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Blog Category: Listening Tour

Secretary Pritzker Wheels Around the United Bicycle Institute in Portland, Oregon

Today, as part of Secretary Penny Pritzker’s nationwide listening tour, she toured the United Bicycle Institute in Portland, Oregon. It is the bicycle industry’s leading technical school offering courses in repair, frame building, and mechanic certification for technicians. She also held a roundtable discussion with representatives from the bicycle industry.

In 2012, Bicycling magazine rated Portland as the No. 1 cycling city in the U.S. The United Bicycle Institute (UBI) has established itself as a critical part of the cycling culture in the region. UBI has two facilities, the main facility in Ashland, Oregon and the Portland facility, which includes a 3,000 square foot mechanics classroom and a 2,400 square foot frame building shop.  Founded in 1981, UBI has educated nearly 20,000 students since it opened, many of whom have gone on to careers in the bicycle industry. 

During her tour, Secretary Pritzker viewed the mechanics classroom where students work on a component-by component study of bicycle repair, as well as a study of the bicycle as a complete system. This enables mechanics to work on all types of bicycles. She also visited the frame room, where students are taught by master frame builders. The course of study provides certification for students who want to become professional frame builders. The frame building classes are intensive, but no prior frame building, welding or brazing experience is required. Students learn all the skills they need during the coursework.

Following her tour, Secretary Pritzker participated in a roundtable with business owners in the bicycle industry who expressed their optimism about their ability to grow in the future.

Portland was Secretary Pritzker’s 12th stop on her nationwide listening tour. She has been meeting with businesses, thought leaders, entrepreneurs, academics and Department of Commerce employees. In these discussions, Secretary Pritzker has heard about their priorities, concerns and ideas on how the public and private sectors can work together to strengthen the economy and create American jobs.

Secretary Pritzker Tours Global Center for Medical Innovation in Atlanta, Georgia

Secretary Pritzker views a prototyping machine at the Global Center for Medical Innovation

Today, as part of her nationwide listening tour, Secretary Pritzker visited the Global Center for Medical Innovation (GCMI) in Atlanta, Ga. GCMI is an independent, non-profit organization that works with universities, research centers, and investors to help accelerate the commercialization of innovative medical technology.

GCMI, which opened in 2010, houses facilities that local entrepreneurs can use to design, engineer, and build their products, and provides access to a growing network of experts that can help bring cutting edge ideas to market. The secretary toured the facility with GCMI executives and CEOs from two of the four startup businesses that reside at GCMI.

During her tour, Secretary Pritzker learned about some of the daily on-site activities at GCMI, including medical device design engineering and prototyping, and explored the organization’s design lab. She also learned about the center’s rapid prototype machine, which is a 3D printer that enables innovators, and entrepreneurs to bring their ideas from concept to reality in a matter of hours. Typically, prototypes take days or weeks to manufacture. GCMI is able to support a relationship between Georgia Tech and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta to develop and commercialize new medical devices for the pediatric market. They are also helping an Atlanta-based entrepreneur and an inventor from Georgia Tech develop a functional prototype to help quadriplegics GAIN greater mobility.

Secretary Pritzker also met with some of the students who are part of GCMI’s apprentice program. This program provides opportunities to students and recent graduates from leading engineering and medical schools around the country who participate in a range of development activities that help bring new medical technology from the lab to the clinic.

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.

Vermeer Corporation Welcomes Secretary Pritzker to Pella, Iowa Manufacturing Facility

Mary Vermeer Andringa, President and CEO of Vermeer Corporation in Pella, Iowa

Guest blog post by Mary Andringa, President & CEO of Vermeer Corporation

As the CEO of Vermeer Corporation and the former chair of the National Association of Manufacturers, it is especially exciting to have Secretary Pritzker visit us here in Pella, Iowa today.  When you look back at the origins of the Department of Commerce, you’ll see that the National Association of Manufacturers was at the center of support for its development. It’s fitting that the relationship between Commerce and the manufacturing community dates back before the Department’s official conception. The two share similar visions of progress - both strive to create jobs, promote economic growth and encourage sustainable development in communities big and small.

This year, Vermeer Corporation celebrates 65 years of manufacturing high-quality equipment. What all started with one man – my father, Gary Vermeer – has evolved into a global industrial and agricultural equipment company helping make a real impact in a progressing world. Vermeer does more than manufacture yellow iron. Our equipment is used by customers to improve infrastructure that keeps people connected, work farms and ranches that support a vibrant food supply, and manage natural resources in an efficient and responsible way.

Today, Secretary Pritzker will see examples of Vermeer’s global footprint by touring our manufacturing high-bay where Vermeer’s largest machine to date – the 200-ton T1655 Terrain Leveler surface excavation machine - is built and then exported around the world; the Vermeer Parts Center where more than 65,000 active parts are stocked and shipments are made domestically and internationally daily; and lastly, our lean brush chipper assembly line where the number of days from raw steel to finished product has been reduced from 52 days to 2 days as part of our lean journey that began in 1997.

On behalf of Vermeer Corporation and the Iowa-based CEOs who will meet with her today in Pella, we welcome the opportunity to represent the voice of Midwest business as the Secretary acclimates herself to the opportunities and challenges industry faces to grow domestically and abroad. We thank the Secretary for making the commitment to listening to the leaders who are working everyday to grow American jobs and American business opportunities.

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.

Secretary Pritzker Speaks with More Than 100 CEOs in Her First Five Weeks

The Department of Commerce is Open for Business

In Secretary Pritzker’s first five weeks as Secretary of Commerce, she has met with or spoken to more than 100 CEOs and entrepreneurs. Since assuming the office of secretary, she has prioritized meeting and speaking with representatives of the business community to hear directly from them about how she can serve as a bridge to the business community. 

By calling top business leaders to discuss Commerce’s work in supporting American businesses and conducting small roundtable discussions, Secretary Pritzker is leveraging the opportunity to have an open dialogue and receive feedback from the business community about the commercial climates they encounter at home and abroad. Throughout these discussions, she has been hearing about the challenges companies face, the opportunities they see to increase U.S. competitiveness, and factors driving growth and investment in companies’ respective sectors.

In discussing inbound investment with CEOs of companies of all sizes, Secretary Pritzker has been talking about the upcoming SelectUSA Summit. She is amplifying what the President said last week; that this conference will connect business leaders from around the world with local leaders, “who are ready to prove there’s no better place to do business than right here in the United States of America.” 

The feedback gained from these conversations is vital to growing the partnership between business and government. Secretary Pritzker is appreciative of the input she has received from over 100 CEOs of small-and medium-sized companies she has encountered during her roundtables and phone calls, and taken their feedback seriously. As she continues her nationwide listening tour, she is hopeful to continue to gain invaluable input from business leaders throughout the country that will help shape her agenda as Secretary of Commerce.

Secretary Pritzker Visits the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Gaithersburg, Md., Campus

Secretary Pritzker tours the NIST Trace Contraband Detection laboratory with Acting Deputy Secretary and NIST Director Patrick Gallagher.  The laboratory helps law enforcement agencies protect the public and enforce the law by developing improved methods and standards for trace detection of drugs and explosives.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker visited the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Md., today, as part of her nationwide listening tour. The campus hosts approximately 2,700 NIST staff members, as well as visiting researchers, post-doctorate fellows and undergraduate students.

The Secretary met with NIST senior executives to discuss Commerce priorities and took a tour of a laboratory focused on the most effective ways to collect and accurately analyze small or trace amounts of contraband such as drugs or explosives. The NIST Trace Contraband Detection Program supports the deployment and effective use of detection devices throughout the United States. NIST scientists use their  existing expertise in particle analysis, analytical chemistry and chemical microscopy to study the explosives collection and detection process in detail and to help field methods.

Secretary Pritzker saw demonstrations of some NIST-developed devices that could speed the processing of airline passengers while accurately assessing them for trace contraband. A shoe-sampler uses air jets to blow samples off of shoes still on the wearer’s feet, while another device checks IDs for samples transferred on fingertips. She also learned about the program making use of a 3-D printing machine to rapidly create new devices for improving detection methods. Through these efforts, NIST supports standards that ensure detectors in the field today work as expected and develops the specialized measurement expertise that will be needed for the next generation of explosive detection equipment.

Secretary Pritzker Visits Albany, New York and Hartford, Connecticut

Secretary Penny Pritzker looks into a cleanroom with Paul Farrar, General Manager of Global 450mm Consortium (G450C) (Photos courtesy of SUNY's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE))

Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker traveled to Albany, N.Y. and Hartford, Conn. on the second leg of her nationwide listening tour. While in Albany, Secretary Pritzker met with senior leadership of SEMATECH and the New York College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE). SEMATECH is a consortium of leading semiconductor device, equipment, and materials manufacturers and university partners from around the globe working on collaborative research on computer chip technology. CNSE is part of the State College of New York (SUNY) system and is home to the world’s most advanced education, research, and economic development enterprise targeting nanoelectronics and nanotechnology innovations.

SEMATECH and CNSE are both models of how the public and private sectors can work together effectively, advancing innovation, industry collaboration and investment in the United States. Secretary Pritzker also toured and heard from the Commerce Department employees at the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s Weather Forecast Office.

Secretary Penny Pritzker Visits APS Technology

Today, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker visited APS Technology (APS) in Wallingford, Conn., as part of her nationwide listening tour. Secretary Pritzker is traveling across the country meeting with business leaders and entrepreneurs to discuss how the administration and the Department of Commerce can work with the private sector to help strengthen the economy and create jobs.

First, Secretary Pritzker toured APS’ facilities with company executives, including APS President Bill Turner and Senior Vice President Denis Biglin, along with Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy. She was able to see some of the company’s projects, which include a variety of drilling tools that are used by the oil and gas industry.

APS started in 1994 providing contract engineering services and has experienced tremendous growth to become a leading provider of products to the oil and gas drilling industry around the world. APS has grown from 79 employees in 2008 to more than 300 employees, including 265 in the U.S. The company’s exports now account for 85 percent of their business.