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Blog Category: Office of the Secretary

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank Tours CES Promoting American Innovation and Competitiveness

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank and Dean Kamen Listen on a Panel

On Thursday, Acting Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank visited the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where she delivered opening remarks and participated in a panel discussion. The panel, titled “Getting Us Back on Track: How Technology and Innovation Can Save America” focused on the integral role innovation and technology play to the U.S. economy.

Blank said, “Innovation is crucial to the economy.  And while private citizens and private businesses are the primary source of new ideas—from concept to commercialization—the government plays a key role in this effort. The returns in new jobs and new technologies have traditionally far exceeded the money invested on the front end by the federal government.”

Referencing the recently released COMPETES report, Blank stated, “Only with a laser-sharp focus on education, innovation and infrastructure, will we build the basis for a 21st century economy that allows American businesses to flourish in an increasingly competitive global market. And only when American businesses flourish will we see the sort of job growth and income growth that assures economic opportunity to middle class Americans.”

Also while at the show, Blank toured the International Trade Agency’s International Buyer Program’s International Commerce Center and met domestic and foreign commercial service officers who assist American businesses in exporting. Afterwards, she presented an Export Achievement Award to Meridrew Enterprises. Meridrew Enterprises is a small, woman-owned company that is an industry leader in high performance screen cleaning technology. Their products have been used on the windows of the Space Shuttle and International Space Station.

Secretary Bryson Stops by the Motor City

Bryson and Ford chat

Earlier this week, Secretary and former CEO John Bryson made his first trip to Detroit, as Commerce Secretary, where he met with representatives from nearly every major auto maker that produces cars in the United States. In addition, Bryson met with United Auto Workers (UAW) President Bob King, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, as well as members of the Michigan Congressional delegation. The trip came on the heels of President Obama’s announcement late last year naming Secretary Bryson as co-chair of the White House Office of Manufacturing Policy.

Secretary Bryson’s day-long trip began with a breakfast meeting with members of the Michigan Congressional delegation including Senator Debbie Stabenow, Representatives John Dingell, John Conyers and Hansen Clarke. The group discussed a wide variety of topics including what the Federal government can do to further support the Nation’s manufacturing sector and automotive industry.

Secretary Bryson reiterated that the Department of Commerce is focused on doing everything possible to help support manufacturers. He also talked about the various services at the Commerce Department that are available everyday to manufacturers large and small. For example, the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration helps promote the U.S. auto industry through trade missions, trade shows and buying missions in addition to conducting market research and business matchmaking to U.S. exporters, particularly to new-to-export and new-to-market automotive suppliers.

Following the breakfast meeting, Secretary Bryson hit the auto show floor and first met with GM CEO Dan Akerson at the Cadillac exhibit.  Mr. Akerson showed Secretary Bryson and members of the Michigan Congressional delegation the newest Cadillac CTS.  After that, the group walked over to the 2013 Chevy Malibu exhibit where Mr. Akerson showed the group Chevy’s newest midsized sedan.  They also ran into Detroit Mayor Dave Bing who was also checking out the latest GM vehicles.

Secretary Bryson then visited with Chrysler/Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne and saw the new Dodge Dart.  Both Secretary Bryson and Senator Stabenow took turns in the driver’s seat while Mr. Marchionne pointed out the features of the Chrysler’s newest compact sedan.

Secretary Bryson’s final stop on the floor was with Ford Chairman Bill Ford, where he saw the new 2013 Ford Fusion, which will include three engine options, including a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid version.  The Ford Chairman also showed the Secretary the new Lincoln MKS, before the pair ran into Michigan Governor Rick Snyder who was also checking out the newest Fusion.  The three briefly chatted about the importance of manufacturing and the auto industry to the state.

The Secretary then left the show floor to meet with UAW President Bob King.  The two discussed how the Commerce Department can ensure that they are doing everything they can to support American manufacturing so that companies build their products here and sell them everywhere.

The Secretary’s final meeting was with the Global Automakers, a group that represents members of the international automakers community, including companies from Japan, Germany, and other countries around the world.  Secretary Bryson talked about how foreign direct investment in the United States is one of his top priorities, and members of the group discussed the investments they had made to create jobs here at home.

Overall it was a quick, but productive trip to Michigan, where the Secretary met with business, and political leaders, and discussed what more the Department of Commerce can do to support job creation here at home – and saw some great cars.

What Others Are Saying About the COMPETES report

On Friday, the Commerce Department unveiled the COMPETES Report: A Roadmap for Strengthening U.S. Competitiveness. The report makes three important findings:

  • Federal investments in research, education and infrastructure were critical building blocks for American economic competitiveness, business expansion and job creation in the last century;
  • Failures to properly invest in, and have comprehensive strategies for, those areas have eroded America’s competitive position; and,
  • In a constrained budgetary environment, prioritizing support for these pillars are imperative for America’s economic future and provide a strong return on investment for the U.S. taxpayer.

The Business Roundtable and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce wrote about the report and CNN asked a Commerce Innovation Advisory Board member about it (below).

Additionally, members of the Innovation Advisory Board recorded their own videos highlighting parts of the report they felt were most important.

Commerce Department Releases COMPETES Report: A Roadmap for Strengthening U.S. Competitiveness

Secretary Bryson Releases the America COMPETES report on American competitiveness

The U.S Department of Commerce today delivered to Congress a comprehensive report on “The Competitiveness and Innovative Capacity of the United States.”  The report serves as a call to arms, highlighting bipartisan priorities to sustain and promote American innovation and economic competitiveness. 

At 10am ET, watch Secretary Bryson present the report and then a distinguished panel discuss the findings. [The event has now concluded]

The report makes three important findings:

  • Federal investments in research, education and infrastructure were critical building blocks for American economic competitiveness, business expansion and job creation in the last century;
  • Failures to properly invest in, and have comprehensive strategies for, those areas have eroded America’s competitive position; and,
  • In a constrained budgetary environment, prioritizing support for these pillars are imperative for America’s economic future and provide a strong return on investment for the U.S. taxpayer.

The report was mandated as part of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, which was signed into law by President Obama in January last year. The report addresses a diverse range of topics and policy options, including: tax policy; the general business climate in the U.S.; barriers to setting up new firms; trade policy, including export promotion; the effectiveness of Federal Research and Development policy; intellectual property regimes in the U.S. and abroad; the health of the manufacturing sector; and science and technology education.

The full report, as well as additional resources, can be found online at www.commerce.gov/competes

Some key findings of the report include:

2011 Office of General Counsel Awards

General Counsel Kerry

On Monday, December 12. 2011 General Counsel Kerry presided over the Office of General Counsel Annual Awards Ceremony.  He was joined by Secretary Bryson who delivered remarks, thanking the office for their tireless work over the past year.  The Secretary acknowledged the great assistant that the office’s attorneys and support staff have provided to him since his start at Commerce and he looks forward to working closely with the staff.  He introduced GC Kerry, who detailed the broad range of accomplishments achieved by OGC office over the past year.  He highlighted the successful completion of Patent Reform and the successful litigation of the Supreme Court Case Golan v. Holder (10-545 [1]).  He also applauded OGC’s contributions to various other litigation matters as well as works in enforcing fisheries regulations and export controls.

GC Kerry and Deputy General Counsel Geovette Washington presented the Attorney of the Year Awards and the Support Staff of the Year Award.  The 2011 recipients are:

Attorney of the Year - Robert McManus – U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Robert significantly advanced the goals both of the USPTO and the Department to establish a strong patent system.  Thanks to his efforts at the Supreme Court, the Court adopted the Department's position which has been haled as resulting in stronger and more reliable patent rights.  Robert was also instrumental in a wholesale re-writing of the rules governing how appeals are conducted at the USPTO Patent Trial and Appeal Board which will lead to more efficient review of patent applications.  Robert routinely provides expert advice under tight deadlines on complicated matters.

Support Staff of the Year - Debra Ketchopulos – National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration

Debra provided crucial support to the Gloucester's Enforcement Section office maintaining continuity of operations in that region in the absence of any enforcement attorneys for most of the year.  During this time, she continued to coordinate enforcement matters with the Office for Law Enforcement, fielding as many inquiries herself as possible, while judiciously referring others to headquarters for resolution.  Debra also responded to a large number of requests for case information from the Special Master who was appointed by the Secretary of Commerce to review fisheries enforcement, thereby greatly enhancing the Special Master's ability to timely complete his review.  After 34 years of support to the NOAA Office of the General Counsel, she continues to be cited by colleagues at all levels for her exceptional performance and willingness to take on new tasks and increased responsibilities.

Secretary Bryson Delivers His First Major Address Laying Out His Priorities for the Department

As part of the Obama administration’s ongoing efforts to spur job growth, Commerce Secretary John Bryson will lay out his priorities for the Department, including initiatives related to trade, manufacturing and increasing investment in the United States.

An experienced private sector leader, Bryson led Edison International as Chairman and CEO for 18 years. He also served on the boards of Boeing and Disney and as a senior adviser for the global private equity firm KKR. In little more than a month in office, Secretary Bryson has led trade talks with China to help level the playing field for American companies and workers and has reached out to numerous CEOs, including meeting with the Steering Committee of the President’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership.

Read his complete remarks on how American businesses can Build it Here. Sell it Everywhere.

Commerce Secretary John Bryson Hosts Sixth Meeting of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Commerce Secretary John Bryson Hosts Sixth Meeting of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Commerce Secretary John Bryson hosted the sixth meeting of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE) today at the Commerce Department. The Council advises Bryson and the administration on key innovation and entrepreneurship issues and supports President Obama's innovation strategy by helping to develop policies that foster entrepreneurship and identify new ways to take great ideas from the lab to the marketplace to drive economic growth and job creation. Council members include successful entrepreneurs, investors, and university and non-profit leaders.

“Innovation and entrepreneurship fuel America’s economy. It’s what enables our businesses to create new products and services and generate good, well-paying jobs,” Bryson said today. “That is my foremost priority as Secretary of Commerce. I want the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship to help this administration develop policies that support the innovation we need to keep the U.S. competitive.” 

Bryson called on the NACIE council members to help develop policies that support the innovation needed to keep the U.S. competitive. Since its creation, NACIE has focused on key issues such as improving the commercialization of university research and access to capital to enable entrepreneurs and businesses to turn innovations into new products, new companies and new jobs. Bryson also wanted to discuss how the Department of Commerce can better leverage the expertise of the group and how to enable NACIE to take a broader role in public participation and thought leadership. Speech

Economic Partnership with Saudi Arabia Will Help U.S. Expand Trade, Blank Tells Saudi Business Forum

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank addresses the U.S.-Saudi Business Opportunity Forum

On Tuesday, Acting Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank addressed the growing economic importance of Saudi Arabia at the U.S.-Saudi Business Opportunities Forum. In her remarks, Blank stressed the value of a U.S.-Saudi commercial relationship that benefits both Americans and Saudis.

Blank praised King Abdullah for the steps he has taken to encourage economic partnership with the U.S., citing greater public participation within the political system and the appointment of the first woman to lead Saudi Arabia’s education system. These political and social advancements have led to Saudi Arabia’s jump to 12th in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Survey, up from a rank of 64th only a few years ago. Saudi Arabia is committed to expanding and diversifying its economy beyond oil and into new knowledge-based industries, a commitment evidenced by over $750 billion of infrastructure investment to take place over the next five years.

In her speech, Blank reminded us that this progression within Saudi Arabia helps the U.S. expand trade and economic cooperation across our borders. As our 22nd largest market worldwide, Saudi Arabia’s rapidly expanding population and industrial base will continue to provide investment and employment opportunities for American citizens. Last year alone, Saudi Arabia supported more than 1,000 American companies, including some 500 small- and medium-sized businesses. Blank insisted that partnering with Saudi Arabia will be conducive to meeting President Obama’s National Export Initiative goal of doubling exports by the end of 2014.

Honoring Individuals Who Help Promote Peace and Commerce

Steve Calderia and Jack Earle with Acting Deputy Secretary Blank and Under Secretary Sanchez

Cross post by Cory Churches is a Communications and Outreach Specialist with the Office of Public Affairs in the International Trade Administration.

Today we recognized a few of the recipients of a unique award bestowed by the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez. Eight individuals and organizations received the International Trade Administration’s Peace through Commerce Medal Award for 2011.

Jerry Levine, President of Mentor International, Steve Calderia, CEO of the International Franchise Association and Jack Earle, CEO of the International Franchise Association were on hand to receive their awards and spoke highly of the efforts of the Commerce Department and partners in promoting exports and jobs across America.

The award, reintroduced by Sánchez, recognizes an individual, group, or organization, either domestic or abroad, whose actions have significantly promoted and developed U.S. export initiatives, encouraged innovative approaches, and improved overall U.S. trade relations.

Transatlantic Economic Council Discussions Highlight Need for Cooperation in Innovation and Regulatory and Standards Collaboration

Secretary Bryson joins his Cabinet colleagues and senior European Officials at the TEC meeting

On Tuesday, Secretary Bryson and other U.S. government officials had a valuable conversation with senior European Union (EU) leaders on ways to cooperate and achieve the Obama administration’s National Export Initiative (NEI) goals. Since the EU is America’s largest trading partner, they are key to meeting the ambitious goal of doubling exports by the end of 2014.

The economic relationship between the EU and the United States is the largest and most dynamic in the world. The combined gross domestic product accounts for more than $30 trillion – roughly 40 percent of global GDP – and more than 800 million consumers. In 2010, bilateral trade in goods and services surpassed $873 billion. With this relationship so vital, in April 2007 the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) was established to provide Cabinet-level political guidance for implementation of specific work programs like intellectual property rights protection and regulatory cooperation.

Tuesday’s discussions made it clear that both the United States and the EU recognize innovation to be the main driving force for continuing this economic success and creating more jobs. In his comments, Secretary Bryson noted that the innovations created through the partnerships of American and European companies can be a greater catalyst for new jobs than innovation done without such collaboration. The Commerce Department is currently working tirelessly in that vein, developing transatlantic links between companies and research centers.