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Blog Category: Office of the Secretary

Spotlight on Commerce: Tyra Dent Smith, Deputy Director, Office of Human Resources Management

Photo: Tyra Dent Smith

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 a native Washingtonian, and having earned a B.A in Psychology from Hampton Institute and a Master of Public Administration from Howard University, I knew early on that I wanted my life work to center around individual and organizational success. To this end, I decided to dedicate my career to public service. Over twenty years of my career has been spent in the Department of Commerce.

Since February 2011, I have had the privilege to serve as Deputy Director, Office of Human Resources Management (OHRM). My primary responsibility is to lead and direct the development and implementation of government-wide and departmental policies, employee programs and activities in all aspects of human resources management and administration. Additionally, this includes coordinating and overseeing HR operations at each of the department's seven bureau level HR service centers. This role has given me an opportunity to serve the department’s workforce at each stage of the employee lifecycle (planning, recruitment, hiring, training and development, retention and retirement/separation).

In partnership with the Director of OHRM, William “Bill” Fleming, our vision is to deliver optimal HR services and products that support and enable mission accomplishment and create a workplace environment that fosters excellence and innovation. This vision is rooted in the policies, processes and practices that support and sustain a strong and capable organizational workforce built to serve the American people.

Spotlight on Commerce: Michael Phelps, Director of the Office of Budget

Michael Phelps, Director of the Office of Budget

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.

I am currently Director of the Office of Budget at the Department of Commerce. That means I am the principal adviser to the Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary for Administration and other Department officials on all things related to the planning, formulation, execution and defense of the Department’s budget.

I understand that not everyone is a numbers person, but I love this position because of public debates associated with supporting the president’s agenda and, more important, the roles and mission this Department plays in executing those objectives in helping to create an America built to last!

My entire professional career has been in public service. Prior to joining Commerce in March of 2011, I served 33 years in the United States Air Force. My last assignment was Director of Financial Management and Comptroller for Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base, Hampton, Virginia. As Chief Financial Officer for the largest operational command in the Air Force and the principal financial adviser to the Air Combat Command Commander, I led a 67-person financial management staff that supported a financial network of more than 1,100 people supporting 25 air wings, 1,100 aircraft and approximately 105,000 personnel. I retired from active duty as a colonel in February of 2011 and was given an opportunity to continue my service to the nation here at the Department of Commerce.

Secretary Bryson Encourages State Governors to Use SelectUSA and Attend SelectUSA Investment Summit

SelectUSA logo

Prior to President Obama attending the Democratic Governors Association Meeting, Secretary John Bryson addressed the assembled governors to discuss how the Commerce Department is working across the federal government to make every federal tool available to promote “insourcing” by U.S. companies and to attract more foreign direct investment.

Secretary Bryson reiterated the key advantages America has over foreign competitors. For example, the American workforce is among the most productive in the world. He also discussed how America continues to have the best universities, the strongest sources of R&D and manufacturing innovation, excellent supply chains, and the strongest IP protections.  He also noted that foreign direct investment rose nearly 50 percent from 2009 to 2010.

Bryson then emphasized that through SelectUSA, the Commerce Department wants to partner with more states to attract even more foreign direct investment to the U.S. SelectUSA is the first coordinated federal effort to aggressively pursue and win new business investments in the U.S. It will help investors navigate our rules and procedures and will help advocate for the U.S. when foreign businesses are deciding where to put their next facility and create jobs.

SelectUSA is already working with some city and state economic development organizations to produce results. Bryson personally invited the governors and their top economic officials to attend the 1st annual SelectUSA Investment Summit later this year. The Commerce Department will assemble companies from around the world and it will provide an excellent opportunity for states to explain why they are the best place to invest and to hire.

Acting Commerce Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank Announces Computer Contract Expected to Save Taxpayers $20-25M

As the president said when he launched the Campaign to Cut Waste in June 2011, “No amount of waste is acceptable, not when it’s your money. Just as families are living within their means, government should, too, so we can invest in the things that we know will create good jobs and grow the economy.” As part of those ongoing efforts to make government more accountable to the American people and cut wasteful spending, I am happy to report today that the Commerce Department has awarded a contract for computers that is expected to save taxpayers $20-25 million over the next five years.

Through the contract with Intelligent Decisions Inc., we will reduce our cost for desktops and laptops by 40 percent. The contract leverages the large volume of computers that Commerce purchases each year and standardizes specifications to achieve significant cost reductions. Making wise spending decisions like this will enable Commerce to focus resources on its primary mission, which is supporting innovation, helping American businesses create jobs, and driving U.S. competitiveness around the world.

Intelligent Decisions Inc., is a small business reseller offering products manufactured by Dell Inc. By awarding this contract to a small business, the Commerce Department will increase its small business participation for computer purchases by over thirty percent. Intelligent Decisions Inc.  will be providing valuable services to Commerce, including helping to better monitor its inventory of computers, improving delivery time, and loading custom images onto computers.

Spotlight On Commerce: Cedric Grant, Director of the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships

Portrait of Cedric Grant

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.

I have dedicated the majority of my professional career to guiding faith-based and non-profit organizations toward positive social and economic change. I attended Howard University (GO BISON!!), graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Finance, and earned a Master of Divinity Degree from Princeton Theological Seminary. Additionally, I received a Master of Public Administration from the School of International & Public Affairs at Columbia University.

In June 2009, I was appointed by the White House as the Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the Department of Commerce. As a member of Secretary John Bryson’s senior advisory team, I seek to forge and enhance partnerships with secular and faith-based organizations, particularly in policy areas of census, economic development and minority business development.

At Commerce, we are working hard to create an America built to last. One of the ways my office approaches this goal is to strengthen and increase capacity of the non-profit organizations by encouraging cross-sector partnerships to stimulate local economies, create jobs and attract private investments in communities with high unemployment and low per capita income. In 2010, non-profits alone accounted for $779 billion of our country’s gross domestic product (5.4 percent). As we work to improve our economy, it’s important to know that non-profits employ and create jobs locally; in 2009, nine percent of the economy’s wages, and over 10 percent of jobs in 2009.

Calling All App Developers: Commerce Launches $10,000 App Challenge to Better Connect Businesses with Government

Challenge.gov Logo

Today, in conjunction with the newly-launched BusinessUSA initiative, the Department of Commerce announced the launch of their business app challenge.  The $10,000 contest challenges app developers to find innovative ways to utilize Commerce and other publicly available data and information to support American businesses. The business app challenge calls on developers to utilize at least one Department of Commerce data set in creating an application that assists businesses and/or improves the service delivery of Business.USA.gov to the business community.  Developers may choose the platform that best suits them. Applicants may design for the web, personal computer, mobile handheld device, or any platform broadly accessible to the open Internet. A list of developer-friendly data sets can be found on the Business Data and Tools page of Data.gov.

A panel of high-profile judges will evaluate and vote on the entries.  The panel includes:

Secretary Bryson Advocates Build It Here, Sell It Everywhere at State Department Global Business Conference

Bryson flanked by flags at the State Department

Earlier today, Secretary Bryson spoke to the first-ever State Department Global Business Conference during an afternoon plenary session entitled, “What the Government Can Do for Business.” He discussed his top priorities as Commerce Secretary: supporting advanced manufacturing, increasing U.S. exports, and attracting more investment to the U.S. Bryson highlighted efforts at making the Commerce Department an effective partner and resource for American businesses.

Secretary Bryson focused on the Administration's jobs effort, saying "In October of last year, I was confirmed as Secretary. Around that same time, Secretary Clinton sent a cable to her staff in U.S. embassies.  It said that strengthening our economic leadership abroad and driving growth here at home – “economic statecraft” – is now a key part of what the State Department does. I was pleased to hear this because economic statecraft aligns perfectly with the top priorities I have for the Commerce Department: supporting advanced manufacturing, increasing U.S. exports, and attracting more investment to the U.S. – all to create jobs."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton amplified that message earlier at the luncheon session, saying "I have made 'Jobs Diplomacy' a priority mission at the State Department, with a clear goal: Just as our companies are ready to out-work, out-innovate, and out-compete their rivals, so we intend to be the most effective diplomatic champions for prosperity and growth."

President Obama Announces First Annual SelectUSA Investment Summit

SelectUSA logo

Today President Obama visited Master Lock in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and announced that the Department of Commerce will host the first annual SelectUSA Investment Summit, bringing companies from around the world to meet with governors, mayors and local stakeholders, federal agencies, and state and local economic development organizations together to discuss the benefits of investing and growing in the U.S. The Summit will build on the Administration’s efforts to promote investment in the U.S. by providing an annual forum to attract and expand U.S. investment and address questions and issues that companies face when they choose where to invest globally.

Launched by Executive Order in June 2011, the Department of Commerce’s SelectUSA program is the first-ever federal effort to help attract, retain, and expand business investment.  Historically, U.S. states and cities have found themselves competing against foreign governments to attract business investments, with the federal government playing only a nominal role in the competition for global investment.  Rather than providing new incentives for investment, SelectUSA plays the critical role of advocacy, coordination, facilitation, and information-gathering and –sharing.
 
The program has already paid dividends for American workers.  Working hand-in-hand with SelectUSA officials, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and other local Michigan agencies, Canadian automotive company AGS Automotive recently elected to make an investment in excess of $20 million to add new manufacturing capabilities to permit it to manufacture bumper impact assemblies in Michigan.  The new business will likely represent in excess of $100 million in annual sales over the next 5 years and will enable AGS to retain approximately 50 jobs and create over 100 new jobs in Michigan.

Secretary Bryson Tours and Joins a Discussion with Business Leaders, Educators at Minneapolis Community and Technical College

Secretary Bryson Enjoys Mayor Rybak's Attempts at Welding

Today, Secretary John Bryson traveled to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to tour facilities at Minneapolis Community Technical College (MCTC), along with Mayor R.T. Rybak and U.S. Representative Keith Ellison. After the tour, Bryson held a discussion with business leaders, students and educators—including Steven Rosenstone, Chancellor of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, MCTC Graduate Mike Palm and Kimberly Arrigoni, President-Elect of Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association—on how the Obama Administration can continue to support successful partnerships between community colleges and businesses to train and place skilled workers. 

The rigorous education and hands on technical training offered at MCTC and other workforce training campuses has made a difference in the lives of people across the country. As President Obama said during his State of the Union Address a few weeks ago, having a strong workforce is a critical part of ensuring that our economy is built to last. 

Bryson noted that over the past two years, we’ve added over 3.7 million new jobs, including 404,000 manufacturing jobs. But there is still work to be done. That’s why the President has called for more programs and partnerships like the ones at MCTC. We need to support more colleges that teach people the skills that businesses need, and investing in the next generation of skilled workers is a smart investment that will pay off.

Commerce Secretary John Bryson Meets with the National Advisory Council on Minority Business Enterprise

NACMBE with Secretary John Bryson

Data from the Department of Commerce reveal that minority-owned firms are an engine of job growth and are more likely to export than non-minority-owned firms. These firms account for $1 trillion in gross receipts and employ almost six million Americans. To bolster the economic impact of minority entrepreneurs across the county, the National Advisory Council on Minority Business Enterprise (NACMBE) was established in April 2010.  

Commerce Secretary John Bryson hosted the fifth meeting of the National Advisory Council on Minority Business Enterprise today at the Commerce Department. The Council, co-chaired by Mark Hoplamazian, CEO of Hyatt Hotel Corporation, and Janice Savin-Williams, co-founder and principal, Williams Capital Group, includes CEOs, entrepreneurs, investors, and scholarly research experts.

“It’s clear that minority communities and minority-owned businesses were hit hard in the recession. However, in the last 22 months, 3.2 million jobs were created.  Also, credit is flowing again to a certain degree,” Bryson said today. “But with your help, we can foster an environment where minority entrepreneurs, innovators and business leaders can do what they do best–create jobs.”