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Blog Category: Office of the Secretary

Secretary Pritzker Declares America is Open for Business

Secretary Pritzker Declares America is Open for Business

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today launched the inaugural SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit, telling the more than 1,200 attendees from nearly 60 countries, 47 states, the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories that the United States is open for business. The first-ever event is connecting foreign and domestic investors with local, state and regional economic development organizations to promote investment and job creation in the United States.

“The SelectUSA Summit is all about business. It’s all about connecting investors with communities,” Commerce Secretary Pritzker told the audience. “We want to open that first door to making an investment here in the United States. Clearly, our investment climate is strong. America is open for business.”

For centuries, the U.S. has welcomed investment into the country and the domestic market has provided long-term stability and unmatched returns for investors. Today, the U.S. is the largest recipient of FDI in the world. Last year alone, foreign direct investment was more than $160 billion dollars and the total foreign stock and assets are measured not in billions, but in the trillions of dollars.

Also at the Summit, the Department of Commerce and the President's Council of Economic Advisers released a report outlining the reasons businesses consider the U.S. a top choice for investment,  as well as the economic benefits of foreign direct investment. Significantly, the report points out that the United States is the largest recipient of FDI in the world, with stock of more than $2.6 trillion dollars – including $166 billion that flowed into the country in 2012. The report recommends that the U.S. should continue to "nurture and build upon the underlying strengths of the U.S. economy that make firms want to invest here; including an open investment regime, a large economy, a skilled labor forced, community colleges, world-class research universities, predictable and stable regulatory regime, adequately capacitated infrastructure, and new energy sources." 

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Works to Encourage North American Economic Cooperation

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker met with her Mexican and Canadian counterparts, Canadian Minister of International Trade Ed Fast and Mexican Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo

The United States, Mexico and Canada have come a long way since NAFTA launched a new era of commerce across the continent nearly 20 years ago. The trilateral relationship now accounts for more than $1 trillion in trade each year. In fact, each day, the United States conducts $3 billion dollars in trade with Canada and Mexico. 

Yesterday, at the North American Competitiveness and Innovation Conference (NACIC) in La Jolla, Calif., U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker met with her Mexican and Canadian counterparts, Canadian Minister of International Trade Ed Fast and Mexican Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo, to discuss how all three countries can continue to work together to promote mutual economic growth and prosperity. 

In a joint statement, the ministers pledged to work together to keep the region competitive and help North American businesses and workers succeed through enhanced regulatory cooperation and coordinated efforts to facilitate increased trade, including the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.

North America is already one of the most attractive places for businesses to invest and create jobs. More than 460 million consumers live in the region. Combined, the U.S., Canada and Mexico account for one-quarter of the world’s GDP. North America is a source of abundant and affordable energy, is home to a skilled workforce, and has made tremendous investments in research and development.

Spotlight on Commerce: Jorge Ponce, Director of the Policy and Evaluation Division, Department of Commerce Office of Civil Rights

Jorge Ponce, Director Policy and Evaluation Division, Office of Civil Rights U.S. Department of Commerce

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.

Guest blog post by Jorge Ponce, Director Policy and Evaluation Division, Office of Civil Rights U.S. Department of Commerce

Cuba is my birth place. My parents, my sister and I left our homeland for the United States when I was 11 years old in search of freedom. No, I did not come in a raft as I have strong allergies to shark-infested waters! While most people think that if you are Cuban, you must be from Cuban Mecca Miami, I am an anomaly to this assumption. I grew up in Arlington, Virginia, and attended St. Thomas More Elementary School, Bishop O’Connell High School, and graduated from Washington-Lee High School. Subsequently, I attended George Mason University, and completed my graduate studies at Catholic University.   

This year’s celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month is an important one in our history as we celebrated the 500th anniversary of the landing of Juan Ponce de Leon in Florida.

I consider myself to be a civil rights champion. As such, I’ve co-chaired the Council of Federal EEO and Civil Rights Executives from 2001 to 2012, and maintained its webpage. I have met with the top leadership of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management regularly to address civil rights issues in the Federal Government.  

Secretary Pritzker meets with business leaders in New York City

Secretary Pritzker and her Chief of Staff, Bruce Andrews, Meet with Mayor Bloomberg in his City Hall Office

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker traveled to New York City for a series of events and meetings with business leaders from a variety of sectors. The trip also included a meeting with New York City Michael Bloomberg in his City Hall “bullpen.”

The Secretary’s first stop was to a give remarks at the Association for Better New York, a leading organization of business leaders dedicated to improving the quality of life for those that live and work in New York City and for those that visit. In her remarks, Secretary Pritzker discussed her message that America is “Open for Business” and the work that the Obama Administration and the Commerce Department are doing to help grow the economy and create jobs.

Next, Secretary Pritzker met with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in his City Hall office. The discussion focused on ways to improve skills training efforts, spur infrastructure, immigration reform, cities as key drivers of growth, and ways the Commerce Department and the City are collaborating to strengthen the economy and create jobs.

Finally, the Secretary participated in the fall dinner of G100, a private peer-learning community of current, future and recent chief executives of global companies. Secretary Pritzker talked about ways to create jobs, economic growth, immigration reform, and the need for putting an end to the manufactured crises in Washington.

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.