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Blog Category: Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker

In Tunisia, Secretary Pritzker Meets with Government Officials, Business Leaders, and Entrepreneurs to Discuss Ways to Improve Economic Opportunity

To demonstrate the United States’ commitment to Tunisia’s transition to democracy, and to underscore the reforms needed to attract investment, generate economic growth, and create jobs in the country, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker led a delegation to Tunisia this week. In addition to offering a keynote address at the Investment and Entrepreneurship Conference, hosted by the Partnership for New Beginnings and the American Chamber of Commerce in Tunisia, Secretary Pritzker met with Tunisian government officials, business leaders, and entrepreneurs to better understand the challenges and opportunities facing the country’s economy.

In a meeting with representatives from the American Chamber of Commerce in Tunisia, Secretary Pritzker received input on the country’s current business environment and discussed potential opportunities for U.S. firms in the market. For example, Tunisia’s location on the coast can make it an ideal hub for operations in the Middle East and Africa. Others spoke about the opportunities in the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector, specifically.

About 70 American firms operate in Tunisia right now, but there is substantial room for that figure to grow should Tunisia make certain economic reforms that will create a more inviting business climate. Some of these reforms include streamlining the investment code, restructuring the banking sector, creating a more transparent, reliable, and modern tax and customs structure, and developing a strong public-private partnerships law that increases transparency and predictability for domestic and foreign firms.

An Important New Tool in our Data Revolution

Commerce Data Advisory Council banner

Guest blog post by Mark Doms, Under Secretary for Economic Affairs

Today we have reached an important milestone in the data transformation movement with the naming of members to Commerce Department’s new Data Advisory Council (CDAC).  The 19 leaders we have selected will help guide the Department in revolutionizing our approach toward data optimization and usability. They are bright stars in private and public sectors: thought leaders on data; respected and well-equipped to facilitate this transformation. Members’ expertise mirrors the spectrum of Commerce data -- demographic, economic, scientific, environmental, patent, and geospatial.  Their agenda?  To help us foster innovation, create jobs, and drive better decision-making throughout our economy and society. Their first meeting will take place April 23-24 in Washington, D.C.

Selecting from an impressive and wide array of experience, innovation, education and talent was not an easy task.  The individuals we have chosen are extraordinary for a host of reasons evident in their positions and achievements.  But perhaps one of the most compelling traits they share is keen awareness that success is built upon the ability to listen to a chorus of voices representing a range of viewpoints. 

Click here for CDAC members bios.

We are thrilled to have reached this important marker in our “data revolution” and look forward to the CDAC’s guidance on such key issues as data management; open data standards; public-private partnership; and ensuring a user-driven process.

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker Announces Twenty-Six States Achieved Record Export Levels in 2014

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker Announces Twenty-Six States Achieved Record Export Levels in 2014

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today announced new data that shows 26 states achieved records in goods exports in 2014, while eight additional states experienced growth in merchandise exports over 2013 levels. Total merchandise exports from all 50 states helped the U.S. achieve the fifth consecutive record-setting year of goods and services exports, which reached $2.35 trillion in 2014. 

Secretary Pritzker praised today’s announcement stressing the fact exports are critical to economic growth and job creation in communities across the country. “With 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside the United States, opening more markets to ‘Made in America’ goods and services is fundamental to our nation’s competitiveness, job creation, and the economic security of our families,” she said. 

Strengthening partnerships with states and rural communities in support of exporters and investment attraction efforts is a key objective for the second phase of President Obama’s National Export Initiative – NEI/NEXT, which Secretary Pritzker launched in May 2014. Through NEI/NEXT, 20 federal agencies are advancing program and policy improvements to provide exporters more tailored assistance and information; streamline export reporting requirements; expand access to export financing; ensure market access and a level playing field; and collaborate with state and local organizations. 

The 26 states that set new records for exports in 2014 include:

  • Texas ($289.0 billion);
  • California ($174.1 billion);
  • Washington ($90.6 billion);
  • Illinois ($68.2 billion);
  • Louisiana ($65.1 billion);
  • Ohio ($52.1 billion);
  • Georgia ($39.4 billion);
  • Indiana ($35.5 billion);
  • Tennessee ($33.0 billion);
  • North Carolina ($31.3 billion);
  • South Carolina ($29.7 billion);
  • Kentucky ($27.5 billion);

Secretary Pritzker Speaks at the United States Travel and Tourism Advisory Board Meeting about the Administration’s Travel and Tourism Agenda

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today participated in a discussion about the Administration’s travel and tourism agenda at the United States Travel and Tourism Advisory Board (Board) meeting. The Board, established in 2003, serves as the advisory body to the Secretary of Commerce on matters relating to the travel and tourism industry in the United States. Its members, who serve two-year terms, represent a broad cross-section of the industry, including transportation services, financial services, and hotels and restaurants, as well as a mix of other small and large firms from across the country.

During the discussion, Secretary Pritzker spoke about the administration’s progress towards achieving its national goal for travel and tourism, which is to increase American jobs by welcoming 100 million international visitors annually by the end of 2021. Last year alone, a record-breaking 74 million international visitors came to the United States.

Secretary Pritzker also spoke about the administration’s ongoing efforts to promote the travel and tourism sector, which are guided by the Board’s recommendations. She highlighted the agreement to expand visa validity with China as one particularly notable success. Since the new visa pact, Chinese demand for U.S. visas has grown by more than 50 percent compared to the same period in 2014. Following the announcement of an agreement to extend visa validity with China, the Department of Commerce organized a special session on travel and tourism during the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade in Chicago, to ensure we are maximizing the potential of that policy change to grow our economy and create jobs.

Another priority of industry is to ensure a positive experience for international travelers at U.S. airports. A recent report released by Secretary Pritzker and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson calls for a new national goal to provide the best arrival experience in the world to an ever-increasing number of international visitors while maintaining the highest standards of national security. To meet this new goal and create an effective best arrival experience, the Department of Commerce and Department of Homeland Security have established a joint Task Force, led by the Deputy Secretary of Commerce and the Deputy Secretary of the department of Homeland Security, to lead the process and ensure accountability. The Board will make recommendations to Secretary Pritzker regarding the Task Force priorities and initiatives.

Another recommendation focuses on infrastructure. To achieve the national goal of attracting 100 million international visitors annually by 2021, there must be world-class infrastructure to attract tourism, serve current and future travelers, and remain a top destination. The Department of Commerce will provide input to the Department of Transportation as it develops its 30-year framework for Transportation needs to ensure that its equities are fully represented.

Secretary Pritzker also referenced the priorities for the President’s fiscal year 2016 budget, which will include $2 million to increase the sample size of the Survey of International Air Travelers. In addition, the Commerce Department is working with the State Department to develop tourism specific country plans for the top 10 overseas travel and tourism markets.

As a result of the meeting, the Board will be assessing its priority recommendations, for actions that will have the greatest impact during the next two years of the administration.

Secretary Pritzker Joins Bipartisan Roundtable on the Benefits of Trade During National Governors Association Winter Meeting

Secretary Pritzker Joins Bipartisan Roundtable on the Benefits of Trade During National Governors Association Winter Meeting

Yesterday, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker joined a bipartisan roundtable at the White House on the importance of trade and new trade agreements. The meeting was part of the National Governors Association (NGA) Winter Meeting in Washington. NGA is the bipartisan organization of the nation’s governors, and its members include the 55 states, territories and commonwealths of the United States. 

Governors John Hickenlooper of Colorado, Gary Herbert of Utah, and Terry McAuliffe of Virginia attended the roundtable, along with Secretary Pritzker, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and White House officials.
 
During the discussion, Secretary Pritzker highlighted how trade has helped drive the nation’s economic recovery and proven beneficial to state's economies. For example, more than 5,000 Colorado businesses, both large and small, are counted among the ranks of America’s exporters. Exports from Virginia to our free trade agreement partners have grown by 74 percent over the past 10 years, and in Ogden, Utah, exports drove more than 100 percent of growth out of the recession.
 
Overall, exports support 11.3 million American jobs – which pay up to 18 percent higher than jobs not related to exports. In addition, the Commerce Department announced earlier this month that American exports had hit an all-time high for the fifth year running – sending $2.35 trillion worth of goods and services overseas.
 
That is why the Obama Administration has set an ambitious trade agenda focused on building on this progress.  It will ensure U.S. businesses in every state can access more global markets with fewer barriers. 
 
This agenda includes the completion and implementation of new trade agreements including the Trans Pacific Partnership, which the U.S. is negotiating with 11 other nations. Once completed, TPP will give American businesses free trade arrangements with 40 percent of global GDP.
 
Secretary Pritzker stressed to the attending governors that in today’s global economy, American prosperity is directly tied to our ability to reach new markets and new customers beyond our borders. Today’s roundtable gave Secretary Pritzker an opportunity to  urge the nation’s governors to support trade policies like TPP, and explain why they are essential to the growth of the economy, to the creation of good jobs, to the economic security of American families, and to the competitiveness of our businesses.

Secretary Pritzker Hosts Roundtable Discussion with Oregon and Washington Business Leaders on Importance of International Trade

Secretary Pritzker talks with employees of the Leatherman Tool Group, Inc during a tour

On Tuesday, Secretary Penny Pritzker visited Portland, Oregon and Takoma, Washington where she held roundtable discussions on the importance of trade to our economy with key area business leaders.

Secretary Pritzker started the day with a tour and visit to General Plastics, in Takoma, Washington, a leading manufacturer of plastic-based goods. During the tour she heard from local business leaders about their experiences exporting to foreign markets and some of the challenges they currently are facing. During the roundtable discussion with local businesses, Secretary Pritzker noted how trade and exports benefit American manufacturers, such as General Plastics.

Later in the day, Secretary Pritzker visited the headquarters of Leatherman Tool Group, Inc. a leading manufacturer of multi-use tools in Portland, Oregon. Leatherman currently employs 500 Oregonians and exports their products to over 100 countries around the world. During the roundtable discussion, Secretary Pritzker highlighted how the current trade deals being negotiated will strengthen U.S. exports, manufacturing, and improve American competitiveness in the global economy.  Local business leaders from Intel, Columbia Sportswear and Columbia Green also participated in the discussion.

Secretary Pritzker Discusses Entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation’s 2015 State of Entrepreneurship Address

Secretary Pritzker Discusses Entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation’s 2015 State of Entrepreneurship Address

Last week, Secretary Pritzker delivered remarks on the leadership of the Commerce Department and the entire Obama Administration in promoting entrepreneurship across the United States at the 2015 State of Entrepreneurship Address, hosted by the Kauffman Foundation. Her remarks were delivered to various business leaders, policy experts, non-profits, and government officials to address the impact and importance of America’s entrepreneurs in our country’s economy. 

Secretary Pritzker highlighted the Commerce Department’s role in ensuring there is an infrastructure of opportunity to support entrepreneurship domestically and internationally. As the driving force behind the Administration’s focus on entrepreneurship, the Commerce Department partners with businesses to set the conditions for innovators and new businesses to test new ideas, take risks, find financing and customers, and ultimately thrive. Many of the Department’s core responsibilities help create the essential infrastructure of opportunity for entrepreneurs – whether issuing patents that protect intellectual property, making investments in local economic development, collecting and disseminating data to inform better decision making, expanding access to broadband, or protecting a free and open internet. 

Specifically, since the launch of the Department’s Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) initiative in collaboration with the White House, Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development, 11 entrepreneurs serve in an ongoing dialogue with policy makers globally to create an environment where creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship can grow and thrive. In the coming months, PAGE will expand so more business leaders can share their experiences as CEOs and share recommendations to better support the business community both at home and abroad. The Commerce Department has also re-established the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE), which brings together top academics, business and non-profit leaders to advise the Department on innovation, entrepreneurship, and industry-driven skills training to support the current and next generation of entrepreneurs. 

In her remarks, Secretary Pritzker discussed the launch of the Startup Global pilot program, an initiative that will begin in the next few months and feature a series of incubators in Cincinnati, Nashville, Arlington, and Washington, D.C., where entrepreneurs can get technical assistance and information on how to export. 

Secretary Pritzker Participates in White House Cyber Security Summit to Discuss Importance of Public-Private Collaboration To Combat Growing Threats

Secretary Penny Pritzker joined President Barack Obama last week at the White House Cyber Security Summit at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. Designed to help shape public and private sector efforts to protect American consumers and companies from growing threats, the Summit offered Secretary Pritzker an opportunity to hear directly from businesses about their concerns, and to highlight the Commerce Department’s work to combat these threats and strengthen our nation’s cybersecurity.

During the Summit, business leaders across many sectors spoke about the growing issues of online security and how to best protect businesses, consumers and critical infrastructure. Secretary Pritzker moderated a panel titled “Improving Cybersecurity Practices at Consumer Oriented Businesses and Organizations,” that brought together CEOs and business executives from the financial services sector, the technology industry, and civil society. Panelists included Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga, AIG CEO Peter Hancock, Intel Corporation’s President Renee James, and Center for Democracy and Technology CEO Nuala O’ Connor.

During the panel Secretary Pritzker asked each panelist how they can align policies and operations to better protect themselves and their customers, and asked them what ways they thought would be the most efficient for government and industry to partner in developing stronger security standards. Each of the panelists praised the effectiveness of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework in creating a benchmarking process that companies should adhere to. With technology evolving quickly, participants also stressed that there should be more collaboration between businesses and the government to address cybersecurity concerns. 

To further this dialogue, Secretary Pritzker attended a luncheon roundtable hosted by President Obama with the CEOs of Apple, Square, QVC, Visa, First Data, Intel, AIG, Mastercard, Bank of America, Citi, American Express, PG&E, and Palo Alto Networks where they discussed how to move these concerns to the forefront and work together to find solutions to these growing threats.

Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility, and the United States government has legitimate interests in safeguarding the privacy and security of its citizens, as well as ensuring an equitable and level playing field in the digital economy. Secretary Pritzker understands this notion and recognizes that the NIST Framework, which was developed using a multi-stakeholder process involving many of the companies that attended the summit, is a great example of how the private and public sectors can work together to find timely, effective solutions.

Secretary Pritzker Tours DODOcase and Highlights Successful San Francisco Exporters

Secretary Pritzker Tours DODOcase and Highlights Successful San Francisco Exporters

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker visited DODOcase, a San Francisco-based manufacturer of high-quality cases for electronics like tablets and smart phones.  During her tour of the company’s manufacturing facility, Secretary Pritzker met with company executives and spoke with other San Francisco area business leaders and policymakers about the importance of trade and exports to businesses' ability to grow and hire. 

DODOcase CEO and founder Craig Dalton lead the tour with Secretary Pritzker. During the tour Secretary Prtizker met with DODOcase staff and talked to many of them as they designed  iPad and tablet cases. 

Dalton launched DODOcase in 2010 after seeing a need to keep the art of bookbinding alive by adapting it to the world of digital devices. DODOcases and sleeves are handmade in San Francisco. When the company opened its doors in April 2010 - the same day iPad was released in the United States - they only had two employees. Today, their workforce has grown to 22 workers and they ship their products all around the world. From day one, 30 percent of DODOcase's business has been to customers overseas, which means that, from the start, exports have been part of the company's business model and success.  

Also joining Secretary Pritzker for the tour, were several San Francisco business community leaders including  John Dannerbeck, the President of Anchor Brewing. Anchor Brewing is a brewery and distillery on San Francisco’s Pontero Hill. Today the company sends its fourteen products to several markets around the world. While not a traditional export product, craft beer export volume increased by 49 percent in 2013, representing 282,526 barrels and an estimated at $73 million, according to data from the American Brewers Association. Secretary Pritzker also met with Kate Sofis, Executive Director of SFMade. SFMade is a non-profit organization that works to support the manufacturing sector in San Francisco, sustain companies producing locally-made products, encourage entrepreneurship and innovation, and creates employment opportunities for a diverse local workforce in the Bay Area. The San Francisco metropolitan area is the 10th largest export market in the country, with merchandise exports totaling $25.3 billion in 2013 and more than 802,000 California jobs are supported by exports. 

Last week, the Department of Commerce announced that 2014 was another record year for export growth. The U.S. exported $2.35 trillion of goods and service last year. Today, exports support 11 million jobs in the U.S. and pay up to 18 percent more than jobs not related to exports. 

Yet with 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside U.S. borders, the prosperity of American businesses and workers is directly tied to their ability to reach new markets and new customers. That is why President Obama has made increased trade a key focus on his plan to create sustainable economic growth for American workers, and is pushing for trade promotion legislation as well as the completion of new, high-standard trade agreements that uphold our values and open new markets to American goods and services– including the Trans-Pacific Partnership. 

Secretary Pritzker Visits New York City’s Flatiron School to See Innovative Approach to Skills Training

Secretary Pritzker Visits New York City’s Flatiron School to See Innovative Approach to Skills Training

Last week in New York City, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker visited the Flatiron School, which teaches coding skills to students at all career and skill levels to prepare them for technology and data jobs. While learning about Flatiron’s innovative approach to skills training, Secretary Pritzker spoke with students, employers and business leaders involved with the school about the importance of job-driven workforce development.  

Founded in 2012, the school has trained more than 350 students in its unique 12-week intensive coding program, and has seen 99% of its graduates get a job in their preferred discipline.
 
Co-founders Adam Enbar and Avi Flombaum led Secretary Pritkzer on a tour of the school, explaining why they created Flatiron: to provide an alternative way to train students for in-demand jobs in data and coding. During the tour, Flatiron alumni presented apps they have created using the skills they learned at the school and data from the government.
 
One student team used data straight from the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) to create an interactive visualization of gross output by industry from 2005-2013. By connecting Commerce data with relevant news articles, this project allows users to better understand why economic trends happened at a certain point in time. Other students demonstrated the web app HeatSeek, which identifies landlords who illegally turn off the heat. To prove the heat has been turned off, the team integrates public New York City 311 heating complaint information with a system of temperature sensors that collect and transmit temperature data.
 
After meeting with students and learning about their hands-on experience, Secretary Pritzker led a roundtable discussion with technology and business leaders who work with the school about the specific skills and needs of the data-driven economy. The participants included representatives from Microsoft, DoSomething.Org, The New York Times, UniteUS, Wiser, New York Tech Meetup, Alphasights, and RMS.