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The Commerce Blog

Commerce Department Collaborates with Regional Partners to Make the U.S. a Magnet for Advanced Manufacturing and Good Paying Jobs

This week, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker met with the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) Steering Committee 2.0 and the Manufacturing Council to discuss issues affecting the health of America’s manufacturing industry, including progress on the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI).

In his 2013 and 2014 State of the Union Addresses, President Obama called for the creation of a nationwide network devoted to innovating and scaling-up advanced manufacturing technologies and processes to create good paying jobs and spur economic growth. These efforts, known as the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) consist of regional hubs, bringing together companies, universities, community colleges, and government to accelerate the development and adoption of cutting-edge manufacturing technologies for making new, globally competitive products. The President has asked Congress to authorize a one-time $1 billion investment—to be matched by private and other non-federal funds—to create an initial network of up to 15 hubs. Over the span of 10 years, he has proposed building out NNMI to encompass 45 such hubs.

Significant progress has already been made to accelerate the development of the NNMI. In January, President Obama announced the selection of the Next Generation Power Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Institute, headquartered at North Carolina State University, to lead a manufacturing innovation institute for next generation power electronics. It is focused on enabling energy-efficient, high-power electronic chips and devices by making wide bandgap semiconductor technologies cost-competitive with current silicon-based power electronics. President Obama also announced two additional institutes in February – the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute, headquartered in Chicago, and the Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing Innovation Institute, headquartered in the Detroit area. These announcements build on the NNMI pilot – the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, now known as America Makes – launched in August 2012 in Youngstown, Ohio.

May is World Trade Month 2014

Guest blog post by Ken Hyatt, Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade.

Happy World Trade Month!

For years, May has been the time to not only recognize the benefits of international trade, but also for organizations around the country to support more American companies competing overseas.

For the United States, the benefits of trade have been great, as have our successes. We recently announced that for the fourth straight year, the United States set a record for annual exports in 2013, at $2.3 trillion. That is a 40 percent growth in total exports since 2009.

Behind those exports are millions of well-paying American jobs – a record 11.3 million jobs to be exact. That number is an increase of 1.6 million from 2009.

As more American businesses compete and succeed in the global marketplace, the entire national economy reaps benefit.

Fishing’s Impacts Ripple across the Broader Economy

1.7 million jobs supported by U.S. commercial and recreational fishing industries in 2012

Guest blog post by Eileen Sobeck, NOAA’s Assistant Administrator for Fisheries

Fishing is big business in the United States. From commercial fisheries to recreational and charter boat business owners, fishing contributes to the United States’ economy and supports jobs. According to new reports issued today by NOAA Fisheries, we continue to see positive economic impacts from commercial and recreational U.S. fisheries as well as progress in rebuilding our nation’s fish stocks.

Between 2011 and 2012 alone, U.S. commercial and recreational saltwater fishing generated more than $199 billion in sales impacts, contributed $89 billion to gross domestic product, and supported 1.7 million jobs.

Breaking down the numbers a little more, the value chain of the commercial fishing industry—harvesters, processors, dealers, wholesalers, and retailers—generated $141 billion in sales, $39 billion in income and supported 1.3 million jobs in 2012.

The recreational fishing sector generated $58 billion in sales, $19 billion in income, and supported 381,000 jobs in 2012.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. The United States is a world leader in responsibly managed fisheries, and there’s no doubt that our approach to management is directly tied to the positive economic impacts across the broader U.S. economy in the last few years as we see in the Fisheries Economics of the U.S. 2012 report.

New Expansion to Support New Opportunities

Guest blog post by Arun Kumar, Assistant Secretary for Global Markets and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service

Last week, Commerce Secretary Pritzker made an important announcement that demonstrates the United States’ commitment to supporting developing economies and the Department of Commerce’s commitment to U.S. businesses competing overseas.

The Department’s International Trade Administration will open offices in five new markets, bringing Foreign Commercial Service (CS) officers into some of the world's most rapidly developing economies. In cooperation with the U.S. State Department, we will open offices in Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Burma this calendar year.

These new offices, and our staff additions in other offices around the world, will make us more capable of supporting U.S. exporters. We can support more Gold Key Matchmaking, we can conduct more market research, and we can help connect U.S. companies to more global markets.

As a new member of the Department of Commerce team, I'm very excited to be a part of this major expansion - especially in such important markets for U.S. businesses.

Commerce in the Community: Opportunity Nation Works to Expand Economic Mobility and Promote a 21st Century Workforce

Mark Edwards, Executive Director of Opportunity Nation

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 Mark Edwards, Executive Director of Opportunity Nation, which he launched in 2011 with a coalition of more than 250 cross-sector partners.

Q1: What is Opportunity Nation?

Opportunity Nation is a national, cross-sector campaign comprised of more than 300 businesses, educational institutions, nonprofits and civic organizations working together to expand economic mobility and close the opportunity gap in the US. 

Our work is guided by the belief that the zip code where you are born should not determine your chances in life. If the ability to move up the ladder of opportunity grinds to a halt, we are in grave danger of losing the best of America.

Q2: How is Opportunity Nation working to promote job creation and economic development?

Working closely with nonprofits, community colleges and employers who are committed to helping young Americans gain the skills they need, we advocate for federal policies and public and private sector actions that expand opportunity, outlined in our Shared Plan. We also hold regional and national meetings that bring cross-sector leaders together.  Lastly, we’ve created a first-of-its-kind tool, the Opportunity Index, that’s sparked research, national awareness and grassroots activism on opportunity-related issues.

NIST Research Offers Guide in Formulating Cancer Treatment Drugs

NIST Research Offers Guide in Formulating Cancer Treatment Drugs

Potentially valuable drugs slowed down by sticky molecules may get another shot at success. Joint research by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Genentech, the University of Delaware and Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) has revealed the reason why a certain class of proteins tends to form clusters that lead to high viscosity in drug solutions.

The newly published results* could help drug companies create a variety of cancer and autoimmune disease treatments based on monoclonal antibodies, whose stickiness can make them difficult to administer through thin needles.

Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) are Y-shaped protein molecules that hold great promise for disease treatment. In principle, the tip region of two of their "arms" can be engineered to deliver attacks on tumor cells without harming surrounding tissue, making mAbs less dangerous to the body than standard chemotherapy, that kills both healthy and cancerous cells. However, a roadblock in the way of their bright pharmaceutical future as a subcutaneous injection—the preferred delivery technique—is their high viscosity: in solution, some mAbs become so viscous at required high concentrations that they are nearly impossible to inject.

PTO Addresses Importance of Intellectual Property for World IP Day

Blog by Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO Michelle K. Lee

Today I had the opportunity to discuss the importance of intellectual property during a World IP Day event at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. I want to share my remarks with you through this blog:

One of the challenges I’ve come to appreciate in my own career in IP law, and particularly as Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, is how to facilitate a better and broader public understanding of the importance of intellectual property in our daily lives. Let’s face it: As engineers, scientists, academics, and lawyers, we don’t always do a great job helping get the public as excited about intellectual property as we are, or in helping them see the connection between intellectual property, the products they enjoy, and the IP-related jobs created every year in our innovation economy. As recently as 2012, a Commerce Department study found that IP-intensive industries support at least 40 million jobs and contribute more than $5 trillion dollars to, or 34.8 percent of, U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). That’s a huge part of our economy.

As a child of the Silicon Valley, I saw the power of innovation and intellectual property up close and personal. My parents were immigrants, drawn across the Pacific Ocean by the promise of the American Dream. My father was an engineer, and so were all of the dads on the street where I grew up. They worked for tech companies of all sizes, often founded by just one person who grew their businesses through the power of intellectual property. Many of them had the experience of creating an invention, patenting it, and using the protection that patent provided to obtain venture capital funding, hire employees, and begin producing and selling new products and services. Seeing that process as a child made an indelible impression on me, and I never had much doubt about what I wanted to do when I “grew up.” But of course my childhood was shaped by intellectual property in other ways that I didn’t always recognize or appreciate.

New Commerce Data Supports Better Economic Decision-Making by Businesses and Policymakers

This week, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released two new data products that will help American businesses, consumers, policymakers and academia gain important information about the performance of the U.S. economy.

Yesterday, BEA released inflation-adjusted estimates of personal income for states and metropolitan areas, which are being released for the first time as official statistics. Americans looking to move or take a job anywhere in the country can now compare these inflation-adjusted incomes to better understand how their personal income may be affected by a job change or move. In addition, businesses looking to relocate or establish new facilities can use this data to get a comprehensive and consistent measure of differences in the cost of living and the purchasing power of consumers nationwide.

Also for the first time, BEA today released quarterly estimates of the economic activity generated by 22 industries – including manufacturing, construction, finance, transportation, retail, health care, educational services, and the arts. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data – one of our government’s most valuable data resources – shows how different industries helped or hindered the U.S. economy’s growth in a given quarter. These new statistics will enable industries in all sectors to better measure their contributions to GDP and understand and identify emerging trends more quickly. This economic intelligence can help make businesses more competitive and innovative, as well as guide their decisions about investing and hiring.

New BEA Data Proves Valuable for Retail Industry

Jack Kleinhenz, Ph.D., Chief Economist, National Retail Federation

Guest blog post by Jack Kleinhenz, Ph.D., Chief Economist, National Retail Federation 

NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries.

The National Retail Federation closely monitors economic conditions in order to gauge the health of the overall industry and the consumers who represent nearly 70% of the national GDP. By having quarterly updates on the economic performance of 22 sectors, we will be better served when representing retailers and their needs as it relates to economic forecasts, labor markets and job reports, and much more.

Having higher frequency GDP data by industry will be extremely valuable in assessing current economic conditions and shaping economic forecasts. The new data series should provide reliable information on the changes in growth for specific industries, and offer insights into whether the growth is well-above, well-below, or average relative to overall GDP growth. In the past, the annual data could not provide perspective on the fits and starts in marketplace activity, so I am encouraged that a more detailed picture is now more accessible. 

No modeling effort can accurately capture the dynamics and complexity of the U.S. economy nor consider all the variables. The difference now is that we don’t have to wait a year to find out how different industries are performing and contributing to the United States’ economic growth. This data will add to our toolkit for forecasting both short and long-term trends. Additionally, these quarterly reports will provide a better barometer of when an industry might be poised for a surge or a drop – otherwise known as turning points – that can possibly be a signal for the direction of the larger U.S. economy.

All in all, the access to this new statistical product will add to more informed decisions by all who need reliable and timely data on the performance of the economy.

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.