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Blog Category: Office of the Secretary

Why Immigration Reform Matters

Secretary Pritzker visited the “Fast for Families” tent on the National Mall to show support for passing commonsense immigration

Guest blog post by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker

This week, I visited the “Fast for Families” tent on the National Mall with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to show our support for passing commonsense immigration reform. I was humbled by the courageous men and women we spoke with, who are making a personal sacrifice to end the human suffering they have witnessed as a result of our current immigration system. 

The “Fast for Families” was launched by faith, immigrant rights and labor leaders on November 12 and has been ongoing since.  The dedicated leaders who have gathered to fast on the National Mall have been driven by their individual experiences, but they are united in their commitment to seeing Congress pass comprehensive immigration reform.

Those I met with included Rudy Lopez, who had already completed 21 days of his fast. I spoke with the son of Iranian immigrants, the daughter of migrant workers, and an undocumented immigrant from Mexico City who was on the fifth day of her fast. They each had a different story, but they all expressed their desire to live in a country that remains the source of hope and opportunity for people all over the world.

The fact is, the vibrant fabric of this nation has always been made up of immigrants. My great grandfather came to the United States in the 1800s from Czarist Russia, dirt poor, at the age of 10. He taught himself English, worked several jobs, earned his law degree at night, and opened a law practice at the age of 30 in 1902. His story is the story of countless immigrants to this country, who come to America seeking a better life and better opportunities. In doing so, they have contributed to our success as a nation.

In 2011, immigrants started 28 percent of all new businesses in the United States, though they only accounted for 13 percent of the U.S. population. And, more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or children of immigrants.

The President and the Senate’s bipartisan proposal builds a smart, effective immigration system that continues efforts to secure our borders and makes sure that every business and every worker plays by the same set of rules. Estimates are that the Senate-passed immigration reform bill can grow the economy by $1.4 trillion over the next two decades and reduce the deficit by nearly $850 billion. Commonsense reform will also attract the best minds to America by providing visas to foreign entrepreneurs looking to start businesses here. As well, it will provide our nation’s best and brightest foreign students with an opportunity to pursue an education and stay in this country after graduation.  Immigration reform will also reunite families in a timely and humane manner.

I have traveled all over the country since I was sworn in as Secretary of Commerce nearly 6 months ago, and I have heard tremendous support for passing immigration reform. The business community understands the numerous ways in which immigrants to this country not only benefit our economy but enrich our nation. The passionate example set by the fasters – who are so dedicated to making their voices heard – is one we can all emulate. Their courage and commitment is shining a light on what is morally right for this country and the values we, as Americans, represent. 

Secretary Pritzker to Lead Business Development Mission to Middle East

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker will lead a senior-executive Business Development Mission to the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) of the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar March 8-14, 2014.

The trade mission is critical to building on export growth and furthering the Obama Administration’s efforts to help U.S. businesses compete and succeed in the global economy. It is also an important component of the Department of Commerce’s “Open for Business Agenda,” which prioritizes trade and investment.

This mission will highlight export opportunities for U.S. businesses in three leading industry sectors with an emphasis on project management and engineering (including construction, architecture and design), renewable energy (solar, wind, waste-to-energy), smart grid and energy efficiency, and environmental technologies (including water/wastewater; air pollution control; and waste management).

America Is Open for Giving

Combined Federal Campaign Logo for 2013

Guest blog post by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker

Cross-post from LinkedIn.

After Thanksgiving, you may have stood in long lines for Black Friday, supported your local businesses on Small Business Saturday, and clicked endlessly on Cyber Monday. And today, there is a relatively new tradition that demonstrates America’s incredible capacity for generosity – Giving Tuesday.

Along with businesses and charities worldwide, I am proud to support #GivingTuesday today, an event designed to support our communities by helping charities raise money online. Spearheaded by the United Nations Foundation and 92nd Street Y, a non-profit cultural and community center in New York City, #GivingTuesday allows you to support your favorite causes across the nation and around the world.

Last year, $10 million in online donations rolled in on the inaugural #GivingTuesday. The number of PayPal mobile donations jumped nearly fivefold over the previous year, and the value of those donations increased more than 200 percent. Clearly, Americans are showing that they are ready to use technology and innovation to give back.

This year promises to deliver much more in positive impact. Already, the number of #GivingTuesday partners has already tripled from 2,500 to 7,500, and I’m glad to see businesses like eBay, Johnson & Johnson and AT&T all have efforts to support Giving Tuesday. Some examples are Microsoft launching a campaign to raise $500,000 for Give for Youth to create education, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for young people in conjunction with Giving Tuesday. And the Case Foundation is helping to host an online site where donors can support selected nonprofits and get their contributions matched. These are just a few of the many signing on.

Schools and community groups are also getting involved. This is the type of creative collaboration between public, private, and nonprofit entities that I love seeing.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Visits iwis Motorsystems in Munich, Germany

Secretary Pritzker poses with members of iwis Motorsystems after a tour of the facilities

On her visit to Munich today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Secretary Pritzker toured iwis Motorsystems, a family-owned company that is making investments and creating jobs in the United States. One key aspect of U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker’s “Open for Business Agenda” is the importance of attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) to the United States. A report recently released by the Department of Commerce and the Council of Economic Advisors found that foreign-owned companies employ 5.6 million people in the United States, so it is clear that FDI is a major driver to job creation and economic growth.

A “Mittelstand” (medium-sized) company, iwis is a leading supplier of automotive products used in a vast array of engines and vehicles, and has growing investments in the United States. The company has a production facility in Indianapolis, Indiana, and a subsidiary, iwis engine systems, in Troy, Michigan. Additionally, operations have recently begun at a new facility in Murray, Kentucky, to produce timing drive systems. This latest facility accounts for a $12.5 million investment and, when fully operational, will employ 75 people.

The Commerce Department’s SelectUSA program is working to attract even more of these job-creating investments. German firms like iwis are poised to make an even bigger impact in the United States – Germany sent one of the largest delegations to the SelectUSA Summit that President Obama and Secretary Pritzker hosted on Octover 31 – November 1. For 2012, FDI from Germany totaled more than $272 billion.

Watch Secretary Pritzker Unveil Her New Strategic Vision and Top Priorities for the Department of Commerce

Please tune in today, as U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker unveils her new strategic vision and top priorities for the Department of Commerce in a speech at 1776 in Washington, D.C.

The event will be webcast below. You can follow the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #OpenForBusiness.

Shortly after the event, Secretary Pritzker will take questions via Facebook from 12:15-12:45 pm Eastern time. We encourage you to participate by visiting the Department of Commerce’s official Facebook page and asking her a question about the Department’s priorities and the Obama administration’s efforts to spur economic growth and job creation.

 

Commerce Achieves Record Veteran Hiring Numbers in 2013

Veterans Day 2013 - Honoring All Who Served

In honor of Veterans Day, we wanted to take a moment to highlight the Department of Commerce’s commitment to hiring veterans. In Fiscal Year 2013, 13.2 percent of new Commerce hires were veterans and 3.6 percent were disabled veterans, the highest numbers of veterans the Department has employed in over 20 years.

The Department of Commerce (DOC) Veteran Employment Council, made up of volunteer human resources (HR) specialists, advisors, and program managers, plays a major role in hiring and retaining veterans and works with the individuals once they come on board.

“Here at Commerce, we take hiring veterans very seriously,” said Kevin Mahoney, Commerce’s Chief Human Capital Officer and Director, Office of Human Resources Management. “I would like to thank the DOC Veteran Employment Council for their hard work throughout the year, and we look forward to seeing even higher numbers next year.”

This year, the Department of Commerce trained over 3,100 hiring managers and human resources specialists on veterans’ preference and special appointing authorities for veterans and disabled veterans. Top performing agencies in the Department of Commerce for veteran hiring include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at 31.8 percent, the Office of the Secretary (OS) at 20 percent, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) at 16.2 percent and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) at 13.2 percent.

Commerce Teams Receive GreenGov Presidential Award

Today, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) announced the fourth annual winners of the GreenGov Presidential Awards, which honor Federal civilian and military personnel, as well as agency teams, facilities and programs that have taken innovative steps to reduce energy use and carbon pollution, curb waste, and save taxpayer dollars.

The Department of Commerce and a team from Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) were recognized as two of the eight award winners during a ceremony with senior administration officials today.

A team of National Marine Fisheries Service scientists and engineers at the Ted Stevens Research Institute in Juneau, Alaska, received an award in the category of Lean, Clean and Green for using seawater as a heat source to replace oil-fueled heat pumps and eliminate all carbon emissions. The staff developed a system to extract heat from seawater already being pumped through the lab to support research activities. The seawater heat pump is the latest of three projects the facility has spearheaded in order to reach zero carbon emissions.

The Department of Commerce was recognized for its joint efforts with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Global Change Research Program in the Climate Champion award category. The Federal agencies partnered to create an interactive sea level rise mapping and calculator tool that helps city planners identify and prepare for future flood risks. The team released the tool less than a year after Hurricane Sandy, allowing state and local planners to make better informed decisions that consider the risk in location and design of redevelopment projects. The tool uses the most up-to-date scientific information by providing assessments of future risks beyond current conditions.

SelectUSA Investment Summit Concludes with a Focus on Forging Stronger Global Business Alliances

SelectUSA Investment Summit Concludes with a Focus on Forging Stronger Global Business Alliances

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker wrapped up the inaugural SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit this afternoon, following two high-impact days of meetings and discussions among senior government officials, major business executives, global economic experts and U.S. economic development officials about strategies to increase foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States.

Secretary Pritzker also opened the final day of the Summit, where she announced changes to the eligibility requirements for the Manufacturing Council that will allow representatives from U.S. subsidiaries of foreign-owned or controlled firms to become members. The expanded eligibility rules will add new perspectives to the Council, which advises the Commerce Secretary on policies and initiatives to increase FDI in the U.S. manufacturing sector, including SelectUSA.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivered remarks focused on deepening U.S. economic alliances around the world. Following his address, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman moderated a panel with Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, BMW North America CEO Ludwig Willisch, and Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman on how global companies can use their U.S. operations as an export platform by taking advantage of free trade agreements and bilateral investment treaties. 

Watch the SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit (Day Two)

View the archived webcast here.

  • Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Opening Remarks
  • Secretary of State John Kerry Keynote Address
  • Why Select the USA: Using the U.S. as an Export Platform
  • Why Select the USA: Taking Advantage of the U.S. Energy Opportunity
  • Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Closing Remarks

Day One at the SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit

President Barack Obama delivered keynote remarks at the SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit.

Guest post by Ambassador Vinai Thummalapally, Director of SelectUSA.

Cross-posted from Tradeology, the official blog of ITA.

“There’s no substitute for those three proud words: ‘Made in America.’”

President Obama has been emphatic that the United States remains the best place in the world to do business. Today at the SelectUSA Investment Summit, he reiterated that message to 1,000 business leaders from nearly 60 countries.

“When you bet on America, that bet pays off,” the president said as he closed his keynote address.

Your country is your product when you’re attracting foreign direct investment. At the Summit today, we showed the world that the United States is the absolute best product on the market.

“America is open for business,” said Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. “Our market has provided long-term stability and unmatched returns for investors.”

Attendees began making connections as soon as the doors opened. Representatives from 47 states, three territories, and Washington, D.C., showed off investment opportunities around the country.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew highlighted many advantages a company has when it invests in America – including robust infrastructure and low barriers for entrepreneurs. CEOs from major national and international companies echoed those messages throughout the day.

“We have the most resilient capital markets in the world,” said Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock.

Andrew Liveris said that when it comes to investment in research and development, “the U.S. is number one.”