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New Spectrometry Standard for Handheld Chemical Detectors Aids First Responders

Christopher Neary of the NIST Environmental Management Group demonstrates the use of a handheld Raman spectrometer to determine the identity of an unknown sample.

When it comes to detectors for dangerous chemicals, toxins or nefarious germs, smaller and faster is better. But size and speed must still allow for accuracy, especially when measurements by different instruments must give the same result.

The recent publication of a new standard—a culmination of years of research at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)—provides confidence that results from handheld chemical detectors can be compared, apples-to-apples.

Such detectors are used by emergency responders to check for the presence of explosives or toxic chemicals that threaten public safety. Quality control managers in the pharmaceutical industry use them to verify the identity of chemicals going into their production lines.

Commerce Teams Receive GreenGov Presidential Award

Today, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) announced the fourth annual winners of the GreenGov Presidential Awards, which honor Federal civilian and military personnel, as well as agency teams, facilities and programs that have taken innovative steps to reduce energy use and carbon pollution, curb waste, and save taxpayer dollars.

The Department of Commerce and a team from Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) were recognized as two of the eight award winners during a ceremony with senior administration officials today.

A team of National Marine Fisheries Service scientists and engineers at the Ted Stevens Research Institute in Juneau, Alaska, received an award in the category of Lean, Clean and Green for using seawater as a heat source to replace oil-fueled heat pumps and eliminate all carbon emissions. The staff developed a system to extract heat from seawater already being pumped through the lab to support research activities. The seawater heat pump is the latest of three projects the facility has spearheaded in order to reach zero carbon emissions.

The Department of Commerce was recognized for its joint efforts with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Global Change Research Program in the Climate Champion award category. The Federal agencies partnered to create an interactive sea level rise mapping and calculator tool that helps city planners identify and prepare for future flood risks. The team released the tool less than a year after Hurricane Sandy, allowing state and local planners to make better informed decisions that consider the risk in location and design of redevelopment projects. The tool uses the most up-to-date scientific information by providing assessments of future risks beyond current conditions.

Startup Culture Flourishes on America’s College Campuses

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Cross-posted from White House Office of Science and Technology Policy blog by Doug Rand, Assistant Director for Entrepreneurship at OSTP

Today—marking the first full week of National Entrepreneurship Month—the Department of Commerce released a new report entitled The Innovative and Entrepreneurial University, underscoring the increasingly diverse ways in which colleges and universities across America are promoting cultures of entrepreneurship on campus and encouraging students to start companies.

As hubs of learning, networking, mentorship, and creativity, colleges and universities provide particularly fertile ground for the cultivation of world-changing, entrepreneurial ideas. The report released today, which is based on more than 130 interviews with university leaders and builds on prior work by the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, highlights more than 50 of the most promising initiatives that have sprouted up on campuses across the country, including those that promote entrepreneurship among students and faculty; accelerate the transition of research innovations from the lab to the marketplace; and encourage engagement between universities, industry partners, and regional economies.

SelectUSA Investment Summit Concludes with a Focus on Forging Stronger Global Business Alliances

SelectUSA Investment Summit Concludes with a Focus on Forging Stronger Global Business Alliances

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker wrapped up the inaugural SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit this afternoon, following two high-impact days of meetings and discussions among senior government officials, major business executives, global economic experts and U.S. economic development officials about strategies to increase foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States.

Secretary Pritzker also opened the final day of the Summit, where she announced changes to the eligibility requirements for the Manufacturing Council that will allow representatives from U.S. subsidiaries of foreign-owned or controlled firms to become members. The expanded eligibility rules will add new perspectives to the Council, which advises the Commerce Secretary on policies and initiatives to increase FDI in the U.S. manufacturing sector, including SelectUSA.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivered remarks focused on deepening U.S. economic alliances around the world. Following his address, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman moderated a panel with Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, BMW North America CEO Ludwig Willisch, and Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman on how global companies can use their U.S. operations as an export platform by taking advantage of free trade agreements and bilateral investment treaties. 

Watch the SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit (Day Two)

View the archived webcast here.

  • Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Opening Remarks
  • Secretary of State John Kerry Keynote Address
  • Why Select the USA: Using the U.S. as an Export Platform
  • Why Select the USA: Taking Advantage of the U.S. Energy Opportunity
  • Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Closing Remarks

Day One at the SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit

President Barack Obama delivered keynote remarks at the SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit.

Guest post by Ambassador Vinai Thummalapally, Director of SelectUSA.

Cross-posted from Tradeology, the official blog of ITA.

“There’s no substitute for those three proud words: ‘Made in America.’”

President Obama has been emphatic that the United States remains the best place in the world to do business. Today at the SelectUSA Investment Summit, he reiterated that message to 1,000 business leaders from nearly 60 countries.

“When you bet on America, that bet pays off,” the president said as he closed his keynote address.

Your country is your product when you’re attracting foreign direct investment. At the Summit today, we showed the world that the United States is the absolute best product on the market.

“America is open for business,” said Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. “Our market has provided long-term stability and unmatched returns for investors.”

Attendees began making connections as soon as the doors opened. Representatives from 47 states, three territories, and Washington, D.C., showed off investment opportunities around the country.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew highlighted many advantages a company has when it invests in America – including robust infrastructure and low barriers for entrepreneurs. CEOs from major national and international companies echoed those messages throughout the day.

“We have the most resilient capital markets in the world,” said Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock.

Andrew Liveris said that when it comes to investment in research and development, “the U.S. is number one.”

Watch the SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit (Day One)

View the archived webcasts here.

  • Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker's Welcoming Remarks
  • Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew's view of the U.S. and Global Economy
  • Plenary: Why Select the USA: Perspectives on Investing and Operating in the United States
  • President Barack Obama Keynote Remarks

Commerce and President's Council of Economic Advisors Release Report on Economic Benefits of Foreign Direct Investment

SelectUSA logo

A new report from the U.S. Commerce Department and the President's Council of Economic Advisors spotlights the array of factors that have made the U.S. the destination of choice for foreign direct investment (FDI). The joint report, released at the inaugural SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit, also documents the positive impact FDI is having on the U.S. economy, including job creation, higher research and development spending and export growth.

The U.S. is the largest recipient of FDI in the world, with stock of more than $2.6 trillion dollars–including $166 billion that flowed into the country in 2012. Moreover, companies around the world now consider the U.S. to be the nation with the top FDI prospects globally.

The United States has been the world’s largest recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) since 2006. Every day, foreign companies establish new operations in the United States or provide additional capital to established businesses. With the world’s largest consumer market, skilled and productive workers, a highly innovative environment, appropriate legal protections, a predictable regulatory environment, and a growing energy sector, the United States offers an attractive investment climate for firms across the globe.

Secretary Pritzker Declares America is Open for Business

Secretary Pritzker Declares America is Open for Business

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today launched the inaugural SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit, telling the more than 1,200 attendees from nearly 60 countries, 47 states, the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories that the United States is open for business. The first-ever event is connecting foreign and domestic investors with local, state and regional economic development organizations to promote investment and job creation in the United States.

“The SelectUSA Summit is all about business. It’s all about connecting investors with communities,” Commerce Secretary Pritzker told the audience. “We want to open that first door to making an investment here in the United States. Clearly, our investment climate is strong. America is open for business.”

For centuries, the U.S. has welcomed investment into the country and the domestic market has provided long-term stability and unmatched returns for investors. Today, the U.S. is the largest recipient of FDI in the world. Last year alone, foreign direct investment was more than $160 billion dollars and the total foreign stock and assets are measured not in billions, but in the trillions of dollars.

Also at the Summit, the Department of Commerce and the President's Council of Economic Advisers released a report outlining the reasons businesses consider the U.S. a top choice for investment,  as well as the economic benefits of foreign direct investment. Significantly, the report points out that the United States is the largest recipient of FDI in the world, with stock of more than $2.6 trillion dollars – including $166 billion that flowed into the country in 2012. The report recommends that the U.S. should continue to "nurture and build upon the underlying strengths of the U.S. economy that make firms want to invest here; including an open investment regime, a large economy, a skilled labor forced, community colleges, world-class research universities, predictable and stable regulatory regime, adequately capacitated infrastructure, and new energy sources." 

Redesigning Commerce.gov

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After having the same look and feel on our website since 2010, Commerce.gov is embarking on a fresh redesign to put the user in the driver seat. Drawing on anonymized user input, we have made some significant changes and are excited to announce the launch of our new site - Beta.Commerce.gov.

First, you’ll notice that we’ve made search front and center. Our search feature was visited by one in seven users, and we’ve made it even easier to find and use. We are using the USA Search Drupal module, which allows faceted search across not just Commerce.gov, but all Commerce websites. If you know the information you need is somewhere in the Commerce family, but not sure where, our search tool should be able to find it for you.

To improve the user experience, the navigation bar follows the user down the page. No more scrolling up to the top of the page to navigate around the site. The navigation link you need is never more than a few pixels away. We’ve also simplified the navigation bar to make it easier to find what you are looking for. “Economic Indicators” has been replaced with “Find Data,” while “Newsroom” has been replaced with “Get News.” Based on user searches, we’ve added “Focus on Topics,” which groups our most searched topics into an easily navigable section.