight the attractiveness of the investment climate in the United States and learn about the successes, concerns and problems of current and potential investors. Bryson also took the opportunity to introduce French investors to SelectUSA, the first coordinated effort by the U.S. government to attract new business investments to America.The Secretary later met with the head of the French export agency, UBI France, and the CEOs of three French small businesses that are entering the U.S. market.

China Travel Log 4: On His Final Day in China, Secretary Bryson Highlights Travel to the U.S.

Secretary John Bryson spent his last day in China in the financial capital of Shanghai.

He began his day with a group of American business leaders based in China. The leaders, members of American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai and the U.S.-China Business Council, exchanged ideas and shared information about the opportunities and challenges of day to day business operations in China.

As Secretary Bryson said to the group, our bilateral trade with China reached over $500 billion last year, with U.S. merchandise exports reaching $100 billion for the first time. However, with a trade deficit close to $300 billion, we still have a lot of work to do.

The Secretary then gave remarks at a tourism event, highlighting the robust and growing travel of Chinese tourists to the United States.

In his remarks, Secretary Bryson pointed out that "travel and tourism between our countries is crucial to building stronger cultural and economic ties. This generates greater understanding and friendship between our people. And yes, it also generates greater prosperity."

Secretary Bryson Keynotes Manufacturing Summit Hosted by Senator Gillibrand in Rochester, New York

Secretary Bryson keynotes manufacturing summit, tours site with Senator Gillibrand

This morning, U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson delivered remarks at an upstate New York manufacturing summit hosted by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) at RIT’s Center for Student Innovation. He delivered the keynote address, discussing the administration’s initiatives to help businesses “build it here and sell it everywhere” around the world. Rochester, New York, has a long tradition of leadership in manufacturing and technology. Fueled by a well-educated workforce and commitment to entrepreneurship, Rochester has provided a great example of what American innovation can bring to the U.S. economy.
 
While in Rochester, the Secretary had a chance to tour RIT’s construction of their brand new facility, where students will soon be performing cutting-edge research in sustainability. The Commerce Department helped make this facility possible through a $13.1 million grant from Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
 
In the afternoon, the Secretary visited a business called Schlegel Systems, Inc., a company that specializes in seals, gaskets and brushes for the building products, automotive and copier industries. The Commerce Department’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) in New York is working with Schlegel Systems, Inc. to accelerate new products into the marketplace and expand their markets, along with many other companies. Recent annual data shows that businesses that teamed up with the New York MEP had over $400 million in sales, helping to keep or create nearly 4,000 jobs.

Secretary Bryson Addresses the Industry Trade Advisory Committees

Secretary Bryson Addresses the Industry Trade Advisory Committees

Earlier today, Secretary John Bryson addressed the advisers of the Industry Trade Advisory Committees (ITACs) at a quarterly plenary session at the Department of Commerce. The Secretary laid out his priorities in manufacturing, trade and investment.

The ITACs are comprised of U.S. business leaders who assist the Department of Commerce and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative with trade policy. Secretary Bryson was joined by U.S. Trade Ambassador Ron Kirk and 16 of the ITAC committees to discuss the importance of new and upcoming trade initiatives.

This meeting takes place just weeks after the 2nd anniversary of President Obama’s National Export Initiative. The work of the ITACs is helping to build on the all-time record of $2.1 trillion in U.S. exports last year. Export-supported jobs also increased by 1.2 million from 2009 to 2011.

Secretary Bryson praised the advisers for their work on the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement, which recently went into effect. This agreement dropped tariff rates to zero on about 80 percent of U.S. goods exported to Korea. Secretary Bryson also thanked the ITACs for their continued work on efforts such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The Secretary also discussed the importance of advancing America’s bilateral relationships through strong and balanced growth in areas such as trade and investment, and cited his recent trade mission to India as an example of this.