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Blog Category: Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank

An American Resurgence in Manufacturing Happening In Kansas City and Columbia, Missouri

Zahner CEO and President Bill Zahner explains how 3-D computer modeling is used to create working files for the plant for fabrication and for the field crews to use for installation

Guest blog post by Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank

I am back in my home state of Missouri today, so it is even more of a treat to witness firsthand the resurgence in American manufacturing. I visited two manufacturers today—the A. Zahner Company, in Kansas City, and Environmental Dynamics International (EDI), in Columbia—and had the chance to talk to some remarkable local businesses leaders and entrepreneurs in both cities.

Under President Obama’s leadership, and with the hard work of businesses and workers like those here in Missouri, our private sector has now seen 28 straight months of job growth—4.4 million jobs. Of course, there is more work to be done, but we are making progress in critical areas. Over the last two and one-half years, we’ve seen the strongest growth in manufacturing jobs since the 1990s. Missouri alone has gained nearly 9,000 new manufacturing jobs since 2010.

On top of that, manufacturers in states like Missouri are realizing that investing here at home is both the right thing to do and the smart thing to do. Many businesses—both here and abroad—are deciding to keep jobs here, bring jobs back to the U.S., or to set up operations here for the first time—a trend called “insourcing.”

We need to do everything possible to support businesses in places like Missouri that are thinking about insourcing. The Obama administration will continue to call on Congress to pass legislation to give our companies a tax break if they move operations and jobs back.

Acting Secretary Blank Speaks About Innovation Imperative at GlobalWIN’s Luncheon

Acting Secretary Blank Enjoys a Laugh With Members of the Global Women’s Innovation Network (Photo by Ben Droz - bendroz.smugmug.com)

Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank delivered remarks at the Global Women’s Innovation Network (GlobalWIN)’s third annual Innovation Luncheon at the Library of Congress today. GlobalWIN provides a forum for women executives and women working in academia, government and business in innovation-related fields. In her remarks, Dr. Blank highlighted the importance of women’s leadership in advancing America’s innovation agenda to compete and create jobs.

Blank emphasized that to be competitive in the 21st century, America needs to encourage students to enter science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. These fields produce many of the inventors and leaders who bring new ideas from the lab to the marketplace. Even though STEM jobs pay about 25 percent more than others, only about 13 percent of U.S. college graduates got degrees in the STEM fields. Blank affirmed that one reason America has so few STEM workers is because women are seriously underrepresented in these fields. Women make up nearly half of America’s labor force—but less than one-fourth of our STEM workforce. Some women lack information, others lack role models or mentors, while others may lack opportunity.

To provide opportunities, the Obama administration launched Educate to Innovate in 2009. This campaign brings together the federal government with private-sector partners with a particular focus on inspiring more girls, women and minorities to explore science and technology. Another example is Race to the Top, made possible by the Recovery Act. With about $4 billion in funding, Race to the Top provides competitive grants that support and reward states with high K-through-12 achievement with the only extra preference allowed in this competition is for states that focus on STEM. A third example of the president’s commitment came this week when he dedicated $100 million for a new corps of high-quality STEM teachers at 50 sites around the U.S. These teachers will get up to $20,000 on top of their base salary in exchange for making a multi-year commitment.

Blank reminded the audience that in the long run, America’s ability to innovate and compete as a nation will determine what kind of economy—and what kind of country—we pass along to the next generation.

Women in the Financial Sector: A White House Forum on Economic Growth

Acting Secretary Blank Presenting to the Women in the Financial Sector: A White House Forum on Economic Growth

Guest blog post by Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank

This morning I spoke with around 100 women from across the U.S. financial services industry at the White House. The forum included business executives as well as stewards of institutional funds.

I’m an economist by training and I’ve studied the role that women play in the workforce. When it comes to decision-making, in the boardroom or anywhere else, the best decisions get made when there is more diversity of perspectives and opinions at the table. So it was great to hear from these leaders.

We talked about the U.S. economy and some of the challenges we face, and I highlighted some of the things that President Obama is pushing for to help strengthen our economy, build on our global competitiveness, and create even more jobs.

Already, GDP has grown for 11 straight quarters and more than 4.4 million private sector jobs have been created over the past 28 months. That’s good news, but clearly we must do more.

For example, we need to expand support for states and localities to hire more teachers, police, and firefighters. We need to expand infrastructure investment, and put unemployed construction workers back to work. We need to reward firms that insource—bringing jobs back to America—and eliminate tax benefits for companies that outsource. And we need to extend tax cuts for middle class families.

In addition, everyone agreed that Americans should be as concerned, perhaps even more concerned, with long-term investments that assure long-term American competitiveness. For example, the president has called on Congress to support more research and development as well as tech transfer in America’s top universities and labs along with investments that will help to increase the skills of the U.S. workforce, provide greater access to higher education and enhance our nation’s educational infrastructure.

Acting Secretary Blank Delivers Remarks at BIS Update Conference on Export Controls and Policy

Acting Secretary Blank gestures from the dais

On Tuesday, Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank delivered the keynote address at the Conference on Export Controls Policy, hosted by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security. This annual conference is the U.S. Government’s major export control outreach and education event of the year.

In her remarks, Dr. Blank highlighted progress on President Obama’s Export Control Reform Initiative and the National Export Initiative, saying that success in both areas is important for strengthening the American economy and creating more jobs, which are the president’s top priorities.  

Blank emphasized that the United States must have a strong, effective export control system through the powerful partnership between federal agencies like BIS and American companies that sell cutting-edge products, calling such a system “a national security imperative.”

The last major changes to export control regulations took place over 15 years ago, and those changes were more organizational than substantive. Through the President’s Export Control Reform (ECR) initiative, this is changing.

This initiative has at its core a continued commitment to national security, to prevent key goods and technologies from falling into the wrong hands, Acting Secretary Blank said. The proposed changes over controls on less-significant military items do not mean that key items will be “de-controlled.”  In fact, the departments of Commerce, Justice and Homeland Security will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute illegal exports to countries and end users of concern.

Acting Secretary Blank noted that these export control reforms will not only enhance national security by focusing resources on the greatest threats, but will also generate other benefits, including increased U.S. interoperability with allies, reduced incentives for foreign companies to avoid American-made parts that in turn will strengthen the American defense industrial base, and, importantly, reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens, expenses and red tape on American exporters.

Acting Secretary Blank Cuts Ribbon to Open U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Detroit, Michigan

Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank cuts the steel ribbon, officially opening the Elijah J. McCoy USPTO Satellite Office

Acting Secretary Blank wrapped up her 3-day Innovation Tour with a stop in Detroit, Michigan today to participate in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially launch the Elijah J. McCoy USPTO Satellite Office. She was joined by USPTO Director Kappos, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, U.S. Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, U.S. Representatives John Dingell, John Conyers, Jr., Gary Peters, and Hansen Clarke, and local businesses and entrepreneurs.

During the ceremony, Acting Secretary Blank swore in the office’s first seven USPTO Board Judges who will review patents and help speed up the patent process. The Detroit USPTO satellite office will create approximately 120 highly-skilled jobs in its first year of operations.

In her remarks, Blank said:

And now, today, with this new office, we’re making another critical investment in the future of Detroit, the state of Michigan, and the U.S. as a whole.

With the help of the McCoy office, we’re creating a stronger, more efficient patent system. That’s important because patents are the fuel for innovation.

Patents protect the intellectual property of Americans who have game-changing ideas. Patents help put those ideas to work in our economy. And patents help us out-compete the rest of the world.

We’ve already made great progress in improving our patent system. Even though patent filings grew five percent last year, we were able to actually reduce the patent backlog by 10 percent.

The McCoy office will help us continue to expand our patent system’s capacity and productivity.

Blank noted that the new office is just a beginning. An innovation-driven economy demands more support of R&D, help for universities like Michigan, Michigan State and Wayne State to push their research discoveries into the marketplace, and to ensure young people can succeed in science, technology, engineering and math—the STEM fields.

Blank reiterated the President's call that we must stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas and start helping those that are trying to keep jobs here or bring them back. Citizens and government must use all of the tools at their disposal to ensure that America will continue to drive innovation and be a magnet for good jobs for the middle class. The ability to innovate and compete as a nation will determine what kind of economy—and what kind of country—is passed along to the next generation.

International Visitors to the U.S. Spent Record $13.9 billion in May, Helping Support U.S. Jobs

Report cover: National Travel and Tourism Strategy

Guest blog post by Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank
 
Tourism is America’s number one service export, and today we have even more evidence that America is indeed open for business. New data released by the U.S. Commerce Department today shows that international visitors spent nearly $14 billion on travel to, and tourism-related activities within, the United States in May$1 billion more than was spent in May 2011marking 29 straight months of growth.
 
This data also means that the U.S. is on pace for a record-setting year, with international visitors having spent over $68 billion so far – up 12 percent compared to last year.
 
The facts are clear: tourism is a high-growth bright spot in our economy. We must continue to build on this momentum by making sure that America is travel-friendly to international visitors, thereby helping our businesses create even more jobs.
 
Fortunately, there are many dedicated people working to increase travel and tourism. This morning, I had the chance to talk with a few of them at a meeting of the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board in Dearborn, Mich., where I joined federal agency partners, as well as U.S. Representative John Dingell (D-MI), to discuss the Obama administration’s ongoing efforts to increase travel and tourism to the United States. During the board meeting, we discussed implementation of the recently released National Travel and Tourism Strategy (PDF), a blueprint for the federal government to welcome 100 million international visitors each year by the end of 2021. These visitors would spend an estimated $250 billion per year, supporting even more jobs and spurring economic growth in communities across the country.

Acting Secretary Blank Travels to Denver to Highlight Innovation and Newly-Announced Patent and Trademark Office

Blank was joined by Mayor Mayor Hancock and University of Colorado-Denver Chancellor Donald Don M. Elliman

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank was in Denver, Colo. today to discuss ways to support innovation and create jobs, particularly through the protection of intellectual property. In the morning, Blank attended a breakfast hosted by the Colorado Innovation Network, where she spoke with local business leaders. She listened to their ideas and suggestions for how Commerce can better support them in their efforts to create jobs by encouraging innovation.

Later this morning, the Acting Secretary delivered remarks and participated in a panel discussion on the key role that the patent system plays in strengthening the local economy and driving U.S. competitiveness at the University of Colorado-Denver Anschutz Medical Campus. Also joining the panel were: Denver Mayor Michael Hancock; Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) David Kappos; University of Colorado-Denver Chancellor Donald Don M. Elliman Jr.; Robb Walt, co-founder of the Community Power Corporation; and Ali Ansary, co-founder of SeventyK. During the discussion, Blank noted some of the ways the Department of Commerce is supporting and fostering American innovation.

Acting Secretary Blank Begins 3-Day Innovation Tour with Stop in Silicon Valley to Discuss Newly Announced Patent and Trademark Office

Acting Secretary Blank Begins 3-Day  Innovation Tour with Stop in Silicon Valley

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank delivered remarks to a full house and participated in a panel discussion at San Jose State University on driving U.S. innovation to create jobs. The panel was moderated by Carl Guardino, President and CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. Blank was joined by Dr. Pat Kennedy, CEO of OSISoft, Eric Kelly, President and CEO of Overland Storage  and Dr. Mohammad Qayoumi, President of San Jose State University. During the discussion, Blank noted some of the 22 ways the Department of Commerce is supporting and fostering American innovation.

In her opening remarks, Blank noted:

This past winter, our [US Patent and Trademark] Alexandria office had a special exhibit on the ground floor – 30 giant iPhones lined up side-by-side.  Each one featured one of the many patents that Steve Jobs received. As Steve said, “The ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones who do.”

Today, those entrepreneurs, those innovators, and those dreamers – all of you – are the reason I’m so proud to say that the Commerce Department will soon put one of its first four satellite patent offices right here in Silicon Valley.

Today, thousands of inventors here and across the country continue to help lay the foundation for America’s long-term growth and leadership.  The entrepreneurial spirit continues to thrive here in Silicon Valley. With your help, we have seen 28 straight months of private sector job growth – totaling 4.4 million jobs.  

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) plans to open a satellite office in the Silicon Valley area in an effort to help local businesses and entrepreneurs innovate quicker and grow faster. Acting Secretary Blank cited a recent Commerce Department report showed that industries that rely heavily on intellectual property protection support at least 40 million jobs – and about one-third of our GDP. That report showed that these jobs pay about 42 percent more than others. So a better patent system means good jobs and stronger economic security for millions of middle class families. 

After the panel discussion, Acting Secretary Blank attended a lunch at TechShop. TechShop is a membership-based workshop that provides members with access to tools and equipment, instruction, and a community of creative and supportive people so they can build the things they have always wanted to make. Blank spoke with local business leaders to discuss entrepreneurship, innovation and how the new patent satellite office could help to support job creation. She heard ideas about how the satellite office will meet local business needs, how the office will work with regional economic development groups focused on job creation, and whether their might be in interest tailoring the patent office’s services to meet the needs of startups, incubators and accelerators.

Blank will fly to Denver – another newly announced patent office location – and host another series of conversations with local businesses and officials about improving and continuing American innovation tomorrow.

Dallas, Denver and San Jose Join Detroit as Regional U.S. Patent Offices

United States Patent and Trademark Office Seal

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank and Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) David Kappos today announced plans to open regional USPTO offices in or around Dallas, Texas, Denver, Colorado, and Silicon Valley, California. These offices are in addition to the already-announced first USPTO satellite office to open on July 13 in Detroit, Michigan. The four offices will function as hubs of innovation and creativity, helping protect and foster American innovation in the global marketplace, helping businesses cut through red tape, and creating new economic opportunities in each of the local communities.

The offices announced today will help the USPTO attract talented IP experts throughout the country who will work closely with entrepreneurs to process patent applications, reduce the backlog of unexamined patents, and speed up the overall process, allowing businesses to move their innovation to market more quickly, and giving them more room to create new jobs.

Patents are a significant factor in private sector job creation. In fact, the U.S. Commerce Department issued a recent report finding that IP-intensive industries are the source – directly or indirectly – of 40 million jobs, contributing $5.06 trillion to the U.S. economy in 2010.

Selection of the four sites was based upon a comprehensive analysis (PDF) of criteria including geographical diversity, regional economic impact, ability to recruit and retain employees, and the ability to engage the intellectual property community. The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act of 2011 (AIA), signed into law by President Obama in September, requires the USPTO to establish regional satellite locations as part of a larger effort to modernize the U.S. patent system over the next three years.

“Intellectual property protection and innovation are engines of economic growth and the bedrock of America’s private sector,” said Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank. “The Obama administration is committed to making certain our businesses and entrepreneurs have the resources they need to grow, create jobs and compete globally. These new offices are an historic step toward further advancing our world’s best IP system, and reinforcing the United States as the number one destination for innovation capital, and research and development around the world.”

Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank Wrapped up Her Visit to Turkey with Concrete Steps to Advance the U.S-Turkish Commercial Relationship

Acting Secretary Blank Co-Chairs the U.S.-Turkey Framework for Strategic Economic and Commercial Cooperation  with U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk,  Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan and Minister of the Economy Zafer Caglayan

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank wrapped up her visit to Turkey after co-chairing the second meeting of the U.S.-Turkey Framework for Strategic Economic and Commercial Cooperation (FSECC) with U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk in Ankara yesterday. The Turkish delegation was led by Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan and Minister of the Economy Zafer Caglayan.

The FSECC was created following the first meeting between President Obama and Turkish President Gul in April 2009. The two leaders tasked the U.S. and Turkish governments to create a framework to help substantially increase the trade and investment flows between both countries to help strengthen the economic dimension of our partnership. The meeting focused on opportunities for increased bilateral trade and investment relations to create jobs in both countries, and the ministers agreed on several concrete steps to advance the U.S-Turkish commercial relationship. The Acting Secretary promoted increased Foreign Direct Investment, including calling for greater Turkish FDI to the U.S., highlighting Commerce’s SelectUSA initiative. The four principals made a joint statement after the meeting.

During the meeting, Acting Secretary Blank announced that the Commerce Department's International Trade Administration will lead an Aerospace and Defense Industry Trade Mission to Turkey in December 2012. She also applauded the work that has been done so far to increase bilateral trade between the U.S. and Turkey.  She emphasized the work that must be done to continue to advance the U.S.-Turkey trade relationship, such as overcoming market access barriers, furthering cooperation on intellectual property rights, and enabling businesses to take advantage of opportunities in key sectors such as renewable energy, financial services, and infrastructure.