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Blog Category: Economic Development Administration

U.S. Assistant Secretary John Fernandez to Return to Private Sector

U.S. Department of Commerce Assistant Secretary for Economic Development John R. Fernandez

One of the chief architects of the Obama administration's bottom-up innovation strategies, U.S. Department of Commerce Assistant Secretary for Economic Development John R. Fernandez to return to private sector to promote innovation, job creation and global competitiveness.

U.S. Commerce Department Assistant Secretary for Economic Development John R. Fernandez has spent the last two and a half years–amid the most severe economic downturn in generations–successfully guiding the Economic Development Administration (EDA). In this role, he has led the Federal economic development agenda by promoting innovation and helping America’s communities build the foundation for long-term growth. He announced his decision today to return to the private sector, where he will continue to foster innovation, job creation and global competitiveness.

“The Obama administration has been fortunate to have a passionate leader like John who understands the president’s economic agenda and who has worked tirelessly to spur innovation, create jobs and an support an economy that's built to last,” U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson said. “John will be missed, but he has positioned EDA to continue to leverage private-public investments, support bottom-up strategies, and build 21st century infrastructure. We wish him success in his new role.”

Support for Manufacturers in the President’s FY2013 Budget Request

President's Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Request Logo

Yesterday the president released his FY2013 budget request and Secretary Bryson announced the Department of Commerce’s requests. In the president’s budget, there is strong support for manufacturers by increasing investments in advanced manufacturing, new trade promotion efforts, and innovation investments.

To strengthen and extend Advanced Manufacturing research, Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology is requesting an increase of $45M for a total of $135M. These laboratory efforts are further leveraged with a request of $21M to support the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia Program, and $20M for a NIST Centers of Excellence program. These programs will strengthen public-private partnerships and accelerate innovation focused on manufacturing and technology development.

The president’s budget provides $128 million for the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) to improve the competitiveness of small- and medium-size firms in manufacturing and service industries through custom consulting and product testing.

Advancing Economic Development Strategies: the First White House Community Partnership Summit, Atlanta, GA

EDA banner

Guest blog post by Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Development and Chief Operating Officer for Economic Development Administration Matt Erskine

Hundreds of small business owners, community leaders, and state and local elected officials in Atlanta, Georgia, convened during the first in a series of White House Community Partnership Summits today for the opportunity to meet face to face with senior Obama administration officials and discuss key local issues.

I had the pleasure of representing the Commerce Department and engage participants about steps the administration is taking to promote economic and job growth in Georgia and across America. I especially enjoyed the open space dialogues where participants set the agenda and identify action steps with officials.

Acting Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank Highlights Skills Initiatives in Madison, Wisconsin

Image of a "truck classrom": Bringing the Classroom to the Community

President Obama recently laid out plans in his State of the Union address to foster an economy that’s built to last by ensuring that America has the highly skilled workers necessary for 21st century jobs. Yesterday, Acting Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank traveled to Madison, Wisconsin, where she visited the Madison Area Technical College, a training ground for students that leads directly to skilled manufacturing jobs nationwide. Blank met with students and sat in on a training class focused on hybrid vehicle technology. Blank also delivered remarks on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce training and met with business and university leaders. Commerce’s Economic Development Administration recently teamed up with Madison College to provide mobile technical training opportunities both on-campus and throughout the region. The training focused on advanced manufacturing and automotive technology.

Blank also visited with several business and academic leaders, who are vital partners in the area of technical training at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery.

Colorado Manufacturers & Obama Administration Officials Discuss Efforts to Build a Recovery That Lasts

Guest blog post by Commerce Assistant Secretary for Economic Development John R. Fernandez

On February 7, 2012, my colleague Phil Singerman, Associate Director for Innovation and Industry Services at the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, and I joined local manufacturers in Colorado to discuss lab-to-market strategies during an innovation and commercialization forum hosted by the Colorado Association for Manufacturing and Technology.

In his State of the Union address, President Obama noted that “Innovation also demands basic research. Today, the discoveries taking place in our federally-financed labs and universities could lead to new treatments that kill cancer cells but leave healthy ones untouched. New lightweight vests for cops and soldiers that can stop any bullet.”

Manufacturers in Colorado and across the nation are developing new ideas, research and products to solve the pressing issues we face and create the jobs and industries of the future. Over the last three years, the Obama administration has been making smart investments to accelerate the process for taking research from labs to the marketplace and create jobs for America’s workers.

Acting Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank Visits Tech Town in Dayton, Ohio

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank Inspects an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

Two days after President Obama laid out plans in his State of the Union address to support innovation and bolster U.S. manufacturing, Acting U.S. Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank visited Tech Town, a premier commercial technology campus, in Dayton. There, she toured UA Vision and Persistent Surveillance, startup companies that are commercializing federally-supported research, and delivered remarks about the importance of investing in innovation and a skilled labor force to create jobs in a 21st century economy.

While in Dayton, Blank also participated in a roundtable with local business leaders to discuss how Department of Commerce resources can help them become more innovative and competitive. In addition, she toured the Wright-Patterson Air Force Research Laboratory, a major area job magnet which conducts critical research and development work, among other services.

The Commerce Department is also working hand-in-hand with local companies to continue innovating and exploring. Through the Ohio Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Commerce has worked with more than 300 companies in southwest Ohio. Commerce’s Economic Development Administration even teamed up with the state to help build Tech Town. 

Federal Investments Catalyzing the Growth of the Critical, Job-Creating St. Louis Biosciences Cluster

Guest blog by Matthew S. Erskine, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

Today, I was pleased to join St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and colleagues from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (DOL/ETA) at an event to spotlight federal investments that are catalyzing the growth of the critical, job-creating St. Louis biosciences cluster.

The day was focused on the partnership between the St. Louis County Economic Council, the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment, and the St. Louis Minority Supplier Development Council to establish the St. Louis Biosciences Jobs and Innovation Accelerator project.

With more than $1.8 million in federal investment, including $702,765 from EDA, $973,015 from SBA, and $150,000 from the DOL/ETA, this project will work to accelerate the growth of the region’s biosciences cluster and spur the formation of new companies and associated job creation.

EDA’s funding for the project will bring early-stage technologies into the commercialization pipeline by addressing identified gaps and challenges, including access to a skilled workforce of experienced entrepreneurs that are needed to enable companies to grow.

Congressional Staff Hears from i6 Challenge Winners

Hill staff listen to one of the i6 winners

Commerce Department grantees provide updates on projects to promote innovation and commercialization in regions of Ore., Ohio, Pa., Fla. and Ga.

To highlight the economic impact of Obama administration investments to promote American Innovation and accelerate the commercialization of research to the marketplace, the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) hosted the first 21st Century Economic Capitol Hill Briefing on the new COMPETES law on January 19, 2012.

Awardees of the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s (OIE) i6 Challenge came to Washington D.C. to brief Congress on how federal funds are promoting regional economic and job growth. OIE, which was authorized under the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, supports efforts to foster innovation ecosystems and the commercialization of new technologies, products, processes, and services.

Close to 60 Congressional staffers gathered at the Capitol Visitors Center in Washington, D.C., to hear first-hand from four i6 Challenge awardees: David Kenney and Dr. Patricia Beckman of the Oregon Built Environment and Sustainable Technologies Center of Portland, Oregon; Dr. Thomas O’Neal and Wayne Hodges of the Global Center for Medical Innovation of Atlanta, Georgia; Dr. Art Boni of Carnegie Mellon University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Dr. Wayne Watkins of the University of Akron Research Foundation of Akron, Ohio.

Obama Administration Applauds Opening of Innovation Hub in Gainesville, Florida

View of incubation hub lobby from balcony

Guest blog post by U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John R. Fernandez

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, Gainesville Mayor Craig Lowe, and University of Florida President J. Bernard Machen, all gathered for the opening of the Florida Innovation Hub on January 11, 2012. I was proud to address the large crowd that was here to support the unveiling of a new tech business incubator that will help entrepreneurs, innovators, and start-up companies commercialize their research and bring it into the marketplace.

As Florida seeks to diversify beyond tourism and agriculture, and transition to a more innovation-based economy, the $8.2 million grant that the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) invested in the University of Florida in Gainesville to build this facility will promote a more diverse economy in the state. It will lead to the creation of new higher-skill, living-wage jobs that are vital to the prosperity of this region. This incubator is expected to create 300 jobs and generate $30 million in private investment.

Obama Administration Invests $2 Million to Spur Advanced Manufacturing in South Central Kansas

Assistant Secretary Fernandez participates in roundtable discussion at Wichita State University

Guest blog post by U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John R. Fernandez

The Obama administration recently announced a $2 million Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge award to the Center for Innovation and Enterprise Engagement to support the south central Kansas region’s efforts to jumpstart advanced manufacturing and create the jobs of the future. The $37 million Jobs Accelerator competition leverages funding from three federal agencies and technical assistance from 13 additional agencies to support the development of 20 high-growth industry clusters across the country. Funding for workforce training and technical assistance is provided by the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA), the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), and the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Two manufacturing industries—wind turbine and medical equipment—are specific targets of the initiative being led by Wichita State University. The effort encourages the migration of technology into the region’s economy to develop composite and advanced materials products and processes and bring with it new, high-paying jobs. But other opportunities will undoubtedly come from exploitation by other industries of the composite materials sector in the region.

The investment will help assure that south central Kansas will remain a dynamic center of manufacturing and a generator of jobs for years to come.