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The Commerce Blog

Secretary Locke Speaks at U.S.-India Business and Entrepreneurship Summit, Announces Forthcoming Trade Mission to India

Delivering remarks at the U.S.-India Business and Entrepreneurship Summit in Mumbai today, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke discussed ways the U.S. and India can work together to promote trade that creates opportunity and jobs in both nations.

Locke remarked on the potential for a bilateral clean energy partnership, as well as the opportunities for American companies to help meet India’s healthcare and infrastructure needs.

At the Summit, Locke announced he will lead a high-tech trade mission to India. The February 6-11, 2011 business development mission will promote the export of high-technology products from leading U.S. firms and make stops in New Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore. The second trade mission led by Locke, it will highlight export opportunities for U.S. businesses in a broad range of advanced industrial sectors, including civil-nuclear trade, defense and security, civil aviation and information and communication.

Exports represent a critical part of the economy and are a key component of the Obama administration’s efforts to spur new job creation. Earlier this year, President Obama outlined his National Export Initiative (NEI), which seeks to double exports by 2015, in support of several million new U.S. jobs. The NEI enhances the U.S. government’s trade promotion efforts, increases available credit for businesses – especially small and medium-sized businesses – looking to export and continues to improve efforts to remove trade barriers for U.S. companies in foreign markets. Remarks

Commerce Department Continues Focus on Expanding Markets for U.S. Exports

Secretary Gary Locke will join President Obama in India this week, where they will work to deepen bilateral economic cooperation between the two countries on a regional and global level. Continuing to expand bilateral economic ties with India is an important step toward achieving the goals of the president’s National Export Initiative, which aims to double U.S. exports within the next five years in support of several million U.S. jobs.

While in Mumbai, Locke will participate in the U.S.-India Business and Entrepreneurship Summit. He will then travel to New Delhi, where he will give a keynote address at a Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the American Chamber of Commerce event.  In 2009, U.S. trade with India totaled $37.6 billion, and trade this year has already reached $32.4 billion through August.

Watch this video to hear from small business owners about their experiences partnering with the Department of Commerce.

NIST Hosts Second Cloud Computing Workshop, Urges Greater Government Use of Cloud Computing

NIST Director Pat Gallagher at Podium

The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) kicked off the second Cloud Computing Forum & Workshop today at its headquarters in Gaithersburg, Md., providing a report on the agency’s efforts to collaboratively develop a Cloud Computing Roadmap among multiple federal and industrial stakeholders.  

NIST Director Patrick Gallagher and U.S. Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra opened the two-day workshop and told hundreds of industry and government attendees that they wanted the information technology community's help in developing a "roadmap for action" to increase government use of the cloud. Both stressed the need for open discussion and participation among all stakeholders in developing policies to address challenges like security requirements for cloud services. Cloud computing is not just a fad, Kundra said, but represents a fundamental shift in how chief information officers can provide cost-effective information technology services for their organizations.

NIST held the first Cloud Computing Workshop in May to initiate engagement with industry to accelerate the development of cloud standards for interoperability, portability and security; introduce NIST Cloud Computing efforts; and discuss the federal government's experience with cloud computing.

The Cloud Computing Forum & Workshop II continues through Friday. For more information, visit http://www.nist.gov/itl/cloud/cloudworkshopii.cfm.

Secretary Locke Announces Members of New National Advisory Council on Minority Business Enterprises

Today, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced the appointment of 25 members to the new National Advisory Council for Minority Business Enterprises.  The advisory council will be led by the Commerce Department’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) and provide advice and recommendations to the department and the administration on a broad range of policy issues affecting the minority business community. 

The new council is the first to focus on promoting minority businesses since around 1969, when President Nixon established MBDA – formerly the Office of Minority Business Enterprise – and an advisory council to oversee and advise the new office.

The minority business community is an engine of economic growth and job creation. Today, there are approximately 5.8 million minority-owned firms generating $1 trillion annually and employing nearly 6 million workers. Yet, there continues to be challenges within the minority business community.  Of those 5.8 million firms, only 800,000 have more than one employee and the gap in average annual revenue between minority-owned and non-minority-owned firms is significant.

The Obama Administration is committed to narrowing that gap and finding ways to support and promote minority businesses. 

“The nation’s 5.8 million minority-owned firms have significant untapped potential that can benefit the United States,” said David A. Hinson, MBDA’s national director. “The advisory council has an opportunity to shape future policies and programs that will set the foundation for the growth of $100 million companies across all industries that are owned and operated by U.S. minorities.”

The first meeting of the new National Advisory Council for Minority Business Enterprises is planned for early 2011.

 

Commerce Department's USPTO to Kick Off Independent Inventors Conference

Logo for USPTO Independent Inventors ConferenceThe United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will kick off its annual Independent Inventors Conference tomorrow at its headquarters in Alexandria, Va.  Co-sponsored by the USPTO and the National Inventors Hall of Fame®, the conference is one of many outreach programs offered by the USPTO to assist independent inventors. Art Fry, co-inventor of Post-It® Notes and a 2010 National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductee, and USPTO Director David Kappos will be keynote speakers.

The conference will feature numerous experts and employees from the USPTO who will discuss topics such as the fundamentals of searching and filing trademark applications and the interplay between patents, trademarks and copyrights. Conference attendees will receive practical tips along with information on marketing and licensing, patent application preparation, patent and trademark searching, local resources, and lessons learned from successes and failures. Attendees will also have the opportunity to network one-on-one with experts and provide feedback on how the USPTO can better serve them.

Thousands of independent inventors and small businesses do critical research and development every day and produce innovative goods and services that benefit the public. These innovations continue to play a central role in the future of the American economy and job creation. 

The conference will run from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday with a pre-conference workshop for beginning inventors today. Learn more about the Annual Independent Inventors Conference on the PTO website, including how to register.

U.S. Census Bureau to Provide Insight into Nation's Population with Upcoming Data Releases

Image of Robert Groves on podiumCommerce's U.S. Census Bureau today hosted a press briefing at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. to provide an update on census operations, detailing the steps required to both process and evaluate the 2010 Census data collected from over 130 million U.S. households. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves explained that the 2010 Census numbers are just one part of a series of data releases coming out in the months ahead that provide information about our nation’s population.  

On December 6, the Census Bureau will release a set of national population estimates called Demographic Analysis that are based on historical data of births, deaths and estimates of in- and out-migration. Later in December, the Census Bureau will release the first-ever set of five-year American Community Survey (ACS) data. These detailed data are essential to the understanding of our nation and our ability to make informed decisions about the future of our communities.

By the end of December, the Census Bureau will release the first 2010 Census data: the total population for the nation and states, and the apportionment counts allocating congressional seats by state. For more information, visit http://2010.census.gov/2010census/

Secretary Locke Speaks with Silicon Valley Leadership Group on Obama Administration's Efforts to Foster Innovation

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke delivered remarks at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG)’s annual luncheon today, emphasizing the steps the Obama administration has taken to turn around the U.S. economy and create jobs. Locke stressed the administration’s efforts to build a stronger foundation for long-term growth and prosperity by investing in research and development, a 21st century infrastructure and manufacturing, and underlined Silicon Valley’s role as the epicenter of technological innovation.

Sec. Locke wanted it to be known that “when it comes to new ideas, our only criterion is efficacy. It doesn’t matter if they come from the left or the right, the boardroom or academia. We simply will not rest until every American who wants a job can find one.”

Locke emphasized that President Obama’s proposed 2011 budget, while freezing domestic discretionary spending overall, actually increases funding for civilian R&D by nearly 6 percent. Also, he noted President Obama’s support a new business tax cut that will allow small businesses to deduct the full amount of new capital investments immediately.

Locke also highlighted President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI), which aims to double U.S. exports over the next five years in support of several million American jobs. The NEI will provide more funding, more focus and more Cabinet-level coordination to increase U.S. exports, and represents the first time the United States will have a government-wide export-promotion strategy with focused attention from the president and his Cabinet.

Remarks

NOAA and FDA Announce Chemical Test for Dispersant in Gulf Seafood

Building upon the extensive testing and protocols already in use by federal, state and local officials for the fishing waters of the Gulf, NOAA and FDA have developed and are using a chemical test to detect dispersants used in the Deepwater Horizon-BP oil spill in fish, oysters, crab and shrimp. Trace amounts of the chemicals used in dispersants are common, and levels for safety have been previously set.

Experts trained in a rigorous sensory analysis process have been testing Gulf seafood for the presence of contaminants, and every seafood sample from reopened waters has passed sensory testing for contamination with oil and dispersant. Nonetheless, to ensure consumers have total confidence in the safety of seafood being harvested from the Gulf, NOAA and FDA have added this second test for dispersant when considering reopening Gulf waters to fishing.

Using this new, second test, in the Gulf scientists have tested 1,735 tissue samples including more than half of those collected to reopen Gulf of Mexico federal waters. Only a few showed trace amounts of dispersants residue (13 of the 1,735) and they were well below the safety threshold of 100 parts per million for finfish and 500 parts per million for shrimp, crabs and oysters. As such, they do not pose a threat to human health.  NOAA release

NIST Study on Charleston Furniture Store Fire Calls for National Safety Improvements

NIST Official at Podium Discussing ReportA report released today by the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) on the June 18, 2007 fire at the Sofa Super Store in Charleston, S.C., calls for national safety improvements and provides 11 recommendations for enhancing building, occupant and firefighter safety. The Sofa Super Store fire trapped and killed nine firefighters, the highest number of firefighter fatalities in a single event since 9/11.

NIST experts traveled to Charleston to gather data within 36 hours of the Sofa Super Store fire. Along with building design documents, video and photographic images, and other records, the study team developed a computer model to simulate and analyze the characteristics of the fire. Based on their study, they were able to outline the major factors that contributed to the rapid spread of fire, which included large, open spaces with furniture providing high-fuel loads; the inward rush of air following the breaking of windows; and a lack of sprinklers.

Specific recommendations in the report call for national model building and fire codes to require sprinklers for all new commercial retail furniture stores regardless of size and for existing retail furniture stores with a display area larger than 2,000 square feet. Other recommendations include ensuring proper fire inspections and building plan examinations, and encouraging research for a better understanding of specific fire situations. Release

Commerce Officials Address Privacy and Innovation at International Conferences

Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information Lawrence E. Strickling today addressed privacy and innovation at the 32nd International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners. In his keynote address, Strickling stressed that preserving trust in the Internet is imperative for its sustainability and continued growth. He noted, for example, that “if users do not trust that their personal information is safe on the Internet, they will worry about using new services. If content providers do not trust that their content will be protected, they will threaten to stop putting it online.”

Strickling called for technologists and entrepreneurs, privacy and consumer advocates, business interests, and the government to work together to develop a privacy policy. He envisions “a strong role for voluntary but enforceable codes of conduct, which must be developed through open, multi-stakeholder processes."

Stressing the importance of engaging the international community on privacy, Strickling added, “The time for greater international cooperation is here. All nations, including the United States, must be ready to work together and begin a proactive and productive dialogue on privacy reform efforts.” (Full Remarks)

Earlier this week, Department of Commerce General Counsel Cam Kerry participated in the keynote panel of the 30th Annual OECD Privacy Guidelines Conference and expressed a desire to create a global environment that protects privacy. (Full Remarks)