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Blog Category: Office of the Secretary

Remembering Secretary Ron Brown

Photo of the late Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown

Guest post by Secretary John Bryson

Today at the Department of Commerce, we remember the contributions of Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, a committed public servant who dedicated his life to strengthening America’s prosperity and making a difference.

Sixteen years ago today, a plane crash took the lives of Secretary Ron Brown, 11 Commerce employees, and 23 other U.S. and Croatian citizens, during a trade mission to Croatia. The trip was planned to help the recovering economy of the war-torn Balkans–a mission consistent with Brown’s legacy as a strong supporter of developing economic opportunity and growth both here and abroad.

During his tenure at the Commerce Department, Brown was an influential figure and tireless advocate for American businesses. His accomplishments as Secretary included helping the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) rebuild depleted fisheries and modernizing the National Weather Service. Secretary Brown also worked with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to lead the Information Infrastructure Task Force, laying the groundwork for the Internet boom. In addition, Brown led trade missions to five different continents that led to more than $80 billion in foreign deals for U.S. businesses–helping support good jobs for hardworking families here at home.

Secretary Brown was also a trailblazer throughout his life. Early on, he was the first African American to integrate his college fraternity and to become a partner at the prestigious Washington law firm, Patton Boggs & Blow. Later, he became the first African American chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and then, the first African American Secretary of Commerce, where he served for three years under President Bill Clinton.

Around the Department of Commerce, he was highly regarded for his warm, engaging personality and his pride for working on a team that was focused on growing the American economy. Even though his passing was a huge tragedy and loss for all of us–family, friends, and colleagues–his legacy as Secretary of Commerce continues to live on in the work we do every day supporting American businesses and creating U.S. jobs.

India Trade Mission: Day 5 - Welcoming Indian Travelers to Visit the United States

Secretary Bryson addressing luncheon about the valuable experience American companies bring to Indian infrastructure projects

Commerce Secretary John Bryson today concluded his five-day business development mission in Mumbai, the commercial center of India. Today’s visit focused on promoting tourism for Indian citizens who want to visit America, as well as exploring opportunities for U.S. companies to promote their technologies and services in India’s rapidly expanding infrastructure sector to support job creation in both countries.

Bryson had the opportunity to participate in the official launch of the Visit USA Committee India (VUSACOM), a public-private partnership whose sole mission is to promote and increase travel and tourism from India to the United States. VUSACOM members include travel agents, tour operators, service providers, and U.S. product representatives. In 2011, the United States had a $2.2 billion surplus in travel and tourism from India, and total spending by Indians traveling to the U.S. was almost $4.6 billion in 2011, up 15 percent from 2010. In addition, the number of Indian travelers to the U.S. reached a record 663,000 in 2011.

In addition to meeting with government officials in Mumbai, Bryson hosted a luncheon with companies that help finance infrastructure projects as well as a roundtable with companies that are involved in energy-related infrastructure projects. In both, he talked with U.S. and Indian business leaders about the importance of the U.S.-India commercial relationship and he encouraged development of new business opportunities between the members of the delegation and their Indian counterparts. He also talked about the great progress India has made in opening its markets to U.S. companies, but encouraged continued consultations to resolve issues such as market access barriers and intellectual property protection.

Spotlight on Commerce: Ellen Herbst, Senior Adviser to the Deputy Secretary

Ellen Herbst, Senior Advisor to the Deputy Secretary

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series, which highlights members of the Department of Commerce who are contributing to the president's vision of an America Built to Last.

As Senior Adviser to the Deputy Secretary, I support accomplishment of the mission of all of our operating units.  My job requires a combination of problem-solving, coordinating across bureaus and offices, and connecting people to the resources they need to successfully deliver results to the American people.

Much of the time, this involves working to improve the way we do things–how to be more effective and efficient in our processes-and measuring our progress towards our goals. The work is always interesting because I get to work with very dedicated people who deliver results across the broad portfolio of the Commerce Department. The people of the Department of Commerce are delivering results in areas as diverse as supporting the growth of regional economic clusters; managing grants to build broadband networks; providing severe weather warnings earlier than ever before; delivering cutting edge measurement science and protecting our business’ intellectual property.

I have been working for 32 years and have been very fortunate in my career. My good fortune started with parents who supported all three of their daughters by setting high standards; by instilling a strong work ethic, perseverance and a “can do” attitude and by teaching us to live by the Golden Rule. I was fortunate to enjoy the process of learning and receive a wonderful formal education. And finally, I have been fortunate in the support of many mentors, both formal and informal, throughout my career.

India Trade Mission: Day 4 - Promoting Business Investment in the United States

Secretary Bryson tours the Mumbai International Airport Expansion Project

Commerce Secretary Bryson was in Mumbai today, the third and final city in his business development mission to India. In addition to exploring opportunities for the 16 U.S. businesses on the mission to promote their technologies and services in India’s rapidly expanding infrastructure sector, the visit focused on the president’s SelectUSA initiative.

In the morning, Secretary Bryson and the delegates toured a new terminal being constructed at Mumbai International Airport and met with airport management. Several U.S. companies have provided services and equipment to the airport, playing a major role in helping to modernize one of India’s busiest airports. One of the firms on the trip, CH2M Hill, has been providing Program Management services at the Mumbai International Airport since the project started in 2007. In their role, CH2M Hill optimised the master plan, prepared detailed elements for tendering and provided inputs for the selection of the contractor and various sub-contractors. They have also provided oversight to ensure that both the cost and schedule are effectively managed as the construction progresses. This has been accomplished by providing a mix of specialist aviation experts from the US and local trained resources.

Following the tour, Bryson met with Indian industry leaders and investors to talk about SelectUSA, the first coordinated effort by the U.S. government to attract new business investments to America. India, one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, is a priority market under the SelectUSA initiative. Bryson also delivered remarks at a luncheon hosted by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), where he talked about how the U.S.-India bilateral relationship is stronger than ever, and encouraged Indian investment in the U.S. as a means of fostering economic growth and job creation in both countries. In his remarks, he also highlighted the importance of this week’s renewal of the U.S.-India Commercial Dialogue, as well as moving forward in discussions to establish a Bilateral Investment Treaty, which would support greater stability and protections for investors in both countries. Following his remarks, the Secretary formally inaugurated the U.S-India Investors Forum (USIIF), a group of 35 Indian CEOs interested in investing in the United States.

India Trade Mission: Day 3 - Bringing the Business Development Mission to Jaipur

Secretary Bryson Planting a Tree at a new Mahindra World City Development

In a first ever visit to Jaipur by a U.S. Commerce Secretary, Secretary Bryson led his 16-business trade delegation there to see first-hand the vast business opportunities available in India’s rapidly expanding infrastructure sector and to promote bilateral cooperation on innovation.

Upon arrival in Jaipur, Secretary Bryson and the delegation met with senior Rajasthan state government officials and business leaders to explore how U.S. technology and products can support Rajasthan’s infrastructure development goals. Bryson said he is confident that trade between the U.S. and Rajasthan will grow substantially as a result of this mission.

He also gave remarks before a group of Rajasthan industry representatives, where he discussed trade and investment opportunities that benefit both the United States and India. Bryson said the bilateral investment relationship between the U.S. and India is stronger than ever. U.S. direct investment in India is now over $27 billion across a wide range of sectors including services, manufacturing, information and technology. At the same time, India is a fast-growing source of foreign direct investment into the United States. Indian companies employ tens of thousands of American workers in professional, technical, and scientific services – as well as other industries. Bryson welcomed this increase in foreign direct investment in American companies and economy.

India Trade Mission: Day 1 - Commercial Dialogue

Secretary of Commerce John Bryson meets with Indian Minister of Commerce Anand Sharma (credit: Rakesh Malhotra, Department of State)

Today marked the official start of Secretary Bryson's five-day trade mission to India. In the morning he met with Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Aluwalia to discuss ways to strengthen the U.S.-India commercial relationship. He also spoke at an infrastructure roundtable discussion sponsored by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). India is planning to invest $1 trillion in infrastructure development over the next five years, and U.S. companies are in a unique position to offer their skills and expertise in partnership with Indian firms.

Secretary Bryson also witnessed the signing of two U.S. Trade and Development Agency grants supporting U.S. business investments in India’s energy infrastructure development. The first grant will support a feasibility study for Azure Power, a private sector solar power developer based in India. The second grant will finance a feasibility study for CESC Limited for the implementation of smart grid technologies across their electricity distribution networks in Kolkata, India.

During his address at a luncheon hosted by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce (FICCI), Secretary Bryson announced that the U.S. Department of Commerce and India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry have taken steps to renew the U.S.-India Commercial Dialogue for an additional two-year term, until March 2014. The Commercial Dialogue is a key component of the bilateral commercial relationship and provides a forum for both the U.S. and Indian governments and private sectors to collaborate on issues of mutual interest, ensuring that the trade relationship is “win-win” for both countries. The agenda has been expanded to cover new areas of engagement on topics such as standards–including smart grids, intelligent transportation systems–and sustainable manufacturing.

Spotlight on Commerce: Dee Alexander, Senior Adviser on Native American Affairs

Dee Alexander, Senior Advisor on Native American Affairs

On December 19, 2011 Secretary of Commerce John Bryson appointed Dee Alexander as his Senior Adviser on Native American Affairs. As the Department’s Tribal Consultation Official, Alexander’s principal responsibility is implementing the Department’s Tribal Coordination and Consultation Policy, per President Obama’s Executive Order 13175 (PDF), which ensures meaningful and timely input by tribal officials in the development of policies that have tribal implications.

Alexander works closely with the Minority Business Development Agency and other Commerce bureaus to promote the Secretary’s vision for job creation and economic growth on American Indian and Alaska Native communities. As the Senior Adviser on Native American Affairs, Alexander is housed in the Secretary’s Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs.

While speaking at the National Congress of American Indians 2012 Executive Council, Secretary Bryson noted that one of his goals as Secretary of Commerce is to expand the relationship that already exists between the Department and Tribal Nations.

“This administration is committed to strengthening the government-to-government relationship between the United States and Indian Country. That’s why I am pleased to have Dee Alexander, a member of the Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribe, join the team as my senior adviser for Native American Affairs,” Bryson said. “Dee’s leadership has already been critical in shaping Census policy that recognizes the important place of Native Americans in the United States. I am confident that she will continue to work to create economic opportunities for all Americans, including First Americans.”

Off to India – On My First Trade Mission, Opportunities Abound

Secretary Bryson will meet with senior Indian government officials to advocate and promote export and investment opportunities in America

Guest blog post by Commerce Secretary John Bryson

This weekend I am departing for India, where I will be leading a trade mission with 16 American companies. This will be my first trade mission and I am really looking forward to it. I will be meeting with senior level Indian government officials to advocate for U.S. export opportunities in India’s rapidly expanding infrastructure sector, and promote investment opportunities in America–both key priorities of President Obama and this Administration.

India’s growth over the last decade has resulted in increased demand for products and services from countries like the United States.  America’s exports to India have grown from less than $4 billion in 2001 to over $21 billion in 2011. Going forward, India is expected to spend over $1 trillion on infrastructure development over the next five years, and a growing consuming class could lead to increased demand for a range of consumer goods and services.

Among other things, this trade mission supports President Obama’s National Export Initiative goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014 to create more good-paying jobs. Last week, on the two year anniversary of the creation of the NEI, the Commerce Department released new data showing that jobs supported by U.S. exports increased by 1.2 million between 2009 and 2011, and the value of U.S. exports exceed $2.1 trillion for the first time in U.S. history.

U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson Highlights Manufacturing and Exports in Florida

Secretary Bryson delivering his remarks at Pavilion Furniture

This week, U.S. Commerce Secretary and former CEO John Bryson traveled to Florida to meet with local business leaders and discuss his priorities for supporting advanced manufacturing and encouraging exports. On Thursday evening, Bryson delivered remarks to the National Association of Manufacturers Board of Directors dinner in Boca Raton, Fla. Friday morning, he visited the Port of Miami and took a tour of Pavilion Furniture, a Miami Gardens, Fla.  company that is working with the Department of Commerce’s Commercial Service to expand the exports of its products. Following the tour, Bryson delivered remarks and joined Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez and local business leaders for a discussion about how the private and public sector can work together to expand exports and create jobs.

Business leaders participating in the discussion included Mike Buzzella, President and CEO of Pavilion Furniture, Raj Rangaswamy, President of Target Engineering, and Luis Arguello, CEO of DemeTech. Target Engineering, an engineering services firm, will be joining Secretary Bryson on a Commerce-led trade mission to India at the end of the month. DemeTech Corporation, a producer of surgical sutures and blades, previously joined a Commerce Department trade mission to Saudi Arabia.

The U.S. has recently experienced dramatic job growth in the U.S. manufacturing sector. In the past two years U.S. manufacturing created over 400,000 jobs – over 80,000 in the first two months of this year alone. Bryson highlighted some of the Administration’s initiatives to support advanced manufacturing, including the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation. The Network, which President Obama proposed last week, would be a $1 billion investment in up to 15 institutes of advanced manufacturing research and experience across the country, designed to help make U.S. manufacturers more innovative and competitive.

Bryson also shared news on Commerce’s efforts to boost exports. This week marks the two-year anniversary of the signing of the Executive Order creating the National Export Initiative, when President Obama set the goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014. Earlier this week, the Commerce Department released new data showing that jobs supported by U.S. exports increased by 1.2 million between 2009 and 2011. In 2011, exports supported approximately 9.7 million jobs, and the value of U.S. exports of goods and services exceeded $2.1 trillion for the first time in U.S. history. 

In addition, Bryson discussed the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement (KORUS), which went into effect yesterday. Korea is the world’s 12th largest economy, and under the new agreement, about 80 percent of Korea’s tariffs on U.S. industrial products are now dropping to zero. KORUS is America’s most significant trade agreement in nearly two decades, and is estimated to increase U.S. exports by approximately $11 billion, support tens of thousands of American jobs, and open up Korea’s $1 trillion economy for America’s workers and businesses.

At both stops, Secretary Bryson stressed that The Commerce Department is dedicated to providing business across the country the resources they need to build products here and sell them everywhere.