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The Commerce Blog

Secretary Locke Delivers Keynote Address on the Economy at 128th Meeting of Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce

Alternate TextU.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke was in Seattle today speaking with small- and medium-sized businesses about exports and the economy. Afterwards he delivered the keynote address at the annual meeting of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce.

Secretary Locke discussed the progress made and the next steps for President Obama's National Export Initiative (NEI). He also addressed how it is helping to lay the groundwork for sustainable economic growth in Washington state, the nation's most trade-dependent state, and across the country. His remarks today are only one day after he and his colleagues on the Export Promotion Cabinet delivered a detailed report to the president laying out recommendations for how to double U.S. exports.

“Yesterday, at the president’s newly-constituted Export Council – chaired by Jim McNerny, CEO of Boeing – we announced that our renewed focus on trade promotion has contributed to an 18 percent increase in U.S. exports so far in 2010 over the same period last year.

  • U.S. exports of manufactured goods so far in 2010 have risen by 22 percent. U.S. agricultural exports this year are projected to be the second-highest amount ever, with a trade surplus of $30 billion.

These increases are having an impact on the economy: Exports contributed to GDP growth for just as much as domestic consumption in each of the four quarters of recovery."

Exports growth is also impacting employment. Since January, Commerce’s Advocacy Center, in close coordination with the State Department and other agencies, has helped U.S. companies successfully compete for contracts with foreign governments supporting an estimated $11.8 billion in U.S. content. These deals alone support an estimated 70,000 jobs. “

Learn more about the National Export Initiative and read Secretary Locke’s complete remarks.  |  Press release  |  NEI website

White House Releases Report on National Export Initiative

President with members of PECToday the White House released a report to the president on the National Export Initiative (NEI). It detailed the way the Export Promotion Cabinet plans to meet the president’s goal of doubling U.S. exports in five years to support millions of new jobs.

Since the president announced the NEI, the Department of Commerce’s Advocacy Center has assisted American companies competing for export opportunities, supporting $11.8 billion in U.S. exports and an estimated 70,000 jobs. To date, the Commerce Department has coordinated 20 trade missions with over 250 U.S. companies to 25 countries.

Expanding into new markets is key for America’s growth as Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said today, “As American consumers spend a little less and save a little more, it has never been more important to connect U.S. businesses to the 95 percent of the world's consumers who live outside our borders. Helping American companies sell more abroad will create jobs and boost our economy. This report is a blueprint for doing just that.” 

For more information, read the complete NEI report, the executive summary and the press release.  See  the International Trade Administration's NEI website.  |  NEI meeting video

Commerce's NTIA Announces Investments to Expand Internet Access During HBCU Week

Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling will be joined by U.S. Department of Justice Senior Counselor for Access to Justice Laurence Tribe with grant awardeesIt is National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Week, a time to celebrate educational achievement and opportunity. The Commerce Department’s NTIA today announced a Recovery Act grant to an HBCU, North Carolina Central University’s School of Law, to upgrade broadband service while expanding access to its legal education programs. The nearly $2 million investment will also benefit four partner HBCUs in the state --  Elizabeth City State University, Winston-Salem State University, North Carolina A&T University, and Fayetteville State University. 

This is one of two Recovery Act investments announced today that will help bridge the technological divide, improve education, and increase access to legal services. Release  |  Presidential Proclamation


NIST Data: Enabling the Technical Basis for Evacuation Planning of High-Rise Buildings

Fireman in stairwellResearchers at Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are stepping up the pace for designing safer building evacuations by releasing large, numerical data sets that track the movement of people on stairs during high-rise building evacuation drills. The data sets will ensure that architects, engineers, emergency planners and others involved in building design have a strong technical basis for safer, more cost-effective building evacuations.

“While stairs have been used in buildings for ages, there is little scientific understanding of how people use them,” explained NIST researcher Erica Kuligowski. “For example, we know little of how the width of the stair affects the flow rate, whether people grow fatigued as they descend from tall buildings, or how people merge into a crowded stairwell.”

Working with the Public Buildings Service at the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), NIST researchers made video recordings of evacuation drills in stairwells at nine buildings ranging in height from six to 62 stories tall. The first data sets being released (available at www.nist.gov/bfrl/fire_research/building-occupant-evacuation.cfm) come from four of the buildings and include movement information on more than 3,000 people. Other evacuation data will be posted on the NIST Web site as it becomes available.  Read more

Secretary Locke Announces Recovery Act Investments to Improve Broadband Internet Access

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today announced 35 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act investments to help bridge the technological divide, boost economic growth, create jobs, and improve education and healthcare across the country. The investments, totaling $482.4 million in grants, will fund projects that pave the way to bring enhanced high-speed Internet access to millions of households and businesses and link thousands of schools, hospitals, libraries, and public safety offices to the information superhighway.

 “In a globalized 21st century economy, when you don’t have regular access to high-speed Internet, you don’t have access to all the educational, business and employment opportunities it provides,” Locke said. “These critical Recovery Act investments will create jobs and lay the groundwork for long-term sustainable economic growth in communities across America.”

 “These projects will have a real, lasting impact on communities across the country,” Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling said. “We are investing in ‘middle mile’ networks that bring high-speed Internet access to communities and connect key anchor institutions, such as schools, libraries, and hospitals. We are also investing in projects to improve access and spur Internet usage and adoption. This allows us to get the most bang for every grant dollar and award projects that will address communities’ broadband problems while creating jobs and facilitating  sustainable economic growth.”  Read more

Secretary Locke Speaks at the Virginia Summit on Export Opportunities

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke - joined by Senator Mark Warner and Export-Import Bank President Fred P. Hochberg - today delivered the keynote address at the Virginia Summit on Export Opportunities in Richmond. Locke highlighted President Obama's National Export Initiative (NEI) and gave an update on the NEI, and its goal of doubling exports and supporting several million jobs over the next five years.

The Summit focused on ways in which the federal government can coordinate with local government and private-sector partners to promote trade and export opportunities in Virginia. In 2009, Virginia companies exported more than $15 billion of merchandise overseas, up from $2.8 billion in 2005. 18.1 percent of manufacturing jobs in Virginia depend on exports.

President Obama announced the NEI during his State of the Union earlier this year. The NEI will provide more funding, more focus and more cabinet-level coordination to grow 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. NEI site: http://export.gov

Exports remain an integral part of the U.S. economy. In 2008, American exports accounted for nearly 7 percent of our total employment and one in three manufacturing jobs. In the first four months of 2010, exports grew almost 17 percent compared to the same period last year.  Remarks

Secretary Locke Announces Board of Directors for New Corporation for Travel Promotion

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today appointed 11 travel and tourism industry leaders to serve on the Corporation for Travel Promotion (CTP) Board of Directors. The CTP is a new non-profit corporation that will promote travel to the United States and communicate and improve the entry process so that visitors want to return.

The Corporation will help enhance the competitiveness of an already robust industry, which supports more than 8 million American jobs and is a critical source of export strength. Many other nations operate ministries of tourism that actively market their countries as tourist destinations around the world. The Corporation will help get America into the game and encourage people across the globe to travel to the U.S.  

“We are extremely pleased to join with this diverse group of talented travel and tourism industry leaders as we work together to strengthen this important sector of the U.S. economy,” Locke said. “President Obama recognizes the critical role that attracting international visitors to the United States plays in creating jobs and growing our economy.”

The CTP and its efforts to promote America as a travel destination will be funded by private donations and matching funds from a new fee collected from foreign travelers to the U.S.

The CTP Board of Directors represents various regions of the United States and each member has expertise and experience in specific sectors of the travel and tourism industry.  See the full release

NOAA: Fourth-Warmest U.S. Summer on Record

U.S. temperature map graphicThe contiguous United States had its fourth-warmest summer (June-August) on record, according to the latest NOAA State of the Climate report issued today. The report also showed the August average temperature was 75.0 degrees F, which is 2.2 degrees F above the long-term (1901-2000) average. Last month’s average precipitation was 2.41 inches, 0.19 inch below the 1901-2000 average.

The monthly analysis, based on records dating back to 1895, is prepared by scientists at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.  Read more

USPTO Launches Data Visualization Center

Image of dashboardCommerce's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) this week launched a beta version of the “USPTO Data Visualization Center.”  This tool will give the public access to important data covering USPTO patent operations in a convenient dashboard format.  The patents dashboard provides more refined pendency information than was previously available, as well as other critical indicators such as the number of applications in the backlog, production, staffing and more.

This information will help the entire intellectual property (IP) community to better understand the USPTO’s processes, and enable applicants to make more informed decisions about their applications, especially as the USPTO develops more opportunities for applicants to control the timing at which their applications are examined.  The new dashboard, which will be updated monthly, will also be used internally by the USPTO to analyze and improve its examination process and to track the effectiveness of its improvement efforts.  The USPTO also plans to add relevant data to track progress in other areas such as Trademarks and worksharing with global IP offices.

The USPTO is pleased to offer this new tool which provides a window into USPTO operations that has not been available to the public before.  To learn more about what the USPTO will be measuring and tracking visit the dashboard at www.uspto.gov/dashboards.  And to read USPTO Director Kappos’ blog about the dashboard, visit www.uspto.gov/blogData Visulization Center

 

NOAA Reopens More than 30,000 Square Miles in the Gulf to Fishing

Map of Reopened Fishing AreaToday NOAA reopened 3,114 square miles of Gulf waters offshore of the western Florida panhandle to commercial and recreational fishing. The reopening was announced after consultation with FDA and under a re-opening protocol agreed to by NOAA, the FDA, and the Gulf states.

Trajectory models show the area is at a low risk for future exposure to oil, and fish caught in the area and tested by NOAA experts have shown no signs of contamination.

“We are pleased to continue moving forward with reopening portions of Gulf federal waters to recreational and commercial fishing,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “I’d like to thank everyone for their patience throughout this process, as we work to ensure seafood safety remains our primary objective.”

At its closest point, the area to be reopened is about 55 miles northeast of the Deepwater/BP wellhead. The total area is about one percent of federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico. Release