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Blog Category: Office of the Secretary

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. 

10 Partnerships Selected through the Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge to Support American Manufacturing and Encourage Investment in the U.S.

Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge

The Obama administration announced that 10 public-private partnerships across America will receive $20 million in total awards to help revitalize American manufacturing and encourage companies to invest in the United States. These Investments will promote job creation and economic growth in local industry clusters in Arizona, California, Michigan, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Washington.

The 10 partnerships were selected through the Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, which is a competitive multi-agency grant process announced in May 2012 to support initiatives that strengthen advanced manufacturing at the local level. These public-private partnerships consist of small and large businesses, colleges, nonprofits and other local stakeholders that “cluster” in a particular area. The funds will help the winning clusters support local efforts to spur job creation through a variety of projects, including initiatives that connect innovative small suppliers with large companies, link research with the start-ups that can commercialize new ideas, and train workers with skills that firms need to capitalize on business opportunities.  

The Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge is a partnership between the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and the National Science Foundation.

As part of President Obama's commitment to creating an economy built to last, the administration has invested more than $200 million promoting regional innovation clusters. The administration created an interagency task force, known as the Taskforce for the Advancement of Regional Innovation Clusters, to develop and administer interagency grant competitions. This is the third round of the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge and, in addition to the six partnering agencies, this initiative also leverages technical assistance from up to eight other federal agencies.

See the full list of winners.

Spotlight on Commerce: Cristina Bartolomei, Equal Employment Opportunity Specialist and Hispanic Employment Manager

Phot of Cristina Bartolomei with Video equipment

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 by Cristina Bartolomei, Equal Employment Opportunity Specialist and Hispanic Employment Program Manager at the Office of Civil Rights, Office of the Secretary

As an Equal Employment Opportunity Specialist and Hispanic Employment Program Manager for the Office of Civil Rights at the Office of the Secretary, I work every day to serve the Hispanic community and other minorities in and outside of Commerce to identify policies, practices and procedures that may enhance or hinder their equal representation within the Department.

Growing up in San Juan, Puerto Rico as the third child of four, my father often called me the defensora de los oprimidos or “defender of the oppressed,” as I always attempted to dissect and analyze sibling disagreements until the parties involved made peace with one another. My siblings didn’t seem too fond of me doing this and, looking back, I don’t blame them. It was in those days that I found myself daydreaming about being part of something bigger than myself, about doing something truly meaningful in the lives of others. 

Many years later, I find myself working for a Cabinet department in the Nation’s Capital, proudly serving the President of the United States. Every day I work with internal and external organizations to educate about and improve Hispanic-American representation at the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Sometimes it feels as if I’m still daydreaming–but real it is, and this reality is ingrained in the choices we make.

Acting Secretary Blank Announces $40 Million Initiative to Challenge Businesses to Make it in America

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank Announces $40 Million Initiative to Challenge Businesses to Make it in America (Photo: Roberto Westbrook and STIHL Inc.)

Yesterday, Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank traveled to Virginia Beach, Va., where she toured the STIHL manufacturing plant and announced a new initiative to strengthen the economy by supporting American businesses as they make things here in America and create jobs. The Make it in America Challenge is designed to accelerate the trend of insourcing, where companies are bringing jobs back and making additional investments in America. The competition, which is being funded by the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration and National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership and the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, will build upon the administration’s bottom-up approach to strengthening the economy and creating jobs by partnering with state, regional and local economies.

The national competition will help provide the critical infrastructure, strategic planning, capacity building, technical assistance, and workforce skills training necessary for American communities to be the desired home for more businesses. The Make it in America Challenge builds on the administration’s efforts to encourage companies—large and small, foreign and domestic, manufacturers and services firms—to increase investment in the United States.

Acting Secretary Blank also highlighted two ongoing efforts by the Department of Commerce to attract foreign direct investment. SelectUSA, a program the president launched last year, continues to showcase the United States as the world’s premier business location and to provide easy access to federal-level programs and services related to business investment. Also, Commerce’s Commercial Services officers have been trained to help foreign investors who want information about how to invest in the U.S and who want to link up with local and state economic development leaders to create jobs in America.