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Blog Category: Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker

Defining Operational Excellence One Person at a Time

Defining Operational Excellence One Person at a Time

When you’re striving for excellence, it helps to have an example. It’s much easier to work hard on something when you’ve seen others succeed despite obstacles. A highlight each year at the National Institute of Standards and Technology is the annual awards ceremony. This is where NIST celebrates operational excellence through the many achievements of its scientific, engineering, administrative and other support staff members. 

This year the agency was honored to have U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker provide remarks at the event.

As NIST employees left the ceremony Wednesday, they had almost 200 examples of operational excellence to pick from for role models—people who had done amazing things. Since NIST is a research agency, many were technical stars who had:

Secretary Pritzker Visits Montgomery College to Discuss Importance of Training America’s Workforce

Secretary Pritzker Visits Montgomery College to Discuss Importance of Training America’s Workforce

Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez visited Montgomery College in Germantown, Maryland, which recently received a federal grant to lead a consortium of 14 Maryland community colleges, in partnership with 37 employers, to build career pathways for cybersecurity and information technology jobs. The $15 million dollar Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant is one of 70 awards – totaling $450 million – that the Department of Labor announced in September. To learn first-hand how the grant is helping equip students for cybersecurity jobs that are locally available, Secretary Pritzker toured the school’s cyber laboratory with Montgomery College’s President Dr. DeRionne Pollard before participating in a roundtable discussion with representatives from Maryland’s community colleges, state and local officials, and employers serving as partners through this consortium. 

During the roundtable, Secretary Pritzker emphasized that skills development is an important issue for America’s workforce and businesses. Since taking office, Secretary Pritzker has spoken to more than 1,400 business leaders and one-third of the Fortune 500 CEOs, and almost every one of them has raised this as an issue that is critical to their future. This is why Secretary Pritzker has made job-driven training a top priority for the Department of Commerce for the very first time. Across many different industries, from manufacturing to cybersecurity, jobs are going unfilled because employers can’t find workers with the skills they are seeking. In fact, there are currently about 210,000 open and unfilled cybersecurity jobs across the country.
 
Cybersecurity is a threat not just to national security, but to America’s businesses and economy at–large. During the roundtable, Secretary Pritzker emphasized the Commerce Department’s key role in addressing the threat of cybersecurity. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which is one of Commerce’s bureaus, advances cutting-edge technology and industry standards and has conducted cybersecurity research for as long as there has been cyberspace. NIST has worked with the State of Maryland and Montgomery County on projects designed to secure electronic health information; protect assets in the financial services sector; and defend our energy infrastructure.

U.S.-China Relations: Great for TV, but Greater for the U.S. Economy

U.S.-China Relations: Great for TV, but Greater for the U.S. Economy

Frank Underwood doesn’t understand the purpose of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT).

Maybe you know of Frank Underwood, the main character on the show House of Cards, played by Kevin Spacey. If so, you may remember how he conspired with colleagues in the White House and State Department to orchestrate a trade war with China. 

How did he do it? Through the JCCT negotiations. 

While Mr. Underwood is commonly known in the United States, it’s much less likely that the average American knows what the JCCT is, aside from it being some way for a fictional administration to create tension with a major U.S. international partner. 

Though it isn’t a household term, the importance of the JCCT can’t be overlooked. While Mr. Underwood used the JCCT to start a trade war, the reality is that the United States and China use it to support trade peace – resolving bilateral tensions and exploring areas of mutual cooperation. 

The United States and China established the JCCT in 1983 as the primary forum for addressing trade and investment issues, and promoting commercial opportunities between the two countries. 

The JCCT has since resulted in significant progress on issues U.S. businesses have identified as priority concerns in China, including:

* protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights;

* government procurement;

* standards, testing, and certifications; and

* issues specific to certain sectors like information technology, energy, and travel and tourism. <--break->

Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Workforce Skills Pillars in Ensuring U.S. Competitiveness

Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Workforce Skills Pillars in Ensuring U.S. Competitiveness

Guest blog post by Stephen S. Tang, Ph.D., MBA and Member of the Commerce Department's National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship

It’s an honor to serve with such distinguished members of NACIE and to have a voice in this national conversation about innovation and entrepreneurship.  This is an especially personal topic to me. Innovation and entrepreneurship are in my blood – and a part of my heritage. I’m the son of international students from China who sought – and largely achieved – the American dream in Delaware, where I grew up and first discovered my love of science and technology. 

Like the children of many immigrants, I was born with high expectations from my high-achieving parents. My late father was an accomplished DuPont polymer engineer, process inventor, and NASA Lifetime Achievement Award-winner. My mother helped found the University of Delaware’s clinical chemistry department. As you can imagine, there was a lot of pressure on me and my siblings to excel.

My work at the University City Science Center has reinforced my belief that innovation and entrepreneurship define the origins and values of America. After all, as Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter will remind you, Philly was home to the original American start-up, our nation. My home city’s long and storied history of innovation that began with the Founding Founders continues to this day.

Between bifocals and the lightning rod, Benjamin Franklin alone, was a one-person innovation ecosystem! However, one person alone, or even one industry alone, does not an ecosystem make! Instead, innovation thrives in a rainforest-like atmosphere when disparate, yet related groups convene, connect and have the opportunity to collaborate.

Cities and regions are poised to be the defining platform to grow innovation ecosystems. They are the rainforests where these innovation ecosystems can thrive. They also provide a hospitable environment for scalable innovation. I believe that scaling – the process of transitioning from the start-up to the manufacturing phase in a company’s early life – is the key to fulfilling the promise of innovation and creating good jobs.

NIST Awards $2.5 Million in Grants to MEP Centers for Pilot Business-to-Business Networks

 NIST Awards $2.5 Million in Grants to MEP Centers for Pilot Business-to-Business Networks

The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has awarded $2.5 million in grants to 10 Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) centers to pilot online regional business-to-business network projects. The networks will help match buyers and sellers of technologies or products and services in support of small and midsize manufacturers.

“The Commerce Department is committed to keeping our small and medium-size manufacturers globally competitive,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. “The Manufacturing Extension Partnership grants announced today are an example of our efforts to invest in cutting-edge technologies through public-private collaboration.”

Each awardee will receive a total of $250,000 for a two-year project. The pilots are designed to be scalable and interoperable to help determine if they might be expanded into a national network or a series of regional ones. The networks are expected to include technologies available at federal laboratories and universities and, therefore, enhance the framework for collaboration between the private and public sectors through the nationwide network of MEP centers.

“One of NIST-MEP’s goals is to improve the productivity of our domestic supply chains,” said Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and Acting NIST Director Willie May. “These projects will demonstrate a variety of innovative approaches to doing that by connecting small firms with larger corporations.”

The awardees and their projects are:

Oregon MEP (Portland, Ore.)
The Northwest Connectory Business-to-Business Network (NWB2B) will bring together Oregon MEP, Impact Washington (State of Washington MEP), the Pacific Northwest Defense Coalitionand partnering trade associations, manufacturers, suppliers and other public-sector organizations in a regional consortium that will develop and maintain the pilot network. The business-to-business exchange tool they create will help manufacturers scout for local customers and suppliers, solicit bids, promote and seek emerging technologies and other related activities. The NWB2B project will build upon the existing NW Connectory, an online buyer-supplier network for Pacific Northwest manufacturing and technology companies that already contains vetted, full-text searchable profiles of more than 4,700 companies located in the Northwest.

Catalyst Connection (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
The Pennsylvania Network for Open Innovation will use an open innovation business model that instills a culture of innovation in small and medium-size manufacturing enterprises, increases their speed to market with more promising innovations, and thus, accelerates their business growth. It will leverage existing strong relationships and resources during the initiative, and the model will provide a basis for nationwide replication.

Secretary Pritzker Visits Chicago to Discuss Tools Needed for Continued Economic Growth and Commercial Diplomacy

Secretary Pritzker Visits Chicago to Discuss Tools Needed for Continued Economic Growth and Commercial Diplomacy

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker traveled to Chicago, IL yesterday to meet with students from the Institute of Politics (IOP) to talk about the Administration’s work to spur the economy and tools needed for further growth. Secretary Pritzker joined David Axelrod, Director of the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago, for an armchair discussion and Q&A session with IOP students, where she discussed her career background, what the Administration is doing to promote economic growth, her role as Commerce Secretary, and advice to young people starting their careers.

During the discussion, Secretary Pritzker stated that the most important part of any organization is the people, and making sure they have the tools and support needed to succeed. She highlighted the Department’s role in helping set the conditions for growth and giving businesses key tools to help them expand through unleashing data, environmental intelligence, support for digital infrastructure, assistance for trade and investment through the Department’s U.S. Export Assistance Center and the Foreign Commercial Service Officers. More broadly, Secretary Pritzker discussed the need for investments in infrastructure, passing comprehensive immigration reform, support for trade agreements, spurring more innovation and preparing American workers with the skills training to compete in the global economy.

Secretary Pritzker later joined top leadership from UI labs, local elected officials, and corporate and university leaders for a roundtable discussion about the future of manufacturing innovation and Chicago’s new Digital Manufacturing Design Innovation Institute (DMDI). The DMDI is one of the new National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) institutes announced by President Obama in February. Secretary Pritzker highlighted the importance of these institutes and how the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation (RAMI) Act will keep America on the cutting edge of innovation and competitiveness by meeting the real and growing demand for the development of more advanced manufacturing technologies. This legislation will also encourage partnership and regional collaboration between communities, community colleges and universities, the private sector, NGOs, and needed supply chains in order to bring ideas from the lab to market.

Secretary Pritzker Celebrates Female Entrepreneurs during Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

Secretary Pritzker Celebrates Female Entrepreneurs during Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker celebrated Women’s Entrepreneurship Day this week as part of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Marrakesh, Morocco. Secretary Pritzker helped lead the U.S. delegation to the Summit to demonstrate the U.S. government’s continued commitment to fostering entrepreneurship around the world. More than 3,000 entrepreneurs at all stages of business development, business leaders, mentors and high-level government officials gathered for the 5th Annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit. 

At last year’s GES in Malaysia, President Obama asked Secretary Pritzker to chair the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) initiative, and she convened the first-ever meeting of that group this past April. PAGE is made up of 11 well-known American entrepreneurs who are dedicating their time and resources to inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs in the U.S. and abroad. Three PAGE members joined the Secretary at this year’s GES, including Alexa von Tobel, Founder and CEO of Learnvest, Daphne Koller, Co-Founder and President of Coursera, and Hamdi Ulukaya, Founder and CEOS of Chobani.  

In honor of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, Secretary Pritzker delivered the keynote address to approximately 300 women entrepreneurs. She discussed America’s leadership in empowering entrepreneurs at home and abroad and touted how a strong entrepreneurial society can lead to greater economic growth, stability and security, and a rising middle class. During her remarks, she also addressed the challenges that face women entrepreneurs today including lack of access to capital, training in vocational and technical skills, and access to information and technology. Structural obstacles also create enormous difficulties for women and men who want to grow a new business and Secretary Pritzker highlighted some of those obstacles. Secretary Pritzker discussed how female entrepreneurs all over the world need a change in culture to support their work. She expressed that countries need a strong educational system that produces students able to think broadly and creatively, and to accept and take risks while also stressing that countries need to have laws that make it easy for innovators to both start a company and wind it down. 

During her first day in Morocco, the Secretary also spoke with representatives from 80 American Chambers of Commerce headquartered throughout Africa, who were also gathered in Marrakesh for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. She discussed the Department’s Doing Business in Africa campaign, designed to leverage the power of the U.S. business community in Africa and encouraged U.S. trade promotion and investment to all regions of Africa. 

Secretary Pritzker Answers Questions about Entrepreneurship During Twitter Chat

While attending the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Marrakech, Morocco Secretary Penny Pritzker took questions about entrepreneurship and innovation from Twitter users. As the Administration’s point person on entrepreneurship, Secretary Pritzker led a U.S. delegation to the Summit, demonstrating the U.S. government’s continued commitment to fostering a culture of innovation around the world.

Below is a transcript of the Twitter chat.

Secretary Pritzker Marks One-Year Anniversary of “Open for Business Agenda” Launch

Secretary Pritzker speaking with Evan Burfield at 1776 about the Open for Business Agenda

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker participated in an armchair discussion with 1776 cofounder Evan Burfield to discuss the U.S. economy, entrepreneurship, and the one-year anniversary of the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda.” Located in Washington, DC, 1776 serves as a global hub that connects startups tackling challenges in education, energy, health care, government and other industries with the resources they need to excel. 

Last November at 1776, Secretary Pritzker outlined the” Open for Business Agenda,” a bold policy priorities framework for the Department of Commerce, centered on the tools needed for U.S. economic growth. It is focused on U.S. trade and investment, innovation, data, environmental intelligence, and operational excellence, and this agenda reflects the Department’s role as the voice of business, as well as the Obama Administration’s keen focus on economic growth and job creation.

In light of Global Entrepreneurship Week which begins today, Secretary Pritzker highlighted the Department’s focus on entrepreneurship as an important tool for economic growth in the United States and across the world. As the Administration’s point person on entrepreneurship and chair of the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) initiative, Secretary Pritzker will help lead the American delegation at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Morocco this week. At GES, the Secretary will promote the importance of global entrepreneurship and support foreign entrepreneurs. She will also stress that entrepreneurship is gender neutral when she speaks during Women’s Entrepreneurship Day on November 19.

On a more personal note, Secretary Pritzker offered advice to entrepreneurs, recommending that they should not be afraid of failure. As a founder of five companies, she understands that sometimes failures are necessary to achieve success and that resilience matters.

1776 cofounder Evan Burfield also asked Secretary Pritzker to talk about her favorite entrepreneur. She mentioned that the entrepreneurs she meets both at home and abroad – from Saudi Arabia to Japan – inspire her with their continual enthusiasm and desire to improve the world.  She specifically mentioned a young Ghanaian entrepreneur named Ethel Cofie who started an IT services firm as someone that inspires.  Secretary Pritzker also considers Daphne Koller, co-founder and president of Coursera and a PAGE Ambassador, an example of how great ideas can come at any age. Koller founded the online education platform when she was 44 and a Stanford University professor.   

Join Commerce’s Data Revolution: Innovation Leaders Need Apply

Secretary Pritzker speaking at the Esri Conference July 2014

Guest Blog Post by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker

Last summer, I outlined the wide variety of factors that make the Department of Commerce “America’s Data Agency” – and I announced a series of steps aimed at unlocking the full potential of our data resources.

Among those actions, launching a department-wide Data Advisory Council was a top priority and a key commitment. And today, I am pleased to say that we are making good on our promise: the council has been officially established and we are now accepting applications.

We are looking for the best and brightest data thought leaders in the private and public sectors to advise our efforts to revolutionize Commerce’s data – to foster innovation, create jobs, and drive better decision-making throughout our economy and society.  The application process extends through December 3, 2014.  If you think you have what it takes, I strongly urge you to apply.

As we build our Data Advisory Council, we are actively recruiting a Chief Data Officer (CDO) to drive the transformation of our data, and we are pleased to announce the hire of an outstanding Deputy CDO, Lynn Overmann, currently a senior advisor to White House Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith.  Lynn will be responsible for coordinating and guiding the Department’s efforts to realize the value of our data and to put the vast volumes of our data to better use each and every day.