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Blog Category: Jobs

Commerce’s EDA Investing to Strengthen Tennessee Businesses and Grow Nashville’s Hospitality Industry

Workers prepare to reconstruct flooded road (File photo: National Park Service)

Guest blog post by U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez

Between March and May of 2010, severe storms and floods devastated many parts of Tennessee, Kentucky, Nebraska and Rhode Island. While Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is not a first responder to such disasters, the agency quickly got to work assessing the damage and connecting with local leaders regarding their needs as they began to pick up the pieces and rebuild. Recognizing the critical role that EDA can play for these communities, Congress provided $49 million in supplemental funding for EDA to award to these states to help them in their recovery efforts.

Last week, businesses in Tennessee got some good holiday news, when EDA announced its investment of $5.8 million to help build critical infrastructure to support Tennessee businesses and jobs and to develop a strategic marketing strategy to grow the Nashville hospitality sector following the floods of 2010.

These grants will assist in Tennessee’s recovery and redevelopment efforts by funding the necessary improvements that will ensure the resilience of physical and economic infrastructure and include:

  • $2 million to the Jackson Energy Authority to build core sewer infrastructure to protect major regional employers, including the Jackson-Madison Hospital and numerous industrial and manufacturing businesses, from flooding. The project is expected to result in the retention of 9,690 jobs, according to grantee estimates;
  • $1.49 million to the city of Dyersburg to help build an elevated water storage tank that will improve water capacity for manufacturing and industrial businesses and will serve new tracts of land being developed outside of the flood plain to accommodate business needs. The project is expected to save 433 jobs, create 200 jobs and generate $4 million in private investment, according to grantee estimates;
  • $1.3 million to Conexion Americas of Nashville to help build the Casa Azafran Community Center, which will provide expanded business startup or expansion assistance to Latino small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs;
  • $1 million to the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau to implement a regional marketing strategy that will support the city’s economic recovery by promoting the hospitality industry, which lost hundreds of millions of dollars in the wake of the flooding that impacted the city in 2010.

In announcing the grant, U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson said “The Obama administration is committed to helping communities impacted by natural disasters rebuild stronger and smarter to protect businesses and jobs. These critical EDA investments will provide the infrastructure needed to help keep businesses running and workers productive in the event of future floods, expand vital business assistance to Nashville’s Latino community and help Nashville revitalize its critical hospitality sector to create new jobs.”

In May 2010, President Obama signed the Tennessee Disaster Declaration and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area struck by severe storms, flooding, straight-line winds, and tornadoes beginning on April 30, 2010, and continuing. The president's action made Federal funding available to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

Secretary Bryson: "Build it Here, Sell it Everywhere"

Bryson, gesturing during Chamber remarks, on podium (photo: U.S. Chamber of Commerce)

U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson today laid out his vision for how the Department of Commerce can best partner with the business community to support the president’s jobs agenda at a speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In his remarks, Bryson outlined his top three priorities to help American businesses "build it here and sell it everywhere," focusing on supporting advanced manufacturing, increasing our exports, and attracting more investment to America from all over the world. The former Chairman and CEO of Edison International, Bryson also served as a director on the boards of Boeing and the Walt Disney Company, and as a senior advisor to the private equity firm KKR, and he spoke about his experiences in the private sector and how the Department of Commerce is uniquely situated to support job creation.

“At the Commerce Department, we aren’t waiting to act. . . .We have a major role to play at this critical time to support job creation in America. We have an array of tools to help make our businesses more innovative, more efficient, and more competitive around the world,” he said. “I want to know how this administration and the Commerce Department can best help you. From these conversations, my discussions with the president and my own personal experience, I will prioritize one simple imperative. . . to help American businesses build it here and sell it everywhere.”

The Secretary's remarks at the Chamber marked his first major address, laying out his vision for the Department, focusing on manufacturing, exports and investing in America. Read about the new or recently announced Commerce Department initiatives to support these prioritiesPress release  |  Remarks | Video

President Obama Names Commerce Secretary John Bryson as Co-Chair of White House Office of Manufacturing Policy

President Obama today announced that Secretary John Bryson would join National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling as co-chair of the White House Office of Manufacturing Policy. The Office of Manufacturing Policy is part of the National Economic Council in the White House and works across federal government agencies to coordinate the execution of manufacturing programs and the development of manufacturing policy.

“At this make or break time for the middle class and our economy, we need a strong manufacturing sector that will put Americans back to work making products stamped with three proud words: Made in America,” said President Obama. “I am grateful that Secretary Bryson and Gene Sperling will head up this office to continue our efforts to revitalize this great American industry and fight for American workers and jobs.”

“John Bryson brings to this role decades of business leadership, a passion for manufacturing, and a strong understanding of its importance for jobs and our nation's economic competitiveness. He will play a key leadership role for the president and his economic team on these critical issues,” said Gene Sperling.

“Supporting the manufacturing sector will further our ability to innovate at home and compete around the world while generating more high-wage American jobs,” Secretary Bryson said. “Since day one, President Obama has been focused on supporting the entire United States manufacturing sector but especially small- and medium-sized businesses on the cutting edge of advanced manufacturing. We are introducing an ‘all hands on deck’ approach that coordinates all of our assets - public and private, federal, state, and regional.”

The White House Office of Manufacturing Policy will convene Cabinet-level meetings to aggressively implement the administration’s priority manufacturing initiatives. Release

Investments in the Seattle Region’s Innovation Clusters Spur Economic and Job Growth

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Development Matthew Erskine with i6 Green Seattle winners from Puget Sound Regional Council, South Seattle Community College and Cleantech Open.

Guest blog post by Matthew S. Erskine, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

The Seattle region is noted as one of our nation’s hotbed of innovation and entrepreneurship with world-class cleantech, health sciences, biotechnology and advanced manufacturing clusters. It is home to the headquarters of companies like Microsoft, Amazon and Starbucks and its regional assets are fueling job growth.

This week, I traveled to Seattle to spotlight Obama administration investments to advance these critical innovation clusters, promote entrepreneurship and small business development and create the jobs and industries of the future.

I met with the leaders of the Washington Clean Energy Partnership, awardees of the i6 Green competition. This collaboration between the Puget Sound Regional Council, South Seattle Community College, Cleantech Open and the Innovate Washington Foundation will work to foster collaboration between industry and institutions of higher education to expand the clean energy cluster.  This will spur the creation of new jobs, companies and export opportunities in the market for energy efficient technologies.

U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) Concludes with Significant Agreements

Vilsack, Bryson, Wang and Kirk in stage with JCCT logo

This week marked the conclusion of the 22nd sssion of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) in Chengdu, China. U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson and United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk co-chaired the JCCT along with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan. The trip was highlighted by meaningful progress on key elements of the U.S.-China trade relationship, though much more work remains to be done to open China’s market to U.S. exports and investment.

The work done at JCCT will help boost U.S. exports and jobs through:

  • the removal of important barriers related to electric vehicles,
  • strengthened measures to eliminate discriminatory indigenous innovation policies,
  • and stricter enforcement of intellectual property rights in China. 

“Both sides worked hard to produce some meaningful progress that will help provide a needed boost to U.S. exports and jobs,” Secretary Bryson said.  “This is a step in the right direction.  But we must continue to actively engage our Chinese counterparts to open additional opportunities for U.S. businesses.”

Specifically, China agreed to make a significant systemic change in its enforcement of intellectual property rights. Through a high-level central government enforcement structure, China will make permanent its 2010 Special IPR Campaign.  China will continue high-level involvement that will enhance its ability to crack down on intellectual property rights infringement. And in addition, China’s leadership committed to increased political accountability–the performance of provincial level officials will be measured based on enforcement of intellectual property rights in their regions.

Promoting Competitiveness in the U.S.-Mexico Relationship

Sánchez on podium, gesturing

Guest blog post by Francisco J. Sánchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Secretary, Department of Commerce

One billion dollars.

That number represents the two-way trade that happens between the United States and Mexico—every day. 

It’s a remarkable statistic, and a powerful symbol of the growing trade relationship and friendship between our two countries. Clearly, the story of the U.S. and Mexico is a story of progress. And, many from both countries are committed to ensuring that the next chapter of this story is full of greater opportunities for both peoples.

That’s why, earlier today, I was privileged to co-host the California Mexico Binational Mayor’s Conference with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

We were joined by U.S. and Mexican government and business leaders who came together to identify ways to strengthen our trade relations. Thankfully, we already have a solid foundation to build on.

Combined two-way trade in goods and services was nearly $400 billion dollars in 2010. From the United States’ vantage point, Mexico is our third-largest trading partner. It’s our-second largest export market. And, in California alone, $21 billion in merchandise exports went to Mexico last year—15 percent of the state’s total merchandise. 

Clearly, this partnership has been a key to the success of President Obama’s National Export Initiative, which has the goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014. Last year, exports supported 9.2 million jobs—and Mexico has obviously helped fuel this positive economic activity. 

But, today’s global economy is moving fast. And, no country can afford to stand pat and be satisfied. We’ve got to keep changing and evolving. 

Highlighting Opportunities in India’s Renewable Energy Market

Sanchez on podium (video image)

Guest blog post by Francisco J. Sánchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Secretary, Department of Commerce

India has a bright future in solar energy.

Its renewable energy market is currently valued at $17 billion dollars, and is growing at an annual rate of 15 percent.  And remarkably, there is potential for even bigger things.

According to one estimate, to keep economic growth at current levels, India will need to add 150 gigawatts of capacity over the next five years. Clearly, there is both a market and a need for clean energy in India.  And, U.S. companies have the technology and products to meet these needs and help spur economic development. 

It’s a natural partnership.  

That’s why, yesterday, during my keynote speech at SOLARCON India 2011, I urged all parties to consider new partnerships with each other so that we can build a clean future together.  

Hosted in the city of Hyderabad, the trade event brought together a wide-range of business leaders, academics and government officials to exchange ideas about the clean energy sector. Although estimates about the attendance are unavailable at this time, just last year, it drew over 4,000 people from over 30 countries.    

This year, there was incredible energy and excitement in the air. For U.S. firms, India’s solar market represents a huge opportunity to get involved in a booming sector in a growing market, resulting in thousands, if not millions, of jobs for people in both countries.

Driving Innovation and Economic Growth in West Virginia and Virginia

Erskine speaking from the podium

Guest blog post by Matthew S. Erskine, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

Today, I had the pleasure of joining U.S. Congressman Nick Rahall at Concord University in Athens, West Virginia to formally announce a major EDA investment to create a new EDA University Center in Southern West Virginia. Following the announcement, Congressman Rahall and I engaged in a roundtable discussion with regional businesses leaders to discuss strategies to foster local growth and increase regional competitiveness.

Congressman Rahall was instrumental in helping Marshall University, Concord University, and the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing partner and apply to join the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) University Center program–a competitive initiative that awards grants to universities across the country to help make the resources of these institutions available to the economic development community.

Congressman Rahall said, “Placing faith and funding in American higher education is nothing new. In fact, it has a proven track record that continues to be the envy of the world. Not only did our land grant colleges and universities usher in the greatest agricultural economy the world has ever known, the first G.I. Bill equipped the greatest generation with the tools that crafted the world’s largest economy. Our training grounds, workshops, research and product development revolve around an alliance of business, industry and universities.”

NIST: Presidential Memorandum Outlines Commerce's Role in Speeding Tech Transfer

Young scientist works on a collaborative project

Accelerating innovation is the key to creating more high-wage jobs. And the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will play a significant role in helping federal labs and U.S. industry speed up the innovation process under a new Presidential Memorandum issued Oct. 28.

Through its existing role coordinating the Interagency Workgroup on Technology Transfer, NIST will help lead agencies with federal laboratories to develop plans that establish performance goals to increase the number and pace of effective technology transfer and commercialization activities in partnership with non-federal organizations. The group also will be responsible for recommending opportunities to improve technology transfer from federal labs and for refining how tech transfer is defined, to better capture data on all of the ways it happens.

NIST will coordinate development and analysis of appropriate metrics and will continue to report and analyze results through its annual report on technology transfer, which covers 11 federal agencies.

NIST has had its own success transferring technology, for example, one licensed technology is helping build a new confinement structure at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and another is treating heart arrhythmias and uterine conditions—and generating millions of dollars in revenue for the licensee. Free software from NIST, Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability (BEES), is helping architects, engineers and the construction industry select environmentally-preferred and cost-effective products.

Read more about NIST’s role in tech transfer in the latest issue of TechBeat.

ESA: Tough Economic Times Continue for State and Local Governments

State and Local Government Expenditures and Employment

Cross post by Commerce Chief Economist Mark Doms

Last week’s gross domestic product (GDP) report confirmed that our economy continues to grow (2.5 percent in the third quarter), although not as quickly as we would like. The fears of a “double dip” recession didn’t come to pass (if anyone in the DC area is interested in a triple dip, head to Ben and Jerry’s from 4 to 7 for their 3-dips-for-3-bucks special.).  One reason why the economy isn’t growing faster is that budget constraints are forcing continued and historically deep contractions in state and local government spending.  Measures within the American Jobs Act can help bridge the gap.

These cuts in state and local government spending are evident in the GDP data and also in the employment data (the October payroll data will be released this Friday).  State and local spending and investment decreased 5.3 percent in real terms since spending peaked in the fourth quarter of 2007, by far the deepest 15-quarter decline in spending in the post-WWII era.  Job losses that have followed from these budget cuts total 646,000, or 3.3 percent, since state and local employment peaked in August 2008. 

So far this year state and local governments have been cutting jobs at the same pace that private sector firms are adding them.  Over the first 9 months of the year, private payroll employment has grown 1.2 percent (1.3 million jobs) while employment in state and local governments declined by 1.2 percent (234,000 jobs).