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Two Years after Sandy Landfall, Commerce Continues to Help Affected Communities

Satellite view of Superstorm Sandy, 10-29-12

In the two years since Hurricane Sandy made landfall on October 29, 2012, the Department of Commerce, through its National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Economic Development Administration (EDA), Census Bureau, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), has been working to help communities recover and enhance resiliency in the face of future storms.

Hours after the storm hit, NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey began aerial survey missions to assess storm damage. In total, 1649 miles of coastline were documented. The photos taken on these missions provided emergency and coastal managers with the information they needed to develop recovery strategies, facilitate search-and-rescue efforts, identify hazards to navigation and HAZMAT spills, locate errant vessels, and provide documentation home and business owners needed to assess damages to property. To date, FEMA has used the NOAA-supplied photos, as well as those from the Civil Air Patrol, to determine damage to 35,000 homes.

Following a major disaster like Sandy, one of EDA’s key roles is to lead the Economic Recovery Support Function on behalf of the Department of Commerce. After the hurricane struck, EDA joined with several other federal agencies to deploy staff to help hard-hit communities throughout the region. EDA team members worked with officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Small Business Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, economic development partners, and the affected communities to identify long-term strategies that aim to help the communities restore their local economies, expedite recovery, and minimize economic losses.

Accelerating Advanced Manufacturing in America

Cross-Posted from The White House

Blog by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy Jeff Zients 

On Monday, we had the privilege of participating alongside the President in a meeting with his American Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) Steering Committee.

AMP -- led by its co-chairs, Dow’s Andrew Liveris and MIT’s Rafael Reif -- presented its final report with a set of new recommendations, and we discussed additional policy steps we’re taking to respond to them.

The President created AMP -- a working group of 19 leaders in industry, academia, and labor -- in June 2011 as part of his continuing effort to maintain the competitive edge on emerging technologies and invest in the future of our manufacturing sector. We’ve come a long way since then, and the policies fueled by AMP’s recommendations have been a big contributor to that progress.

When the President first launched AMP, unemployment was at 9.1 percent. We were just starting to see some fragile signs of life in the manufacturing sector after more than a decade of erosion. But not many shared our view that together we could build a foundation to revitalize American manufacturing or that manufacturing could continue to play a central role in our economy and our ability to innovate.

Contrast that picture to today. Growth has steadily strengthened and recently accelerated, with GDP rising 2.6 percent over the past year, faster than the 2.0 percent annualized pace of the preceding two years. Job growth is accelerating too. Unemployment is now down to 5.9 percent, falling 1.3 percentage points in the last year.

Our manufacturing sector is getting stronger too. After more than a decade of job losses, we’ve added more than 700,000 manufacturing jobs over nearly five straight years of job growth. Those jobs lead to others along the supply chain and in local communities. U.S. manufacturing is now growing at nearly twice the rate of the economy, the longest sustained period of outpacing the overall economy since the 1960s.

Last year, for the first time since 2001, the U.S. was ranked first in a survey of business leaders as a destination for investment, a ranking we repeated this year. In another recent study, 54 percent of American manufacturers with operations overseas reported they are considering bringing manufacturing back to the United States. 

And AMP has been central in getting us here.

Deputy Secretary Andrews Emphasizes How National Weather Service Employees’ Work is Central to the Department’s Mission

Deputy Secretary Bruce Andrews meets with NWS researchers and tours the Aviation Weather Center

Deputy Commerce Secretary Bruce Andrews traveled to Kansas City, MO, yesterday to meet with National Weather Service (NWS) employees and talk about how important their work is to both help American businesses and save lives and property.

Speaking at the National Weather Service Employees Organization (NWSEO) Conference, Deputy Secretary Andrews talked about businesses that have used NWS data. For example, Dunkin Donuts uses weather information to plan their inventory. Their franchises use weather data to predict how much coffee will be sold and to better inform both day-to-day planning and where to close down stores in advance of an extreme weather event.

Hotel booking services use NWS guidance to help them know where to expect a surge of last minute bookings from stranded travelers. Major retailers like Home Depot, Walmart, and Target rely on data and information to manage their inventory and quickly adjust their stock in stores around the country.

The two industries that rely on NWS employees and the services and products they provide more than any other are the agriculture industry and the airline industry. These industries survive or thrive on the back of forecasts, preventing ruined crops and lost travel days. The work NWS has done to provide increasingly accurate and more sophisticated weather forecasts saves money for both of these industries.

While touring the NWS Regional Headquarters in Kansas City, Deputy Secretary Andrews learned more about the day-to-day work of NWS employees. He met with some of the researchers and other employees who work at the Aviation Weather Center, the National Weather Service Training Center, and the Operations Proving Ground housed there.

Countdown to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit

Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship Graphic

President Obama believes "Entrepreneurs embody the promise of America: the idea that if you have a good idea and are willing to work hard and see it through, you can succeed in this country. And in fulfilling this promise, entrepreneurs also play a critical role in expanding our economy and creating jobs."

With that in mind, the President announced in 2009 the creation of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES), a platform intended to facilitate the exchange of views and ideas between global business leaders and entrepreneurs and strengthen alliances among them. Previous summits have been hosted by the United States, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Malaysia.

At last year’s GES in Malaysia, President Obama asked Secretary Pritzker to chair the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE), making her the Administration's point person on entrepreneurship. In April, Secretary Pritzker chaired the first PAGE meeting, bringing together a group of America’s most inspiring innovators to serve as ambassadors for global entrepreneurship.

Six months later, the PAGE initiative continues to gain momentum, with PAGE members actively engaged in promoting innovation here at home and abroad.

To celebrate six months of the PAGE initiative, we are launching a video blog series, featuring our very own PAGE members who will share with you why entrepreneurship is important and why it is integral that the public and private sectors work together to make our economy stronger and more innovative.

Please visit http://beta.commerce.gov/PAGE to learn more about PAGE and the ambassadors who are committed to sharing their time, energy, ideas, and experience to help develop the next generation of entrepreneurs in the United States and around the world.

Among many events, here is a sample of what PAGE members have been doing to create an environment where creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship can grow and thrive.

PTAB Hits the Road Again in November 2014 for Detroit Region Roadshows about the AIA Trials

Cross-posted from USPTO.

Blog by Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO Michelle K. Lee

Stakeholder engagement is a critical mission of the USPTO, and I am excited to share that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board will visit the Great Lakes region to provide more training about the AIA trials. In November, the board will visit Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis for afternoon, interactive programs. Earlier this spring, the board engaged with stakeholders in a variety of cities on a listening tour to consider revisions to the AIA trial rules and guidance. In these upcoming sessions, the board is focused on teaching the public how to strengthen their AIA trial filings.

In particular, stakeholders will hear a “State-of-the-Board” address, providing an update on recent developments including the volume of AIA trial filings and administrative patent judge hiring. The board also will host a “PTAB Feud” game show in which members of the public compete to answer questions and learn about the AIA trials. Lastly, the board has developed an AIA trial workshop involving a mock scenario in which a petitioner wishes to assert a challenge against a patent. The audience will break into teams, each facilitated by a judge, to discuss which type of petition to file and what issues might arise from both the petitioner’s and patent owner’s perspectives. Topics of discussion will include bars to filing, real party-in-interest and joinder considerations, and claim construction. The teams likewise will decide whether to institute an AIA trial, and if so, on what grounds and for which claims. In Detroit, the PTAB will host an actual AIA trial hearing in lieu of the workshop.

Besides the roadshows, the PTAB continues to hire more talented IP practitioners as judges. In fiscal year 2014, the board brought on 44 new judges, raising the total to 214. This fiscal year, the board is eager to continue growing, both in the Alexandria headquarters as well as all our satellite office locations. If you enjoy high end legal work involving cutting edge science, then an administrative patent judge position may be just for you.

In sum, I encourage you to take part in one of the Detroit Region Roadshows so that you can become even more versed in the nuances of the AIA trials. To learn more about a judge position, please visit www.usajobs.gov. Our AIA trial proceedings help strengthen our patent system, and we’re thankful for the stellar leadership demonstrated by our administrative patent judges on the PTAB.

Secretary Pritzker and Three PAGE Ambassadors to Attend Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Marrakech, Morocco

Secretary Pritzker and the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship meet with President Obama in the White House's Roosevelt Room.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker will attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES), which will take place November 19-21 in Marrakech, Morocco to demonstrate the U.S. government’s continued commitment to fostering entrepreneurship around the world. On November 19, her activities will focus specifically on Women’s Entrepreneurship Day. This year’s summit marks the fifth annual gathering of entrepreneurs at all stages of business development, business leaders, mentors, and high-level government officials.

Entrepreneurship is key to unlocking economic growth and creating jobs, and the U.S. government leads numerous programs and initiatives to improve enabling environments and to make tools and networks available to individual entrepreneurs. At last year’s GES in Malaysia, President Obama asked Secretary Pritzker to chair the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) initiative, and she was happy to assume her role as the Administration’s point person on entrepreneurship. In April, Secretary Pritzker chaired the first PAGE meeting, bringing together a group of America’s most inspiring innovators to serve as ambassadors for global entrepreneurship.

Six months later, Secretary Pritzker has arranged PAGE-related events on four continents since the program’s launch, and the PAGE initiative continues to gain momentum, with PAGE members actively engaged in promoting innovation here at home and abroad. The following PAGE members will join Secretary Pritzker in Morocco to serve as entrepreneurship ambassadors and to share their knowledge and experience to help develop the next generation of entrepreneurs around the world:

Secretary Pritzker Meets with Korean CEOs to Discuss Importance of Entrepreneurship

As part of her efforts to strengthen commercial ties between the United States and the Asia-Pacific region, Secretary Pritzker met with Korean entrepreneurs in Seoul to discuss the importance of supporting policies in the U.S. and Korea that encourage innovation. 

Both countries view entrepreneurship as a powerful tool to combat unemployment and capitalize on positive economic trends, and Korean President Park Geun-hye​ has made promoting the creative economy a top priority for the country.  The United States can support Korea’s vision of generating new employment opportunities through an innovation-driven economy with the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurs (PAGE) Program. PAGE was launched in April when Secretary Pritzker chaired the first meeting, bringing together a group of America’s most inspiring innovators to serve as ambassadors for global entrepreneurship.

One way PAGE could support Korea's entrepreneurial class is through mentorship sessions between PAGE members and Korean businesses. With diverse backgrounds, the ambassadors will energize their own personal and professional networks to challenge and inspire budding entrepreneurs and raise awareness of the many resources available to them.

Secretary Pritzker also learned more about the existing challenges and future opportunities for Korean businesses. By familiarizing herself with South Korea’s investment climate and ecosystem, she can engage more U.S. firms in partnerships and mentorship with Korean businesses. She also gave insightful suggestions regarding entrepreneurship from her own experience.

The business leaders present at the meeting included CEOs and representatives from ChattingCat, Reverth, Chinchin, Estmob, Soundl.ly, Google Korea, Modu Company, Bravepops, SparkLabs, Softbank Ventures Korea, Flitto, and Korbit.

Secretary Pritzker is determined to strengthen the bilateral relationship, and she and President Park agree that both countries will thrive economically by fostering more entrepreneurship. The United States has been at the forefront of innovation in businesses, and with PAGE’s guidance and international partnerships, entrepreneurs will become more encouraged to start their own businesses and leave a legacy of their own.

Secretary Pritzker Meets with Korean Leaders to Expand Trade and Grow Economic Partnerships

Secretary Pritzker Meets with Korean Pesident Park Geun-hye on the Trade Mission

Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker met with President of Korea Park Geun-hye, the first female President in South Korea, as well as Minister of Trade, Industry, and Energy (MOTIE) Yoon Sang-jick, and Minister for Health and Welfare, Moon Hyung-pyo. The meetings with Korean leaders are part of Secretary Pritzker’s trade mission she is leading with 20 U.S. companies to explore new opportunities for American firms in the health care and energy sectors. 

Three years ago, the U.S.-Korean Free Trade Agreement went into effect, providing the foundation for stronger economic partnerships and growing trade and investment relations between the two countries. During the mission, Secretary Pritzker reaffirmed President Obama’s commitment to deepen U.S. engagement in Asia and emphasized that her visit to Korea is a reflection of the commercial and economic component of the President’s rebalance to Asia. Secretary Pritzker and President Park discussed ways to continue moving both economies forward in the 21st century by seeking new ideas to expand business-to-business ties. In addition, the Secretary applauded President Park’s vision of building a “Creative Economy” in Korea by spurring new business opportunities, industries, and jobs through innovation and entrepreneurship. The meeting concluded with Secretary Pritzker saying that the global business community needs to continue to innovate and explore creative and alternative ways of doing business to grow and stay competitive. 

Secretary Pritzker also met with Minister of Trade, Industry, and Energy (MOTIE) Yoon Sang-jick to discuss entrepreneurship and the importance of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) being integrated into the global business community. As President Obama’s chair of the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) initiative, Secretary Pritzker is working with leaders and businesspeople throughout the world to help create an environment where creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship can grow and thrive. The Secretary also asked Minister Yoon for a commitment to work together to expand industry engagement under the U.S.-Korea Clean Energy Policy Dialogue, by including business participation. Delegations from both countries met in June in Seoul to discuss clean energy technology cooperation, marking progress in smart/micro grids, fuel cells, and energy storage research and development. The Clean Energy Policy Dialogue will continue those talks and broaden the focus to discuss energy policy issues.  

Lastly, the Secretary met with Minister for Health and Welfare, Moon Hyung-pyo. With South Korea’s total market for drugs and medical device products reaching roughly $21 billion, the two leaders discussed how the United States and Korea can build new partnerships in the area of healthcare as well as Korea’s interest in becoming a global hub for clinical trials. 

The main focus of Secretary Pritzker’s visit is to introduce new-to-market firms and expand the market presence of American medical, pharmaceutical and energy-related firms that have innovative products and services. Developments in these sectors can be harnessed to improve the standard of living for citizens of both countries. 

MBDA Business Centers Celebrate MED Week During October

Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Business Centers across America celebrated Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week, a venue for minority-owned businesses to access information, tools, and resources to grow their businesses both domestically and abroad. 

Each year, thousands of minority-owned firms across a variety of industries converge upon various cities to connect with public and private sector buyers, explore avenues for business expansion, and develop thriving partnerships with firms across multiple industry sectors. These goals are accomplished through networking events, workshops, and issue forums including, business-to-business matchmaking, and networking opportunities with multinational corporations, government representatives and leading entrepreneurs. The MBDA Business Centers culminate the week with an awards presentation where they honor minority-owned firms, entrepreneurs and advocates who are contributing to the minority-business community. 

“The MED Week legacy was started 32 years ago under the Ronald Reagan Administration,” said Joann Hill, Chief of MBDA’s Office of Business Development, at the Baltimore MBDA Business Center’s MED Week on Oct. 20. “Honored by Presidential Proclamation, MED Week epitomizes the legacy of champions in the minority business community who have and continue to advocate for equity, parity, and the opportunity to compete on a level playing field for women and minority-owned businesses.” 

The Phoenix MBDA Business Center used the MED Week opportunity to partner with the Thunderbird School of Global Management for the second annual Global Business Conference. During the two-day conference, topics included international business opportunities with Mexico, Canada, India, China, Africa and South America and the nuts and bolts needed to succeed in international business: financing, risk mitigation and logistics. Overall, the event provided a platform to talk about the National Export Initiative (NEI) and how it can benefit minority business enterprises. 

In Chicago, the focus was on merger and acquisition opportunities, as the MBDA Business Center there partnered with the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) to co-host the 2014 Minority Finance Forum and 15th Annual Midwest ACG Capital Connection. 

MBDA celebrated the National MED Week event in August and is already planning for next year’s celebration. For more information on MED Week or on our MBDA Business Centers, please visit: www.mbda.gov.

Secretary Pritzker Joins Ambassador Kennedy and Japanese Leaders to Discuss Women’s Economic Contributions

Secretary Pritzker Joins Ambassador Kennedy and Japanese Leaders to Discuss Women’s Economic Contributions

To wrap up her visit to Japan, Secretary Pritzker joined U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy and other female business leaders for a meeting over tea, to discuss government policies and best practices to overcome barriers to women’s full economic empowerment. 

Since assuming office in December 2012, Prime Minister Abe has embraced "Womenomics," the understanding that the advancement of women in a nation's society directly and positively impacts its economic growth rate, as fundamental to boosting the country’s economic potential.  According to some market analysts, Japan could expand its workforce by $8 million and increase its gross domestic product as much as 14 percent by raising women’s employment level to the same level as men.  Despite these promising projections, Japan was ranked 105th out of 136 nations in the 2013 Global Gender Gap Report which was issued by the World Economic Forum and measures economic, political, education and health differences between men and women. The United States ranked 23rd

With this in mind, the governments of the United States and Japan share a common goal of increasing women’s economic participation and contributions. 

During the meeting, Secretary Pritzker expressed that she is encouraged by Prime Minister Abe’s current efforts to revitalize the Japanese economy. The Japanese government is working to set the standard by recruiting more women in government, increasing the availability of daycare and afterschool care, and encouraging the private sector to promote more women. 

Secretary Pritzker also shared what she has learned from American senior executives and from her own experiences as a business leader for 27 years. 

Women control two out of every three dollars spent in the world today, and Secretary Pritzker strongly believes that inclusiveness is a smart business strategy to achieve a competitive advantage, and that change must start at the top.