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Blog Category: Office of the Secretary

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.

Updating Guidance on Use of Voluntary Consensus Standards to Promote Smarter Regulation, Collaboration, and Technological Innovation

Editor's note: This has been cross-posted from the Office of Management and Budget

The computer, tablet, or smartphone you are using to read this blog is comprised of parts and components that were developed, manufactured, and assembled in different locations around the United States and the globe, yet was carefully designed to ensure that your device is safe and interoperable with other devices. We don’t spend much time thinking or worrying about how our electronics work or if they are safe, due largely to the ingenuity of the companies that make these products and their willingness to collaborate with each other to develop technologies that are safe, innovative, and interoperable. While these companies do an excellent job in designing our products, it is important to remember that governments also play a critical role in ensuring the products that impact our daily lives are safe, effective, and protective of the environment.

Since the enactment of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act in 1995, U.S. Federal regulatory agencies have been guided by the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Circular A-119, “Federal Participation in the Development and Use of Voluntary Consensus Standards and in Conformity Assessment Activities.” In 1998, OMB issued a revised version of Circular A-119, which has been guiding agencies on the use of voluntary consensus standards in regulation and on conformity assessment ever since.

Over the intervening years since those revisions, the scope of economic activity and technology innovation has become increasingly global, and its complexity requires governments to collaborate more closely with the private sector, other stakeholders, and each other. Many of the regulations that U.S. agencies issue every year rely on the work of standards developers and providers of conformity assessment services in the private sector. Many of these regulations impact companies, workers, and consumers both inside and outside the United States. As the worlds of regulation, standards, and trade increasingly intersect, and domestic and international interests increasingly overlap, close collaboration within the U.S. government on these issues has become critical, as has a more comprehensive approach.

Van Nuys-Based Louroe Electronics Travels with U.S. Secretary of Commerce to Mexico for First Trade Mission

Richard Brent, CEO of Louroe Electronics

Guest blog post by Richard Brent, CEO of Louroe Electronics

I remember getting the call from U.S. Department of Commerce extending an invite to my company, Louroe Electronics, to accompany Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker on her first-ever trade mission to Mexico. I was truly humbled and enthusiastic about this unique opportunity.

I’ve served as the CEO of Van Nuys-based Louroe Electronics, the world leader in audio monitoring technology, for more than 5 years now and was thrilled to receive the call. I was beyond excited to learn that Louroe was handpicked by the Department of Commerce - the only Southern California and sole security company- along with 16 other export-ready companies, to be a part of The Secretary’s historic trade mission. The mission specifically focused on promoting U.S. exports in key industry sectors including advanced manufacturing, information and communications technology, and security products.

From February 3-7, I personally traveled with Secretary Pritzker to Mexico City and Monterrey alongside other leading companies including: IBM Corporation, Motorola Solutions, Inc., Oracle Corporation, LexisNexis Risk Solutions, and Deloitte Consulting LLP.  Our mutual goal was to promote U.S exports. This trade mission helped facilitate introductions to key government and private sector decision makers in Mexico who shared with us key initiatives and how US companies can assist with development and growth.

As a result of my participation in the trade mission, I was able to successfully identify five new pilot projects for Louroe that will focus on improving public safety throughout Mexico City and Monterrey. This is great news not only for Louroe but also for the Los Angeles economy as the pilot programs will require us to increase our current staffing by approximately 10 percent, ultimately creating more jobs.

A Vision for Mexico’s Future

Anne Altman, general manager of IBM US Federal Government and Industries, and Dan Pelino, general manager of IBM's public sector business

Guest blog post by Anne Altman, general manager of IBM US Federal Government and Industries, and Dan Pelino, general manager of IBM's public sector business.

IBM believes in a vision of economic development and vitality where technology helps drive more active and engaged communities through citizen-based services, including health care, infrastructure, public safety, supply chain and education, all enabling "smarter" regions and societies.

The dominant cities, regions and countries around the world today are planning for long-term growth to build their economic competitive advantage.  They are doing this by collaborating across levels of government, industry and academia - working across political, social and technological divides to achieve bigger, better and more sustainable outcomes in jobs, business environments and citizen quality of life.

This is why we were honored to be part of the U.S. business delegation to Mexico - deepening our relationships with government and business leaders, some of which we’ve held for many years, since IBM first opened for business in Mexico in 1927.  We share Secretary Pritzker’s belief that Mexico is an important growth market on its own, a key trade partner to the USA and perhaps the world.  This is why we are investing in opening up a cloud computing data center in Mexico City later this year. We believe that Mexico can benefit from the adoption of new technology to enable their cities and States for the future.

As the general managers of IBM’s public sector and Federal business units, respectively, we are always looking for opportunities to share best practices in business and government and learn from the experience of others.  Mexico is our neighbor and partner, and it was rewarding to spend several days in such insightful discussions with the leaders in business, academia and government.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Concludes Her First Trade Mission in Mexico

Secretary Pritzker is joined by U.S. Ambassador Wayne and  Mexico's Secretary of Economy, Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal during her trade mission to Mexico City and Monterrey, Mexico.

On Friday, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker concluded her five-day trade mission in Monterrey, the largest business center in Mexico after Mexico City.

Among her many trade mission events, Secretary Pritzker met with Margarita Arellanes Cervantes, Mayor of Monterrey, and Jose Luis Pier Castello, President of Lowe's Mexico - one of the leading hardware chains in the world - to highlight the importance of promoting corporate social responsibility and to recognize Lowe's and other American companies doing business in Mexico for their focus on these efforts. At a Lowe's store in Monterrey, Secretary Pritzker expressed her appreciation for employee volunteerism and acknowledged the importance of companies' involvement in the communities in which they operate.

After Lowe's opened its first two stores in Monterrey in 2010, the company, began looking for ways to get involved in the Monterrey community. The company has since supported local schools with donations, volunteer time, and construction expertise. Secretary Pritzker said that Lowe's commitment to the Monterrey community reflects the values of many American companies that invest in Mexico, and that U.S. companies are committed to staying active in the region.

In addition to meeting with Mexican government officials in Monterrey, Secretary Pritzker met with employees at the U.S. Consulate in Monterrey as well as the Department of Commerce’s Monterrey team, thanking them for their public service and for their assistance in promoting Mexican investment in the United States.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Highlights Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Growth in U.S.-Mexico Relationship

Secretary Penny Pritzker Highlights Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Growth in U.S.-Mexico Relationship

As part of her first trade mission, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker spoke at a breakfast event focused on entrepreneurship, innovation, and overall growth in the U.S.-Mexico commercial and economic relationship.  The event was hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce and the Mexico-United States Entrepreneurship and Innovation Council (MUSEIC).  She was joined by Enrique Jacob Rocha, President of the Mexican National Entrepreneurship Institute (INADEM).

MUSEIC builds on the long history of U.S.-Mexico economic cooperation.  Founded shortly after President Obama’s visit to Mexico in May 2013, MUSEIC brings together stakeholders from both countries to strengthen regional economic competitiveness and support entrepreneurship. In 2013, MUSEIC sponsored a number of entrepreneurship-related activities, including an angel investment conference, a startup boot camp for young Mexican entrepreneurs, and an international forum on women’s entrepreneurship.

In her remarks, Secretary Pritkzer discussed the Commerce Department’s involvement in MUSEIC. For example, the Department is helping to map out the commercial and educational assets in the border regions of Tijuana-San Diego and Monterrey-Texas.  Also, in April, the Commerce Department will host government, business, and university leaders from Mexico and other countries to tour research, innovation, and entrepreneurship hubs in the Southern United States.  The event will spotlight public-private partnerships that accelerate new technologies, attract foreign direct investment, and more. Secretary Pritzker also announced that the next MUSEIC meeting will take place in April in San Antonio, Texas.

As the Chair of the President’s Committee on Global Entrepreneurship (PCGE), Secretary Pritzker is committed to working with leaders from around the world to help create an economic environment that encourages entrepreneurship in North America and around the world.  She said, "The United States and Mexico can set the stage for entrepreneurs on both sides of the border to come together, make breakthroughs, launch new firms, and strengthen our economic competitiveness."

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Meets with Government Leaders on Mexico Business Development Mission

Secretary Pritzker meeting with Mexico Secretary of Economy IIdefonso Guajardo Villarreal

It is the second day of U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker’s five-day business development mission to Mexico, and she has already met with several of her Mexican counterparts to discuss the countries’ bilateral commercial relationship and opportunities for U.S. businesses.

On Monday evening, Secretary Pritzker talked with Luis Videgaray, Secretary of Finance, about increasing efficiency at the border. Secretary Pritzker and Secretary Videgaray have met four times, including in September at the High-Level Economic Dialogue (HLED) in Mexico City.

On Tuesday, Secretary Pritzker met with three more Mexican leaders to discuss trade and investment between the United States and Mexico. In the morning, she sat down with Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, Secretary of Economy. Their conversation also focused on the progress of the HLED and the need to continue to do more to incorporate stakeholder input and regularly monitor progress. Before their meeting ended, Secretary Guajardo lead Secretary Pritzker on a quick tour of the “NAFTA at 20” exhibit, in celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the implementation of the free trade agreement. Negotiations are currently underway for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which updates some of the provisions of NAFTA and will cover trade between the United States, Mexico, Canada, and nine other countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

Later that morning, Secretary Pritzker joined Under Secretary for Communications Jose Ignacio Peralta, Under Secretary for Infrastructure Juan Murietta, and Under Secretary for Transportation Carlos Almada for a meeting with part of the U.S. business delegation. Under Secretary Peralta gave the companies an overview of Mexico’s recently-passed telecommunications reforms and shared further opportunities for U.S. companies  invest in Mexico’s telecommunications and IT sectors.