Commerce.gov is getting a facelift soon. See the new design.
Syndicate content

Blog Category: Office of the Secretary

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Discusses Tackling the Skills Gap

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling with members of the Business Leaders United for Workforce Partnerships

Millions of jobs have been created in the years since the recession ended, but many Americans are still out of work. In fact, there are about 4 million job openings right now, and yet about 4 million Americans have been job-searching more than 6 months. Many employers simply cannot find workers with the skills necessary to do the jobs available.

Business Leaders United for Workforce Partnerships (BLU) is working to address the skills mis-match by creating sector partnerships that align employers’ hiring needs with local and regional training systems.  Yesterday, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker joined Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling to speak to BLU about what the Administration is doing to invest in workforce skills training and to hear about ways employers are proactively developing partnerships to create a pipeline of skilled workers in their local areas.

Business leaders cited how their initiative, investments, and partnerships with local community colleges, Workforce Investment Boards, non-profits, and each other industry peers and others have reduced nursing shortages in Louisville; helped the long-term unemployed train for and gain employment in the financial services industry in southern California; and developed an electrical contracting apprenticeship program with 100% job placement in Tennessee. An export-oriented metal forming manufacturer in Minnesota described how he has worked with local community and technical colleges to create certificate programs to develop the skilled workforce the company needs.  

United States Department of Commerce Plan for Orderly Shutdown Due to Lapse of Congressional Appropriations

Annual funding for the government expired on September 30. The Administration strongly believed that a lapse in funding should not occur. The Department is prepared for a lapse in funding that would necessitate a significant reduction in operations. Prior to a potential lapse in funding, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) required the Department to submit a draft plan for agency operations (PDF) in the absence of appropriations (a “shutdown plan”).

The plan may be modified with additional guidance from the Office of Personnel Management and OMB, and may be changed by the Department, as circumstances warrant. This plan (PDF) complies with the guidance provided by the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Justice and the Department of Commerce. All employees who are Presidentially Appointed, Senate Confirmed will remain on duty.

In compliance with the restrictions of the Anti-Deficiency Act, the Department of Commerce will maintain the following services and activities during a lapse in FY14 appropriations:

• Weather, water, and climate observing, prediction, forecast, warning, and support
• Law enforcement activities for the protection of marine fisheries
• Fisheries management activities including quota monitoring, observer activities, and regulatory actions to prevent overfishing
• Essential natural resource damage assessment activities associated with the Deepwater Horizon incident
• Water level data for ships entering U.S. ports, critical nautical chart updates and accurate position information.
• Patent and trademark application processing
• Operation of the national timing and synchronization infrastructure as well as the National Vulnerability Database
• Maintenance, continuity and protection of certain research property and critical data records
• All services of the National Technical Information Service
• Export enforcement – the ongoing conduct of criminal investigations, and prosecutions, and coordination with other law enforcement and intelligence agencies in furtherance of our national security
• Budget operations required to support excepted activities under a shutdown, such as tracking of obligations and funds control.

The following services and activities will not be available during a lapse in FY14 appropriations:

• Most research activities at NIST and NOAA (excluding real-time regular models on research computers used for Hurricane and FAA flight planning)
• Assistance and support to recipients of grant funding
• Technical oversight of non-mission essential contracts
• Services and activities provided by:
−Bureau of Economic Analysis
−Economic Development Administration
−Economics and Statistics Administration
−Minority Business Development Agency
−Bureau of the Census
• Most services and activities provided by the International Trade Administration

Acting Deputy Secretary Pat Gallagher Highlights Programs to Help Entrepreneurs at #GovFest Event

Acting Deputy Secretary Pat Gallagher Speaking at #GovFest

Yesterday, Acting Deputy Secretary Pat Gallagher participated in a panel discussion on "Bridging the Gap Between Government and Entrepreneurs" at an event hosted by #GovFest. Acting Deputy Secretary Gallagher was joined by Tameka Montgomery, Associate Administrator of the Office of Entrepreneurial Development at the Small Business Administration, and Jason Kessler, Program Executive for NASA's Asteroid Grand Challenge, in addition to Aneesh Chopra, the first U.S. Chief Technology Officer, who moderated the panel.

The conversation focused on efforts to increase communication between entrepreneurs and the federal government in order to help innovators grow businesses, create jobs and increase America's competitiveness.

Acting Deputy Secretary Gallagher highlighted the many areas where the Commerce Department is already working to support entrepreneurs. For example, two years ago, the White House called for a consumer-friendly button on utility company websites that would give consumers easy access to their own energy usage data and, in turn, save both money and support the environment. The aptly named Green Button Initiative has been a great success - 12 million households had access to the Green Button last year, which is expected to rise to 27 million in the near future. Entrepreneurs have already started to save consumers money and build value for themselves by using this data. The Green Button Initiative was built on a technical standard which was developed by a public-private partnership supported by the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology. Similar efforts are underway in the fields of health information technologies, smart grid systems, cybersecurity, and climate data.

Secretary Pritzker Co-Chairs U.S.-Mexico High Level Economic Dialogue And Outlines Future Engagement

 Secretary Penny Pritzker speaking with the American Chamber of Commerce of Mexico alongside Ernesto M. Hernández, President & Director General of General Motors Mexico, and Jose Zozaya, President and Executive Representative, Kansas City Southern de Mexico

Today, in Mexico City, Secretary Penny Pritzker co-chaired the U.S.-Mexico High Level Economic Dialogue (HLED) along with her colleagues from the U.S. Department of State, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and their Mexican counterparts. The goal of the HLED is to advance strategic economic and commercial priorities central to promoting mutual economic growth, job creation, and global competitiveness.

Specifically, the two countries discussed how to attract foreign direct investment, jointly promote travel and tourism, improve manufacturing within integrated supply chains, promote entrepreneurship, and provide 21st century workforce development. They will also work on improving transportation and telecommunications links and networks. The two countries will work collaboratively in regard to international institutions and negotiations, as well. During the proceedings, participants agreed on the HLED work plan, which are broadly defined under three pillars: Promoting Competitiveness and Connectivity; Fostering Economic Growth, Productivity, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation; and Partnering for Regional and Global Leadership.

After concluding the HLED, Secretary Pritzker spoke with the American Chamber of Commerce of Mexico and highlighted the results of the Dialogue. She recognized that the private sector, including small business, civil society, and labor organizations, is vital to building the U.S.-Mexico relationship and to drive mutual prosperity.

Secretary Pritzker Speaks to Rhode Island Business Owners at Senator Jack Reed’s Rhode Island Business Leaders Day

This afternoon, Secretary Penny Pritzker attended Senator Jack Reed’s Rhode Island Business Leaders Day to affirm that Rhode Island, and America as a whole, are open for business. She noted the role that the Department of the Commerce is playing in helping to fortify the state’s economy by strengthening manufacturing, increasing exports, and making critical infrastructure and economic development investments.

Through the local United States Export Assistance Center, the Department of Commerce is promoting Rhode Island’s exports. Nationwide, U.S. exports hit $2.2 trillion last year, supporting nearly 10 million good-paying jobs. In 2009, Rhode Island exports were just $1.5 billion.  But last year, they hit $2.4 billion – representing a 60% jump. International trade now supports approximately 130,000 jobs in the state.  And exports now support 17% of manufacturing workers in Rhode Island.  Today, Rhode Island has seen growth in export areas like chemicals, machinery, electronics, and textiles, in addition to its biggest export, scrap metal, which often leaves from the Port of Providence.

A recent example is the Warwick-based firm named Astro-Med. They asked the Commerce Department for help entering into new markets in Latin America. They contacted one of our aerospace specialists in our International Trade Administration’s Commercial Service, who helped connect them with Embraer. As a result, just two weeks ago they won a major contract for cockpit equipment from Embraer. This contract means jobs for Rhode Islanders.

Rhode Island Business Leaders Day is an annual event co-hosted by Senator Jack Reed and the Rhode Island Food Dealers Association. Invitees include Rhode Island business owners from the manufacturing, defense, services, and financial sectors, economic development officials, and state politicians. The event consists of speeches and question and answer sessions with members of Congress, cabinet officials and journalists.

Secretary Penny Pritzker Delivers Keynote Remarks at the U.S.-Saudi Business Opportunities Forum

 Secretary Penny Pritzker Delivers Keynote Remarks at the U.S.-Saudi Business Opportunities Forum

Today Secretary Penny Pritzker delivered keynote remarks at the U.S.-Saudi Business Opportunities Forum currently underway in Los Angeles, an event being hosted by the Saudi Committee for International Trade, the U.S.-Saudi Business Council, and the Saudi-U.S. Trade Group. The event brought together approximately 1,200 American and Saudi businesses, government officials, academics and opinion leaders to highlight the U.S.-Saudi commercial and trade relationship and inform participants about business opportunities in Saudi Arabia.

During her remarks, Secretary Pritzker noted that the United States and Saudi Arabia have a strong trade and investment relationship, and last year, trade between our two countries hit all-time record highs. Our bilateral trade is now triple what it was just a decade ago.

Secretary Pritzker also noted that the Commerce Department, over the past four years, has helped more than 450 U.S. companies export to Saudi Arabia for the first time. More such partnerships are expected as Saudi Arabia’s plans for infrastructure growth allow U.S. companies opportunities to team up to build strong and vibrant Saudi communities, she said.

Secretary Pritzker also met with staff from the Los Angeles U.S. Export Assistance Center, which is part of the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA). Her visit with USEAC employees was an opportunity to thank them for their work and part of her ongoing efforts to meet with Department of Commerce employees all over the country.

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 Year Up Skills Center in Seattle, Washington

Secretary Pritzker visiting the IT Apps class where students use office productivity applications to build their own business plan, which they present to the class as a final project.

Today, as part of her nationwide listening tour, Secretary Pritzker visited Year Up in Seattle, WA. Year Up is a national non-profit organization operating in 12 cities that provides urban young adults with the skills, experience, and support that will empower them to pursue professional careers and higher education.

She toured the facilities with Lisa Chin, Executive Director of Year Up Puget Sound Seattle, and John Stanton, Year Up Board Chair. On the tour she saw a Business Communications class where students learn the fundamentals of effective communication in a professional setting.  Some of the skills taught include public speaking, email etiquette, and giving presentations in a business setting. She also visited the IT Apps class where students use office productivity applications to build their own business plan, which they present to the class as a final project.

Students at Year Up focus on learning skills and obtaining needed credentials during their first six months in the program. In the second six months, students apply those skills through corporate sponsorships. Students can earn up to 23 college credits during their year of study. Year Up is an excellent of example of how employers, community colleges and non-profits can come together to teach young adults the skills valued by employers.

Secretary Pritzker Meets With Commerce Employees in Houston

Secretary Penny Pritzker meets with Houston-area Commerce Employees.

While in Houston, Texas today, Secretary Pritzker visited a U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC), part of the International Trade Administration (ITA), and met with USEAC employees and employees from the Bureau of Industry and Security’s (BIS) Houston field office. The secretary's visit was part of her latest stop on a nationwide listening tour and was an opportunity to thank the employees for their work for the Department of Commerce. 

USEACs are the domestic arm of ITA’s U.S. Commercial Service, which is comprised of an extensive network of trade specialists located in more than 100 U.S. cities and 80 countries worldwide. The specialists help American companies start exporting or expand their international business presence. Specific services include: world class market research; trade events that promote companies’ product or service to qualified buyers; introductions to buyers and distributors; and counseling and advocacy through every step of the export process.The Houston USEAC in particular has been working with companies in the energy, information technology and transportation sectors to support and increase U.S. exports.

The secretary also met with representatives from BIS’ Houston field office. The Houston office’s mission is to protect U.S. national and domestic security, foreign policy and economic interests. BIS operates a law enforcement program focused on sensitive exports to hostile entities or those that engage in onward proliferation, prohibited foreign boycotts and related public safety laws. The office accomplishes its mission through preventative and investigative enforcement activities and then pursuing appropriate criminal and administrative sanctions against export violators.

Secretary Penny Pritzker Announces $600,000 Investment to Support Entrepreneurship and Job Creation in Louisiana

Secretary Penny Pritzker hears from entrepreneurs at Idea Village in New Orleans, Louisana

Secretary Penny Pritzker today announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $600,000 grant to The Idea Village, Inc., of New Orleans, La., to support programs that assist entrepreneurs in building their businesses and creating jobs. Secretary Pritzker is in New Orleans today as part of her nationwide listening tour, and made the announcement at The Idea Village after meeting with local entrepreneurs, mentors and business leaders.

The EDA investment announced today will support more than 300 businesses, according to grantee estimates. Specifically, it will fund additional technical assistance programs, especially in such growing fields as technology, biomedical engineering, and media production; help with expansion of The Idea Village’s successful “Entrepreneur Season,” a six-month-long program of business assistance and education; and support more forums, workshops, and networking sessions that will be offered during New Orleans’ Entrepreneur Week. EDA previously awarded two grants to The Idea Village – $800,000 in 2009 and $400,000 in 2011 – which helped the organization build their capacity to assist entrepreneurs.

To learn more about the U.S. Economic Development Administration, visit www.eda.gov.