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Spotlight on Commerce: Suresh Kumar, Assistant Secretary for Trade Promotion and Director General for the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service

Suresh Kumar cutting a ribbon opening the Commercial Service Pavillion

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.

Suresh Kumar is the Assistant Secretary for Trade Promotion and Director General for the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service.

Asian Pacific American Month gives you time to reflect on your origin, your country of birth and learning through and across cultures.  It is conveying these assets, experiences and skills that build a better community and a better country.   At the U.S. Commercial Service, improving opportunities for American businesses domestically and abroad is what drives me.  It is why I'm behind President Obama's plan to win the future. To do so, we must out-innovate, out-educate and connect U.S. businesses to the 95% of consumers who live outside the U.S.  This is my key responsibility:  connecting U.S. businesses to global opportunities.  This lays the foundation for a strong, sustainable economy in the United States and beyond.

I am privileged to lead a service with almost 1500 trade professionals who assist American enterprises everyday to connect to global partners and to new markets.  Of the U.S.'s 30 million companies, only 1% or 280,000 companies export and of those who do, 58% export to only one market.  We can and we must do better, and it is this challenge and opportunity that the US&FCS trade specialists and I focus on each day.   This country needs more exporters and potential entrepreneurs and exporters amongst you do not have to go it alone - you have the full support of the U.S. Government in connecting you to global partners and global markets.

Hearing From Local Businesses in Minneapolis, MN: Secretary Locke Joins a White House Jobs and Competitiveness Council Listening and Action Session

UPDATED: Secretary Locke wrote about his time in Minneapolis on the White House blog.

Today, Secretary Locke traveled to Minneapolis to take part in a White House Jobs and Competitiveness Council Listening and Action Session. There, he heard suggestions from local business leaders on how the public and private sectors can work together to create jobs and enhance competitiveness for small businesses.

Secretary Locke was joined by Antonio M. Perez, Chairman and CEO, Kodak, Don Graves, President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, Department of Treasury, Ron Bloom, Senior Counselor for Manufacturing Policy, President’s National Economic Council, and Darlene Miller, President and CEO, Permac Industries.

Ms. Miller and Permak Industries, located just outside Minneapolis, played host to the session. They provided Administration officials and Jobs Council Members with a tour the Permac Industries facility and then held forum discussions and Q and A sessions with local business owners to discuss ideas for creating jobs and growing business in this country.

These sessions are part of an ongoing series of regional Council Listening and Action Sessions that will take place around the country.  The purpose of the regional sessions is to respond to the President’s challenge that the Council bring new voices to the table and ensure that everyone can participate and inform the work and recommendations of the Council.  The ideas and information exchanged at these events will help inform the future policy work of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. The first Listening and Action Session took place in Dayton, Ohio and focused on creating new markets and customers for small businesses through supply chain development, in-sourcing, and partnerships with large businesses.

Commerce’s EDA Partners with Fraunhofer USA, Boston City Leaders to Build Sustainable Energy Research and Innovation Center

U.S. Assistant Secretary John Fernandez with Mayor Thomas Menino, Fraunhofer USA, and local leaders at the groundbreaking of the $19.5 million Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems in Boston’s Innovation District.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez was in Boston this week with Mayor Thomas Menino for the groundbreaking of the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems, a sustainable energy research and building innovation center at 5 Channel Center in Boston's Innovation District. The 50,000-square-foot facility will support area entrepreneurs and advance the commercialization of sustainable energy technologies and next-generation building efficiency systems.

Commerce’s Economic Development Administration awarded $3.5 million to Fraunhofer USA in 2009 to support the project, which is expected to create an estimated 180 jobs and generate $30 million in private investment. The applied research facility and building technology showcase will serve as a unique factory of innovation in support of established companies and startups that are developing and demonstrating the next generation of energy efficiency technologies.

Boston city leaders hope the Center will become a living laboratory, attracting building technology pacesetters from around the country and the international business community to demonstrate the future of sustainable buildings. The project serves as an innovation platform for collaborative research and development activities in the region, as well as an enduring pipeline for new technologies and startup companies.

“The U.S. Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration is pleased to work with Mayor Thomas Menino, Fraunhofer USA and local leaders to help build the $20 million Center for Sustainable Energy Systems, which will serve as a catalyst for job and economic growth in the region,” Fernandez said. “This smart investment to advance the development of the 5 Channel Center and commercialize sustainable energy technologies and next-generation building efficiency systems will provide a much needed boost to the local economic ecosystem as new businesses are attracted to the community.”

Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau Provides First-Ever Look at Veteran Business Ownership

VetBiz.gov

New data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau for the first time provides detailed information on veteran-owned businesses in the United States. It shows U.S. military veterans owned 2.4 million businesses in 2007, which accounted for 9 percent of all businesses nationwide. Veteran-owned businesses generated $1.2 trillion in receipts, or about 4.1 percent of all business receipts in 2007, and employed nearly 5.8 million people.

Businesses in which veterans were majority or half-owners numbered 3.7 million, representing 13.5 percent of all businesses nationwide and accounting for more than $1.6 trillion in receipts in 2007. These 3.7 million businesses employed 8.2 million people.

This new data come from the Survey of Business Owners: Veteran-Owned Businesses: 2007, which reports the number of veteran-owned firms in the United States, their sales and receipts, number of paid employees and annual payroll. Today’s release is the first of its kind to track business ownership by America’s veterans.

The three states with the largest number of veteran-owned businesses in 2007 were California, Texas and Florida. California had 239,422 veteran-owned businesses, representing 9.8 percent of all veteran-owned businesses in the United States. Texas had 199,476 businesses, or 8.1 percent, and Florida was home to 176,727 businesses, or 7.2 percent. Nearly one-third of veteran-owned businesses operated in the professional, scientific, and technical services and construction sectors.

Spotlight on Commerce: Anita Ramasastry, Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance

Anita Ramasastry, Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance

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.

Anita Ramasastry is the Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance

In my role as the Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance, I develop and advance strategies to keep markets open for U.S. exporters. In the International Trade Administration, we do this by trying to reduce or eliminate trade barriers in other countries. Recently I was asked to establish a new initiative focused on preventing corruption in global trade. In addition, as part of the President’s National Export Initiative, I coordinate new strategies for increasing trade in six growing markets including Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey. I also am a member of the Commerce Department’s Internet Policy Task Force – tasked with promoting the growth of the knowledge economy and supporting our Internet and technology companies overseas. In this role, I have focused on how restrictions on Internet data flows can be a trade barrier, hindering innovation and competition in many markets.

Before coming to the International Trade Administration, I was a tenured law professor at the University of Washington, School of Law in Seattle, where I taught and researched commercial and banking law. My research focused on the impact of corruption on economic development in countries with natural resources.

President Obama has spoken of the devastating cost of corruption. And the need for change: “In too many places, the culture of the bribe is a brake on development and prosperity.  It discourages entrepreneurship, destroys public trust, and undermines the rule of law while stifling economic growth. With a new commitment to strengthening and enforcing rules against corruption, economic opportunity and prosperity will be more broadly shared.”

Secretary Locke Takes New Markets, New Jobs Tour to Wilmington, Delaware

Secretary Gary Locke continued the New markets, New Jobs nationwide tour to its fourth city, Wilmington, Del., today where he gave remarks on the administration’s efforts to implement President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI). New Markets, New Jobs tour is an interagency, multi-city outreach campaign spearheaded by the Commerce Department, designed to help connect small- and medium-sized businesses with the resources they need to sell more of what they make overseas.

“The purpose of this nationwide trip is simple:  To help small and medium-sized American businesses sell more goods and services around the world, so they can create more jobs here at home,” he said in his remarks. 

Locke was joined by U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), Governor Jack Markell, U.S. Small Business Administration Deputy Administrator Marie Johns, U.S. Department of Agriculture Acting Under Secretary Michael Scuse, and Export-Import Bank Board Member Diane Farrell.

New Markets, New Jobs kicked off in Minneapolis in February, made its second stop in Los Angeles in March and third stop in New Orleans in April before coming to Wilmington.  Businesses from Delaware exported $5 billion worth of goods in 2010 – a 15-percent increase ($4.3 billion to $5.0 billion) from 2009. 

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Digital Literacy Initiative Aims to Help Americans Build Online Skills

Guest blog post by Anneesh Chopra, White House Chief Technology Officer, and Lawrence E. Strickling, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information at the Department of Commerce

Today, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke launched DigitalLiteracy.gov, a new online portal to help Americans find jobs and obtain the 21st century skills being sought by today’s employers.

The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) developed DigitalLiteracy.gov in partnership with nine Federal agencies, with the goal of creating an online hub for librarians, educators, and other digital literacy practitioners to share content and best practices. Through DigitalLiteracy.gov, NTIA is making available to all Americans the methods for improving broadband adoption that are being developed by Recovery Act projects.

Secretary Locke Announces Digital Literacy Initiative

Secretary Locke Announces DigitalLiteracy.Gov

Locke visits Recovery Act-funded public computer center in Baltimore, unveils new website to improve computer and Internet skills in America

At a public computing center in Baltimore, Md., today, Secretary Gary Locke announced a digital literacy initiative that works to expand economic and educational opportunities in America. Locke was joined by U.S. Senators Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) and Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) to unveil www.DigitalLiteracy.gov, a new website that provides libraries, community colleges, schools and workforce training centers with a variety of resources and tools for teaching computer and Internet skills, which are increasingly important to success in today’s global economy.

Prior to the unveiling, Locke and the senators toured a computer lab and saw first-hand how people in the Baltimore community are using this new website to find free training resources on a range of digital literacy topics at various skill levels, including assistance in searching for and applying to jobs online.

“In a globalized, 21st ccentury economy, when you don’t have regular access to the high-speed Internet – and the skills to use it – your education, business, and employment opportunities are narrowed,” Locke said. “The tools we are unveiling today will help more Americans gain valuable job skills and augment the Recovery Act investments we are making to expand broadband access and adoption nationwide.”  Press release  |  Fact sheet

Learn more and see how you can enhance your digital literacy at www.DigitalLiteracy.gov.

Spotlight on Commerce: Gary Locke, Secretary of Commerce

Secretary Locke Addresses the Committee of 100

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.

Gary Locke is the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

As we continue to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islanders Heritage Month, it is important for us to reflect on our past – the difficulties we had growing up in immigrant families, the accomplishments our community has achieved and the barriers we still need to knock down.

Being an Asian American now is certainly different from when I was growing up.  In the Ozzie and Harriet era in which I was born, I thought I had to choose between being Chinese and being American.  I remembered that most mornings, my grade school teacher would ask us what we had for breakfast.  If we had eaten anything that was considered “un-American” – in my case, it was the rice porridge with fish and vegetables that my mother gave me – my teacher would slap our hands with a ruler. 

When I was young, I constantly struggled between my desire to be more “American” and my parents’ attempt to make me more “Chinese”.  It took the civil rights movement to teach me that I could be both Chinese and American.  I could be Chinese-American.  I could be myself.  I could be loyal and patriotic to the Star-Spangled Banner and still eat with chopsticks. 

Commerce’s EDA Launches New Website to Accelerate Regional Innovation

The Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) today announced the launch of a new website designed to connect Venture Development Organizations (VDOs) in America’s regions to accelerate economic development efforts that promote growth and job creation. The Regional Innovation Acceleration Network (RIAN) will bring VDOs together to share best practices and leverage resources that will strengthen regional economic ecosystems. 

Speaking at the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Southwest Region Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Albuquerque, N.M., Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez made the announcement, noting “The Regional Innovation Acceleration Network builds on President Obama’s national innovation agenda by bringing Venture Development Organizations within America’s regions together to help increase business development and competitiveness.  Across the nation, these organizations are helping to grow local economies and create jobs, and this new network will enhance their impact and efficiency.”  EDA press release