Readout of U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker’s Listening Tour Stop in Houston

Pritzker is traveling across the country, engaging with business and thought leaders, academics and Department of Commerce employees


Thursday, August 29, 2013

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today visited the Port of Houston as she continued her nationwide listening tour, where she participated in a roundtable with Houston area business leaders sponsored by the Greater Houston Partnership. In addition, Secretary Pritzker announced new data that show U.S. manufactured exports supported 6.4 million jobs in 2011. Approximately 10 percent of those jobs were in Texas, which led the nation in the number of jobs – nearly 700,000 – supported by the export of manufactured goods.

While on her visit to the port, Secretary Pritzker saw the Bayport Container Terminal, which opened in 2007. About 70 percent of the containers that move through the U.S. Gulf of Mexico come through the Port of Houston. The Port of Houston is the largest Gulf Coast port and the largest U.S. international trade port by tonnage, making it a primary port of export to Mexico, Brazil, China, India and Panama, among other countries. In 2012, the U.S. exported a record $2.2 trillion in goods and services exports, which supported nearly 10 million jobs.

Earlier this year, the Commerce Department released data that ranked Houston as the leading U.S. metropolitan area for merchandise exports in 2012 – $110 billion. Texas also achieved record exports during the first six months of 2013 ($134.4 billion) with merchandise exports increasing by 3 percent in the first half of 2013 compared to the same period of 2012.

Secretary Pritzker then met with Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who has been a longstanding supporter of the work of the Department's Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). MBDA has a nationwide network of more than 40 Business Centers that help minority-owned businesses gain access to contracts, capital and help export goods and services. The agency has had a presence in Houston for more than a decade and, the secretary shared with Mayor Parker that MBDA has selected the Houston Community College (HCC) as the site for a new MBDA Business Center. HCC has strong relationships with the Houston Minority Supplier Development council, the Houston Women's Business Alliance, and Amegy Bank of Texas, which will help in its ability to support minority-owned entrepreneurs and businesses in the region. As a hub for international commerce through the Port of Houston, the city is a key market for the growth and expansion of the minority-owned business community MBDA serves.

To conclude her day, Secretary Pritzker visited a U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC), part of the International Trade Administration (ITA), and met with USEAC employees and employees from the Bureau of Industry and Security’s (BIS) Houston field office. The visit was an opportunity to thank the employees for their work and part of her ongoing efforts to meet with Department of Commerce employees nationwide.

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