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Blog Category: Office of the Secretary

Acting Secretary Blank Meets with Brazilian CEOs, Promotes SelectUSA Investment Summit

Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank is joined by Josué Gomes Da Silva, Chairman and CEO, Coteminas and Marcelo Bahia Odebrecht, President of Construtora Norberto Odebrecht S.A. at a Roundtable with Brazilian CEOs

Yesterday, Acting Secretary Blank met with a group of Brazilian CEOs to hear their priorities for doing business with the U.S. and to propose possible areas for close collaboration with American businesses. One area in which U.S. and Brazilian firms can work together is on infrastructure development, which is one reason why Acting Secretary Blank is currently leading a trade mission of 20 U.S. firms in a wide range of infrastructure industry sectors to Brazil, Colombia and Panama. These companies offer everything from cutting-edge technologies to top-notch services in engineering, management consulting, and more -- and they are well equipped to help Brazil meet its robust goals for infrastructure improvements.

Acting Secretary Blank emphasized the importance of a strong bilateral investment relationship -- many global manufacturers, including some in Brazil, are now looking to return manufacturing operations to the U.S., to expand operations here, or to invest in the U.S. for the first time. That´s because there are a host of factors that make America a very attractive place to do business: low domestic energy costs and a stable supply of energy, high labor productivity, strong research institutions that can serve as partners in developing new products, intellectual property protections, and a stable business investment environment.

Infrastructure Business Development Trade Mission to Brazil, Colombia and Panama Begins Today

This week, Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank will lead an infrastructure business development trade mission to Brazil, Colombia, and Panama, countries that have created robust infrastructure development plans for the coming years. This mission directly supports President Obama’s National Export Initiative, which set the goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014 and creating an additional 2 million jobs supported by exports. Throughout the course of the mission, 20 U.S. firms will join the Acting Secretary, with the goal of expanding their business opportunities in Brazil, Colombia, and Panama.

Today is the first full day of the trade mission and Acting Secretary Blank will participate in a roundtable with Brazilian CEOs to discuss possible areas for collaboration with U.S. businesses, particularly in the area of infrastructure. This discussion serves as a follow-up to the U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum, which Acting Secretary Blank co-chaired along with Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs Michael Froman in Brasilia in March.

On Tuesday, Acting Secretary Blank will meet with members of the Federation of Industries of Sao Paulo (FIESP), a Brazilian industry association that includes more than 130,000 companies representing a wide range of industrial activities. The Acting Secretary will highlight U.S. businesses’ efforts to support Brazil’s infrastructure development goals and connect U.S. and Brazilian firms to explore further procurement opportunities. She will also visit Embraer while in Sao Paulo, to highlight a Brazilian company that has invested in America and created U.S. jobs. Embraer has also worked with many suppliers in the U.S. and has strong partnerships with a variety of U.S. companies.

Latin America Presents Growing Opportunities for American Companies

Upcoming trade mission to promote U.S. exports and job creation

Guest blog post by Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank

With 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside U.S. borders, helping U.S. companies find partnerships and customers in fast-growing markets is crucial to creating a strong and vibrant economy built on good middle class jobs.

As a part of our overall goal to increase American exports, next week, 20 U.S.-based companies will join me on an infrastructure-focused trade mission to Sao Paulo, Brazil; Bogota, Colombia; and Panama City, Panama.  Each of the governments of these fast-growing countries have ambitious infrastructure expansion and improvement plans for the years ahead. 

This trade mission will allow U.S. companies to highlight their cutting-edge technologies and world-class engineering services. The trade mission will also allow them to make the personal connections they need to expand their businesses and it will build on President Obama’s National Export Initiative, a government-wide strategy to promote American exports and create 2 million export-supported jobs by the end of 2014. Last year, U.S. exports hit another all-time record, reaching $2.2 trillion.  Between 2009 and 2012, exports have supported 1.3 million additional jobs.

Deputy Secretary Blank Announces 20 Companies Joining Infrastructure Business Development Trade Mission to Brazil, Colombia and Panama

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank today announced the 20 companies that will join her on an infrastructure business development trade mission to Sao Paulo, Brazil; Bogota, Colombia; and Panama City, Panama from May 12-18, 2013. The governments of these countries have each outlined ambitious infrastructure development plans for the years ahead, and this trade mission will help U.S. companies in a broad range of infrastructure industry sectors make the connections they need to expand their business opportunities in Brazil, Colombia and Panama.

The trade mission will support President Obama’s National Export Initiative, a government-wide strategy to promote American exports and create 2 million export-supported jobs by the end of 2014. Last year, exports hit another all-time record, reaching $2.2 trillion. And, between 2009 and 2012 exports have supported 1.3 million additional jobs.

The mission will also highlight the successes in the U.S. trade relationships with Colombia and Panama, specifically, since free trade agreements with each country have taken effect. The Deputy Secretary and the business delegation will be in Colombia on the one-year anniversary of the implementation of that Free Trade Agreement (FTA), May 15.

The mission will include export-ready U.S. firms in a broad range of leading U.S. infrastructure and industrial sectors, with an emphasis on project management (including construction, architecture and design), transportation (including road/highways, rail, airports, and intelligent transportation systems), energy (including distribution, transmission, and smart grid), water resources management (including water treatment, distribution and collection), and safety and security. The mission will help U.S. businesses in initiating or expanding exports to Brazil, Colombia and Panama by making business-to-business introductions, providing market access information, and facilitating access to government decision makers.

See the entire list of 20 companies and learn more about the opportunities in each of these three export markets.

Deputy Secretary Blank Highlights "Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership" Initiative

Deputy Secretary Blank Highlights "Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership" Initiative at Hexcel Corporation

Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank today highlighted the newly-announced “Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership,” an Obama Administration initiative that will help accelerate the resurgence of manufacturing and create jobs in cities across the country.

This effort rewards communities that demonstrate their plans to attract and expand manufacturing in their area, using targeted investments in workforce training, infrastructure, research, and other key assets.

Deputy Secretary Blank unveiled the initiative this week and visited Hexcel Corporation today, which is located in an area of Utah that has leveraged the resources of the public sector, private firms, and educational institutions to achieve a successful model of economic development that the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership encourages. During her visit, Deputy Secretary Blank took a tour of Hexcel’s Salt Lake City facility and participated in a roundtable with local business, government and educational leaders.

Deputy Secretary Blank Announces New Federal Partnership to Promote Manufacturing Investment in American Communities, Create Jobs

Mayor Scott Smith, Able Engineering President and CEO Lee Benson and Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank During a Tour of the Able Engineering Facility in Mesa, Arizona

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank today announced the launch of the “Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership,” an Obama Administration initiative that will help accelerate the resurgence of manufacturing and create jobs in cities across the country.

This effort rewards communities that demonstrate their plans to attract and expand manufacturing in their area, using targeted investments in workforce training, infrastructure, research, and other key assets.

Deputy Secretary Blank unveiled the initiative at the new, 200,000-square foot Able Engineering facility in Mesa, Arizona, a community that has leveraged the resources of the public sector, private firms and educational institutions to achieve a successful model of economic development. Mesa was hard-hit when Williams Air Force Base closed in 1993, leaving many aerospace engineers unemployed. The city took over the site, converted it to the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, and came up with a plan to attract aerospace companies to the area, where they could capitalize on the existing workforce and benefit from being located near similar firms and nearby colleges. In just fifteen years, Able has grown into a multi-million dollar conglomerate, servicing aircraft from around the world.  Its continued growth and support for its workforce demonstrate the benefits of operating within a community like Mesa’s.

Fact Sheet | Press Release

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank Honors Four Organizations for Excellence in Performance and Innovation

Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank presenting the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s highest Presidential honor for organizational performance excellence and innovation

Today, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank presented four U.S. organizations with the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s highest Presidential honor for organizational performance excellence and innovation. The recipients of the award, which is commemorating its 25th anniversary, will share their best practices as part of a national effort to improve America’s performance and competitive standing in the world. 

Deputy Secretary Blank lauded the Baldrige Award winners for being leaders in their fields and committed to the value of performance and quality. Studies have shown that Baldrige winners grow their revenues, create jobs, maintain healthy finances, and produce superior results.

At the awards ceremony, President Obama also delivered a video message to the recipients, saying that the United States’ “free market is the greatest engine of prosperity the world has ever known, and that engine is powered by our dreamers, our risk takers and our innovators.” Further, he said, “These honorees exhibit the kind of job creating innovation that’s always kept our economy growing and vibrant and prosperous.”

Honoring the Memory of Ron Brown

Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown

Cross post from the White House Blog

The following blog post was written by U.S. Commerce Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank and Special Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation Jonathan Greenblatt.

Today, we honor the anniversary of the passing of former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown. Secretary Brown was a dedicated public servant whose untimely death during a trade mission to Croatia on April 3, 1996 ended his life far too soon. His vision continues to be important and today’s work at the Department of Commerce builds on his legacy. 

Secretary Brown served his country in Korea as a soldier in the U.S. Army and in the halls of Congress as chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee. He also broke down barriers – becoming the first African American chairman of the Democratic National Committee and the first African American to serve as U.S. Secretary of Commerce. In this latter role, he made perhaps his largest impact.

During his tenure at Commerce, Secretary Brown pioneered a focus on exports that helped to boost the U.S. economy in the 1990s and contributed to one of the largest periods of economic expansion in our nation’s history. During a time when emerging markets in Asia and Latin America were opening up to trade, Secretary Brown led a concerted effort to support this advancement and to secure access for U.S. goods and services. He was a proponent of free trade, seeing business as a powerful force to create good jobs at home and to accelerate prosperity around the world. He also was an advocate of fair trade, seeking to ensure that U.S. workers would be helped and not harmed by new trading arrangements that would increase flows of capital and commerce.

A Chance to Comment on Commerce’s Report on Cybersecurity Incentives

Cybersecurity (keyboard with a key silhouette on it)

As part of the Executive Order  signed by President Obama last month directing agencies to use their existing authorities and work with the private sector to better protect our nation’s power, water, and other critical systems, the Commerce Department is preparing a report on ways to incentivize companies and organizations to improve their cybersecurity.  To better understand what stakeholders –  such as companies, trade associations, academics and others – believe would best serve as incentives, the Department has released a series of questions to gather  public comments in a Notice of Inquiry published today.

The national and economic security of the United States depends on the strength of our nation’s critical infrastructure. The cyber threat to critical infrastructure is growing, and represents one of the most serious national security challenges that the United States must confront. As the President stated in the Executive Order, “repeated cyber intrusions into America’s critical infrastructure demonstrate a need for improved cybersecurity.”

As a first step toward protecting critical infrastructure, the Executive Order tasks the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to identify the systems that could be affected by a cybersecurity incident which could in catastrophic regional or national effects on public health or safety, economic security, or national security.  Second, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will develop a framework consisting of a set of standards, methodologies, procedures, and processes that align policy, business, and technological approaches to address cyber risks. This Cybersecurity Framework will provide a prioritized, flexible, repeatable, performance-based, and cost-effective approach to improving cybersecurity, which will help owners and operators of critical infrastructure identify, assess and mange cyber risk. Third, DHS will work with sector-specific agencies to develop the Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity Program to promote voluntary adoption of the Framework.

Spotlight on Commerce: Geovette Washington, Deputy General Counsel

Geovette Washington, Deputy General Counsel

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 Geovette Washington, Deputy General Counsel

Serving as Deputy General Counsel in the Department of Commerce has been one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences in my career. The people with whom I have worked over the last three years are outstanding. The issues I have dealt with are interesting, challenging, and critical to the Department’s work. Most important, being Deputy General Counsel has presented a wonderful opportunity to fulfill my lifelong commitment to service. 

As Deputy General Counsel, my job is to provide legal advice to the various parts of this Department. However, my role, and the role of all of the attorneys within the Office of the General Counsel, goes well beyond simply providing legal advice to our clients. We work to make sure that the people of the Department do not simply get a review of the legal sufficiency of their work, but also a partner in their mission. That partnership between OGC and the rest of the Department has been a point of emphasis for me during my time at Commerce and is vital to the execution of the President’s vision for creating an America Build to Last. The creativity and dynamic engagement of OGC attorneys helps Commerce agencies execute their plans to build a 21st century America that has the tools, infrastructure, and expertise to thrive.  

Encouraging partnership between OGC and its clients is critical to fostering a ethos of service within OGC, and service–particularly of public service–is something I value highly and was a central tenant of my upbringing.