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Blog Category: Entrepreneurship

Secretary Pritzker Meets With Gaming Industry CEOs in Silicon Valley

Secretary Pritzker visiting Silicon Valley and the Gaming Industry

On Monday, U.S Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker met with various gaming industry CEOs at Electronic Arts in Silicon Valley to learn more about the creative job skills and talent required to maintain American competitiveness, as well as the gaming industry’s overall contribution to the economy. She also toured Electronic Arts and GlassLab. Electronic Arts (EA) is a developer and publisher of computer and video games with several subsidiaries which includes sports role-playing, racing and combat, online communities and original franchises like Tetris, Scrabble and Monopoly. Glasslab is a research and development effort that focuses on educational games and game-based assessment design in the United States.

During the discussion, Secretary Pritzker emphasized the important role that the Department of Commerce plays in creating the conditions that support the growth of the country’s most competitive industries, and empowering private sector companies to out-innovate anyone in the world. She also expressed her desire to learn more about the contributions that the gaming industry has brought to the economy, the jobs it has created, and the ability to remain globally competitive.

The United States gaming industry has enjoyed enormous success over the last decade, and the jobs it supports are now a crucial part of the country’s economic growth. In fact, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) recently produced a 2014 report on video games in the 21st century which measures the economic contributions made by the gaming industry during the period of 2009-2012. According to ESA’s report, the game software publishing industry has employed 42,000 people in 36 states. The report also highlights that U.S total employment, both direct and indirect, that depends on this industry now exceeds 146,000. The value that this industry has added to the U.S GDP is over $6.2 billion.

Lutheran Services in America Works to Strengthen Local Communities

Charlotte Haberaecker, President and CEO of Lutheran Services in America (LSA)

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Commerce in the Community series highlighting the work of community leaders and organizations that are strengthening the middle class and providing ladders of opportunity for all Americans.

Below is an interview with Charlotte Haberaecker, President and CEO of Lutheran Services in America (LSA), one of the nation’s largest health and human services networks. Prior to joining LSA in 2012, Charlotte was the number-two executive at Global Impact, a $110 million non-profit organization that provides funding for critical humanitarian needs at home and around the world. Previously, she held senior leadership positions at Price Waterhouse where she directed a management consulting practice and Fannie Mae where she led an industry transformation initiative. 

Q1: Tell us about Lutheran Services in America. What is your mission and main focus?

Lutheran Services in America (www.lutheranservices.org) is one of the largest health and human services networks in the country. Our more than 300 members provide a broad range of critical services from health care to children and family services, senior services, disaster relief, refugee services, disability support, housing, and employment support, among others.  Collectively, LSA members touch the lives of 1 in 50 Americans each year in thousands of communities across the United States.

Ranked at #25 on the Philanthropy 400, the LSA network represents close to $21 billion in combined annual revenues in the U.S. Our members employ close to 250,000 people in all 50 states and parts of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Our members provide services to all, regardless of their religious affiliation, race, or social or economic background.

LSA works to ensure our members’ resilience in an increasingly evolving environment. Our newly revised mission is to “build valuable connections, amplify our voices and empower our members,” and our vision is a network of “connected, strong and thriving” members that “transform the lives of people and communities.” A distinguishing characteristic of our network is the deep trust and sharing that come from a shared set of values and goals. Our network strives to help people become self-sufficient so they can lead more independent, secure and higher quality lives. The deep trust facilitates rapid innovation and scale.

We help our members to build resilience through specialized programming for CEOs and executives; we also work to help build the capacity and infrastructure of our member organizations, for example by exploring new business models that can create more sustainable revenue streams. We also find opportunities for our 307 members to work together to achieve outcomes they couldn’t achieve on their own so they can grow and continue to serve their communities for generations to come.

Commerce in the Community: Rising Tide Capital works to improve traditionally disadvantaged communities by empowering local entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses.

Alex Forrester, Co-Founder and Cheif Operations Officer of Rising Tide Capital

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Commerce in the Community series highlighting the work of community leaders and organizations that are strengthening the middle class and providing ladders of opportunity for all Americans.

Below is an interview with Alex Forrester, Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer of Rising Tide Capital, a nonprofit organization that provides high-quality business education and consulting to low- and moderate-income entrepreneurs in Northern NJ. Rising Tide Capital has achieved national recognition for its approach to economic empowerment of low-income individuals and communities through entrepreneurship. In 2009, Rising Tide Capital was selected as a CNN Hero and recognized by President Barack Obama in a White House speech on innovative non-profit organizations.

Q1: Tell us about Rising Tide Capital. What is your mission and main focus?

Rising Tide Capital is a nonprofit organization committed to the economic empowerment of low-income families and communities through entrepreneurship. By providing high-quality business education and consulting services and by partnering with local microfinance agencies, our goal is to help create jobs and economic opportunity in the neighborhoods that need them most by investing in the success of the talented men and women who live there.

We believe in the value of the work we do at Rising Tide Capital because it leverages an immense amount of entrepreneurial activity that is already going on in low-income neighborhoods and tries to invest in those efforts in ways that can confront the extremely challenging context of working poverty in modern America. Due to unemployment, underemployment, and low-wage work, many urban communities have large numbers of poor and working-poor families. These families struggle with financial self-sufficiency and often have difficulty covering basic expenses like rent and electricity. The emotional and psychological stress of financial insecurity—and the anxiety and depression that so often develops—is at the root of what keeps poor communities poor.

Secretary Pritzker Talks About Two Keys to an Innovative and Competitive Economy: a Skilled Workforce and Entrepreneurship

Secretary Pritzker Talks About Two Keys to an Innovative and Competitive Economy: a Skilled Workforce and Entrepreneurship

Innovation is key to supporting economic growth and creating jobs in the United States. In order to ensure that the United States stays competitive, the Department of Commerce works to create the conditions that empower Americans to turn their ideas into successful businesses, grow their ventures, and create jobs.

Wednesday, on the third day of the Ed Innovation Summit in Scottsdale, Ariz., Secretary Pritzker spoke with former Washington Post executive editor Len Downie about what the Department of Commerce is doing to support innovation. Secretary Pritzker shared that since taking office almost one year ago, she has spoken to more than 1,000 CEOs and business leaders, including more than 150 of Fortune 500 companies, around the country. One of the top concerns they have shared is the challenge of finding the workers with the right skills to fill available jobs, which is a threat to our nation’s long-term competitiveness. In order to best equip workers for the jobs that are available now, and will be available in the future, Secretary Pritzker has made skills development a top priority for the Department of Commerce for the very first time.

Central to this effort is breaking down silos between the public and private sectors to create programs that match workers’ skills to the needs of businesses. The Department of Commerce is working closely with the Departments of Education and Labor, as well as businesses, training organizations, academic institutions, and state and local governments to do just that. Earlier this month, Secretary Pritzker traveled to Pittsburgh with President Obama and Vice President Biden, where they announced $100 million in competitive grants to support apprenticeships and a nearly $500 million grant competition to support partnerships between community colleges, employers, and industry association that will help develop job-driven training programs -- a first for the Department.

Another important aspect driving innovation is encouraging a start-up culture in which entrepreneurs can thrive. However, as Secretary Pritzker mentioned during her Ed Innovation talk, the rate of new business formation is actually declining in the United States. Research indicates that new and young companies are responsible for virtually all new job growth across the United States, so supporting entrepreneurship is a priority for the Administration.

Earlier this month, President Obama announced the inaugural members of the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE). Chaired by Secretary Pritzker, PAGE is an initiative to help develop the next generation of entrepreneurs across the globe and right here in the United States. The 11 PAGE members will participate in an ongoing dialogue with policy makers globally to discuss how to create an environment in which creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship can grow and thrive. They will also participate in outreach and mentorship activities to help promote a start-up culture, and energize their own personal and professional networks to challenge, inspire, and educate budding entrepreneurs.

Following her armchair discussion at the Ed Innovation Summit, Secretary Pritzker toured SkySong, the ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center, and met with local entrepreneurs. SkySong is a mixed use development designed to help companies grow by providing business services and programs offered or facilitated by Arizona State University, which include access to new technologies, capital networks, and a skilled workforce.

In her roundtable with SkySong's entrepreneurs, Secretary Pritzker discussed ways in which the federal government can serve as a catalyst to innovation. For example, the Department of Commerce protects entrepreneurs' intellectual property through the Patent and Trademark Office, enabling innovators to capitalize on their ideas. Another part of the Commerce Department, the Economic Development Administration (EDA), makes investments that help fund business incubators like SkySong. In fact, EDA helped create SkySong's technology transfer accelerator, known as Furnace, in 2012.

The investments in entrepreneurs have already paid off for Arizona. According to a 2012 study by the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, SkySong-based companies, which range from start-ups to large companies like Ticketmaster and Recruiting.com, have generated more than $460 million in economic impact for the Greater Phoenix area since SkySong's inception in 2008.

As part of its mission to help create an environment that stimulates economic growth and job creation, the Department of Commerce is dedicated to identifying and supporting successful programs for workforce training and entrepreneurship.

Secretary Penny Pritzker Meets with Saudi Entrepreneurs About Challenges and Opportunities in the Region

On Tuesday night, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker met with a dozen Saudi entrepreneurs in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as part of her trade mission to the Middle East. The entrepreneurs work in a variety of sectors, including retail, real estate, food services, and more.

Secretary Pritzker briefly discussed her experiences as an entrepreneur with more than 27 years in business. Then, the male and female participants shared their own stories of entrepreneurship, and discussed challenges and opportunities for entrepreneurs in the region.

The attendees ranged from: a hamburger chain owner who built his first restaurant in 2009 with four employees and now has 17 franchises and 130 employees across the country; an entrepreneur who created a new real-estate-development division at his family’s business; and, a serial entrepreneur who launched an electronic recycling facility, an investment company, and a design school.

The group discussed the importance of education and skills training for entrepreneurs. Secretary Pritzker highlighted the success of the King Abdullah Scholarship Program, which sends tens of thousands of students to study at U.S. universities each year.

Secretary Penny Pritzker Announces $600,000 Investment to Support Entrepreneurship and Job Creation in Louisiana

Secretary Penny Pritzker hears from entrepreneurs at Idea Village in New Orleans, Louisana

Secretary Penny Pritzker today announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $600,000 grant to The Idea Village, Inc., of New Orleans, La., to support programs that assist entrepreneurs in building their businesses and creating jobs. Secretary Pritzker is in New Orleans today as part of her nationwide listening tour, and made the announcement at The Idea Village after meeting with local entrepreneurs, mentors and business leaders.

The EDA investment announced today will support more than 300 businesses, according to grantee estimates. Specifically, it will fund additional technical assistance programs, especially in such growing fields as technology, biomedical engineering, and media production; help with expansion of The Idea Village’s successful “Entrepreneur Season,” a six-month-long program of business assistance and education; and support more forums, workshops, and networking sessions that will be offered during New Orleans’ Entrepreneur Week. EDA previously awarded two grants to The Idea Village – $800,000 in 2009 and $400,000 in 2011 – which helped the organization build their capacity to assist entrepreneurs.

To learn more about the U.S. Economic Development Administration, visit www.eda.gov.

EDA Investments: Supporting Entrepreneurship and Job Creation

Map of U.S. showing entrepreneurship rates

What do the states of Montana, Vermont, New Mexico, Alaska, and Mississippi have in common? They are, according to a report published this spring by the Kauffman Foundation, Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, 1996–2012, the states that posted the highest rates of entrepreneurial activity in 2012.

According to the Kauffman Foundation report:

• Montanans operate 530 businesses per 100,000 adults, Vermonters and New Mexicans operate 520 businesses per 100,000 adults, and Alaskans and Mississippians operate 430 businesses per 100,000 adults.

• A most important measure—the formation of businesses with employees—held steady from 2011 to 2012: At 0.11 percent (meaning 11 employer businesses per 100,000 individuals), an average of 193,000 new employer businesses were formed each quarter in 2012.

This is important, and good, news about our economy. And these states should be applauded for what they are doing to foster entrepreneurship, which is a driver of economic growth and prosperity.

Support for entrepreneurship is a central part of the Economic Development Administration’s mission as it works to establish a foundation for sustainable job growth and the building of durable regional economies throughout the United States.

Spotlight on Commerce: Teresa Rea, Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property (USPTO)

Teresa Rea on podium

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series, which highlights members of the Department of Commerce who are contributing to the president's vision of an America Built to Last.

As Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property, I work alongside David Kappos in advising the President of the United States, and other members of the Obama administration, on matters relating to Intellectual Property (IP) policy. When wearing my Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) hat, I help oversee the process by which our nation grants IP rights for cutting-edge innovations and technological breakthroughs. By protecting brands and ideas through trademarks and patents, companies are more readily able to attract investments, hire more employees, spur additional research & development, distribute their products in the marketplace and spawn new growth in new industries.

Acting Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank Swears In Nine New Patent Judges to Help Reduce Patent Backlogs

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank Delivers Remarks at Swearing-In Ceremony for New Patent Judges

Guest blog post by Acting Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank

As part of our ongoing efforts to make government more accountable to the American people and cut wasteful spending, this afternoon I had the honor of swearing in nine new administrative patent judges who will help reduce patent backlogs. These nine talented and dynamic individuals will serve on the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), joining the dedicated public servants at USPTO who support millions of jobs in the intellectual property industry.

Today, a high share of companies regularly relying on robust intellectual property (IP) protections to attract investor capital and stay competitive. These IP-intensive firms create an average of three million U.S. jobs per year. More than ever, we must be efficient and effective in helping entrepreneurs protect their intellectual property.

America’s entrepreneurs are the primary source of new ideas that drive innovation. Entrepreneurs provide us with better production processes, new advances in health, and improved consumer products. These are people who can move from ideas to products and from products to the marketplace. These activities strengthen our economy and our global competitiveness. And they create jobs.

Minority Business Development Agency: Helping Rural Business Owners Create Jobs

Image of products from Sister Sky

Since the start of this administration, the Minority Business Development Agency has helped minority-owned firms gain access to $7 billion in contracts. Those firms are located in cities and rural communities throughout the country. However, what these firms have in common is their tenacity, innovation and creativity.

MBDA has made a point of ensuring that minority-owned firms are given access through our 50 center touch points located throughout the country. Among our MBDA business centers is the Native American Business Enterprise Center (NABEC) program.

Each NABEC leverages project staff and professional consultants to provide a wide range of direct business assistance services to eligible Native American, tribal entity and minority-owned firms.

MBDA’s NABEC services include initial consultation and assessments, business technical assistance, and access to federal and non-federal procurement and finance opportunities.