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MBDA Helps Minority-Owned Businesses Win the Future

Workers installing solar panels on reservation building

Commerce's Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is enabling job creation and growth within minority-owned companies as they expand through innovation and untapped resources. MBDA has 50 business development centers and regional offices throughout the country and is preparing to open its newest business center in Cleveland, Ohio, in September to continue to create an environment for support, technical training and access to capital, contracts and to markets for business owners there.

Knowing that many jobs of the 21st century will be in clean and renewable energy, green technology, and Healthcare IT, the MBDA Business Centers are reaching out to minority-owned firms so they can expand into those new areas and keep communities strong and workers employed.

For example, MBDA client Sacred Power Corporation Inc. based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is a Native-American-owned renewable and distributive energy manufacturer. Sacred Power operates on the principle that “the world in which we live can change its current direction and dependence on polluting energy sources and convert to renewable technologies that provide clean, long-term solutions to today’s energy problems.”

Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security Annual Update Conference Focuses on Export Control Reform

Conference logo

White House Chief of Staff and former Commerce Secretary William Daley delivered the keynote address to the Bureau of Industry and Security's 24th Annual Update Conference on Export Controls and Policy. Mr. Daley and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, who also addressed the conference, both highlighted the administration’s continued priority for the Export Control Reform Initiative as a national security imperative.  In his remarks, Under Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Security Eric Hirschhorn emphasized that the call for export reform by President Obama and Secretary Locke is real and long overdue.

 “The Obama administration’s commitment to export control reform reflects an overriding national security imperative. The current system—based on Cold War-era laws, policies, practices, and controls—is not responsive to current threats and emerging challenges of the twenty-first century. The administration launched ECR to rectify these shortcomings and to increase U.S. security and competitiveness.”

The annual Update Conference discusses reforms to the U.S. export control system that will strengthen national security and improve the competitiveness of key U.S. manufacturing and technology sectors.  White House statement

U.S. Seaports Join ITA in New Partnership to Increase Exports

Department of Commerce and American Association of Port Authorities sign memorandum of intent

Guest blog post by Francisco Sánchez, U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

Just this week I traveled to the Port of Oakland to launch a new and exciting partnership.  The International Trade Administration (ITA) and the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) have entered into a new partnership to promote exports. During an event hosted by the Port of Oakland, Kurt Nagle, President of the AAPA and I signed a joint memorandum of intent to collaborate to help expand the reach of our export education efforts. This effort supports the National Export Initiative, President Obama’s goal of doubling exports by 2014. 

This was my first visit to the Port of Oakland and it is very memorable. The Port is the primary point of exit for exports from Northern California and its agricultural industries. Notably, it is the largest U.S. export port for wines handling over 52 percent of all U.S. wine exports (by value) in 2010.

On top of that, Oakland is the third-largest U.S. West Coast port for containers.  It is the United States’ 17th-largest export port overall and Oakland is one of the few U.S. seaports whose exports exceed their imports; nearly fifty-five percent of Oakland’s total cargo tonnage is exports. 

U.S. seaports are a critical conduit for most U.S. merchandise trade, with more than $455 billion in exports flowing through America’s sea ports in 2010.

Jobs of the Future Today

Logo for WET Center

Guest blog post by John Fernandez, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is investing to create the jobs of the future today. 

In Fresno, California, for example, EDA provided $1.9 million to help the Central Valley Business Incubator, Inc. (CVBI) build the Claude Laval Water and Energy Technology (WET) Incubator located on the campus of Cal State Fresno.  This vital incubator provides start-ups access to active research within the university’s labs and state of the art facilities to advance cutting edge research in the use of water to support the agricultural sector while helping grow small businesses.

Since opening their doors four years ago in 2007, WET has helped create and sustain over 15 start-ups that are developing water and energy technology innovations. They are generating real returns, creating hundreds of new jobs for Central Californians and spurring $17 million in private sector investment to help fuel the nation’s economy. One of WET’s graduates recently sold its business for $30 million.

Startups and entrepreneurs like these bring an unparalleled wealth of transformative innovations to market, especially over the past three decades — think of everything from the airplane to the automobile to Amazon.com.  These small businesses are tackling the nation’s challenges in clean energy, medicine, national security, and other fields. They will build the leading industries and jobs of the 21st century.

NOAA, U.S. Department of Energy and Private Partners Launch Project to Reduce Cost of Energy, Including Wind Energy

Wind turbines

There has not always been a need to know precisely how hard the wind blows 350 feet above Earth’s surface. Today, wind turbines occupy that zone of the atmosphere, generating electricity. So NOAA and several partners have launched a year-long effort to improve forecasts of the winds there, which ultimately will help to reach the nation’s renewable energy goals.

The Wind Forecast Improvement Project (WFIP) is a collaboration among NOAA, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), two private wind energy companies and academic research institutions. The project began today as dozens of powerful, custom instruments designed to better profile and predict the weather and winds were powered up.

“The end goal is to lower the cost of electric power for the consumer and meet President Obama’s clean energy challenge,” said Alexander MacDonald, NOAA deputy assistant administrator for research and director of NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) in Boulder, Colo. “Our starting point is to improve the basic wind forecast for all users, including wind power and conventional energy companies, the aviation industry and the general public.”

Last fall, through a competitive process, the DOE chose AWS Truepower, LLC and WindLogics, Inc. to participate in WFIP. DOE funds WFIP with about $6 million, while NOAA contributes scientific experts and expertise in collecting atmospheric data and in making weather predictions. The project targets the Upper Midwest and Texas, which were selected in part because WFIP industry partners support thousands of wind turbines in the areas.  Read more  |  Video

Spotlight on Commerce: Jon Wright, Legislative Assistant in the Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs

Photo of Jon Wright

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.

Jon Wright is a Legislative Assistant in the Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs

My boss describes me as the office’s “utility infielder,” because I help the Assistant Secretary for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs manage Department-wide special projects as a legislative assistant in the Secretary’s Congressional and state government liaison office

During my time at Commerce, I have had a wide variety of responsibilities and experiences from responding to Congressional oversight inquiries to staffing a Congressional delegation led by Secretary Locke to South Korea to build support for the U.S.–Korea Trade Agreement. The experience in government that impacted me most, however, was serving as a liaison to the Coast Guard Florida Incident Commander during the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill where I advised him on handling the concerns of federal, state, and local elected officials.  It was my job to help ensure that the people who represent Floridians and Florida business owners were being heard. The response team and the administration were committed to addressing the economic and personal impacts of the spill, and I was proud to play a part in that.

Innovation and Invention: USPTO and Smithsonian Museum Partner in Exhibiting 'The Great American Hall of Wonders'

Kappos at podium

The exhibition, The Great American Hall of Wonders, examining the 19th-century American belief that the people of the United States shared a special genius for innovation, is now open at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. It is a collaborative effort between the museum and Commerce's U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and explores six subjects – three natural resources, three man-made inventions – that helped shape America during this period: the buffalo, Giant Sequoia, Niagara Falls, the gun, the railroad and the clock. The exhibition will focus on the ways these six subjects brought together artistic, scientific and technological ways of seeing the world.

In addition to providing creative and technical assistance for development of the exhibition, the USPTO has played a part in the public program development by working with the museum to provide:  speakers for university level courses as well as inventors from the National Inventors’ Hall of Fame for a lecture series.   There will also be a day and a half long inventors symposium held at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the USPTO will take the lead in providing experts to address the many challenges facing independent inventors and entrepreneurs.

Economics and Statistics Administration Releases New Report on STEM: Good Jobs Now and For the Future

Recent and Projected Growth in STEM and Non-STEM Employment

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) today released a new report that profiles U.S. employment in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. STEM: Good Jobs Now and for the Future offers an inside look at workers who are driving our nation’s innovation and competitiveness and helping America win the future with new ideas, new companies and new industries.

In 2010, 7.6 million people or 5.5 percent of the labor force worked in STEM occupations. Key findings from the new report show that over the past 10 years, growth in STEM jobs was three times greater than that of non-STEM jobs, and STEM jobs are expected to continue to grow at a faster rate than other jobs in the coming decade. Meanwhile, STEM workers are also less likely to experience joblessness.

Further findings show STEM workers command higher wages, earning 26 percent more than their non-STEM counterparts. STEM degree holders also enjoy higher earnings, regardless of whether they work in STEM or non-STEM occupations. Likewise, college graduates – no matter what their major – enjoy an earnings premium for having a STEM job.

ESA wrote up their findings on their blog and have released the complete report: STEM: Good Jobs Now and for the Future.

Spotlight on Commerce: Kevin Kurland, Bureau of Industry and Security

Photo of Kurland

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.

Kevin Kurland is Acting Chief of Staff for Export Administration and Director, Office of Technology Evlauation at the Bureau of Industry and Security

As a member of the White House Task Force on Export Control Reform (ECR), I have been fortunate to play an integral role in helping further the president’s vision for “Winning the Future.”  The interagency Task Force was directed by the president to build and help implement a blueprint for a new system that addresses current national security and economic challenges.  In April 2010, Secretary Gates announced the results of the Task Force efforts – a single control list, single licensing agency, single information technology platform and single primary export enforcement coordination agency – which agencies and the Task Force have been busily working toward for the past 15 months.

My role on the Task Force stems from my current positions of Acting Chief of Staff for the Assistant Secretary for Export Administration and Director of the Office of Technology Evaluation in the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS).  These positions have exposed me to national security and economic issues across the Bureau and Department-wide.

Spotlight on Commerce: Phillip Singerman, Associate Director for Innovation and Industry Services at the National Institute of Standards and Technology

Portrait of Singerman

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.

Phillip Singerman is the Associate Director for Innovation and Industry Services at the National Institute of Standards and Technology

In January I was honored to be selected by Pat Gallagher, Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), to serve as Associate Director for Innovation and Industry Services, with responsibility for NIST’s suite of nationally recognized industry-partnership programs, the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership, the Technology Innovation Program, the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, technology transfer and SBIR grants.  These programs are central to NIST’s mission and to the president’s innovation strategy of using science and technology to drive economic development, and are staffed by professionals of skill, dedication and integrity.

My professional career has focused on economic development at the local, state and regional levels in public, non-profit and private organizations.  In my current role, I continue to have the opportunity to work with the regional public-private partnerships, young entrepreneurial firms and universities which populate the innovation ecosystem.   

This is my second turn at Commerce.  During the latter half of the 1990s I served as Assistant Secretary for Economic Development; what has struck me upon my return to the Department is the higher level of coordination among bureaus, particularly NIST with EDA, USPTO, and ITA, and the leadership exercised by the National Economic Council and Office of Science and Technology Policy to encourage inter-departmental collaboration.