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The Commerce Blog

“Built to Last” – Secretary Pritzker Talks to Investors about the Build America Investment Initiative

 Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker discussed the Administration’s efforts to “Build America” at the Infrastructure Investment Summit hosted by the U.S. Departments of Treasury and Transportation.

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker discussed the Administration’s efforts to “Build America” at the Infrastructure Investment Summit hosted by the U.S. Departments of Treasury and Transportation.  The Summit brought together senior Administration officials and more than 100 leaders from industry, finance, philanthropy, and local and state governments to highlight the urgent need to invest in our country’s infrastructure, build public-private partnerships, and develop strategies for increasing investment in sectors like transportation, water, telecommunications, and energy.

During her address, Secretary Pritzker described the central role the Department of Commerce is playing in expanding infrastructure investments and facilitating connections between government, investors, and local leaders.

The Secretary outlined several of the ways the Department is taking the lead. First is through SelectUSA, the first-ever government-wide program designed to attract and retain investment in the United States, which works to connect current and potential investors with local communities interested in attracting infrastructure investment.

Second is the work of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which has strengthened our digital infrastructure though more than $4 billion in grants since 2009 to increase broadband access to underserved communities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

1776 Roundtable: Businesses Growing Out of Data

Under Secretary Mark Doms Addresses Entrepreneurs at 1776

Guest blog post by Mark Doms, Under Secretary for Economic Affairs

This morning, I visited start-up hub 1776, to discuss the Department of Commerce’s efforts to make government data more accessible and informative – to build businesses, grow the economy and help governments and individuals make more informed decisions.

One of my roles as the Under Secretary for Economic Affairs is to connect with our data users, (our customers), to discuss our strategic initiatives in the data space, and gather feedback from interested businesses, government officials, and the public.

At 1776, we met with key stakeholders from innovative start-ups like ID.me, Haystack, Narrative Science, Brigade, Ride Scout (just purchased by Daimler), and firms like Yelp, which has graduated from the start-up phase to employ thousands with offices around the world.

All are users of federal, state and local data, and all are making a contribution to our economy, through employment and the deployment of new technologies that spur innovation and improve peoples’ lives. It was a great conversation, and we gathered some excellent ideas to explore, such as the possibility of using private sector developed APIs for public sector data dissemination.

As a convener and facilitator of world class talent, 1776 sets the model for start-up hubs across the country. Thanks to our hosts and participants for a great event!

Calling Kids of All Ages: USPTO Launches Web Page Encouraging Invention and Science and Tech in School

Calling Kids of All Ages:  USPTO Launches Kids Page Encouraging Invention and Science and Tech in School

Did you know that only one U.S. president earned a patent? Do you know which one? Have you ever wondered where the famous expression “The Real McCoy” comes from?

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) launched a newly redesigned section of its website for kids, but not kids alone! Parents, teachers, and teens will find lots of resources as well as hands-on activities for anyone from preschool to high school. The website encourages students of all ages to engage making, inventing, and discovering the importance of intellectual property. The site also exposes future inventors and entrepreneurs to the inventive thinking process. 

When the children in your life check out the new USPTO KIDS! pages, they’ll discover interesting facts about inventors and learn how they can bring ‘creations of the mind’ to life!  

The website includes games, coloring pages, an audio library of sound marks, videos created by NBC Learn in collaboration with the USPTO and the National Science Foundation (NSF), Girl Scouts’ intellectual property patch activities, lesson plans for teachers, and a list of upcoming events. 

Students can explore collectible cards featuring interesting facts about past and current inventors from diverse walks of life. They’ll also see profiles of inventors their own age, such as Marissa Streng, who while still in elementary school received a utility patent for her dog dryer invention and is the owner of a federally registered trademark. Marissa’s story was featured earlier this year on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Another featured student, Rebecca Hyndman, received a patent for the invention of an under-floor that she designed as an 8th grader. Rebecca was called upon to introduce President Obama at the signing of a historic patent reform bill, the America Invents Act.  

Deputy Secretary Andrews Highlights Efforts to Boost Rural Exports in Upstate New York

Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews says that his native Syracuse is 'poised to succeed' at the White House Rural Council "Made in Rural America" Forum

Today, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews highlighted efforts to boost rural exports in upstate New York at a “Made in Rural America” forum at SUNY Cortland. Deputy Secretary Andrews was joined by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) at the event, where both delivered remarks on how to position rural America for success in the 21st century.

Co-hosted by the White House, U.S. Commerce Department, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Appalachian Regional Commission, the forum convened local business leaders, industry representatives, economic development organizations and local, state and federal leaders to discuss ways to help rural businesses grow. The forum supports the Administration’s “Made in Rural America” Export and Investment Initiative that President Obama announced earlier this year to help rural businesses and leaders take advantage of new investment opportunities and access new markets abroad.

In his remarks, Deputy Secretary Andrews discussed Commerce Department work to ensure small and medium-size businesses have the tools needed to begin or expand exports and create good jobs. Specifically, he outlined goals to expand the national and global footprint of our local and rural businesses; create good-paying jobs for our workers; and cultivate prosperity in communities across Central New York.

Back to School -- Census Bureau Introduces the Statistics in the Schools Program

Statistics in Schools

Cross blog post by John H. Thompson, Director, U.S. Census Bureau

A lot of our work at the Census Bureau looks toward the future – next year’s American Community Survey, or the decennial Census in 2020, for example. One exciting forward-looking initiative is our Statistics in Schools (SIS) program. Research shows that jobs related to statistics are expected to increase by more than 25 percent over the next decade, and SIS is part of our efforts to help make sure students are prepared for them.

Statistics in Schools supports statistics education by providing grade-appropriate classroom activities in math and history, and many resources – such as maps, news articles, videos, infographics, and games – for K-12 teachers to use. Staff from all areas of the Census Bureau worked together to create these activities, which are available online at no charge. Some examples of the activities teachers can find are:

  • Tools for identifying the demographics of specific states and metro areas.
  • Activities to analyze information correlating income to educational attainment.
  • Specific data, such as the number of single-father households, vehicles per household, and salary based on industry sector.
  • Worksheets to graph state population demographics.
  • Activities for estimating how many people in the U.S. walk to work.

The activities are aligned to national standards, including Common Core State Standards and the UCLA National Standards for History. They aren’t intended to replace existing curricula, but rather complement existing lesson plans.

U.S. Department of Commerce Announces $15 Million Grant Competition to Spur Regional Innovation

U.S. Department of Commerce Announces $15 Million Grant Competition to Spur Regional Innovation

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today announced the launch of the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) $15 million 2014 Regional Innovation Strategies Program competition to spur innovation capacity-building activities in regions across the nation. Under this program, EDA is soliciting applications for three separate funding opportunities, including: the i6 Challenge, Science and Research Park Development grants, and cluster grants to support the development of Seed Capital Funds.

“President Obama and I are committed to strengthening American innovation, which is crucial for sustained economic growth and competitiveness,” said Secretary Pritzker. “The EDA Regional Innovation Strategies Program announced today, which builds on the highly successful i6 Challenge, will help spur innovation through the development and strengthening of regional innovation clusters. Innovation clusters strengthen communities by creating good jobs and growing regional economies nationwide.”

“EDA helps foster connected, innovation-centric economic sectors to support commercialization and entrepreneurship, including through regional innovation clusters,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams. “EDA’s new funding opportunity will provide more communities and regions with the resources they need to help local businesses start and grow. Specifically, EDA will help regions across the country develop regional innovation strategies, including proof of concept and commercialization centers, feasibility studies for the creation and expansion of science and research parks, and opportunities to close the funding gap for early-stage companies. This new funding opportunity is also an important component of the Administration’s commitment to build globally competitive regions.”.

The 2014 Regional Innovation Strategies Program originally started as the Regional Innovation Program under the reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act of 2010. This year’s program includes $15 million in funding for the following programs:

  • i6 Challenge ($8M): Launched in 2010 as part of the Startup America Initiative, the i6 Challengeis a national competition based on the most impactful national models for startup creation, innovation, and commercialization. The 2014 i6 has been broadened to include growing or expanding existing centers or programs and considering funding for later-stage Commercialization Centers, which provide opportunities for fine tuning and refinement of innovations. Special consideration will be given to programs which include initiatives focusing on innovative manufacturing and exports. 

NIST Team Honored for Work on Military Smartphone Apps, Security

NIST Team Honored for Work on Military Smartphone Apps, Security

The U.S. Department of Commerce's today announced researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have earned a 2014 GCN Award for Information Technology Excellence* for speeding development and delivery of secure, battlefield-handy—and sometimes lifesaving—smartphone apps to U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

The four-year NIST effort included distilling soldiers’ needs into app requirements, evaluating app performance, and designing a unique smartphone security architecture. It is among 10 GCN-recognized public-sector projects “showing the power of mobile technology to transform the government IT enterprise.”

The NIST team of engineers and computer scientists was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), under its Transformative Apps (TransApps) program. Working with soldiers, contract app developers and others, NIST contributed two brands of expertise—cybersecurity and software performance evaluation. And it organized the collaboration to accomplish DARPA’s objective, "Develop a diverse array of militarily relevant software applications using an innovative new development and acquisition process."

Within about a year after its 2010 start, DARPA-funded collaborators delivered a batch of commercially available smartphones and an initial set of secure, soldier-defined apps to an Army brigade in Afghanistan. By 2013, about 4,000 mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) were deployed in Afghanistan, and an online apps store was up and running for soldiers. The site now features about 60 apps—from map displays to a calculator for estimating blast distances to language games—and it offers regular upgrades.

One of the most popular apps is HeatMap, which color codes routes to indicate frequency of troop use, helping soldiers to vary their travel patterns.

U.S. Department of Commerce Invests Nearly $2 Million to Support Entrepreneurs and Startups in South Carolina

U.S. Department of Commerce Invests Nearly $2 Million to Support Entrepreneurs and Startups in South Carolina

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $1.9 million investment to the University of South Carolina (USC)/Columbia Technology Incubator. The grant will support the building of a new startup center to serve as the regional hub for the development of entrepreneurship, incubation, and acceleration programs for early stage ventures across South Carolina. According to the grantee, the investment is expected to create 698 jobs and generate $11.9 million in private investment in the first five years of the project.

The Obama Administration and Commerce Department have prioritized supporting American innovation and entrepreneurship, which are key drivers of U.S. competitiveness, job growth and long-term economic growth. The EDA investment announced today will support an important infrastructure project that support public-private partnerships with the University of South Carolina to help local entrepreneurs and businesses grow.

EDA’s investment will support the construction a 50,000-square-foot technology and incubation facility. As the first development in a new technology corridor in USC’s Innovista Innovation District, the center is expected to serve as a critical facility for integrating USC and the Columbia Metro region's entrepreneurial activities. This facility will be able to take advantage of its proximity to the University of South Carolina's research activities, emerging technologies in the region, and student/faculty talent to help create a world class regional innovation ecosystem.

In addition, the investment will facilitate the co-location of entrepreneurs, technology startups, existing and mature technology ventures, and the region's community of entrepreneurial support organizations to create a mixture of talent, technology, capital, and mentoring. The grantee expects this co-location to facilitate the launch and acceleration of a new generation of technology ventures in the state.

Daring to Be Great in Supporting U.S. Exporters

Many of ITA’s senior commercial diplomats from around the globe are meeting in Washington, D.C. to discuss ways to better support business investors and U.S. exporters.

Cross blog post by by Judy Reinke, Deputy Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service

Many of ITA’s senior commercial diplomats from around the globe are meeting in Washington, D.C. to discuss ways to better support business investors and U.S. exporters.

In order to support U.S. businesses going global, the International Trade Administration itself needs to be global.

That’s why we maintain staff throughout the United States and in more than 70 markets around the world, connecting companies of all sizes to opportunities in the international marketplace.

Technology has helped us execute our mission across borders, between time zones, and through language barriers. But just like we tell our clients seeking overseas partners, sometimes there’s no substitute for an old-fashioned face-to-face meeting.

That’s why I am excited about our Global Markets Global Meeting this week, bringing together ITA’s senior Commercial Service staff from the United States and around the world to share best practices, learn about new opportunities, and connect with the people who are making commerce happen – people we sometimes only know by email.

It’s been more than 10 years since our last meeting of this magnitude, and this week’s event will enable us to better execute our mission and understand new methods to better support our clients.

Commerce Department Reports Demonstrate that Exports Continue to Help Spur U.S. Economy and Support Jobs

Exports of Goods Supported 7.1 million jobs in 2013

Guest Blog Post by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker

The Obama Administration and the U.S. Department of Commerce today released two new reports that further prove exports are strengthening our economy and creating good jobs. I am very pleased that for the very first time, our department has released data detailing the number of jobs supported by goods exports in 2013 in each of the 50 states. A second report released today highlights the level of goods exports achieved by each of the nation’s 387 Metropolitan Statistical Areas in 2013.

Back in 2010, President Obama launched the first-ever national strategy to increase exports, the National Export Initiative (NEI), with the idea that American businesses could lead our economic recovery by selling more of their goods and services to markets all over the world. The NEI has been a remarkable success. The United States has broken export records for four straight years, hitting an all-time high of $2.3 trillion dollars last year, up $700 billion from 2009. And just four years after NEI was launched, we know that 1.6 million more Americans have export-supported jobs, bringing the total to 11.3 million Americans who wake up every day and go to work in jobs supported by exports.

Today’s new data show more evidence of the NEI’s success. The first report released today, Jobs Supported by Goods Exports from States in 2013, breaks down the national total of jobs supported by good exports in 2013, 7.1 million, into estimates of the number of jobs in each state that are supported by goods exports. Texas exports supported more jobs – an estimated 1.1. million – than were supported by the exports from any other single state. Data show that goods exports from Texas, California, Washington, Illinois and New York supported an estimated 3 million jobs, or 43 percent of all U.S. jobs supported by exports in 2013.