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Made in America continues to shine

Scott Paul, Executive Director for the Alliance for American Manufacturing

Guest post by Scott Paul, Executive Director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

A strong and vibrant manufacturing base is essential to our nation's economic stability, a strong middle class, and employment opportunities for young men and women across America. The good news is that manufacturing output and employment have been growing over the past 15 months, and in many ways, the sector has played an outsized role in our economic recovery. But our nation will never realize its full potential to grow the manufacturing sector of our economy without a robust strategy and aggressive set of public policies to complement private sector efforts by business and labor to maintain a globally competitive industry.

The case for a permanent capacity for strategic planning on our manufacturing base, evolving to make use of our workers’ skills and the latest technology as well as responding to global trends, could not be stronger when one considers that no matter how innovative or competitive individual manufacturers may be, there are some problems they simply cannot solve on their own. This was recently articulated by Jared Bernstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

  • Research and development can be expensive and hard to capture profits, such as in advanced batteries;
  • No single firm could possibly coordinate national projects like the smart grid or internet;
  • Firms often need assistance in applying academic innovations to the production process;
  • Manufacturers often face barriers to accessing credit for entry, expansion, and innovation; and
  • Manufacturers need assistance in exporting as well as push back against unfair trade practices.

The Commerce Department leads the federal government’s efforts to assist manufacturers with these challenges. For example, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program provides on-the-ground services. The International Trade Administration (ITA) helps manufacturers boost exports and seek relief from unfair trade practices. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) offers cutting edge research on production, innovation, and commercialization.

Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee Releases 2011 National Export Strategy: Powering the National Export Initiative to Congress

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, on behalf of the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee, today released to Congress the 2011 National Export Strategy: Powering the National Export Initiative (PDF). The report reinforces the importance of U.S. exports of goods and services, which in 2010 totaled $1.84 trillion, an increase of nearly 17% over 2009 levels, and supported more than 9 million jobs in the United States.

Starting with this report, the annual National Export Strategy will fill the essential role of tracking and measuring the federal government’s progress in implementing the NEI. The TPCC will assess new opportunities and seek new ways for its agencies to improve coordination and increase effectiveness.  The National Export Strategy identifies the four areas of focus during 2011:

  • Collaborating with states, metropolitan areas, and border communities to help U.S. companies successfully export around the globe;
  • Encouraging exports by U.S. companies selling technologies in high-growth sectors;
  • Ensuring better data and measurement of U.S. services sector exporting; and
  • Removing barriers to trade, including through passage of the South Korea, Colombia and Panama trade agreements.

Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Canada: Intertwined through Manufacturing and Trade

Guest blog by Nicole Lamb-Hale, Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing and Services

Today, I joined members of the President’s Export Council (PEC), U.S. and Canadian officials and U.S. and Canadian businesses to discuss border trade opportunities and challenges between American and Canadian companies. Canada and the United States share a unique relationship = we share not only borders, but economies.

Canada and the United States’ economies are greatly intertwined. The two nations share the world’s largest and most comprehensive trading relationship, which supports millions of jobs in each country. However, Canada and the United States don’t simply trade goods with each other: we build things together and rely on each other’s markets to design and build products that compete in global markets.

In 2010, U.S. Exports to Canada were worth $249.1 billion, 19 percent of total U.S. exports. These exports include motor vehicles and parts, agricultural and construction machinery, computer equipment, iron and steel, basic chemicals and petroleum and coal products.  
The Administration will continue to work hard to help Michigan companies grow by breaking into foreign markets, increasing exports and creating jobs.
The simple fact is that the more American – and Michigan – companies export, the more they produce. The more they produce, the more workers they need. And that means jobs. Good paying jobs here at home.

Agencies Working Together Results in Manufacturers Now Hiring

Alternate Text

Cross-posted on the NIST MEP blog

UEMC, Inc., a woman-owned manufacturer located in San Antonio, Texas, is now hiring. The company has over 50 years of experience in contract sewing, screen printing and textile related manufacturing … and now sustainable manufacturing practices.

In October 2009, UEMC, Inc. participated in a local Lean. Clean. Energy. program as part of a national manufacturing sustainable effort. Five Federal Government Agencies—Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Labor, Small Business Administration and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) of The National Institute of Standards and Technology – have jointly created the E3 Initiative (Energy, Economy, Environment), which is focused on helping manufacturers implement sustainable manufacturing practices. The E3 program is designed to capture the knowledge and tools of the five agencies to run effective sustainability initiatives across the nation.

The E3 program benefits manufacturers throughout the country not only with cost savings, but also by providing access to technical and financial resources.

That’s exactly what UEMC, Inc. experienced. Linda Jordan, the CFO of UEMC, was quick to agree that E3 is about much more than just saving the company money and energy:

Spotlight on Commerce: John Gray, Director of NOAA's Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs

John Gray, Director of NOAA’s Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series, which highlights members of the Department of Commerce who are contributing to the president's vision of winning the future through their work.

Guest blog by John Gray, Director of NOAA’s Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs.

My father served in the U.S. military so as a child our family moved all over the world. I fondly remember my time in New Mexico, Texas, Washington state, and abroad in Panama and Japan. Even though I was a world traveler as a child, I found Texas to be home. I entered and graduated from Rice University in Houston, Texas and graduate school in Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. After college and graduate school I was recruited to work at the Congressional Research Service, a part of the Library of Congress that specifically responds to congressional inquiries.  I have held several jobs in Washington, in and out of government, but immediately before starting at NOAA I worked as the Public Outreach Director, Economics for AARP. Prior to that, I worked for almost 8 years at the Department of Commerce where I served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs among many other positions.

I feel very grateful to work in this administration to further the President’s goal of winning the future.  At NOAA we perform a variety of services that move the President’s agenda forward. In my role as Director of NOAA’s Office of Legislative Affairs, we help communicate that vision to the Hill every day, ensuring that members of both parties understand how NOAA’s daily weather forecasts, severe storm warnings and climate monitoring, fisheries management, coastal restoration and supporting marine commerce support America’s economic growth and affect more than one-third of the gross domestic product. I’m particularly proud of NOAA’s effort to establish a climate service, which will provide available information about long term weather for public and private sector audiences and will be a significant innovation in the service that government can provide its citizens. Our work to build sustainable fishing waters will ensure that coastal communities can remain viable.

Helping U.S. Manufacturers Expand Exports

Guest post by Suresh Kumar, Assistant Secretary for Trade and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service.

Today, I had the opportunity to travel to West Virginia to discuss progress on President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI) and the promotion of U.S. manufacturing exports. As many of you might know, the NEI, announced in 2010, aims to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014. I’m glad to report that the NEI is off to a good start. Exports last year comprised 12.5 percent of GDP, up from the 11.2 percent recorded in 2009. 

In West Virginia, exports of merchandise grew 34 percent in 2010 -- double the national growth rate of 17 percent for goods and services. Thus far for 2011, the U.S. remains on pace to achieve the NEI goal.

The NEI is critical because we need to get more U.S. companies to export so that we can bolster our economy and support new jobs here in America. Of America’s 30 million companies, less than 1 percent export, and of those that do, 58 percent only sell to one market. The NEI helps creates deep market linkages and connects innovation to the marketplace. It also works to inform U.S. companies of their export potential, and the U.S. Government and private sector services available to help them sell internationally. 

Export Assistance at Work  

The International Trade Administration’s U.S. Commercial Service (CS) of the U.S. Department of Commerce operates a global network of 108 U.S. offices and locations in more than 75 countries comprising more than 1,400 trade specialists that provides U.S. business comprehensive, soup to nuts service and programs

West Virginia is an excellent example of how CS counseling and collaboration with businesses and state and local governments is resulting in many export sales for U.S. companies. Last year, CS offices in West Virginia offices recorded 53 export successes totaling more than $11 million.

Materials Scientist at Commerce’s NIST to Receive Prestigious Kyoto Prize in Advanced Technology

John Cahn

John Cahn, an emeritus senior fellow and materials scientist at the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), was recently named to receive the prestigious Kyoto Prize in Advanced Technology. Cahn's numerous major contributions to materials science include developing a fundamental theory that describes the behavior of mixtures of different materials and how they tend to separate at the microscale. The theory established an entire branch of materials research and is particularly important to the rational design of new alloys.

The Cahn-Hilliard equation supplied that basic framework for understanding how an alloy's phase separation and related changes in microstructure play a key role in determining the physical engineering properties of the bulk composite alloy—things like strength, toughness, ductility, magnetic strength and thermal conductance. The equation describes, quantitatively, how the components of a binary mixture that becomes unstable when cooled will separate through a process called "spinodal decomposition." Cahn proceeded to elaborate the theory, showing how basic thermodynamic principles could be used to design alloys that, under spinodal decomposition, would form desired microstructures. His work laid the foundation for the rational design and manufacture of new materials using the Cahn-Hilliard equation as well as for the related "phase-field" method, which uses similar thermodynamic considerations to model the behavior of complicated interfaces in materials.

Like many other fundamental theories, spinodal decomposition has proven relevant to a broad range of seemingly disparate fields. The Cahn-Hilliard equation, among other things, describes how galaxies began forming out of the primal material of the Big Bang in the early stages of the universe.

NIST has posted a video of Dr. Cahn explaining his work and a computer animation of the equation at work.

Make It and Move It

steel girder rails

Cross-posted on the NIST MEP blog

Without manufacturing, transportation would mean walking barefoot. Without transportation (and manufacturing), there would be no global economy. Fortunately for us, there are trains, trucks, planes, bikes and cars (and shoes!), all of which need to be made. So do bridges, roads, terminals, safety signs and tracks. All these seemingly disparate things work in concert to create the economic systems that keep America buying and selling and building and moving.

And, fortunately for our country, most, if not all, of the transportation infrastructure and supporting transportation equipment can and perhaps should be manufactured here. Transportation is not an end in itself. It’s a means to achieving American manufacturing and economic prosperity — a very big and very important means.

I know that American manufacturers can make anything and everything. The problem is matching manufacturing capability with long-term, predictable business opportunities that make sense.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) teamed up to address some of the issues that have hampered the matching of opportunity with ability. The partnership was set up to find domestic manufacturing capacity for steel girder rails. Yes, steel girder rails. There are 60 cities in the United States that are planning, designing or constructing systems for street cars.  Yes, street cars. (If your mind just wandered off to the scene in Meet Me in St. Louis when Judy Garland sang, “the Trolley Song,” you’ve got the picture.)

Broadband and the Latino Community: Let's Keep the Momentum Going!

Chart showing the Internet subscribership rate among Hispanics is only 45 percent

Guest blog by Anna M. Gomez, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information

Yesterday I was happy to participate in a panel discussion about broadband at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) annual conference in San Antonio. NALEO members recognize that broadband Internet is one of the tools necessary to help their communities thrive in today's economy. In fact, I think that any conference focused on building stronger communities should include a discussion of broadband - it's a critical ingredient for job creation, economic growth, and improving education, health care, and public safety.

I talked about challenges and opportunities. NTIA's data show that although 90-95 percent of Americans live in areas with access to broadband, only 68 percent of households subscribe to the service. In fact, more than 28 percent of Americans do not use the Internet in any location, which means they are cut off from countless educational and job opportunities.