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Blog Category: Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker

The U.S. Partnerships and Initiatives Spurring Economic Growth in Africa

President Obama has called Africa “the world's next great economic success story.” According to the African Development Bank, Africa maintained an average GDP growth rate of 3.9 percent in 2013, exceeding the 3 percent rate for the global economy.  U.S. exports to the continent of Africa have grown 39 percent since 2009, reaching $50.2 billion in 2013. The brightest spot has been U.S. merchandise exports to sub-Saharan Africa, which have increased 58 percent since 2009.

Building on this progress, the Department of Commerce and Bloomberg Philanthropies are co-hosting the U.S. Africa Business Forum on August 5, a day focused on trade and investment opportunities on the continent. Part of the first-ever U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit taking place August 4-6, the Forum is part of the Administration’s efforts to explore Africa’s huge economic potential:

  • U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa: In 2012, President Obama announced the U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa, a comprehensive policy strategy to address the opportunities and challenges in Africa in a forward-looking way. The Strategy focuses on strengthening democratic institutions; spurring economic growth, trade, and investment; advancing peace and security; and promoting opportunity and development. 
  • Doing Business in Africa: As part of the Strategy, the Department of Commerce launched the Doing Business in Africa Campaign, which has helped U.S. businesses take advantage of the many export and investment opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa. As part of the campaign, Commerce has expanded trade promotion programs tailored toward Africa and dedicated an online Africa business portal directing businesses to federal resources.
  • Commercial Service expansion: To expand Commerce’s human resources footprint in Africa, Secretary Pritzker recently announced the opening of new U.S. Commercial Service offices across the continent. The U.S. Commercial Service helps U.S. businesses start exporting or increase sales to new global markets. By expanding its Commercial Service teams in Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, and Libya, and opening offices in Angola, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Mozambique for the first time, the Department of Commerce hopes to help U.S. businesses find their next customer abroad and create jobs in Africa.

Commerce Joins Federal Partners to Present Job Training Programs Review

Commerce Joins Federal Partners to Present Job Training Programs Review

Guest Blog Post by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker

A strong, skilled American workforce is essential to ensuring that U.S. businesses are able to compete in the global economy. In the 2014 State of the Union Address, President Obama asked that I join Vice President Biden, Secretary Perez, and Secretary Duncan to lead a review of federal training programs, to ensure that these programs prepare workers for the jobs that are available right now. On Tuesday we presented our findings and recommendations to the President at an event at the White House. President Obama also signed H.R. 803, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which will help improve business engagement and accountability across federally-funded training programs.

As a business leader of 27 years, I know the importance of hiring skilled workers. In our “Open for Business Agenda,” the Department of Commerce is making workforce development a top priority for the first time ever. While the Department does not directly fund job training programs, many of our initiatives support efforts to match workers to local industry needs. The Economic Development Administration (EDA) and National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) in particular have taken significant leadership roles in the Department’s skilled workforce policy. For example, the Economic Development Administration (EDA) funds critical efforts that help communities address local economic needs, including workforce needs. In addition, the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) works with manufacturers around the country to help them improve their processes and create and retain jobs.

Commerce is coordinating with other federal partners to leverage support for job-driven training initiatives. For example,  we are working in coordination with the Department of Labor (DOL) on their Center for Workforce & Industry Partnerships (CWIP), which will bring together key agencies across the federal government to support workforce and industry partnerships and form a common vision and approach to partnerships. To better align economic development and workforce development goals, EDA is working to develop stronger ties between EDA Regional Offices and Department of Labor (DOL) regional offices, and is incorporating job-driven training principles into its new Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies guidelines for economic development districts. Also, NIST MEP is working closely with DOL’s Registered Apprenticeships Program to spread awareness of their resources to common clients.  In fact, MEP and DOL co-hosted a webinar on these programs last week, and MEP helped DOL host an advanced manufacturing industry roundtable in Chicago last month to inform the upcoming solicitation for federal apprenticeship funding, one of the major announcements to come out of the Administration’s work on job-driven training.

We are also leveraging Commerce data to develop new tools for connecting job-seekers to available positions. Today, at the 21st Century Career Counseling Jobs Data Jam in Baltimore, Md., Under Secretary for Economic Affairs Mark Doms and Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez spoke with technology leaders and app developers to explore opportunities to use government data to help workers find jobs and training opportunities.

The Department of Commerce is leveraging our resources and will continue to collaborate with our other interagency partners, as well as businesses and educational institutions, to ensure that both workers and businesses get the best out of workforce skills programs. The report we presented on Tuesday offers a blueprint for our future actions to help more Americans climb the ladder of opportunity. 

Secretary Pritzker Underscores Importance of Innovation and American Manufacturing at Visit to Whirlpool Corporation

Secretary Pritzker receives a tour of the Whirlpool Corporate Headquarters by Chief Executive Officer Jeff Fettig

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker discussed the importance of innovation and American manufacturing to the U.S. economy during a tour and panel discussion with business leaders and CEOs at the Whirlpool Corporation’s headquarters in Benton Harbor, Michigan. As the world’s leading global manufacturer and marketer of major home appliances, the Whirlpool Corporation has effectively  integrated innovative thinking into its core values and mission.

Speaking on a panel titled “The Global Innovation Forum,” and moderated by Doug Rothwell, Chief Executive Officer and President of the Business Leaders of Michigan, Secretary Pritzker explained that one of the key priorities of the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda” is to strengthen American innovation, with a focus on supporting manufacturing. Secretary Pritzker also highlighted how the Obama Administration and the Department of Commerce are spearheading three manufacturing initiatives to accomplish this objective.

First, Secretary Pritzker talked about the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), a bipartisan, industry-driven proposal to create a network of commercialization hubs owned and operated by universities and corporations. These hubs will conduct skills training and accelerate new technologies into the market, all aimed at benefiting a region’s manufacturing base, rather than just a single company.  In addition, Secretary Pritzker discussed the successes of the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP). IMCP is a federal designation that recognizes communities that should serve as models for the rest of the country – because they each have clear strategies to become magnets for manufacturing, along with coordinated efforts in key areas, like workforce training, supplier networks, research and innovation, infrastructure and site development, exporting, and access to capital. Recent research shows that communities who make these investments in a coordinated fashion experience higher growth in employment, wages, number of establishments, and number of patents.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Talks About Efforts to Boost Exports in the Rural Delta

Secretary Pritzker promoting rural exports in Memphis

Exports are an important tool for economic development and job creation, which is why the Obama Administration has made increased exports a central pillar of its strategy for economic growth. With the recent launch of NEI/NEXT, the next phase of the successful National Export Initiative, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Pritzker has made it a priority to expand the U.S. export base and to help more American businesses of all sizes – including rural businesses – capitalize on opportunities in foreign markets.

As part of this effort, Secretary Pritzker traveled to Memphis, Tennessee Thursday to participate in the “Made in Rural America” Regional Forum, focused on boosting rural exports. Hosted by the Delta Regional Authority (DRA), the forum convened small business owners, industry representatives, business support organizations, and local, state, and federal leaders to discuss ways to help rural businesses grow and reach the 95% of customers that live outside our borders. Secretary Pritzker participated in an armchair discussion with DRA Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill and discussed how we can all work together to enhance opportunities for businesses in rural communities and how we can focus on ways to increase exports from the Delta region’s many businesses. Today’s forum is the second of five regional forums to be held across the country, aimed at helping local businesses integrate exports into their economic growth strategies.

At the Forum, Secretary Pritzker discussed the Commerce Department’s resources to help rural businesses compete in the global marketplace. The Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration (ITA) has trade specialists in more than 100 U.S. cities and over 70 countries worldwide to help companies take advantage of business opportunities abroad and connect them to trade events, foreign buyers, and other partners. In fact, about 85 percent of ITA’s clients are small and medium-sized businesses, and on average 38 percent are rural exporters.

Since the launch of the NEI in 2010, 1.6 million more Americans are earning a paycheck from an export-supported job, bringing the total to 11.3 million jobs – the highest in 20 years.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Discusses Opportunities for U.S. Companies to Export

U.S. exports reached a record $2.3 trillion in 2013 and support a record 11.3 million U.S. jobs. Thousands of companies across the country made exporting a strategy to growing their business and in fact, exports have driven the economic recovery and job creation in a number of U.S. cities. Because of the critical role of exports, the Department of Commerce recently launched the next phase of the National Export Initiative, NEI/NEXT. Building on the success of the National Export Initiative, NEI/NEXT is a new customer service-driven strategy with improved information resources that will help American businesses capitalize on existing and new opportunities to sell Made-in-America goods and services abroad.

As part of this effort, U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker visited the Qualcomm headquarters in San Diego, Calif. yesterday, where she led a roundtable discussion on the importance of U.S. exports with the “Global San Diego Export Plan” team. This plan, which aims to integrate exports into San Diego’s economic development strategy, is being developed in close consultation with the Commerce Department's International Trade Administration (ITA) and the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program.

During the roundtable discussion, Secretary Pritzker met with local private and public sector leaders and learned more about the success of their export strategy and the challenges they still face. The partnership-driven export and investment strategy has made a big impact on the San Diego economy, but there are still more areas and opportunities for growth. One of the key objectives of NEI/NEXT is to promote exports as an economic development priority for communities across the country. San Diego’s export plan is an excellent example for how other cities and metropolitan areas across the country can partner with businesses and government to better facilitate exports.

Roundtable participants also spoke about the practical challenges they are facing including the role of small and medium sized businesses, infrastructure, retaining talent and branding. Secretary Pritzker discussed Department of Commerce resources and ways the Department and ITA could provide assistance to businesses and the Export Plan team to help overcome some of these challenges.

Since the launch of President Obama's National Export Initiative in 2010, the United States has seen strong export-driven economic growth and has broken export records four years in a row. Increasing U.S. exports remains a top priority for the Obama Administration, and the Commerce Department is ready to assist San Diego and other communities in making the most of their exporting potential.

Secretary Pritzker Discusses the Power of Government Data and Announces the Department of Commerce Will Hire Its First-Ever Chief Data Officer

Announces the Department of Commerce Will Hire Its First-Ever Chief Data Officer

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker discussed the Department of Commerce’s expanding role as “America’s Data Agency” at the 2014 Esri International User’s Conference in San Diego, California. The annual conference, hosted by Esri, a geographic information systems (GIS) software development company is attended by 16,000 data experts, including those from federal, state, local, and regional governments; Fortune 1000 companies; small business owners; university scholars; and K-12 teachers. 

During her address, Secretary Pritzker described how the Department of Commerce’s data collection – which literally reaches from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun – not only informs trillions of dollars of private and public investments each year and plants the seeds of economic growth, but also saves lives. Because of Commerce Department data, Secretary Pritzker explained, communities vulnerable to tornados have seen warning times triple and tornado warning accuracy double over the past 25 years, giving residents greater time to search for shelter in the event of an emergency. The breadth of the Department’s data collection and dissemination, which touches of the lives of millions of Americans every day, is why many, including Secretary Pritzker call the Department of Commerce “America’s Data Agency.”

To develop and implement a vision for the next phase in the open data revolution, Secretary Pritzker announced that the Department of Commerce will hire its first-ever Chief Data Officer. This leader, Secretary Pritzker explained, will oversee improvements to data collection and dissemination in order to ensure that Commerce’s data programs are coordinated, comprehensive, and strategic. To bolster the Chief Data Officer’s efforts, Secretary Pritzker explained that the Department will create a data advisory council, which will be comprised of private sector leaders who will advise the Department on how to best use and unleash more government data.

Secretary Pritzker also announced the launch of the International Trade Administration’s “Developer Portal,” which will centralize data that is vital to exporting businesses across the country. Finally, Secretary Pritzker invited conference attendees to participate in a panel discussion later in the week in San Diego on how businesses can best utilize data from the American Community Survey (ACS), an annual statistical survey that helps guide $400 billion in federal spending each year.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Visits Shanghai Ahead of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Visits Shanghai Ahead of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue

This week, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker traveled to China, where she made a stop in Shanghai ahead of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) starting today in Beijing. At a roundtable with American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai on Tuesday, Secretary Pritzker met with a number of CEOs and business leaders from companies doing work in China. They discussed the business climate in China and ways the Department of Commerce can be effective in helping companies expand opportunities in China. Secretary Pritzker also discussed her visit to the Shanghai Free Trade Zone on Monday, as well as the upcoming S&ED and what she hoped would get accomplished during the upcoming talks.

Secretary Pritzker also met with the Commercial Service Officers at the consulate in Shanghai. The Commercial Service (CS), part of the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration (ITA), plays a vital role in helping American companies start exporting or expand their reach into international markets. CS helps U.S. businesses overcome trade barriers, find global business opportunities and partners, and attract investment to U.S. shores.

As part of President Obama’s deliberate decision to deepen U.S. engagement with Asia, Secretary Pritzker has been working to strengthen commercial ties with the region. In April, she delivered remarks at the John Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), outlining the Administration’s focus on strengthening the U.S.-Asia economic relationship. There, she also announced ITA’s plans to expand its presence in fast-growing markets in Asia and Africa and to open offices in five new countries, including its first in Burma. Then last month, Secretary Pritzker led a commercial diplomacy mission to Vietnam, the Philippines and Burma in conjunction with a delegation of U.S. CEOs and the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council, underscoring U.S. government support for high-level private sector engagement in the Asia-Pacific region. This week’s trip to China builds on these efforts to promote U.S. businesses and strengthen economic ties in the Asia-Pacific region.

Secretary Pritzker Discusses Fostering a 21st Century Workforce with Walter Isaacson at the 2014 Aspen Ideas Festival

Today, at the 2014 Aspen Ideas Festival, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker spoke about the Obama Administration and the Commerce Department’s efforts to strengthen the American workforce and prepare our workforce for 21st century jobs through skills development. She discussed these efforts with Walter Isaacson, President and CEO of the Aspen Institute, during an armchair discussion titled “21st Century Workforce.”

Since taking office a year ago, Secretary Pritzker has spoken to over a thousand business leaders and more than one-third of Fortune 500 CEOs, and one of the top concerns that they have shared is finding the right workers to fill available jobs. To ensure the economy’s long term competitiveness, the United States must maintain a strong workforce with the skills that businesses need. That is why the Department of Commerce is making workforce development a top priority for the first time ever.

In her discussion with Isaacson, Secretary Pritzker talked about some of the initiatives that the Commerce Department is leading to equip the American workforce with skills for jobs in thriving industries. For example, the Department recently launched a membership call for the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE), an advisory council that will assists the Department in finding new approaches to industry-led skills training. This spring, Secretary Pritzker also joined President Obama and Vice President Biden to announce a combined $600 million in Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) and apprenticeship grants, which will enable a number of communities to train workers for challenging careers in growing American industries, such as advanced manufacturing, IT, and healthcare.

Secretary Pritzker Joins PAGE Member Steve Case on Cincinnati Leg of “Rise of the Rest” Road Tour

Secretary Pritzker Joins PAGE Member Steve Case on Cincinnati Leg of “Rise of the Rest” Road Tour

Today U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker visited Cincinnati, Ohio for the “Rise of the Rest” Road Tour to celebrate America’s entrepreneurial spirit and bring attention to emerging startup economies in communities across the United States. The four-city tour, taking place this week in Detroit, Pittsburg, Cincinnati and Nashville is hosted by Chairman and CEO of Revolution and Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) member Steve Case. PAGE is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between eleven of America’s most inspiring and prominent entrepreneurs who are using their experience and expertise to help spur business creation in the United States and around the world.

Entrepreneurship is a key driver of economic growth and job creation. Startups account for 20 percent of new jobs created in the United States and are responsible for adding net new employment to the economy. Secretary Pritzker’s visit to Ohio today is part of the Commerce Department’s ongoing efforts to support and highlight America’s thriving entrepreneurial spirit, celebrate our startup culture, and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Secretary Pritzker began the day in Cincinnati by delivering remarks about the importance of entrepreneurship at a breakfast event with Cincinnati business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. In her remarks, she discussed the Administration’s efforts to engage with business leaders and local leaders to foster an economic environment that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship, which spur job growth and competitiveness and promote economic development.

Secretary Pritzker then hopped on the bus and headed to Dotloop, a web-based company focused on creating a platform that would simplify real estate transactions. She then toured Cintrifuse a start-up incubator in downtown Cincinnati where she met with a number of entrepreneurs looking to turn their ideas and inventions into new products and technologies. After her Cintrifuse visit, Secretary Pritzker and Steve Case visited Roadtrippers, a web and mobile app for planning road trips. All of the sites Secretary Pritzker visited today demonstrate the power and potential of great American business ideas.

Later in the day Secretary Pritzker and Steve Case sat down for a fireside chat with Rich Boehne CEO of E.W. Scripps Company at the Brandery, a seed startup accelerator. Speaking before an audience of Cincinnati entrepreneurs, they offered practical advice for young companies from their own experiences building businesses and shared more about what the Administration is trying to accomplish by supporting entrepreneurship through the PAGE initiative. ​

Secretary Pritzker Discusses the Importance of a Globally Competitive Workforce at the 2014 CGI America Annual Meeting

Secretary Pritzker Discusses the Importance of a Globally Competitive Workforce at the 2014 CGI America Annual Meeting

At the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America 2014 Annual Meeting today in Denver, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker spoke about the Commerce Department’s efforts to catalyze job-driven training initiatives and the Obama Administration’s focus on fostering a 21stcentury workforce. Following remarks by former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary Pritzker spoke on a panel moderated by Chelsea Clinton, Clinton Foundation Vice Chair, titled “Charting a New Course: Education and Employing America’s Future Leaders.”

Workforce training is a personal issue for Secretary Pritzker, and she has heard from many CEOs that finding the right workers to fill available jobs is one of their top concerns. That is why Secretary Pritzker has made workforce training a top priority for the Department of Commerce for the very first time.

As Secretary Pritzker noted during the panel, training initiatives must be industry-driven in order to succeed in creating the 21st century workforce that businesses need. The Commerce Department leads a number of initiatives that have already seen progress towards equipping the American workforce with the skills for available jobs. For example, the Department recently launched a membership call for the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE), an advisory council that will assists the Department in finding new approaches to industry-led skills training. Secretary Pritzker also recently joined President Obama and Vice President Biden to announce a combined $600 million in Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) and apprenticeship grants, which will enable a number of communities to train workers for careers in cutting edge industries, such as advanced manufacturing, IT, and healthcare.