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Blog Category: Office of the Secretary

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 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.

Incentives to Support Adoption of the Cybersecurity Framework

Guest post by Michael Daniel, Special Assistant to the President and the Cybersecurity Coordinator. Cross-post from Whitehouse.gov

The systems that run our nation’s critical infrastructure such as the electric grid, our drinking water, our trains, and other transportation are increasingly networked. As with any networked system, these systems are potentially vulnerable to a wide range of threats, and protecting this critical infrastructure from cyber threats is among our highest security priorities. That is why, earlier this year, the President signed an Executive Order designed to increase the level of core capabilities for our critical infrastructure to manage cyber risk. The Order does this by focusing on three key areas: information sharing, privacy, and adoption of cybersecurity practices.

To promote cybersecurity practices and develop these core capabilities, we are working with critical infrastructure owners and operators to create a Cybersecurity Framework – a set of core practices to develop capabilities to manage cybersecurity risk. These are the known practices that many firms already do, in part or across the enterprise and across a wide range of sectors. The draft Framework will be complete in October. After a final Framework is released in February 2014, we will create a Voluntary Program to help encourage critical infrastructure companies to adopt the Framework. 

While this effort is underway, work on how to incentivize companies to join a Program is also under consideration. While the set of core practices have been known for years, barriers to adoption exist, such as the challenge of clearly identifying the benefits of making certain cybersecurity investments. As directed in the EO, the Departments of Homeland Security, Commerce, and Treasury have identified potential incentives and provided their recommendations to the President, through the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism and the Assistant to the President for Economic Affairs.

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 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. 

Global Investment is Important to the American Economy

The Department of Commerce is Open for Business

Guest blog post by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker

Since I was confirmed as Secretary of Commerce, I’ve been meeting with business leaders, entrepreneurs, and foreign leaders to let them know that America is “open for business.” The United States is one of the most desirable places to do business; our $16 trillion economy, with its productive workforce and diverse consumer base, could not do what it does without domestic as well as foreign investment. Yesterday, I participated in the White House Forum (Forum) on Global Investment to highlight the administration’s support for, and benefits of, foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States. 

For the meeting, I was joined by Acting Deputy Secretary of Commerce Pat Gallagher, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez, Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Jose Fernandez, and 21 foreign ambassadors and representatives to highlight the United States’ whole-of-government approach to attracting foreign direct investment.

Part of our discussion focused on the growth of FDI in sectors such as manufacturing, machinery, and scientific and technical services. In fact, FDI in the United States totaled nearly $168 billion last year. And just recently, the consulting firm A.T. Kearney published its annual FDI Confidence Index, with the United States ranked #1 on this list for the first time since 2001.

Readout of U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker’s Meeting with Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry

Alternate Text

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today met with Toshimitsu Motegi, Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, who is the head of the Commerce Department’s counterpart agency in Japan. Additional meeting participants included Under Secretary for International Trade Francisco Sánchez and Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. Kenichiro Sasae.

During the meeting, Secretary Pritzker and Minister Motegi discussed the importance of concluding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations this year, which is a top priority for the Obama administration. Japan recently joined TPP negotiations, bringing the economic impact of the 12 TPP countries to 40 percent of global GDP. The secretary affirmed to Minister Motegi the U.S. commitment to working with the Japanese government to reach consensus on the TPP countries’ shared vision for a comprehensive, 21st century trade and investment agreement, which will enable the Partnership to promote economic growth and regional economic integration.

Secretary Pritzker also talked with the minister about SelectUSA, President Obama’s initiative to facilitate business investment in the United States. This fall, the Commerce Department is hosting the first-ever SelectUSA Investment Summit to connect foreign and domestic investors with U.S. economic development organizations. Japan is the second-largest source of foreign direct investment in the U.S., and the Summit provides an opportunity for firms and investors to connect with U.S. cities and states in support of job creation and economic growth.

Secretary Pritzker Participates in Let's Read! Let's Move! Initiative

Secretary Penny Pritzker today joined Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Johnny Isakson, both members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP), Federal Aviation Administration Deputy Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation and former astronaut George D. Zamka, and Miss America Mallory Hagan for the third installment of the five-part initiative Let’s Read! Let’s Move! During the planets and astronauts-themed event, Secretary Pritzker read Pluto's Secret: An Icy World's Tale of Discovery to children from the Washington, DC, area.

The Let’s Read! Let’s Move! initiative is a partnership between the Department of Education (ED) and the Corporation for National and Community Service that engages children in summer reading and physical activity, as well as provides information about healthy lifestyles. Each installment supports First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign, which promotes healthy eating and an active lifestyle, while also encouraging strong early learning programs to ensure promising futures for children.

Each of the Let’s Read! Let’s Move! events this year feature book distributions, healthy snacks and fun physical activities led by the YMCA and professional athletes, including NFL, NBA and pro-tennis players. Special guest readers engage a large group of children from DC-area elementary schools and early childhood development centers, including the Health and Human Services/ED Children’s Center, a nonprofit child care and development center sponsored by the two departments.

Secretary Pritzker believes that the ability to compete in a global economy depends on a workforce that possesses skills required by employers. The Let’s Read! Let’s Move! initiative is an investment in the future of American children who will one day serve as global leaders driving the strength of American businesses to secure the foundation of our nation’s economy.

Readout of U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker’s Meeting with Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today met with President Truong Tan Sang of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today met with President Truong Tan Sang of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. President Sang is the second Vietnamese president to visit the United States since the normalization of diplomatic relations 18 years ago. Under Secretary for International Trade Francisco Sanchez, Assistant Secretary for Import Administration Paul Piquado, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Asia Craig Allen, and Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang were among other meeting participants.

Since the 2001 U.S.-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement went into effect and Vietnam joined the World Trade Organization in 2007, commerce between Vietnam and the United States has thrived. Secretary Pritzker highlighted that Vietnam has made significant progress on its economic reforms, which have contributed to its economic growth over the past decade. The secretary also talked about how our bilateral trade relationship continues to grow each year, with U.S. exports to Vietnam up 22 percent in May 2013 compared to the same period last year, and imports from Vietnam up 16 percent.

Secretary Pritzker also emphasized the importance of concluding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations this year, which is a top priority for the Obama administration. With Japan’s entry at the end of July, the 12 TPP countries will account for nearly 40 percent of global GDP. The secretary affirmed to President Sang the U.S. commitment to working closely with Vietnam to reach consensus on the TPP countries’ shared vision for a comprehensive, 21st century trade and investment agreement. Vietnam has a significant amount to gain from this agreement, particularly when it comes to increasing its exports. The country currently exports $95.5 billion in goods and services, of which nearly $17 billion is to the United States. The secretary also expressed our commitment to working with Vietnam on reciprocal market access of goods and services.

Lastly, Secretary Pritzker and President Sang discussed Vietnam’s civil nuclear and renewable energy sectors, which are priorities for the country. Ensuring Vietnam has access to the very best of American industry will help support both countries’ economies.