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The Commerce Blog

Secretary Locke Joins President Obama to Announce Members of the President’s Export Council, Provide Progress Report on National Export Initiative

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke joined President Barack Obama and Jim McNerney – chairman, president & CEO of The Boeing Company and chair of the President’s Export Council - today at the White House to announce members of the President’s Export Council. During his speech, the president provided a progress report on the National Export Initiative (NEI), which shows that the president’s goal of doubling exports and supporting several million new jobs over five years is on track, and that exports in the first four months of 2010 grew almost 17 percent from the same period last year. While introducing the president, Locke said that

“we must reinvest in innovation and do a better job of connecting U.S. companies with the 95 percent of the world’s consumers who live outside our borders. That’s where the National Export Initiative comes in. It’s an unprecedented government-wide effort to help double American exports by 2015, and it was designed with one overriding goal in mind: To put Americans back to work in jobs that provide security, dignity and a sense of hope for the future.”  

The president also announced new members of the President’s Export Council (PEC), a group that includes business and labor leaders who offer advice and expertise on how best to promote exports, congressional leaders and senior representatives of the administration.  President’s remarks  |  White House blog

EDA Announces Award Competition to Promote Innovation

Commerce's U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is accepting applications for its 2010 Innovation in Economic Development Awards to spotlight projects of national significance that advance innovation, boost competitiveness and create jobs.

Entries will be accepted until August 27, 2010.  The award categories are:

  • Innovation in Regional Innovation Clusters (RICs)
  • Innovation in Commercialization
  • Innovation in Global Export Promotion
  • Innovation in Green Technology

For more information on the 2010 Innovation in Economic Development Awards visit: http://www.eda.gov/NewsEvents/PressReleases/InnovationAwards063010

The competition was previously known as the EDA Excellence in Economic Development Awards.

NIST Software Security Patent to Help Improve Health IT Privacy

A computer security invention patented a decade ago at Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is now poised to help safeguard patient privacy in hospitals. The invention—an algorithm that can be built into a larger piece of software—is designed to control access to information systems, and it has attracted the attention of a company that is putting it to use in the health care field. John Barkley, the algorithm’s creator, says the idea could solve one of the pervasive issues in the country’s health care system.

“We think this software will provide dramatically improved security and privacy to patients,” says Barkley, now retired from NIST’s Software and Systems Division and now consulting with Virtual Global, which is commercializing the product. “It solves the problem of overly broad access to patient information, which is widespread.”  Read more

Secretary Locke Announces Recovery Act Investments to Improve Broadband Internet Access

Image of Locke and officials outdoors making announcementFollowing President Barack Obama’s announcement today, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke held press conference calls with elected officials from Oregon and Vermont to announce American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) investments that will help improve economic opportunity and support job creation in both Vermont and Oregon.  Locke was joined on the conference calls by Vt. Gov. James Douglas, U.S. Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernard Sanders, and U.S. Rep. Peter Welch from Vermont, and U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer, and Kurt Schrader from Oregon.

In his remarks earlier today, President Obama said, ”. . . I’d like to make a quick announcement regarding new infrastructure investments under the Recovery Act – investments that will create private sector jobs and make America more competitive.

“Secretary Locke and Secretary Vilsack have joined me here today to announce that the Departments of Commerce and Agriculture will invest in 66 new projects across America that will finally bring reliable broadband Internet service to communities that currently have little or no access.

“In the short term, we expect these projects to create about 5,000 construction and installation jobs around the country.  And once we emerge from the immediate crisis, the long-term economic gains to communities that have been left behind in the digital age will be immeasurable.”  President’s video remarks   BroadbandUSA

The Fourth of July, 2010: Independence Day

John Trumbull's 1818 painting of the signing of the Declaration of IndepenceOn July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, setting the 13 colonies on the road to freedom as a sovereign nation. Written primarily by Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration is a formal explanation of why Congress had voted on July 2 to declare independence from Great Britain, more than a year after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. The birthday of the United States of America—Independence Day—is celebrated on July 4, the day the wording of the Declaration was approved by Congress.  See an image of the Declaration of Independence from the National Archives.

As always, this most American of holidays will be marked by parades, fireworks and backyard barbecues across the nation. In 1776, the estimated number of people living in the newly-independent nation was 2.5 million. This year, the Department of Commerce’s Census Bureau estimate is 309.6 million.

For fascinating figures on the Fourth’s fireworks, flags, fanfares, firings (grills) and more, see the Census Bureau’s Facts for Features.

Secretary Locke Addresses Symposium on Copyright Policy in the Internet Economy

Secretary Locke on the podiumU.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke discussed the relationship of copyright policy, creativity, and innovation in the Internet economy at a Commerce Department symposium today. The day-long symposium is part of an ongoing series of events sponsored by the Department’s Internet Policy Task Force. The encourages public discussion of online copyright policy in the United States and seeks comment and input from all interested stakeholders--rights holders, Internet service providers, and consumers--on the impact of current copyright laws, the common and emerging techniques used to illegally distribute and obtain protected works, the extent of such infringement and its effects on creativity and innovation in relevant technologies.

Recognizing the vital importance of the Internet to U.S. innovation, prosperity, education and political and cultural life, the Commerce Department has made it a top priority to ensure that the Internet remains open for innovation.  The newly created Internet Policy Task Force will identify leading public policy and operational challenges in the Internet environment.  The Task Force leverages expertise across many of the Department’s bureaus, including those responsible for domestic and international information and communications technology policy, international trade, cyber security standards and best practices, intellectual property, business advocacy and export control.  For more information, including the agenda and webcast information, go to the Internet Policy Task Force Web site (whttp://www.ntia.doc.gov/category/internet-policy-task-force?type=All&field_month_list_value_many_to_one=February&date_filter%5Bvalue%5D%5Byear%5D=) or (www.uspto.gov).  Secretary remarks

NOAA, FDA, and Gulf Coast State Officials Affirm Commitment to Ensuring Safety of Gulf Coast Seafood

Federal and state agencies will use joint protocol for reopening closed waters

Image of tubs of shrimpGulf Coast state health and fisheries officials joined with senior leaders from several federal agencies to affirm a shared commitment to ensuring the safety of seafood coming out of the Gulf of Mexico, through closures of affected waters, surveillance, and with an eye toward reopening closed waters as soon as possible, consistent with public health goals.

Representatives from Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency met last week in New Orleans with state health officers and state fisheries directors from Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas to coordinate implementation of a joint protocol for sampling and reopening that will apply to both state and federal waters.  

Together, they will implement a comprehensive, coordinated, multi-agency program to ensure that seafood from the Gulf of Mexico is safe to eat. This is important not only for consumers who need to know their food is safe to eat, but also for fishermen who need to be able to sell their products with confidence.

Read more  |  Official statement of acceptance of protocol  |  Summary of the reopening protocol

Secretary Locke Blog: Help Now Available for Employers Offering Early Retiree Health Insurance

Today, the Department of Health and Human Services began accepting applications for a program that provides much needed financial relief for employers – as well as unions and state and local governments – providing coverage to early retirees.

The Early Retiree Reinsurance Program will provide $5 billion in financial assistance to help maintain coverage for early retirees age 55 and older who are not yet eligible for Medicare - another example of how health care reform is, and will continue to be, good for business.

As health care costs have skyrocketed, it has become harder for employers to provide health insurance not only to their current employees but also their retirees. A survey found that over the past several decades the percent of firms offering retiree health insurance has dropped by more than half. In 1988, two-thirds of large firms provided health benefits to retiring workers. In 2009, less than a third did so.  See the Secretary's White House blog

For applications and more information about the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program visit www.hhs.gov/ociio.

Secretary Locke Lauds New National Space Policy as Pro Business

Image of rocket launchPresident Obama’s new National Space Policy sets goals and guidelines for American space activities and promotes a robust and competitive U.S. commercial space sector, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said today.  The policy also puts increased emphasis on space-based environmental observations and international cooperation, both critical functions of the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The policy, released today, is the Obama administration’s first comprehensive policy guiding our endeavors in space. It addresses commercial space by directing government agencies to encourage and facilitate the growth of a U.S. commercial space sector through increased U.S. purchases of commercial space goods, reducing the regulatory impact on the space industry and actively promoting the export of U.S. space products.  Read more   White House fact sheet

Find additional information about the National Space Policy at www.space.commerce.gov.

Secretary Locke Joins Presidents Obama and Medvedev for U.S.-Russia Business Summit

Photo of Medevev, Obama and Locke at table.Commerce Secretary Gary Locke participated in the U.S.-Russia Business Summit today alongside President Obama, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Russia’s Minister of Economic Development Elvira Nabiullina at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Talking with both U.S. and Russian business and association leaders, Locke discussed further developing bilateral commercial relations and highlighted examples of new plans for cooperation between U.S. and Russian companies. Locke and Nabiullina co-chair the U.S.-Russia Business Development and Economic Relations Working Group and together solicited input from Summit participants. Read more  White House "Reset" fact sheet   DOC Fact sheet  White House blog   Press conference video