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Blog Category: Office of the Secretary

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.

Delivering an American Economic Comeback

Guest blog post by Penny Pritzker, Secretary of Commerce

All Americans love a comeback story. And that is the story that President Obama weaved in his powerful State of the Union address.

Thanks to the grit, resilience and hard work of the American people and our businesses, more than 2 million jobs were created last year and we hit the lowest unemployment rate in more than five years. We have a manufacturing sector that has added over half-a-million jobs. Our stock market is booming. We have record exports. Our housing market is rebounding. And we've cut our deficits by more than half.

And while we have more work to do to lift incomes, expand opportunity for our people and help businesses with the tools they need to grow and hire, both President Obama and I are optimistic about America's future.

We both know that 2014 can be a breakthrough year for America, and we are better positioned for this century than any nation on earth.

Commerce Department Recognizes Outstanding Employees at 65th Annual Honor Awards

Secretary Pritzker congratulates the NOAA team that collected and disseminated critical information that saved lives when Sandy hit

Today U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Dr. Pat Gallagher, in his duties as Deputy Secretary, recognized 351 Commerce employees for receiving Honor Awards, the most prestigious award the Department gives out each year.

Since 1949, the Department of Commerce has recognized outstanding employees with Gold or Silver Medals at the Honor Awards.  The employees’ contributions must focus on qualitative and quantitative performance measures reflected in the Department’s Strategic Plan in one of seven categories:  Leadership, Personal and Professional Excellence, Scientific/Engineering Achievement, Organizational Development, Customer Service, Administrative/Technical Support, and Heroism.

This year teams and individuals from across the department made tremendous achievements in everything from assisting companies exporting, making more Commerce data available to businesses and consumers, and creating new tools and resources for American manufacturers.

Commerce will build on the progress made by today’s awardees and will continue to support American businesses with the tools they need to grow and hire, and support President Obama’s efforts to ensure lasting economic security for the United States.

Secretary Pritzker Takes “Open For Business Agenda” to World Economic Forum

Secretary Pritzker on the CNBC Squawk Box set at the World Economic Forum

This week Secretary Pritzker was in Davos, Switzerland at the World Economic Forum (WEF). Her participation in WEF highlighted the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship as part of the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda.” The Department of Commerce is responsible for promoting the ideas and policies that support innovation and entrepreneurship, which help America maintain its competitive edge, spur wage and job growth, and strengthen the U.S. economy.

Secretary Pritzker participated in a plenary session on the US Economic Outlook with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and US Trade Representative Michael Froman. During the panel Secretary Pritzker said she was optimistic and bullish about America’s future because the economy and American competitiveness have regained traction. The economy has created 8 million jobs in past 4 years, including more than 2.2 million private sector jobs last year, and nearly 600,000 new jobs in manufacturing. With 10 straight quarters of GDP growth, the recovery is starting to take hold and economists expect continued strong growth in the year ahead.

Secretary Pritzker also reiterated the need for increased trade and investment. Since 95% of consumers live outside of our borders, it is important that we continue to pursue free trade agreements since they have proved to be one of the best ways to open up foreign markets to U.S. exporters. That is why the Obama Administration is pursuing additional trade agreements that will cover 60% of the global GDP and open up new markets to American businesses. The Secretary also promoted SelectUSA, the Administration’s aggressive effort to seek potential investors. 

Secretary Pritzker pushed for a sustained recovery built upon real wage growth. She called for aggressively addressing income inequality by lifting incomes and helping long-term unemployed through increasing the minimum wage and extending unemployment insurance. Pritzker noted that business and government leaders have a moral responsibility to support their workers and thereby strengthen their middle class – in an increasingly interconnected, competitive global economy.

Secretary Pritzker Highlights Strong Economic Partnership Between USA and Canada

International Trade Between U.S. and Canada

Today, Secretary Penny Pritzker and Canada’s International Trade Minister Edward Fast spoke about the future of the U.S.-Canadian economic relationship at a luncheon hosted by The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. The United States and Canada share a long-standing partnership based on history, geography, and the world’s largest bilateral trading relationship. It is the biggest bilateral trade relationship in the world with more than $1 million in trade crossing our border every minute.  

In 2011, President Obama and Prime Minister Harper announced the U.S.-Canada Beyond the Border Action Plan and the U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council, with initiatives aimed at enhancing economic competitiveness. Canada is the United States’ largest trading partner – and vice versa. With more than $700 billion in two-way trade of goods and services annually and more than $600 billion in direct investment on both sides of the border, millions of jobs in each country depend on shared economic competitiveness. Canada is the number one export market for 36 of our 50 states and is among one of the top five export markets for another ten states.

Those stats reflect the threefold growth of trade in goods since 1990. The total value of goods traded between Canada and the United States in 1990 was $174 billion. By 2012, that had grown to more than $600 billion. Top exports to Canada include transportation equipment, machinery, chemicals, computers and electronics products and food products. The Department of Commerce has been working hard to ensure that number continues to climb.

What’s clear is that the two countries don’t just trade with each other, they build things together.  In addition to aerospace, the auto supply chains are intertwined. Automotive components often cross the border many times before a final product is ready to be sold. In addition, investors pour hundreds of billions of dollars into both economies to build new facilities and to create new jobs. Literally millions of people in both countries rely on the trade and investment relationship for their livelihoods.

Secretary Pritzker Highlights Department's Innovation Agenda at CES

Secretary Pritzker stopped at Intel's booth to look at their new wearable devices, which included a baby monitor.  (Photo credit: Consumer Electronics Association)

Secretary Penny Pritzker this week attended the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), an annual showcase of the very latest in technology innovation. In addition to touring the floor, Secretary Pritzker participated in the "America is Open for Business and Innovation" Super Session, a one-on-one conversation with President and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, Gary Shapiro. Throughout the Super Session, Secretary Pritzker discussed the Commerce Department's initiatives to strengthen America's competitive edge by investing in innovation and entrepreneurship.

Secretary Pritzker highlighted some of the key ways in which the department works to promote innovation. For example, the department has undertaken great efforts to reform the patent process and reduce the patent backlog, and is moving forward with an aggressive agenda to support U.S. manufacturing. She spoke about the compelling economic case for immigration reform, and need for skilled workforce training. These efforts will help create the conditions that allow private sector companies to out-innovate anyone in the world.

Pritzker noted that the companies present at CES are critical to the strength of the U.S. economy. U.S. tech employment in 2012 totaled nearly 6 million, and the tech industry paid an annual average wage of $93,800 that same year. That is 98 percent more than the average private sector wage of $47,400. The app economy alone has created more than 500,000 jobs.