Commerce.gov is getting a facelift soon. See the new design.
Syndicate content

The Commerce Blog

Secretary Pritzker Marks One-Year Anniversary of “Open for Business Agenda” Launch

Secretary Pritzker speaking with Evan Burfield at 1776 about the Open for Business Agenda

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker participated in an armchair discussion with 1776 cofounder Evan Burfield to discuss the U.S. economy, entrepreneurship, and the one-year anniversary of the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda.” Located in Washington, DC, 1776 serves as a global hub that connects startups tackling challenges in education, energy, health care, government and other industries with the resources they need to excel. 

Last November at 1776, Secretary Pritzker outlined the” Open for Business Agenda,” a bold policy priorities framework for the Department of Commerce, centered on the tools needed for U.S. economic growth. It is focused on U.S. trade and investment, innovation, data, environmental intelligence, and operational excellence, and this agenda reflects the Department’s role as the voice of business, as well as the Obama Administration’s keen focus on economic growth and job creation.

In light of Global Entrepreneurship Week which begins today, Secretary Pritzker highlighted the Department’s focus on entrepreneurship as an important tool for economic growth in the United States and across the world. As the Administration’s point person on entrepreneurship and chair of the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) initiative, Secretary Pritzker will help lead the American delegation at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Morocco this week. At GES, the Secretary will promote the importance of global entrepreneurship and support foreign entrepreneurs. She will also stress that entrepreneurship is gender neutral when she speaks during Women’s Entrepreneurship Day on November 19.

On a more personal note, Secretary Pritzker offered advice to entrepreneurs, recommending that they should not be afraid of failure. As a founder of five companies, she understands that sometimes failures are necessary to achieve success and that resilience matters.

1776 cofounder Evan Burfield also asked Secretary Pritzker to talk about her favorite entrepreneur. She mentioned that the entrepreneurs she meets both at home and abroad – from Saudi Arabia to Japan – inspire her with their continual enthusiasm and desire to improve the world.  She specifically mentioned a young Ghanaian entrepreneur named Ethel Cofie who started an IT services firm as someone that inspires.  Secretary Pritzker also considers Daphne Koller, co-founder and president of Coursera and a PAGE Ambassador, an example of how great ideas can come at any age. Koller founded the online education platform when she was 44 and a Stanford University professor.   

Join Commerce’s Data Revolution: Innovation Leaders Need Apply

Secretary Pritzker speaking at the Esri Conference July 2014

Guest Blog Post by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker

Last summer, I outlined the wide variety of factors that make the Department of Commerce “America’s Data Agency” – and I announced a series of steps aimed at unlocking the full potential of our data resources.

Among those actions, launching a department-wide Data Advisory Council was a top priority and a key commitment. And today, I am pleased to say that we are making good on our promise: the council has been officially established and we are now accepting applications.

We are looking for the best and brightest data thought leaders in the private and public sectors to advise our efforts to revolutionize Commerce’s data – to foster innovation, create jobs, and drive better decision-making throughout our economy and society.  The application process extends through December 3, 2014.  If you think you have what it takes, I strongly urge you to apply.

As we build our Data Advisory Council, we are actively recruiting a Chief Data Officer (CDO) to drive the transformation of our data, and we are pleased to announce the hire of an outstanding Deputy CDO, Lynn Overmann, currently a senior advisor to White House Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith.  Lynn will be responsible for coordinating and guiding the Department’s efforts to realize the value of our data and to put the vast volumes of our data to better use each and every day.

Six Steps to Protect Your Brand

Six Steps to Protect Your Brand

A trademark is an essential part of a brand, helping to distinguish a business’s unique products and services from what another business offers. It can be a word, slogan, logo, symbol, design or even a sound. The following six steps from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) provide a useful guideline on what to consider before registering a trademark and during the application process. Have an invention? Make sure to protect that too.

1. Determine whether a trademark is even appropriate for you.  Trademarks, patents, copyrights, domain names, and business name registrations all differ.  A trademark typically protects brand names and logos used on goods and services.  You must be able to identify these goods and services specifically.   A trademark, for example, does not cover a general idea.

2. Select a mark using great care. Before filing a trademark/service mark application, you should consider (1) whether the mark you want to register meets the guidelines for registration, and (2) how difficult it will be to protect your mark based on the strength of the mark selected. Note that the USPTO only registers marks, and the mark owner is solely responsible for enforcement.

3. Always search the USPTO database to determine whether anyone is already claiming trademark rights in wording/design that is similar and used on related goods/services through a federal registration.

4. File the application online through the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS).  View trademark fee information. REMINDERS: (1) The application fee is a processing fee that is not refunded, even if the USPTO does not ultimately issue a registration certificate, and not all applications result in registrations; and (2) All information you submit to the USPTO at any point in the application and/or registration process will become public record, including your name, phone number, e-mail address, and street address.

5. Because all of the above are very important, you should consider whether to hire a trademark attorney to help you with these steps, as well as the overall application process.

6. Throughout the entire process, you should monitor the progress of your application through the Trademark Status and Document Retrieval (TSDR) system.  It is important to check the status of your application every 3-4 months after the initial filing of the application, because otherwise you may miss a filing deadline.

For more information on trademarks and to access a variety of helpful resources, including instructional how-to videos, visit the USPTO website.

U.S. Department of Commerce Seeks National Partner to Help Lead New Program to Boost Job Talent Development Across America

Are you ready to join us?

Through the “Accelerating Industry-Led Regional Partnerships for Talent Development” Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO) published today, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is now accepting proposals for a national partner to help develop and implement a new learning exchange program that will focus on building critical public-private partnerships to accelerate job skills development across America.

The availability of a skilled workforce is often cited as a primary factor considered by businesses in their investment decision process. The learning exchanges created through this initiative will help meet the skills needs of businesses by identifying, promoting, and expanding on successful industry-driven regional partnerships for talent development. By encouraging such partnerships, the program will help build regional pools of workers with the skills that are in demand by employers in their communities, leading to job creation and increased business investment.

Ensuring that our regions have the skilled workforce they need to keep our businesses strong and our economy growing is a major priority for the Administration and the U.S. Department of Commerce.

At Commerce, Secretary Pritzker, who has met with nearly 1,200 CEOs and business leaders who agree that workforce skills development is an issue that must be addressed, has made improving the linkages between training programs and employer needs a top priority in the Department’s “Open for Business” agenda.

We need dedicated partners to help us accomplish our goals.

So are you ready to join us?

Visit http://www.eda.gov/challenges/rnta-talent/ to get additional information on how to apply for this Federal Funding Opportunity.  

Applications must be submitted electronically via grants.gov and are due by 11:59 p.m. EST. on January 9, 2015

PAGE Entrepreneurs in Their Own Words – Tory Burch

Chief Executive Officer, Tory Burch; Founder Tory Burch Foundation

With a father who designed his own clothes and a mother who was an actress, fashion was always in Tory Burch’s DNA.

Having worked for world renowned fashion designers including Ralph Lauren and Vera Wang, Burch left her successful career in public relations to raise her three young children. At age 37, she started the Tory Burch company at the kitchen table in her Manhattan apartment. Her vision: to create designs that are both classic and affordable.

From one single storefront on 257 Elizabeth Street, Burch has grown her namesake brand into a fashion empire in less than 10 years. Her company, valued at more than $3.5 billion, now has more than 140 stores in 50 countries and over 2,000 employees. The collection includes ready-to-wear, shoes, handbags, accessories, watches, home, fragrance and beauty.

Bloomberg Businessweek describes her as “a shrewd designer and businesswoman”, and the Telegraph describes her as “serene, approachable, wholesomely chic in the great outdoorsy, pragmatic American tradition.” Burch has consistently been included on Forbes’ list of “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.”

As an entrepreneur and a member of PAGE, Burch has two top priorities: to serve as a mentor to aspiring entrepreneurs, and to help young innovators access the capital they need to turn their bright ideas into thriving business enterprises.

Burch created the Tory Burch Foundation (TBF) in 2009 to support the economic empowerment of women entrepreneurs and their families. It provides women with access to capital, mentoring and networking opportunities, as well as entrepreneurial education.

See video
Read the transcript: 
Tory Burch - In Her Own Words

Deputy Secretary Bruce Andrews Concludes Trip to Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit

Deputy Secretary Andrews meeting with Vietnamese Deputy Minister Tran Quoc Khanh

This week, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews concluded his four-day trip to Beijing, China for the 2014 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit and the APEC CEO Summit 2014. Deputy Secretary Andrews met with numerous CEOs and business leaders. He represented the Department of Commerce which promotes stronger U.S. economic and commercial ties in the Asia-Pacific.

To help promote foreign investment in the United States, Deputy Secretary Andrews participated in a roundtable focused on innovation and investment, along with Secretary of State John Kerry and CEOs from nine of China's most influential companies.

Deputy Secretary Andrews also moderated a business ethics roundtable, focusing on the importance of public-private partnerships in raising ethical standards in the healthcare industry. He briefed attendees on the progress made to date and discussed how governments and industry can work together to ensure continued progress.

Deputy Secretary Andrews held successful bilateral meetings with officials from various countries, including the Vietnamese Deputy Minister Tran Quoc Khanh and the Malaysian Minister for International Trade and Industry Mustapa Mohamed. In their conversations, he reiterated the U.S. commitment to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the benefits that would come out of both countries.

U.S. Census Bureau Announces Nearly 8 in 10 Americans Have Access to High-Speed Internet

Alternate Text

An estimated 78.1 percent of people in U.S. households had a high-speed Internet connection last year, according to a new report released today from the U.S. Census Bureau. However, digital divides exist among the nation’s metropolitan areas and demographic groups.

These statistics come from the American Community Survey, which collected data on this topic for the first time in 2013 and is the largest survey used to examine computer and Internet use in the U.S.

Although most Americans have access to computers and high-speed Internet, differences in high-speed Internet use were as large as 25 percentage points between certain age and race groups, while divides between specific income and educational attainment groups were as large as 45 percentage points. In addition, among the nation’s metro areas, Boulder, Colo., had one of the highest rates of high-speed Internet use at 96.9, while Laredo, Texas, had one of the lowest rates at 69.3 percent.

The report released today, Computer and Internet Use in the United States: 2013, includes analysis of household computer ownership and Internet use by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin, income and education. It covers areas of the country with populations larger than 65,000.

“These new statistics show how the American Community Survey gives communities the information they need on both computer and Internet access for their residents,” Census Bureau Director John H. Thompson said. “As the Census Bureau continues to move more surveys online to reduce respondent burden, these statistics inform us of areas that have high and low Internet use. These statistics also provide the information communities and federal agencies need to make decisions to improve and expand broadband Internet access for all Americans.”

For the full release and report, please visit http://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2014/cb14-202.html

Connecting Entrepreneurs to the Global Marketplace

Connecting Entrepreneurs to the Global Marketplace

The Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration works hard to help companies that are ready to export compete and succeed in global markets.

We want to emphasize that it’s never too early for entrepreneurs to start thinking about exporting – determining financing needs, targeting markets, conducting research, etc.

As we’ve worked with global startups, we’ve learned it can be difficult for entrepreneurs to connect to existing resources to help them go global. We realize that start-ups differ in their capabilities at various stages of the business development process, but want to help young businesses incorporate export plans into their business model as early as possible.

One great way to get started is to be a part of ExporTech, which can help your company develop its export plan, then have it vetted by a panel of experts. More than 575 companies have participated in Exportech, with an average sales increase or retention of $770,000.

Here are four more tips for the busy entrepreneur to help address specific needs to start exporting:

  1. Secure access to capital: Many local and state governments have seed capital and investment programs just for their states’ entrepreneurs and startups. Many states have small business development programs or startup-specific outreach programs designed to assist entrepreneurs to access capital- as well as educate them on best practices. On the federal level, there is the Small Business Administration, which has programs like the U.S. Small Business Investment Company program. A list of other loans directed towards helping small businesses go global can be found here.
  2. Secure your Intellectual Property: In order to increase the confidence a startup requires for going global, we need to ensure they know about what our U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is doing to protect American start-up’s intellectual property. Here are five simple steps to get started, and you can find more information at stopfakes.gov.  
  3. Do your Research. One important thing you need to figure out is the right target market for your exports. Understand the market trends and figure out your company’s competitive advantage. You can find market research reports on export.gov or by visiting your nearest Export Assistance Center. Here are some other important questions you should answer from the start.
  4. Find the Right Partners. Every market is different, and having a good partner on the ground -- whether it’s your legal representation, a distributor, or a sales representative – can make a huge difference in your company’s success. Consider ITA’s Gold Key Matchmaking Service to help you find the right partner for your needs.

By helping America’s high-growth start-ups go global, trade will become a broader part of doing business in the United States. The International Trade Administration and the Department of Commerce are committed to enabling our next generation of globally fluent businesses.

Contact your nearest Export Assistance Center to get started.

An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Accessing Census Bureau Statistics

U.S. Census Apps

If you are thinking of starting a new business, one of the first things you need is information to understand market conditions. Entrepreneurs rely on American Community Survey and Economic Census data to understand local markets, the local workforce, commuting patterns and economic activity in prospective new locations to make investment decisions that create jobs and grow the economy. 

You may already know that the U.S. Census Bureau has a wealth of information that can be invaluable to entrepreneurs. But how do you get started? We have several tools that make it easy to find the statistics you need to start or grow your business. Here are four tools you can begin using today and one that is coming soon. 

1. QuickFacts

Many times, you may just need to know a quick fact such as the population or demographic makeup of a state or county. With our QuickFacts tool, you can find current population estimates, key demographic statistics from the American Community Survey, and economic statistics from selected Census Bureau economic programs. A soon to be released beta version of the tool allows for comparison of these data across geographic areas as well as expanded visualizations of these data.

2. Census Explorer

One of our newest tools, Census Explorer provides an interactive map of various demographic topics for states, counties and census tracts. For example, Census Explorer: Retail Edition includes statistics on retail trade in America from County Business Patterns, including the growing online shopping market. You can find information on the number of businesses, employment and average annual payroll per employee for every county in the U.S.  Other editions of Census Explorer display population estimates or topics from the American Community Survey, such as commuting information, education and income.

Connecting Minority Serving Institutions with Research and Entrepreneurship Opportunities

Earlier this month, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) hosted a special event for minority serving institutions to foster collaborations that could increase minority participation in scientific research and entrepreneurship. Representatives from large and small colleges and universities across the country gathered to learn about NIST’s national research priorities and about “lab-to-market” opportunities from both NIST and the MBDA.

MBDA National Director Alejandra Castillo explained why the event was timely in her opening remarks when she said, “Wealth creation is happening in the high technology sector, but only four percent of those businesses are minority owned. Minority serving institutions are not only positioned to educate scientists and engineers, but to create partnerships for the businesses of tomorrow.”

Attendees learned about the many opportunities for partnering with NIST from Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and Acting NIST Director Willie May, who explained the importance of collaboration to NIST’s world-class research. NIST collaborates with a number of organizations and institutions of higher learning as it addresses national priorities including cybersecurity, manufacturing, communications, forensics, disaster resilience and healthcare and bioscience. “Last year, we provided about $200 million in grants to institutions of higher education that can collaborate with us and assist us in carrying out our mission,” said May.

May highlighted the variety of opportunities at NIST for undergraduate and graduate students and post-doctoral, associate and visiting researchers. Of NIST’s approximately 1,600 associate researchers who come from academia, about one quarter are from Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) or Minority Serving Institutes (MSIs).

The event was initiated by George Cooper, director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), who said he realized there was great potential at NIST for supporting partnerships between HBCUs and the federal government.

Day two’s agenda focused on moving research and technologies out of the lab and into the marketplace. Participants learned about the federal government’s role in technology transfer and the Lab-to-Market Programs in NIST’s Technology Partnerships Office and the MBDA’s San Francisco Business Center. A panel discussion including representatives from industry and non-profit and advocacy groups that support emerging businesses offered best practices for getting from lab to market.

Throughout the event, participants were encouraged to develop relationships not only with NIST and the MBDA, but also with one another. As Cooper put it, their partnerships could “leverage the strengths of multiple institutions” to increase engagement with federal agencies.