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Blog Category: Office of the Secretary

Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank Visits Washington, D.C. Auto Show

Deputy Secretary Blank Inspects a Display Model at the Washington, D.C. Auto Show

Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank visited the Washington, D.C. Auto Show. While there, she visited various exhibits including Ford, Toyota, Chrysler, GM, Honda, and Volkswagen. At each exhibit, Blank spoke with representatives of each car maker and “kicked the tires” of the models on display.

Many of the Commerce Department’s bureaus support the auto manufacturing industry. For example, the International Trade Administration works hard to increase exports of domestically-produced autos and auto parts. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has numerous ongoing partnerships with automotive manufacturers and their suppliers on advanced technologies, such as alternative fuel sources, advanced materials and automation. NIST also provides advanced measurements, standards, and calibrations for the manufacturing of vehicles and for the automotive components themselves. To improve the next-generation of automotive safety, NIST works with automobile manufacturers and suppliers to provide the underlying measurement infrastructure.

Since GM and Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy, the American auto industry has added more than 290,000 jobs – the best growth since 1997 and U.S. passenger vehicle sales reached approximately 14.4 million units in 2012, up 13.4 percent from 2011’s 12.7 million, marking the highest level since 2007.

Deputy Secretary Blank Highlights Workforce Skills Development as Key to Attracting Investment, Creating Good Jobs

Yesterday, Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank delivered keynote remarks at an event focused on the importance of developing a skilled workforce in order to attract more investment and create more good jobs.

The event, hosted by German Ambassador Peter Ammon, attracted CEOs of German-owned companies that have invested in the United States (such as STIHL, BMW, Volkswagen, and Siemens) as well as leaders of U.S. community colleges, universities, and think tanks. 

Blank cited key Obama administration programs that are strengthening the links between colleges and employers–ensuring that more graduates are ready to fill jobs that are open right now in areas such as advanced manufacturing. She also praised the German Embassy’s newly-announced “Skills Initiative,” an effort to help more German companies form partnerships to train American workers and expand their operations in the U.S.

Blank emphasized that education and training are crucial not only for helping individual workers find good jobs, but also for fostering a deeper pool of talented and skilled citizens throughout society. She noted that the U.S. has historically led the way to establish free public education and world-class public universities. She also cited Germany’s unique “dual system”–a model that blends education with hands-on training–which is well-known for helping young people who have graduated high school but who are not pursuing four-year degrees.

Blank stressed the importance of continued leadership and partnership between the U.S. and Germany overall, noting that hundreds of thousands of Americans go to work each day at German companies that operate in the U.S., and vice versa.

“Our People. Our Future.” Helping One Another Through Service

National Day of Service logo (Learn. Serve. Pledge.)

Guest blog post by Dr. Rebecca Blank, Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce

As we head into the inaugural weekend, I’m looking forward to the National Day of Service on Saturday. Four years ago, President-elect Obama asked all of us to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by participating in a National Day of Service. We’ve made this a tradition in every year since then. The president believes that the strength of our country comes from our people. That’s why the theme of this year’s inauguration is “Our people. Our future.” It is through the combined hard work of Americans in the four years since the president first took office that we’re getting back on track. But our work isn’t done. There is still plenty of work to be done in our nation and in our communities and the president is asking for our help.

That is why on Saturday, I will be visiting a local elementary school in Washington, D.C. to lend a hand in beautifying the building and improving the learning environment for children who will be America’s next generation of leaders. Thousands of fellow Americans in all 50 states will be helping their neighbors by:

  • Rebuilding homes destroyed by natural disaster
  • Providing guidance on how to start a business or get a job
  • Mentoring students
  • Cleaning up their local parks
  • Providing for the less fortunate among us
  • Educating members of their community on medical concerns and resources available
  • Serving our veterans and military families in return for their service to us.

To participate in the National Day of Service, go to www.2013pic.org/service and learn about ways to participate. Then, sign up to serve on Saturday, January 19, to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and pledge to serve in your community in the future.

Once you have selected your project, continue the conversation with others in your community and across America on Twitter. The Day of Service hashtag is #iserve and we’d love to hear what you are doing to make our future a brighter one.

2012 Annual Office of General Counsel Awards Ceremony

On Thursday, December 6, 2012 General Counsel Kerry presided over the Office of General Counsel Annual Awards Ceremony.  He was joined by Acting Secretary Blank who delivered remarks, thanking the office for their tireless work over the past year.  The Acting Secretary acknowledged the great assistance that the office’s attorneys and support staff have provided to her and the entire Department of Commerce.

General Counsel Kerry detailed the broad range of accomplishments achieved by the OGC office over the past year.  He highlighted the successful litigation of the GPX case and efforts to move legislation through Congress as a result.  He also applauded contributions to various other litigation, legislation, reforms and regulation matters handled over the past year by each office within OGC.

GC Kerry and Deputy General Counsel Geovette Washington presented the Attorney of the Year Awards and the Support Staff of the Year Award.  The 2012 recipients are:

Attorney of the Year – Daniel Calhoun – Office of the Chief Counsel for Import Administration

Daniel was instrumental in insuring that Import Administration can, as a matter of domestic law, implement the WTO disputes on zeroing in a coherent process and has been a central player in disputes regarding antidumping and countervailing duty laws.

Support Staff of the Year – Stephanie Dyer – Office of the Assistant General Counsel for Administration, Ethics Law and Programs Division

Stephanie performed outstanding work in implementing a new financial disclosure report electronic filing system and the new reporting requirements of the STOCK Act, which were enacted earlier in 2012. 

New Monster.com Collaboration with Joining Forces Initiative Is a Win for America’s Veterans and Companies

Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank Speaks at the National Veteran Employment Summit

Guest blog post by Dr. Rebecca Blank, Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce

Yesterday, I spoke at the National Veteran Employment Summit hosted by Monster and Military.com. I announced that Monster has signed up to participate in the Joining Forces effort to help hire or train 250,000 veterans and military spouses. The companies participating in Joining Forces know that hiring veterans is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also good business. America’s veterans have the leadership, the character, and the team-oriented approach that employers want and need.

Under the president’s leadership, the administration is working hard to make sure veterans find job opportunities. We’re making improvements in how the military transitions service members from the battlefield to the workplace. We're also ensuring that the post-9/11 GI Bill stays strong. And, through Joining Forces—led by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden—we're ensuring that veterans and military families have the support they need to land a job when they return to civilian life.

The Commerce Department is particularly proud to support the efforts of companies who are hiring men and women who have bravely served our nation. 

Moving forward, the Department will encourage even more businesses to make hard commitments to hire veterans and we will actively share the "best practices" we find in veteran hiring. More broadly, we will continue to give veteran-entrepreneurs, veteran business owners, and veterans in the workforce the tools they need to succeed.

I believe that America’s capacity to innovate and compete in the 21st century is tied to our commitment to unleash the full potential of our veterans. We must continue to do everything we can to provide them with paths to good jobs that will help our nation maintain and strengthen its global leadership.

Expanding Access to New Markets in Sub-Saharan Africa for American Businesses

Part of week-long trip to expand access to new markets in Sub-Saharan Africa for American businesses

Guest blog post by Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank

During the last week I’ve been in South and East Africa to advance key elements of President Obama’s “Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa,” focusing on the promotion of economic growth, trade and investment in the continent.

On Wednesday in Johannesburg, we launched the “Doing Business in Africa” campaign at an event hosted by Business Unity South Africa and the Corporate Council on Africa. Among other things, I announced our commitments to train more of our business counselors and to organize Africa Global Business Summits in order to increase the visibility of opportunities in Africa for American entrepreneurs and business owners  

Then, on Thursday and Friday, I traveled to Nairobi, Kenya, to meet with heads of state and senior trade ministers from the East African Community (EAC), a regional organization that includes Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. We signed an agreement to launch the Commercial Dialogue between the EAC and the U.S., the first of its kind in Africa. Our goal is to create an environment where American businesses can both invest in the region and sell their products and services to meet the increasing demand from the growing middle class in East Africa.

Overall, the mutual economic growth of the U.S. and Africa is dependent on strong and growing person-to-person relationships. That’s why I highlighted the fact that Under Secretary for International Trade Francisco Sánchez was simultaneously leading a delegation of 14 U.S. businesses on a trade mission to South Africa and Zambia. (Read more here about how this is already expanding markets for some American businesses). Also, I was pleased to hear that–next week–the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Terrence McCulley, will lead a Nigerian business delegation to a number of U.S. cities to see some of our biggest trade shows.  

The Obama administration will continue to build bridges with Sub-Saharan Africa as we look to the future. Clearly, people both here in the U.S. and in Sub-Saharan Africa will continue to work with each other, learn from each other, and build on each other’s growing prosperity.

Supporting Small Business on Saturday and All Year Round

Small Business Saturday

Guest blog post by Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank

Tomorrow is Small Business Saturday, a day to celebrate and support small businesses across the country.

Small businesses play a vital role in creating jobs and economic opportunities nationwide. Making certain that small businesses thrive is a goal we support through many of our efforts here at the Commerce Department: from the Small Business Innovation Research awards, to tools that help small businesses protect their intellectual property, to informative sites that help small businesses export or access the broad array of all federal government tools

Over the last two decades, small businesses and startups have been responsible for creating two out of every three net new jobs in the U.S. Today, over half of all working Americans own or work for a small business. It’s clear that when small businesses succeed, so do our communities.

I want to encourage you to shop at your local small businesses when you can. Check out the participating businesses at www.shopsmall.com.

Whether you live in a big city or a rural area… from coast to coast… Small Business Saturday is an opportunity to support your local businesses and your communities. Happy shopping!

 

Acting Secretary Blank Supports Joining Forces Veterans Hiring Initiative

Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank and Honeywell CEO David Cote at a Joining Forces Veterans Hiring Event

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank today participated in a Joining Forces Veterans Hiring Event that recognized Veterans Day and the contributions of our men and women in uniform. The event, sponsored by Honeywell and their military recruitment partner Orion International, aimed to identify and match veteran job candidates with open positions at Honeywell and recognized Honeywell’s efforts to provide veterans with more career opportunities. Honeywell’s Chairman and CEO Dave Cote and Joining Forces Executive Director Todd Veazie also attended.

“The Department of Commerce takes this administration’s commitment to hiring veterans very seriously, and we will do our part to support the Joining Forces initiative and the good work of companies like Honeywell and Orion International that are connecting members of our military with the quality private-sector jobs they have earned,” said Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank. “Through the Department’s strong relationship with private sector companies all over the country, we will be encouraging other firms to commit to hiring veterans, and we will do all we can to help them make that goal a reality.”

Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank Urges Hurricane Preparedness

U.S. flag over Commerce headquarters

As you know, Hurricane Sandy is making its way up the East Coast of the United States, but the large size of the storm means heavy rain and strong winds will begin affecting the National Capitol Region tonight, and parts of New York and Pennsylvania tomorrow and Wednesday, and New England by Friday.

Make no mistake--this is a large and dangerous storm that needs to be taken seriously, especially by the millions of people who live, work or travel in Sandy’s projected path.

According to our meteorologists at Commerce/NOAA’s National Hurricane Center and National Weather Service, Sandy will make landfall overnight Monday into Tuesday in the mid-Atlantic region. The storm is forecast to have significant and widespread impacts over most of the northeastern United States, both in coastal and inland areas. To follow the latest on Hurricane Sandy, please visit NOAA’s National Hurricane Center on the Web at www.hurricanes.gov, on Facebook and on Twitter at twitter.com/NHC_Atlantic. Monitor local media or listen to NOAA Weather Radio (www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/listcov.htm) for the latest developments and check your local National Weather Service forecast at www.weather.gov.

Now is the time to finalize your preparations for the coming storm. We strongly urge all potentially affected Commerce employees, their families and loved ones to take the appropriate steps to make certain they can meet their basic needs for a minimum of 72 hours. For more information on preparedness, please visit Ready.gov www.ready.gov/hurricanesandwww.listo.gov for tips on how you can make an emergency kit and put an emergency plan in place. We also encourage you to consult our Tropical Cyclone Preparedness Guide: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/os/hurricane/resources/TropicalCyclones11.pdf.

Individuals in the region should continue to monitor NOAA Weather Radio and their local news for updates and directions provided by their local officials. State and local officials make determinations and announcements about evacuations. We urge the public to listen to the instructions of officials, and if told to evacuate - evacuate.

The FEMA smartphone app provides safety tips and displays open shelter information at www.fema.gov/smartphone-app. To find an open Red Cross shelter, download the Red Cross Hurricane app or visit redcross.org.

We’re ready. Please be ready, too.

Commerce and NOAA have been actively mobilizing: Our National Hurricane Center and additional weather service meteorologists have been issuing forecasts, watches and warnings to the media, emergency managers and the public. At the same time, we’re also preparing to respond to Sandy’s aftermath in the event that the National Weather Service local forecast offices need to issue a variety of severe weather alerts for inland high winds, flooding and other severe weather.

On a final note, I want to thank all the NOAA staff who have been working hard to ensure that Americans have the most accurate and timely storm updates, watches and warnings—as well as those who will be working to see this storm through and assist in the response phase. Your service to Commerce and the nation is deeply appreciated.

Spotlight on Commerce: Carly Montoya, Director of Advance, Office of the Secretary

 Carly Montoya, Director of Advance, Office of the Secretary

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 Carly Montoya, Director of Advance, Office of the Secretary

I grew up in Pueblo, Colorado.  My father, Jim, started off as a migrant farm worker and later put four children and my mom through college.   My mother, Pat, started off as a beautician and later went to college when I was in middle school while still raising four kids and helping my father provide for my family.  They did everything they could to support my family so that my brother, sisters and I would have opportunities that they never had.  Because of their sacrifices and their relentless determination, I graduated from Tufts University with a world of opportunities before me.  I chose a career in public service.  

There are a lot of different fields in public service, but advance is a field I was drawn to for one big reason:  Advance is a team effort.   Like my parents taught me, if one person fails, everyone fails.  If one person succeeds, we all succeed. 

Advance is the spoke in the wheel and where everything comes together.   It involves coordinating the objectives of the various departments and bureaus at the Department of Commerce so that the Secretary can engage people who are on the front lines of job creation across America and around the world.  It’s about communicating how the work that we do here at Commerce can nurture an environment where businesses and innovators can create jobs by building things here and selling them everywhere.