Each week, we recap the latest U.S. Department of Commerce highlights spanning a wide range of issues promoting job creation and economic growth, programs, and events in one blog post.
Here are the key moments from Commerce: This Week
On March 31, the National Institute of Standards and Technology opened a funding opportunity for rapid, high-impact projects that support the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These new grants contribute to President Trump’s whole-of-America response to the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. “These grants will be awarded with speed and agility, as the Department of Commerce aims to work at the ‘speed of business’ to meet this unprecedented health challenge.”
Around the Bureaus
Last week marked some major milestones in the history of public safety’s nationwide broadband network. It was three years ago that the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority), entered into a groundbreaking 25-year contract to build, deploy, and maintain FirstNet, America’s nationwide public safety broadband network.
On March 31, the United States Patent and Trademark Office announced the extension of certain patent and trademark-related timing deadlines under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act
“Inventors and entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of our economy, and we recognize that many of them are having difficulty as a result of the effects of COVID-19,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office Andrei Iancu. “As a result, we are working to provide as much relief as possible to our stakeholders, consistent with our ability to maintain the USPTO’s fee-funded operations. We are especially mindful of the outsized impact on small businesses and independent inventors, and have provided additional relief for these groups. Ultimately, our goal is to ensure not only that inventors and entrepreneurs can weather the storm, but that they can hit the ground running once it passes.”
Also on March 31, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported they were establishing a new Unmanned Systems Operations Program to support the rapidly expanding use of these systems across the agency. The new program will promote the safe, efficient and economical operation of unmanned systems (UxS) NOAA uses to collect high-quality environmental data for the agency’s science, products, and services.
On April 2, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration is awarding a $15.67 million grant to the city of Walterboro, South Carolina, to make critical water infrastructure improvements needed to protect businesses from severe weather events.
On April 3, 1996, former Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown and 11 Commerce employees were killed in a plane crash near Dubrovnik, Croatia. Secretary Brown was the first African-American secretary of commerce. Last Friday, the Department put out a commemorative tweet in honor of Secretary Brown and all those lost that day.