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Commerce General Counsel Kelly Welsh to Discuss Legal Reform in China

Guest blog post by Kelly Welsh, General Counsel, U.S. Department of Commerce

Transparency.  Predictability.  Accountability.  These fundamental elements of commercial law are essential to creating a business climate at home and abroad that will foster growth and innovation.  Promoting a strong commercial rule of law wherever U.S. companies do business is a high priority for Secretary Pritzker and the Department of Commerce.  That’s why I am travelling to Beijing and Wuhan, China during the week of January 12 to speak to the public, academics, legal professionals, the media, Chinese government officials, and U.S. businesses about how the United States and China can work together to promote commercial rule of law. 

During October’s Fourth Plenum meeting, China announced its plans for extensive and far-reaching legal reform.  Those plans embraced themes that the U.S. government has been discussing with Chinese leaders for many years in the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade and the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, including the Transparency Dialogue.   We therefore see this as a continuation of our cooperation and an opportunity to move the conversation forward in promoting sound commercial legal principles.  Next week, I will meet with Chinese government officials and U.S. industry leaders on commercial rule of law issues that fundamentally impact both of our economies.

I also will lead a U.S. delegation to the 19th U.S.-China Legal Exchange, where senior officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Federal Trade Commission will share U.S. experiences in regulating air pollution and promoting data security.

At the Beijing American Center and at Wuhan University, I will deliver remarks on how the United States and China can work together to advance the transparent, accountable, and predictable commercial legal system needed to promote a strong and innovative economy-- discussing both the history of our engagement and the opportunity to strengthen the commercial rule of law presented by the Fourth Plenum announcements.

Commerce’s NIST Announces STEM Education Opportunities for Teachers and Undergraduates

Commerce’s NIST Announces STEM Education Opportunities for Teachers and Undergraduates

The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recently announced they are accepting applications for two grant programs for middle school science teachers and for its annual NIST Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program. These programs underscore the importance of educating both our teachers and students in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). President Obama has set a priority of increasing the number of students and teachers who are proficient in these vital fields. Specifically, he has called on the nation to develop, recruit, and retain 100,000 excellent STEM teachers over the next ten years. 

The NIST Summer Institute for Middle School Science Teachers program is a two-week workshop at NIST's Gaithersburg, Md., campus, combining lectures, tours and hands-on activities that educators can recreate in their own classrooms. The program aims to increase teachers' understanding of the subjects they teach, provide materials and resources to implement what they have learned at NIST in the classroom, enhance their enthusiasm for science, increase teachers' understanding of how scientific research is carried out, and provide them with the opportunity to develop an ongoing network of scientists and engineers at NIST who will be available for consultation even after the NIST Summer Institute program has ended. 

The program is open to public school districts or accredited private educational institutes in the United States and/or its territories that offer general science classes at grade levels 6-8 are eligible to nominate teachers to participate. In both cases, teachers apply through their schools or school districts rather than individually. Applications must be received by March 13, 2015. Full details of the program, rules and the application process are available at grants.gov under funding opportunity 2015-NIST-SUMMER-INSTITUTE-01, or visithttp://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=270552

For teachers who have completed the Summer Institute Program in a previous year, NIST also is announcing grants in the Research Experience for Teachers (RET) Program. The aim is to provide two teachers with an opportunity to further their understanding of how scientific research is performed by participating in research at NIST for six continuous weeks. Selected teachers will work side by side with NIST research scientists and engineers on projects that combine research with direct applications tailored to developing, maintaining, advancing and enabling the measurement system for the nation. The research projects in which the teachers engage will be selected to be highly relevant to the teachers’ interests and the NIST mission. 

Applications for the RET Program must be received by March 18, 2015. Teachers must have completed the NIST Summer Institute program prior to applying to the RET Program. Full details of the program, rules and the application process are available at grants.gov under funding opportunity 2015-NIST-RET-01, or visit http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=270786

2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit is Now Open for Business

2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit is Now Open for Business

Guest blog post by Secretary Penny Pritzker 

In my first year as Secretary, one of my proudest moments was welcoming international investors to the 2013 SelectUSA Investment Summit. Alongside President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, we made it clear that America is “Open for Business.” 

As 2015 begins, we are moving full speed ahead with registration for the second SelectUSA Investment Summit, which will take place in the DC metro area on March 23-24, 2015. 

In November, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released new data showing why efforts to attract international investment are so important. U.S. affiliates of foreign firms employed 5.8 million people in the United States in 2012. These companies spent $48 billion on U.S. research and development, and they exported nearly $344 billion worth of goods manufactured in the United States. In 2013, the United States attracted $231 billion in FDI, up from $170 billion in 2012. 

There has never been a better time to consider establishing or expanding operations in the United States, and it is clear that investors recognize the opportunities that America offers.  We are home to an attractive consumer market, a thriving culture of innovation, and a talented workforce.  The U.S. economic recovery is outshining others, and investors are increasingly confident.  In fact, A.T. Kearney’s 2014 Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Confidence Index said, “the United States tops the index for the second year in a row,” with the highest net positive rating in the index’s 16-year history. 

The 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit aims to build on the tremendous success of the inaugural event, which connected investors from 60 countries with representatives from nearly every U.S. state and territory.  At this year’s Summit, economic development organizations (EDOs) from across the United States will once again gather to showcase investment opportunities to companies from around the world. This event will bring together the tools, information, and connections companies need to grow their business here. The two-day summit will include many sessions with high-profile CEOs, breakout panels with practical tools for investors, one-on-one matchmaking meetings, and pitches on the trade show floor.  

2015 Promises More Data from BEA on Foreign Investment in the United States

Are you looking for statistics on new investment by foreign companies in the United States? The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) has you covered. New statistics slated to be unveiled later this year will provide information on things like when a foreign company launches a new business in this country or expands an existing one by building a new plant.

The new data will give foreign entrepreneurs even more tools to make informed decisions about investing and hiring in the United States. The new statistics also will help guide national policy and state programs that aim to attract foreign direct investment and improve job opportunities in the United States.

The new statistics provide information on “greenfield” investment – investment that occurs when a foreign firm establishes a new U.S. business or expands an existing one by building a new plant or facility. The statistics also cover the acquisition of U.S. businesses by foreign companies.

BEA rolled out a new survey near the end of 2014 that lays the ground work to produce these new statistics. (BEA previously collected similar new investment information, but that survey was discontinued in 2008 due to budget constraints.)

Already, BEA is the go-to source for information about foreign direct investment in the United States:

  • In June, we released data showing that the cumulative value of foreign direct investment in the United States rose to $2.8 trillion in 2013, from $2.6 trillion in 2012.
  • In July, we released comprehensive data on direct investment, financial transactions, equity, debt instruments, reinvestment of earnings, and income for selected countries and industries. The statistics released in July also include direct investment positions, financial transactions, and income for all countries and industries.
  • In November, we released data on the activities of U.S. affiliates of foreign multinational companies in 2012, including employment, sales, R&D expenditures, capital expenditures, and more. 

BEA’s suite of investment statistics provides an important way for businesses and policymakers to track foreigners’ desire to invest and strengthen job opportunities in the United States.  Expanding the U.S. economy through inward foreign investment that leads to more and better American jobs is critical – and it is one of the Commerce Department’s strategic goals.

SelectUSA is the U.S. government-wide program, housed within the U.S. Department of Commerce, to facilitate such investment into the United States. SelectUSA is hosting the second SelectUSA Investment Summit in the Washington, D.C. area on March 23-24, 2015! Investors will find the practical tools, information and connections they need to establish or expand operations in the United States.

NOAA Announces Significant Investment in Next Generation of Supercomputers

NOAA Announces Significant Investment in Next Generation of Supercomputers

The Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently announced the next phase in the agency’s efforts to increase supercomputing capacity to provide more timely, accurate, reliable, and detailed forecasts. By October 2015, the capacity of each of NOAA’s two operational supercomputers will jump to 2.5 petaflops, for a total of 5 petaflops – a nearly tenfold increase from the current capacity.

Ahead of this upgrade, each of the two operational supercomputers will first more than triple their current capacity later this month (to at least 0.776 petaflops for a total capacity of 1.552 petaflops). With this larger capacity, NOAA’s National Weather Service in January will begin running an upgraded version of the Global Forecast System (GFS) with greater resolution that extends further out in time – the new GFS will increase resolution from 27km to 13km out to 10 days and 55km to 33km for 11 to 16 days. In addition, the Global Ensemble Forecast System (GEFS) will be upgraded by increasing the number of vertical levels from 42 to 64 and increasing the horizontal resolution from 55km to 27km out to eight days and 70km to 33km from days nine to 16.

Computing capacity upgrades scheduled for this month and later this year are part of ongoing computing and modeling upgrades that began in July 2013. NOAA’s National Weather Service has upgraded existing models – such as the Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting model, which did exceptionally well this hurricane season, including for Hurricane Arthur which struck North Carolina. And NOAA’s National Weather Service has operationalized the widely acclaimed High-Resolution Rapid Refresh model, which delivers 15-hour numerical forecasts every hour of the day.

The increase in supercomputing capacity comes via a $44.5 million investment using NOAA's operational high performance computing contract with IBM, $25 million of which was provided through the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 related to the consequences of Hurricane Sandy. Cray Inc., headquartered in Seattle, plans to serve as a subcontractor for IBM to provide the new systems to NOAA.

NOAA's mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on TwitterFacebookInstagram and our other social media channels. Visit our news release archive. 

Building Partnerships and a Dedicated Team, Driven by our Mission

Building Partnerships and a Dedicated Team, Driven by our Mission

Guest blog post by TJ Kennedy, FirstNet Acting Executive Director

Partnerships. Plans. People. These are the essential components for success in both public and private sector organizations. At the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), we realize this, and continue to focus on these key areas as part of our mission to ensure the deployment of a Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN).  

The Partnerships. The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 established FirstNet and directed it to consult with various individuals, jurisdictions, and entities – including federal, state, tribal and local public safety entities – to ensure the building of the NPSBN. Congress wisely recognized that this monumental undertaking requires the input of and coordination with our future stakeholders and users of the network –our nation’s firefighters, EMS providers, law enforcement officers, and other public safety personnel.  

FirstNet has implemented a number of mechanisms to ensure that we are working with the public safety community and getting its feedback on the network. One such effort includes the leveraging of the Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) to engage in a dialogue with its membership on important network planning and deployment issues.  FirstNet will focus this year on working with the PSAC in four key areas – early builder lessons learned, tribal engagement strategies, priority and pre-emption, and public safety-grade service.

The state consultation process is another major achievement with regard to partnering with the public safety community. Last year, our consultation staff worked closely with public safety officials in eight states and Puerto Rico, gathering crucial information we intend to use in the deployment of our services to public safety. The consultation process is being coordinated through the state-designated single points of contact to ensure that FirstNet obtains key information from regional, state, tribal and local jurisdictions in all 56 states and territories and understands their unique requirements for the network.

Top 20 Instagram Photos of 2014

Secretary Pritzker joined Instagram on January 31st and shared photos of her at big events and behind the scenes. Below we've rounded up twenty of the best photos to summarize the year and the progress on the Open for Business Agenda.

 

#WakeUp I start with my #MorningRun #DayInTheLife

A photo posted by Secretary Penny Pritzker (@pennypritzker) on Jan 1, 2014 at 3:02am PST

 

#WakeUp I start with my #MorningRun #DayInTheLife

 

Back in the office today after a successful trade mission to #Mexico. #DayInTheLife

A photo posted by Secretary Penny Pritzker (@pennypritzker) on Feb 2, 2014 at 7:25am PST

 

Back in the office today after a successful trade mission to #Mexico. #DayInTheLife

 

#whatwomenneed is more leadership opportunities and equal pay

A photo posted by Secretary Penny Pritzker (@pennypritzker) on Feb 2, 2014 at 3:41pm PST

 

#whatwomenneed is more leadership opportunities and equal pay

Census Bureau Projects U.S. and World Populations on New Year’s Day

Census Bureau Projects U.S. and World Populations on New Year’s Day

As our nation prepares to ring in the new year, the U.S. Census Bureau today projected the United States population will be 320,090,857 on Jan. 1, 2015. This represents an increase of 2,334,187, or 0.73 percent, from New Year’s Day 2014, and 11,345,319, or 3.67 percent, since Census Day (April 1) 2010.

In January 2015, the U.S. is expected to experience a birth every eight seconds and one death every 12 seconds. Meanwhile, net international migration is expected to add one person to the U.S. population every 33 seconds. The combination of births, deaths and net international migration increases the U.S. population by one person every 16 seconds.

The projected world population on Jan. 1, is 7,214,958,996, an increase of 77,381,246, or 1.08 percent, from New Year’s Day 2014. During January 2015, 4.3 births and 1.8 deaths are expected worldwide every second.

The Census Bureau’s Pop Clock displays real-time growth of the U.S. and world populations.

U.S. Census Bureau Releases Key Statistics in Honor the Holiday Season

U.S. Census Bureau Releases Key Statistics in Honor the Holiday Season

This festive season, or simply the holidays, is a time for gathering and celebrating with family and friends, gift giving, reflection and thanks. To commemorate this time of year, the U.S. Census Bureau presents the following holiday-related facts and figures from its collection of statistics.

$24.4 billion

Estimated retail sales by the nation’s department stores (including leased departments) in December 2013. This represents an estimated 40.9 percent jump from the previous month when retail sales were estimated at 17.3 billion. No other month-to-month increase in department store sales last year was as large. 

13.9%

The estimated percentage of total 2013 sales for department stores (including leased departments) in December. For jewelry stores, the estimated percentage was 19.1 percent.

$44.5 billion

Estimated value of retail sales by electronic shopping and mail-order houses in December 2013 — the highest total for any month last year.

$1.0 billion

The value of U.S. imports of Christmas tree ornaments from China between January and September 2014. China was the leading country of origin for such items. Similarly, China was the leading foreign source of artificial Christmas trees shipped to the United States ($137.5 million worth) during the same period.

563

The number of locations that primarily produced dolls, toys, and games in 2012; they employed 7,481 workers in the pay period including March 12.  California led the nation with 95 establishments.

For more information and other key statistics on the holidays, please go to the latest issue of the Census Bureau's Facts for Features.

Florida Passes New York to Become the Nation’s Third Most Populous State, Census Bureau Reports

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Florida Passes New York to Become the Nation’s Third Most Populous State, Census Bureau Reports

By adding an average of 803 new residents each day between July 1, 2013 and July 1, 2014, Florida passed New York to become the nation’s third most populous state, according to U.S. Census Bureau state population estimates released today. Florida’s population grew by 293,000 over this period, reaching 19.9 million. The population of New York increased by 51,000 to 19.7 million.

California remained the nation’s most populous state in 2014, with 38.8 million residents, followed by Texas, at 27.0 million. Although the list of the 10 most populous states overall was unchanged, two other states did change positions, as North Carolina moved past Michigan to take the ninth spot.

Another milestone took place in Georgia (ranked 8th), which saw its population surpass 10 million for the first time.

North Dakota was the nation’s fastest-growing state over the last year. Its population increased 2.2 percent, followed by the 1.7 percent growth in Nevada and Texas. Each of the 10 fastest-growing states was in the South or West with the exception of North Dakota. 

Six states lost population between July 1, 2013, and July 1, 2014: Illinois (9,972 or -0.08 percent), West Virginia (3,269 or -0.18 percent), Connecticut (2,664 or -0.07 percent), New Mexico (1,323 or -0.06 percent, Alaska (527 or -0.07 percent) and Vermont (293 or -0.05 percent).

The United States as a whole saw its population increase by 2.4 million to 318.9 million, or 0.75 percent.

In addition to the 50 states and the District of Columbia, the new statistics also include estimates for Puerto Rico. On July 1, 2014, Puerto Rico had an estimated population of 3.5 million, a decline of 47,000, or 1.3 percent, from one year earlier.

The Census Bureau produces population estimates each year, allowing the public to gauge the growth and demographic composition of the nationstates and communities. These statistics use administrative data to estimate population change between census years, using the decennial census count as a starting point. Local governments use estimates to locate services, and estimates are used by the private sector to locate businesses.

The Census Bureau also released today estimates of the number of people 18 and older in the U.S., states and Puerto Rico. The downloadable file also includes total population and the percentage of people 18 and older. Internet address: http://www.census.gov/popest/data/datasets.html.

During 2015, the Census Bureau will release estimates of the 2014 population of counties, cities and towns, and metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas as well as national, state and county population estimates by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin.