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The Commerce Blog

Secretary Locke Convenes Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee Meeting

Locke at lectern with other participants in background.

In response to President Obama's recently-unveiled goal of doubling American exports over the next five years with the National Export Initiative (NEI), U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke hosted the second meeting of the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC) at the department. The TPCC, established in 1992, is an interagency group chaired by the Secretary of Commerce to establish trade promotion priorities that boost exports and create jobs. Later, he hosted a press conference with TPCC members, including Agriculture Secretary Vilsack, U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Kirk, Small Business Administration Administrator Mills and others.

Secretary Locke: Commerce Helps Cities

Locke on podium. Click for larger image.

In remarks to the National League of Cities Congressional City Conference, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke focused on the ways the Department of Commerce assists American cities, describing the core mission of the department as “making American businesses more innovative at home and more competitive abroad so they can create good jobs in communities throughout America.” Commerce is the lead agency for expanding high-speed Internet and broadband access, building critical economic infrastructure through regional innovation clusters, and increasing U.S. exports through the president’s National Export Initiative. (Remarks)

NOAA: Imminent Flood Threat in Midwest, South and East at Risk

Map of U.S. showing areas of flood risk. Click for larger image.

Major flooding has begun and is forecast to continue through spring in parts of the Midwest according to NOAA’s National Weather Service. The South and East are also more susceptible to flooding as an El Niño influenced winter left the area soggier than usual. Overall, more than a third of the contiguous United States has an above average flood risk—with the highest threat in the Dakotas, Minnesota and Iowa, including along the Red River Valley where crests could approach the record levels set just last year. (More)

Secretary Locke Discusses Travel and Tourism Industry at American Hotel and Lodging Association Summit

Locke on podium.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke addressed the American Hotel and Lodging Association Legislative Action Summit to discuss the importance of the travel and tourism industry to the U.S. economy. Locke spoke about President Obama’s National Export Initiative and the role travel and tourism plays in growing American jobs. He also discussed plans for implementation of the recently-signed Travel Promotion Act, which establishes a new public-private partnership between the U.S. government and the nation’s travel and tourism industry. (Remarks)

FEMA and NOAA Renew Partnership to Encourage Flood Safety

NOAA logo. Click to go to Web site.

As one of the snowiest winter seasons in many years yields to warmer weather and the promise of rain and snowmelt, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) FloodSmart campaign and Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced they are again working together during Flood Safety Awareness Week (March 15-19) to raise awareness of the dangers associated with flooding and steps to protect against damage. (More) (Map)

2010 Census Forms Arrive in 120 Million Mailboxes Across Nation

Image of home page of 2010 Census Web site. Click to go to Web site.

Asking just 10 questions and taking about 10 minutes to complete, 2010 Census forms began arriving in 120 million mailboxes across the nation today—just the 23rd time the country has undertaken the constitutionally-mandated population count that dates back to 1790. The Census Bureau today estimated that if every household completed and mailed back their census form, taxpayers could reduce the cost of taking the census by $1.5 billion. The Census Bureau saves about $85 million in operational costs for every percentage point increase in the nation’s participation rate by mail. (More)

Statement from Secretary Locke on Retail Sales in February 2010

Photo of Secretary Locke.

File Photo

The Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau today released retail sales data for February 2010. Retail sales grew an unexpected 0.3 percent compared with private-sector forecasts of a 0.3 percent decline. Excluding motor vehicles, retail sales grew 0.8 percent. Retail sales have grown 3.9 percent over the past year. (More) (Release)

Secretary Locke Statement on January 2010 U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services

Department of Commerce seal.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke issued the following statement on the release of the January 2010 U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services report by the Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Today’s report showed that U.S. exports in January 2010 decreased by 0.3 percent to $142.7 billion since December 2009. Imports in January decreased 1.7 percent over December to $180.0 billion. (More) (Fact sheet) (Release)

Secretary Locke Participates in White House Web Chat to Discuss National Export Initiative

Video clip of Web chat.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke took questions from the public on exports, the economy and the President’s National Export Initiative online at Whitehouse.gov/live today. Questions came from the discussion itself, but members of the public were also encouraged to submit their questions ahead of time via Twitter by sending a message to @SecLocke or emailing open[at]doc[dot]gov. Locke also announced an unprecedented schedule of upcoming international trade missions. (Web chat) (Trade missions release) (List of trade missions—PDF) (NEI Executive order)

USPTO and UKIPO Announce Action Plan to Reduce Global Patent Backlogs

USPTO seal

Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) today agreed to develop an action plan for reducing patent processing backlogs in both offices. Patent backlogs hinder the deployment of innovation and have clear adverse effects on the global economy. According to a study by London Economics released on behalf of the UKIPO, the first study that attempts to quantify the economic impact of patent backlogs, the cost to the global economy of the delay in processing patent applications may be as much as £7.65 ($11.4) billion each year. (More)