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Blog Category: Office of the Secretary

Greeley and Hansen Sees Trade Mission as Opportunity to Advance Aggressive International Growth Objectives

John C. Robak, President & Chief Operating Officer of Greeley and Hansen

Guest post by John C. Robak President & Chief Operating Officer, Greeley and Hansen

ED Note: Greeley and Hansen is a global leader in developing innovative engineering, architecture, and management solutions for a wide array of complex water, wastewater, and water-related infrastructure challenges.  The firm has built upon 100 years of proven civil and environmental engineering experience in all phases of project development and implementation to become a premier provider of comprehensive services in the water and wastewater sectors.

Greeley and Hansen is excited to participate in the upcoming Department of Commerce Trade Mission with Secretary Pritzker and other business delegates to the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. As the individual who directs the international business operations for Greeley and Hansen, I believe the projected growth in these countries is phenomenal, and can provide significant business opportunities for Greeley and Hansen’s water and wastewater engineering, architectural, and management consulting services. We have set forth an aggressive plan for international growth, and this important trade mission will allow us to further assess the long-range needs of these countries for water and wastewater infrastructure and to better identify potential long-term project opportunities for our firm.

Traveling with Secretary Pritzker will provide unprecedented access to high-level decision makers in each of these countries.  Having had the opportunity to be a delegate on previous infrastructure trade missions with the U.S. Commerce Department, I know first-hand that Greeley and Hansen will gain valuable information and insight into the market for water and wastewater services, but more importantly, we will also be able to establish valuable contacts that can help us launch the expansion of our operations in these potential high-growth markets for our firm. Participating in these past trade missions has led to real business opportunities for us in other emerging markets across the globe that are also interested in gaining access to U.S. technology and intellectual capital to help build sustainable infrastructure that will support continued growth and expansion.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Announces Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Request

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today released the fiscal year 2015 budget request for the U.S. Department of Commerce. The FY15 budget request supports and builds on President Obama’s vision for creating economic opportunity for all Americans, and includes critical funding for key Commerce priorities: promoting trade and investment, spurring innovation, and fueling our data-driven economy. The $8.8 billion FY15 budget request directly aligns with the Department’s “Open for Business Agenda,” which reflects Commerce's role as the voice of business and the Obama Administration’s focus on economic growth and job creation. 

The Commerce Department’s fiscal year 2015 budget reflects the Department's role as the voice of business in the Administration by making critical investments in our long-term growth and competitiveness. The budget prioritizes high-tech manufacturing and innovation, U.S. trade and investment, infrastructure, skills training, unleashing government data and gathering and acting on environmental intelligence, while also cutting red tape to help businesses grow. 

The FY 2015 Department of Commerce budget includes key investments in the following areas:

Promoting Trade and Investment: To promote exports and greater foreign investment in the U.S., the budget includes $497 million for the International Trade Administration (ITA), an eight percent increase over the 2014 enacted level. Funding for ITA includes $15 million to accelerate operations of the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC), an interagency effort to address unfair trade practices and barriers to boost U.S. exports, and $20 million to expand SelectUSA, which promotes re-shoring and actively brings job-creating investment to the United States from around the world.

Spurring Innovation: To foster a more innovative U.S. economy, the budget will increase regional and national capacity for innovative manufacturing, be the principal defender and champion of the digital economy, continue to support research and development (R&D) that leads to transformative changes in technology, and promote intellectual property policy that supports innovation. 

Fueling a Data-Driven Economy: Data powers the 21st century economy, and Commerce Department data touches every American and informs business decisions every day.

Gathering and Acting on Environmental Intelligence: The Department’s environment agenda aims to help communities and businesses prepare for and prosper in a changing environment. The budget provides $2 billion to fully fund the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) next generation of weather satellites, which are critical to its ability to provide accurate information to decision-makers throughout the government and private sector, as well as time-sensitive weather forecasts and warnings that help protect lives and property.

Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative: The President is also proposing the Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative, which will be fully paid for with a balanced package of spending and tax reforms. It will demonstrate how, by simply changing a few tax provisions and reforming spending programs, Congress could achieve significant economic goals in research, education, manufacturing and skills training. The initiative is consistent with the model established in Murray-Ryan, providing equal dollar-for-dollar increases above the current law discretionary spending caps for both defense and non-defense. 

More information can be found at the Commerce Department's press release U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Announces Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Request. 

Secretary Pritzker Appears on Morning Joe To Discuss Ways the Administration is Working to Grow the Economy and Create Jobs

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker joined Morning Joe to discuss why she’s headed to Massachusetts Institute of Technology to deliver remarks on the impact of big data. Secretary Pritzker also discusses her recent trip to Silicon Valley and job creation.



Secretary Pritzker Concludes “Commerce in the Valley” Tour

Secretary Pritzker Concludes “Commerce in the Valley” Tour

U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker concluded her two-day “Commerce in the Valley” tour on Tuesday showcasing the value and vast resources of the Commerce Department to entrepreneurs and business leaders in Northern California.  As the voice of business in the Administration, Pritzker met with innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders within Silicon Valley to discuss the Department of Commerce’s “Open for Business Agenda,” and the three key areas that will keep America competitive and strong: trade and investment, innovation, and data.

Secretary Pritzker made a number of site visits during her tour of Silicon Valley including Facebook, Google, eBay and PayPal showing the Department's strong commitment to spurring U.S. economic growth, through innovation, and competitiveness. On day two of her visit, Secretary Pritzker participated in an Innovation Ecosystem breakfast hosted by Tech for America, where she heard from budding entrepreneurs on the next generation of innovative ideas and discussed the importance of intellectual property (IP) protection and patent reform.

Following the breakfast, Secretary Pritzker traveled to Google where she met with executives and discussed trade and investment and ways the Commerce Department can further help companies export their goods and services abroad. 

Secretary Pritzker concluded her day at eBay and PayPal where she met with three eBay sellers, Chris Ko, Owner, Nationwide Surplus and ER2 Electronic Recycling; Nate Victor, CEO, Sonic Electrolux; and Nick Martin, Founder, The Pro's Closet. She discussed with each of these business leaders what global opportunities and resources we have at the Department of Commerce that can help them increase exports to foreign markets and expand their business footprint.  Secretary Pritzker later joined eBay Inc. CEO John Donahoe in announcing a partnership to promote U.S. exports and trade.  This partnership will advance the Obama Administration’s National Export Initiative, an ambitious plan to sell more American goods and services into foreign markets. 

Mr. Donahoe was appointed by President Obama to the President’s Export Council (PEC) in December 2013.  This partnership comes on the heels of a U.S. Department of Commerce announcement that U.S. exports in 2013 set a new record for the fourth straight year. U.S. exports reached $2.3 trillion in 2013, up nearly $700 billion since 2009.

Spotlight on Commerce: Charmaine Davis, Office of the Secretary

Spotlight on Commerce: Charmaine Davis, 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 Charmaine Davis, Office of the Secretary

Growing up in a single parent household, I learned the value of working hard to attain your goals. Watching my mother work hard and be selfless to provide for me and my siblings instilled a value of tenacity and integrity. She served in the federal government as a financial management specialist for 39 years. My mother’s love for her career has been truly inspiring and sparked an interest in me early on. 

I have worked in the federal government since 2001, beginning at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The Aspiring Leaders Program, coupled with great mentors, provided me with training and leadership opportunities that helped shape my career at the U.S. Department of Commerce.  

My career at Commerce began in 2005 in the Office of Financial Management (OFM), Office of Executive Budgeting. For the next four years, I learned the fundamentals of the Commerce budgeting process, and later served as the Budget Officer in the Office of the Secretary (OS). 

I am currently the Executive Officer, which means I am responsible for the management and execution of the Office of the Secretary’s budget. I work with OS staff to ensure that Secretarial initiatives and office needs are funded and supported. I also work with the Office of Administration to establish and enforce administrative policies and procedures for all OS offices.  

In the State of the Union Address, President Obama addressed three key principles, opportunity, action and optimism.  In tough budget circumstances, it is my job to work with the OS directors in creatively aiming to fulfill the Commerce Secretary’s mission using the funding we have. I am lucky to work with some incredibly enthusiastic individuals, and we strive as a team to get to the finish line. 

One of the persons who have influenced me to become who I am today would be my daughter Ciani, who I had at the age of 16!  What some considered being a mistake was a life lesson for me. Being a teen mom caused me to be extremely diligent to meet my objectives, to aim high, be resilient, and responsible.  It is important to me to provide her and her siblings with an example of what it means to dream big and overcome the roadblocks that may be set against you.  Because of that ambition, my daughter is in her freshman year at Virginia State University, obtaining her goals one by one and I couldn’t be prouder. 

New Manufacturing Institutes will Spur U.S. Innovation and Competitiveness

Across the country, communities are clamoring to land the next Manufacturing Innovation Institute, new “hubs” supported by the Obama Administration that are spurring the types of advanced technologies that will help grow the U.S. economy. Today, President Obama announced two new National Network for  Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) institutes, funded by the Department of Defense, which will focus on lightweight modern metals (Detroit) and digital manufacturing and design (Chicago). America’s leadership in cutting-edge technologies like these is exactly what we need to create high-quality jobs and opportunity here at home.

The whole idea behind the NNMI is to create public-private partnerships that bring together manufacturers, academics, and non-profits to bridge the gap between applied research and product development to ensure America remains globally competitive in the most exciting and promising emerging industries. In other words, NNMI institutes will help spur the technological advances needed to help the U.S. economy maintain its competitive edge. Here at Commerce, support for this network of industry-driven commercialization hubs is a key part of our “Open for Business Agenda.” 

Following the 2012 launch of a successful, additive manufacturing-focused NNMI pilot institute in Youngstown, Ohio, President Obama announced competitions in May 2013 to create three new institutes with a federal commitment of $200 million across five federal agencies – Commerce, Defense, Energy, NASA, and the National Science Foundation. With today’s announcement, all three institutes have now been selected. 

But we are not stopping here. The President also announced a new competition today for the next manufacturing innovation institute, which will focus on advanced composites. This is the first of the four additional institutes the President committed to launching this year in his State of the Union address, for a total of eight institutes nationwide.

The President has called for building out the initial network of 15 manufacturing innovation institutes to 45 over the next 10 years, which will require legislation from Congress. Getting this done is one of our top priorities at the Department of Commerce. With the enactment of current bipartisan and bicameral legislation, the “Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act of 2013,” we can open technology-neutral competitions that respond to much broader industry needs.

A strong manufacturing sector is critical to our intellectual and innovative capacity, and collaborative research between America’s leading manufacturers is essential to keeping our high-tech industries right here in the U.S. To learn more about NNMI and efforts to support advanced manufacturing, please visit:http://manufacturing.gov/nnmi.html.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Visits Silicon Valley to Highlight Administration Support for Innovation Economy

Innovation is the key driver of U.S. economic competitiveness and job creation. That is why it is a key pillar of the Department of Commerce’s innovation agenda. On Monday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker made her first trip as Secretary to Silicon Valley to advance the Obama Administration’s efforts to encourage innovation.

Secretary Pritzker made her first stop in Sunnyvale at the Plug and Play Tech Center, a business accelerator for tech startups. After touring Plug and Play, Secretary Pritzker delivered remarks at an event hosted by the Churchill Club, highlighting the Administration’s commitment to spurring U.S. economic growth, innovation, and competitiveness. She described the Commerce Department’s work to invest in digital infrastructure, strengthen intellectual property protections, and support advanced manufacturing, among other initiatives.

Secretary Pritzker also announced two new Commerce efforts to unleash more federal data for entrepreneurs and businesses, which are being spearheaded by the Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Census Bureau. NOAA has released a Request for Information to explore the feasibility of a public-private partnership to release more of the 20 terabytes of environmental and weather data that the agency collects each day. And the Census Explorer, an interactive map of demographics, is adding new tech workforce and payroll data, which will allow employers to see where the workers they need are living.

Noting the significant progress that the Administration has made to support science and technology, she even detailed how President Obama has done more for innovation than any other American President. “Simply put, I believe that President Obama has done more for innovation than any other President in history.”

Commerce Department Supports Efforts to Ensure American Workers Have the Necessary Skills for the In-Demand Jobs of Today and Tomorrow

As part of a government collaboration to prepare and place workers facing long-term unemployment into good jobs in high-demand industries, the Department of Labor announced yesterday the availability of approximately $150 million in grants as part of the “Ready to Work Partnership.”  Three weeks ago, President Obama signed a federal employer commitment and issued a Presidential Memorandum to address the issue of long-term unemployment and ensure that those who have been out of work for long periods of time are given a fair shot. The memorandum underscored the need for American workers to have the resources and training needed to acquire in-demand job skills.

The Commerce Department is playing a key role in this effort by partnering with businesses, as well as other federal agencies, to facilitate industry-driven workforce training programs. A strong and skilled workforce is a fundamental part of a competitive U.S. economy, driving economic growth and attracting foreign direct investment. That is why Secretary Pritzker has made workforce skills a top priority of the Commerce Department and is a key pillar of the “Open for Business Agenda.” In fact, she is the first Commerce Secretary to focus on skills training.

Before becoming Secretary of Commerce, Pritzker helped launch Skills for America’s Future, a national employer-led initiative to prepare workers for 21st century jobs, and Skills for Chicagoland’s Future, a local intermediary in Chicago focused on the long-term unemployed. These two public-private partnerships align employer needs with training to prepare workers for positions that are available and set them on a real career path.

At an event hosted by the White House on January 31, Secretary Pritzker co-led a panel with CEOs who signed the White House pledge to support the long-term unemployed. She emphasized the value of employer-led partnerships to better inform demand-driven training efforts and ensure that workers have the training they need to be competitive in the global marketplace. The strength of the American workforce drives our economic recovery, so it is critical that the federal government take a leading role in investing in workforce training efforts. For these efforts to be successful, government must collaborate with stakeholders from the business community, educational and training institutions, labor unions, and state and local governments to make sure our training programs are more job-driven, integrated and effective.

Encouraging Innovation, Not Litigation

Secretary Pritzker at the White House promoting the Administration's Patent Action

Importance of Patent Reform

America’s entrepreneurs, businesses, and workers are the primary source of new ideas that drive innovation. Patents, trademarks and copyrights–the main protections in our intellectual property (IP) system–are critical tools that help commercialize innovative, game-changing ideas, from advances in healthcare technology to improved consumer products. By creating a better environment for America’s private sector to capitalize on those ideas, IP protections help foster the innovation and creativity that leads to a stronger economy and more jobs.

In 2012, economists at the U.S. Department of Commerce studied industries that use patent, copyright or trademark protections most extensively, and found that these “IP-intensive industries” account for over one-third of our nation’s GDP, more than 60 percent of our exports, and nearly 28 percent of jobs. Clearly, IP protection is a pillar of the United States economy.

Department of Commerce’s Commitment

The Commerce Department is playing a major role in ensuring that the United States remains the world’s strongest ideas-driven economy with a 21st century patent system. A core part of the Commerce Department’s mission is to help American businesses build things here and sell them everywhere around the globe. That is why U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker made innovation a main pillar of the “Open for Business Agenda” that she launched in November to continue to serve entrepreneurs and businesses that drive innovation. 

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Supports Economic Cooperation at North American Leaders Summit

Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker joined President Barack Obama and the U.S. delegation to the North American Leaders Summit in Toluca, Mexico. The trilateral meeting between the Presidents of the United States and Mexico and the Prime Minister of Canada is an opportunity for the three leaders to discuss progress on a range of issues impacting North America, including trade and investment, economic competitiveness, and entrepreneurship. 

As part of the North American Leaders Summit, President Obama signed an Executive Order (EO) on Streamlining the Export/Import Process for America’s Businesses. This action directs the completion of the International Trade Data System (ITDS) by December 2016, in order to reduce the costs of trade and allow companies to ship American-made goods more quickly. Currently, when businesses want to import or export goods, they must submit information, often in paper form, to a number of government agencies. The process of gaining approval on these submissions can take days.  The International Trade Data System will instead allow businesses to electronically transmit the required data through a “single window.” This EO will cut red tape, speed up shipment of American goods overseas, eliminate duplicative and burdensome paperwork, and improve government efficiency. 

During the NALS official meeting, Secretary Pritzker provided an overview of her work with her counterparts, Mexican Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal and Canadian Minister of International Trade Edward Fast, on the North American competitiveness work plan. Since being sworn in last June, Secretary Pritzker has been focused on increasing economic integration between the United States, Mexico, and Canada and has specifically worked on a number of issues on the agenda at the North American Leaders Summit. These include: creating a North American Trusted Traveler Program, which would allow vetted individuals to travel more easily between the U.S., Mexico and Canada; harmonizing trade data, consistent with international standards, to make it easier for companies to do business in the three countries; working on joint investment and tourism cooperation initiatives, including exchanging best practices; and creating a Trilateral Research, Development and Innovation Council, which will support the development of a network of entrepreneurs across the North American region. Additional information about the key deliverables from the Summit can be found here.

The North American economic relationship is one of the strongest in the world. The United States and Canada share the world’s largest bilateral trading relationship, with more than $700 billion in two-way trade in goods and services annually and more than $600 billion in direct investment on both sides of the border. Mexico is the United States’ second-largest export market and third-largest trading partner, and bilateral trade between the United States and Mexico was almost half a trillion dollars in 2012. Earlier this month, Secretary Pritzker led 17 export-ready U.S. companies on a five-day business development trade mission to Mexico, focusing on promoting U.S. exports to Mexico and further strengthening the U.S.-Mexico commercial relationship.