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Blog Category: Innovation

EDA: Economic Recovery in Fremont, California's Auto Community

Ed. note: Cross-posted from U.S. Department of Labor's "Auto Communities" blog by Matt Erskine, Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development (EDA)

We all know the situation a few years ago when President Obama took office: the American auto industry was shedding jobs by the hundreds of thousands and General Motors and Chrysler were in financial crisis. In the year before GM and Chrysler filed for bankruptcy, the auto industry lost more than 400,000 jobs. Had President Obama failed to act, conservative estimates suggest that it would have cost at least an additional million jobs and devastated vast parts of our nation's industrial heartland. But that did not happen because the president quickly intervened to save the U.S. auto industry from collapse. Today, GM, Ford and Chrysler have all returned to profitability.

President Obama's decision to respond so boldly was about more than the auto companies. It was about standing behind the countless workers, communities and businesses—large and small—that depend on the automotive industry. It was also about revitalizing American manufacturing.

Across the administration, federal agencies have outlined an agenda to support growth, job creation, and competitiveness in U.S. manufacturing. The U.S. Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration (EDA) has a strong track record of working with automotive communities to develop plans for economic recovery. The agency's efforts to help revitalize the nation's auto industry have been significant in Fremont, California, where a large auto assembly facility operated by the New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMMI) was shut down in early 2010. The plant had employed nearly 5,000 workers, with thousands more dependent on it. The blow to the local economy was severe.

USPTO Hosts FIRST Lego League Innovation Award Ceremony

Teasm members seated at table

Yesterday, the Commerce Department’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) hosted the second annual First Lego League (FLL) Award Ceremony, where two teams of young inventors ages six to 14 each won an FLL Global Innovation Award and a $250,000 investment to help develop their ideas for the marketplace. Both teams invented products related to this year’s theme: food safety.

The Dublin, Ohio team Moderately Confused, inspired by food spoilage caused during delivery, created the “Erasable Barcode”; if the temperature of an environment becomes unsafe for food, ink attached to the barcode will obscure a portion of the label so that the spoiled product cannot be sold.

Similarly, after witnessing massive power outages caused by natural disasters like Hurricane Irene, the team S.I.S. Robotic Revolution of Shelton, Conn., created a “Smart Sticker” that attaches to food packaging and changes color when the package has been exposed to unsafe temperatures

NIST: Creating Jobs with Innovation

Image: NIST Under Secretary and Director Patrick Gallagher tours Omega Plastics

Guest blog post by Patrick Gallagher, Under Secretary  of Commerce for Standards and Technology and Director, National Institute of Standards and Technology

We’ve been hearing a lot about manufacturing, especially advanced manufacturing, these days. Things like U.S. manufacturing :

  • Is critical to innovation since it’s responsible for most of our private sector research and development;
  • Is increasingly about sophisticated computer-driven, highly productive worksites requiring skilled workers; and
  • Is a growing source of good jobs.

What we don’t hear about as often are specific cases where U.S. manufacturers are using new technologies to diversify their markets, improve their products, and create or retain jobs. I was fortunate today to visit one such company, Omega Plastics Inc., located in Clinton Township, MI, about an hour outside Detroit.

The event was part of a “Best Practice Tour” sponsored by the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (MMTC), an affiliate of NIST’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).

A Collaborative Effort to Support Ogden, Utah’s Growing Software Applications Sector

EDA logo-banner

Guest blog post by Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Matt Erskine

Today, I joined Mayor Mike Caldwell in Ogden, Utah, to announce a $1 million investment by the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) with the Ogden City Corporation to help create a lab that will train workers and provide space for business startups in the growing field of software applications for mobile computing devices.

This new facility will be strategically located in Ogden’s downtown and will be operated by a consortium of experienced, capable partners, including the city of Ogden, Weber State University, the Weber State University Research Foundation, and private-sector industry leaders. It is exactly the type of collaborative partnership that EDA is excited to invest in.

Over a 10-year period, the new facility is expected to create 750 jobs and generate up to $4.6 million in private investment, according to grantee estimates. Its focus on software applications is very timely: You can’t walk down any street today, or sit in any coffee shop for long, without seeing smart phones and tablet computers all around you. And while it’s only been a few years since these devices first came on the market, they’ve been a runaway hit ever since: Demand for them has skyrocketed, and with it the demand for applications, or “apps,” that run on them.

Deputy Secretary Blank Advocates Public Service in Commencement Speech

Guest blog post by Commerce Deputy Secretary Rebecca M. Blank

This morning, I had the privilege of delivering the commencement address to graduate students at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) commencement ceremony.

I was also deeply honored to receive an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree during the ceremony for my work as a public servant, including the leadership I provided in my previous job at Commerce, overseeing the nation’s premier statistical agencies, the Census Bureau (during the 2010 Census) and the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The commencement speech provided an opportunity to give advice to the graduate students and to encourage them to use their expertise and experience to find solutions to the pressing problems facing our world. UMBC is particularly well-known for its scientific training. Science, technology, engineering and math–STEM fields–are particularly important, and it is STEM-related research that will drive innovation in the years ahead. In fact, STEM jobs have grown three times faster than other jobs, indicating the need for more workers with these skills.

Secretary Bryson Discusses the Future of U.S. Manufacturing at MIT

Secretary Bryson Discusses the Future of U.S. Manufacturing at MIT

There is a powerful link between America’s ability to make things and America’s ability to innovate, compete, and create good jobs, as Secretary John Bryson said today when he spoke to CEOs, students and faculty at “The Future of Manufacturing in the U.S.” conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Secretary took the opportunity to discuss the importance of manufacturing in boosting U.S. economic growth, job creation and exports, as part of the administration's ongoing efforts to encourage companies to build things in America and sell everywhere around the globe.

Bryson also released a new U.S. Commerce Department Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) report titled “The Benefits of Manufacturing Jobs,” an analysis of wages and benefits of manufacturing workers, which provides fresh evidence that manufacturing jobs encourage innovation and support economic security for America’s middle class. The report finds that total hourly compensation for manufacturing workers is 17 percent higher than for non-manufacturing workers. It also shows that manufacturing jobs are becoming more skilled and heavily reliant on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, and that manufacturing is responsible for 70 percent of our private sector R&D, 90 percent of our patents, and 60 percent of our exports.

After a decade in which the United States lost many manufacturing jobs, American manufacturers have added back 489,000 jobs since January 2010—the best streak since 1995. In the first four months of 2012 alone, the U.S. manufacturing sector added 139,000 jobs. At the same time, the number of job openings in manufacturing has more than doubled.

Manufacturers Learn Keys to Success at MEP's Manufacturing Innovation 2012

Roger Kilmer addressing Manufacturing Innovation 2012 audience

"We are finally the ‘in’ thing," said Roger Kilmer, director of National Institute of Standards and Technology's Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) to the more than 800 manufacturers and industry experts gathered at the Manufacturing Innovation 2012 conference yesterday in Orlando, Fla. "Everyone from the media to the political pundits to your neighbors—they're all talking about manufacturing. It's now clear. We need to be a nation that makes things."
 
The annual conference helps manufacturers and other industry experts learn critical tools for ensuring that U.S. companies are constantly innovating and continually improving the products to compete and win in the global marketplace. The overarching theme of the meeting is, "Make it in America," and through exhibits and conference talks, attendees learned about many companies succeeding in the marketplace with U.S.-made products.
 
"We don't want to just tell you to be innovative. We want to show you how to be innovative," said Kilmer.

Secretary Bryson Keynotes Manufacturing Summit Hosted by Senator Gillibrand in Rochester, New York

Secretary Bryson keynotes manufacturing summit, tours site with Senator Gillibrand

This morning, U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson delivered remarks at an upstate New York manufacturing summit hosted by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) at RIT’s Center for Student Innovation. He delivered the keynote address, discussing the administration’s initiatives to help businesses “build it here and sell it everywhere” around the world. Rochester, New York, has a long tradition of leadership in manufacturing and technology. Fueled by a well-educated workforce and commitment to entrepreneurship, Rochester has provided a great example of what American innovation can bring to the U.S. economy.
 
While in Rochester, the Secretary had a chance to tour RIT’s construction of their brand new facility, where students will soon be performing cutting-edge research in sustainability. The Commerce Department helped make this facility possible through a $13.1 million grant from Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
 
In the afternoon, the Secretary visited a business called Schlegel Systems, Inc., a company that specializes in seals, gaskets and brushes for the building products, automotive and copier industries. The Commerce Department’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) in New York is working with Schlegel Systems, Inc. to accelerate new products into the marketplace and expand their markets, along with many other companies. Recent annual data shows that businesses that teamed up with the New York MEP had over $400 million in sales, helping to keep or create nearly 4,000 jobs.

Commerce’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Invests in the Jobs and Industries of the Future

EDA logo-banner

Guest blog by Matt Erskine, Acting Assistant Secretary for Economic Development

To mark the one-year anniversary of the White House Startup America Initiative, in January President Obama sent Congress a proposal to expand tax relief and unlock capital for startups and small businesses that are creating jobs.

When he launched the initiative a year ago, the president sought to promote the success of entrepreneurs across the country. The private sector responded with the Startup America Partnership, launching new entrepreneurial networks all across the country. AOL co-founder and member of the President’s Jobs Council, Steve Case, and the Kauffman Foundation joined to form the Startup America Partnership, which is a nonprofit alliance of entrepreneurs, major corporations and service providers that has mobilized more than $1 billion in business resources to serve as many as 100,000 startups over the next three years.

This year, the administration unveiled several new agency actions to accelerate the growth of young, job-creating companies, at the same time that new entrepreneur-led regional coalitions are launching throughout the nation.

One of those efforts will fuel regional innovation. In the coming months, the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), along with several Federal partners, will launch the third round of the i6 Challenge, a multiagency competition which funds regional collaborations to bring innovative, ground-breaking ideas from the lab to the marketplace, creating new startups and jobs across the country. Commerce is also launching a new initiative to connect entrepreneurs with the resources made available through the Startup America Partnership and its partners.

Deputy Secretary Blank Speaks on the Role of Innovation in the U.S. Economy

Deputy Secretary Blank speaks on innovation at National Press Club

Guest blog post by Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank 

This afternoon, I had the honor of addressing an annual conference on innovation, sponsored by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to promoting a greater understanding of how the economy works. Today’s event, entitled “Innovation Policy and the Economy,” provided an opportunity to discuss one of the most important contributors to America’s long-term competitiveness: innovation. 

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 game-changing ideas. By creating a better environment for our private sector to capitalize on those ideas, IP protections help foster the innovation and creativity that lead to a stronger economy and the creation of more, good-paying jobs.