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Commerce Deputy Secretary Graves Concludes Trip to Santa Barbara and Addresses Importance of Protecting Our Nation’s Oceans and Coasts and Creating an Equitable and Diverse Workforce

On Wednesday, November 16th, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves traveled to Santa Barbara, California, where he met with community leaders to highlight the Commerce Department’s commitment to protecting our nation’s sanctuaries and strengthening the U.S. semiconductor industry through improved workforce development opportunities and creating an equitable and diverse workforce.

The Biden Administration is committed to protecting America's most iconic natural and cultural marine resources. To start the day, Deputy Secretary Graves met with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) personnel and local leaders aboard R/V Shearwater, one of many NOAA research vessels that help ensure the protection of the resources and habitats in the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Joined by Superintendent of Channel Islands NMS Chris Mobley, the Deputy Secretary discussed the important role of Federal, state, local, and non-profit partners in protecting our nation’s oceans and coasts.

Channel Islands NMS was designated in 1980 by NOAA to protect 1,470 square miles of ocean waters around Southern California's bustling coastline. A special place for endangered species, sensitive habitats, historic shipwrecks, and cultural resources, the sanctuary provides protection through research, education, conservation, and stewardship.

The Biden Administration has doubled the funding for NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuaries, allowing NOAA to address deferred maintenance costs on existing vessels and replacing vessels that had far exceeded their engineered service life.

Following his visit to the Channel Islands, Deputy Secretary Graves gave remarks to the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) and participated in a fireside chat with over 200 business leaders.  At the event, the Deputy Secretary further highlighted the Commerce Department’s leadership role in addressing global supply chain challenges, promoting free trade, and advancing the commercial space industry. He also discussed the Biden Administration’s monumental investments in America’s infrastructure including critical funding from the American Rescue Plan (ARP), the Biden Infrastructure Law (BIL), the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), and the CHIPS and Science Act. These all have contributed to modernizing American industrial development, strengthening American competitiveness, and promoting equity and diversity throughout America’s workforce.

To conclude his trip, Deputy Secretary Graves visited a pair of local semiconductor businesses in nearby Goleta, California. These two businesses, Teledyne/FLIR and Transphorm, both have close ties to nearby University of California-Santa Barbara (UCSB), known for its semiconductor research and state-of-the-art facilities. The Deputy Secretary toured their semiconductor facilities and discussed the Commerce Department’s efforts to strengthen the U.S. semiconductor industry through increased equality and diversity in workforce development programs while expanding research and development, and more flexible supply chain capabilities. The university is one of six Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) in the region and has a robust history of semiconductor research.

UCSB started a workforce development pilot program last year, which brings students from several area HSIs and community colleges and trains them to get certified to work in clean labs. During the tour, Deputy Secretary Graves emphasized the importance of the $52 billion in federal funding provided by the CHIPS and Science Act to develop similar workforce training programs that will equitably employ workers for the 90,000 unfilled jobs in the semiconductor industry. The Commerce Department is focused on equitably delivering workforce opportunities, creating good jobs that have the potential to change lives, and creating long-term career pathways.

“At the Commerce Department, we’re especially focused on building workforce development opportunities to ensure jobs are created in communities around the country, and that women, people of color, and rural Americans all have the opportunity to participate,” said Graves. “Based on what I’ve seen here at UCSB, the future of American innovation is in capable hands.”

The Department of Commerce’s mission is to create the conditions for economic growth and opportunity for all communities. Essential to that mission is the need to build sustainable, employer-driven career pathways to meet employers’ need for talent and to connect Americans to quality jobs. Click here for more information.