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Blog Category: Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker

Secretary Pritzker Discusses Power of Immigration Reform to Drive Florida’s Economy

National Entrepreneur Center Welcomes Secretary Penny Pritzker

Secretary Pritzker visited Orlando, Florida, today as part of her overall listening tour to hear directly from business leaders on how the public and private sectors can work together to strengthen the economy and create American jobs.

While in Orlando, Secretary Pritzker met with local business leaders on the need to pass comprehensive immigration reform, which is key to the country’s economic growth. She shared her story as an entrepreneur coming from a family of entrepreneurs, including her great-grandfather who emigrated from Russia to the United States.

Pritzker referenced a recent White House report citing the Economic Benefits of Fixing Our Broken Immigration System. The value of immigrants to the American economy cannot be understated. More than 40% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children. One-fourth of U.S. Nobel Prize winners over the years have been foreign-born. While immigrants account for only about 13% of the U.S. population, they start about 28% of all new businesses, according to an analysis of Census Bureau data.

Florida businesses were very aware of the power of immigrants to drive an economy. Nearly one-fourth of the labor force is foreign-born and about 30% of business owners are immigrants who generate over $13 billion in annual income. Through reform, it’s estimated that Florida’s economic output would increase next year by $1.8 billion and create 22,000 new jobs. According to one model, reforms in the Senate bill including a pathway to earned citizenship and an expansion of high-skilled and temporary worker programs would increase personal income for Florida families by over $6.5 billion in 2020.

Secretary Pritzker Visits Universal Studios Orlando and Speaks with Leading Executives of Travel and Tourism Companies

Secretary Penny Pritzker at Universal Studios Wizarding World of Harry Potter with COO Bill Davis (left) and John Sprouls, Executive VP (right)

Today, as part of her nationwide listening tour, Secretary Penny Pritzker toured Universal Studios Orlando with Bill Davis, President & COO, Universal Orlando and John McReynolds, SVP External Affairs, Universal Parks and Resorts and held a roundtable with Presidents and CEOs of local travel and tourism companies. Orlando is home to a vibrant travel and tourism industry that doesn’t contribute just to the state of Florida’s economy, but to the nation’s economy as a whole. In fact, international travel is the country’s largest service export with the travel and tourism industry accounting for nearly $1.4 trillion to the U.S. GDP and providing more than 7.5 million jobs for American workers, according to the Department of Commerce.

According to the Orlando Tourism Bureau, in 2011, Orlando benefited from $31.7 billion in visitor spending. Orlando was the fifth most visited U.S. city in 2011 with 2.8 million international visitors and Florida ranked third among states in 2011 with 5.7 million international visitors.

During the roundtable, Secretary Pritzker not only discussed the value of the travel and tourism industry to the overall American economy, but also the key role the Commerce Department plays in supporting and promoting the United States as the premier destination for international travelers. In fact, the Department’s NOAA manages the nation’s marine sanctuaries – a great destination for marine life lovers and history buffs.

Investing in Our Economic Future: SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit

SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit Logo

Guest post by Mara Lee, Deputy Director of Public Affairs at the International Trade Administration. Cross post from Tradeology.gov, the official blog of the International Trade Administration

You don’t have to look far to find something in your life that is produced by an international company operating in the United States. It might be the dishwasher in your kitchen, the brake pads on your car, or the elevator in your apartment building.

You also won’t have to look far to find jobs supported by foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States. There are more than five million of them throughout the country, covering every state in both rural and urban communities.

Those are five million reasons why FDI is an important ingredient in the recipe for continued economic growth in the United States.

President Obama has made it a priority to attract more FDI to the United States, helping support more jobs and economic growth. A key tool in his efforts is the upcoming SelectUSA Investment Summit.

The Summit will connect global investors with U.S. leaders who are ready to showcase local investment projects. Economic development organizations from 15 states have already confirmed attendance at the event, offering myriad investment opportunities around the country.

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker also announced an impressive lineup of government and business leaders to share important lessons about the advantages of investing in the United States – advantages ranging from our educated workforce, our relatively low energy costs, and the long history of ingenuity, innovation, and entrepreneurship that is synonymous with the “Made in America” label.

U.S. Department of Commerce Announces $2.5 Million in Investments to Strengthen Innovation and Economic Growth Initiatives

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced the winners of the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) 2013 University Center Economic Development Program Competition. EDA is providing a total of $2.5 million in grants to 19 colleges and universities in 10 states to run five-year programs that will leverage university assets to promote American innovation and strengthen regional economies. This year’s competition was open to higher education institutions in states supported by EDA’s Austin and Denver regional offices.

“These EDA investments in University Centers are examples of the Obama administration’s commitment to public-private partnerships with higher education institutions that help America stay innovative and competitive in the 21st century,” said Secretary Pritzker. “These 19 grants will help colleges and universities throughout the country support regional entrepreneurship and job creation that are vital to boosting economic growth.”

EDA-funded University Centers provide business solutions and technical assistance to public- and private-sector organizations, and conduct other activities with the goal of enhancing regional economic development. They offer a full range of services tailored to each region’s needs and the institution’s strengths. University Center business solutions include basic and applied research, market research, feasibility studies, product development, strategic and financial planning, seminars and training, and management consultations. These services enhance business productivity, streamline operations, increase quality, and cut costs.  Release

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Announces First Business Development Mission to Mexico

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker recently announced that she will lead her first business development mission to Mexico City and Monterrey, Mexico from November 18-22, 2013. This mission will promote U.S. exports to Mexico by helping export-ready U.S. companies launch or increase their business in a number of key industry sectors, including: advanced manufacturing, information and communications technology, and health IT and medical devices.

In announcing the mission, Secretary Pritzker said, “Exports are an essential component for spurring growth and creating jobs in America. The United States and Mexico have strong business ties and increasing opportunities for trade and collaboration between our two nations will help bolster economic success across our border.” 

Earlier this summer, President Obama and President Peña Nieto met to underscore and discuss the strategic importance of the bilateral relationship between the United States and Mexico. In so doing, they noted the potential for mutual economic gains by strengthening commercial ties between our countries.

Secretary Pritzker Completes Third Leg of National Listening Tour

Phot of Prizker touring the EC

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker wrapped up the third leg of her nationwide listening tour, during which she is traveling across the country to meet with businesses and thought leaders, entrepreneurs, academics and Department of Commerce employees. While in Nashville, Tenn. and Pella and Des Moines, IA, she heard from various groups and industry representatives about their priorities, concerns and ideas on how the public and private sectors can work together to strengthen the economy and create American jobs.

“Nashville, Pella, and Des Moines epitomize the entrepreneurial spirit that is driving economic development and job creation in the United States,” said Secretary Pritzker. “From leveraging the creative economy to making investments in advanced manufacturing, businesses in these states are getting it right. As I continue my listening tour over the next few weeks, I’m looking forward to hearing more from businesses and entrepreneurs about how the Department can serve as a bridge to the business community to protect, promote, inform and anticipate what America needs to be competitive and innovative in the 21st century.”

In Nashville, Secretary Pritzker visited the Entrepreneur Center, a nonprofit business incubator that helps connect entrepreneurs with investors, mentors and resources that are crucial to accelerating the launch of their startup businesses. While at the EC, Secretary Pritzker toured the facilities with its president and CEO Dr. Michael Burcham and met with facility staff and young entrepreneurs working in a wide variety of fields, and heard how funds from a grant from the Department’s Economic Development Administration enabled them to expand capacity three-fold. The secretary was also joined by the team from Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency’s (MBDA) regional office in Memphis, and encouraged collaboration between MBDA and the entrepreneurs who work with the center.

Secretary Pritzker then headed to Iowa where she visited Jaarsma Bakery and toured operations at Vermeer Corporation in Pella. Over its 65 year history, Vermeer has grown to become competitive on a global scale, earning a Presidential award for exports, in recognition of their efforts to increase exports. Vermeer serves customers with forage, specialty excavation, environmental and underground equipment products to more effectively and responsibly work farms and ranches, improve infrastructure, and manage natural resources. She also visited Dwolla, Inc. and the Iowa State Fair.

Full release

Secretary Pritzker Discusses Economic Benefits of Immigration Reform in Iowa

Secretary Pritzker visited Des Moines, Iowa, today as part of her overall listening tour to hear directly from business leaders on how the public and private sectors can work together to strengthen the economy and create American jobs. 

While in Des Moines, Secretary Pritzker met with local business leaders on the need to pass comprehensive immigration reform, which is key to the country’s economic growth. Commonsense immigration reform will reduce the deficit and grow the economy. In fact, the Senate-passed bill would grow the economy by 5.4 percent over the next two decades and increase labor force participation by 3.5 percent in 2023 and 5 percent in 2033, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. 

Immigrants and children of immigrants make significant contributions to the U.S. economy. In Iowa, the labor force is 5.3 percent foreign born and these men and women generate $216 million in income for the state each year.

During the roundtable, Secretary Pritzker heard from representatives from the health care community who favor immigration reform as a way to address a shortage of physicians in the area. Many around the table said that Iowa would be better served if the foreign-born students trained in Iowa's schools – and in their technology programs in particular – were allowed to stay in the United States. Others said that immigration reform would help them expand the pool of labor available to fill entry-level jobs. 

Commonsense comprehensive immigration reform will strengthen the U.S. economy and create jobs while at the same time fostering innovation and entrepreneurism.

Secretary Pritzker Tours Manufacturing Company, Vermeer Corporation, in Iowa

Secretary Pritzker Tours Manufacturing Company, Vermeer Corporation, in Iowa (photo credit: A.J. Hodgeman)

Today, Secretary Pritzker toured the Vermeer Corporation in Pella, Iowa. Her second stop in Iowa, the visit, which is part of her nationwide listening tour, gave her an opportunity to learn how the 65-year-old manufacturing company has innovated to stay successful and competitive in the 21st century economy. 

The Vermeer Corporation, one of the largest employers in Pella, is a family-owned and managed U.S. manufacturer that serves customers with forage, specialty excavation, environmental and underground equipment products to more efficiently and responsibly work farms and ranches, improve infrastructure and manage natural resources. The company’s founder, Gary Vermeer, is credited with inventing agricultural equipment now in widespread use around the world. 

Secretary Pritzker first toured Vermeer’s facilities with company CEO Mary Andriga and U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, where she saw several of the company’s machines in action. The secretary saw a reclaimer, a machine used to purify water in the process of drilling to install underground utilities, as well as a leveler, which is used in surface mining. She also saw Vermeer's Parts and Distribution Center, which ships out 800 packages a day. Vermeer has 65,000 active part numbers in inventory, and ships 30 percent of its parts internationally. 

She also learned about the company’s efforts in exporting – Vermeer's products are distributed through a network of more than 500 dealerships around the globe. Thanks in part to exports, the company’s annual sales are estimated at approximately $1 billion. 

In fact, Vermeer earned a Presidential “E-Star” Award for exports in 1998, recognition American entities can receive for making a significant contribution to the expansion of U.S. exports.  

Following the tour, Secretary Pritzker led a roundtable discussion with Vermeer executives and other local leaders from the Des Moines and Pella, Iowa business community. They talked about what the government is doing well in supporting manufacturers and where there is room for improvement, and the secretary heard from the business leaders what more the Commerce Department can do to continue helping American manufacturers.

Secretary Pritzker Tours Loud Recording Studios and Speaks With Music and Entertainment Industry Leaders

Secretary Pritzker Tours Loud Recording Studios and Speaks With Music and Entertainment Industry Leaders

Today, as part of her nationwide listening tour, Secretary Penny Pritzker toured Loud Recording Studios with Cary Sherman, Chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Jim Catino, Vice President of A&R for Sony Music Nashville. The music industry is a vibrant part of Nashville’s economy and the American economy as a whole. In fact, entertainment, literary and artistic originals contributed $74 billion to the U.S. economy last year, according to the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.

According to a report by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Music City Music Council, the music industry sustains more than 56,000 jobs and contributes both to the local economy and the region’s gross domestic product.

During the roundtable, Secretary Pritzker not only discussed how the music and entertainment industries are contributing to the health of the creative economy, but also the key role the Commerce Department plays in supporting and protecting intellectual property and innovation.

Secretary Pritzker Tours Entrepreneur Center in Nashville, Tennessee

Secretary Pritzker receives a demonstration from one of the entrepreneur inside the Nashville Entrepreneur Center

Today, Secretary Penny Pritzker continued her successful nationwide listening tour with a stop at the Entrepreneur Center in Nashville, Tenn. This was her first stop in “Music City, USA” and provided her with an opportunity to hear how the center supports business start-ups and job growth.

The Entrepreneur Center (EC), a nonprofit business incubator, helps connect entrepreneurs with investors, mentors and resources that are crucial to accelerating the launch of their startup businesses. The EC houses 80 startups and was created through a public-private initiative, the Nashville Chamber of Commerce’s Partnership 2010, in 2007.

Following a catastrophic flood in May 2010, the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) invested $2.5 million in the EC in 2011 to renovate an historic building, the Trolley Barn, which tripled the facility’s capacity. The investment is also helping mitigate economic impacts of future disasters and helping build a stronger, more disaster-resilient economy.