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A bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce


Blog Entries from April 2014

Secretary Pritzker Talks About Two Keys to an Innovative and Competitive Economy: a Skilled Workforce and Entrepreneurship

Secretary Pritzker Talks About Two Keys to an Innovative and Competitive Economy: a Skilled Workforce and Entrepreneurship Innovation is key to supporting economic growth and creating jobs in the United States. In order to ensure that the United States stays competitive, the Department of Commerce works to create the conditions that empower Americans to turn their ideas into successful businesses, grow their ventures, and create jobs.

Wednesday, on the third day of the Ed Innovation Summit in Scottsdale, Ariz., Secretary Pritzker spoke with former Washington Post executive editor Len Downie about what the Department of Commerce is doing to support innovation. Secretary Pritzker shared that since taking office almost one year ago, she has spoken to more than 1,000 CEOs and business leaders, including more than 150 of Fortune 500 companies, around the country. One of the top concerns they have shared is the challenge of finding the workers with the right skills to fill available jobs, which is a threat to our nation’s long-term competitiveness. In order to best equip workers for the jobs that are available now, and will be available in the future, Secretary Pritzker has made skills development a top priority for the Department of Commerce for the very first time.

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Spurring Economic Growth through Infrastructure and Planning

ALT_TAG Generally, when people think about economic growth, they think in terms of big ideas: workforce development, increasing exports, foreign-direct investment. Most people don’t think about sewer systems or roads – the hard infrastructure that enables communities to achieve those big idea goals. The critical infrastructure that are the building blocks to economic growth are a major focus for the Economic Development Administration (EDA), and I was fortunate to be able to announce EDA grants for such projects in Massachusetts this week.

On Tuesday, I traveled to Worcester, Massachusetts to announce a $1 million grant to New Garden Park, Inc. with Congressman Jim McGovern. The money will be used to create more than 15,000 square feet of incubator space to establish the Worcester Technology and Idea Exchange in the former Worcester Telegram & Gazette facility. This is an investment for the future, an investment that is critical to the continued revitalization of Worcester’s downtown business district. According to grantee estimates, the planned technology incubator and accelerator will create more than 100 jobs by supporting a central location for entrepreneurs to explore and start a business in growing industries.

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U.S. EDA-funded William Factory Nurtures and Graduates Job-creating Businesses

ALT_TAG The William Factory Small Business Incubator has a vision to build and sustain an “Innovation & Employment Campus” that connects disadvantaged individuals with entrepreneurship and desirable jobs.

Located adjacent to Interstate 5 within the economically distressed East Tacoma community in Washington State, the Incubator has a 28-year track record of nurturing firms through their formative years by providing advisory and professional assistance in technology sophisticated facilities.

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Message From Deputy Assistant Secretary Matt S. Erskine

U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Matt Erskine Dear Friends,

The recently released Strategic Plan for the U.S. Department of Commerce outlines five major objectives: trade and investment, data, innovation, environment, and operational excellence. EDA plays a significant role in each of these. Under the environmental objective, EDA’s work includes ensuring that communities and businesses have the necessary information, products, and services to prepare for and prosper in a changing environment. Given this critical component and since April 22nd is Earth Day, this month’s Innovate@EDA is focused on environmental issues, green investments, and building community resilience. EDA has made more than 130 investments that support green projects and resilience in the last 5 years alone. As climate change becomes more pronounced, it is crucial that new development and infrastructure account for and mitigate potential environmental impact.

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Q&A: Dr. Janet Hammer, Program Director, The Initiative on Triple Bottom Line Development, Portland State University College of Urban and Public Affairs

Photo of Dr. Janet Hammer, Program Director, Initiative on Triple Bottom Line Development, Portland State University Dr. Janet Hammer is Program Director of the Initiative on Triple Bottom Line Development at Portland State University and has led the development of the TBL Tool. Drawing on two decades of experience in public, private, and non-profit settings, Janet is a systems thinker who works in the challenging but essential spaces where different disciplines and sectors intersect.  She comes from a family of small business owners and has earned degrees in environmental policy analysis and planning (UC Davis), city and regional planning (University of Pennsylvania), energy management and policy (University of Pennsylvania), education (Portland State University), and urban studies (Portland State University).

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Success Story

Construction of a Cold Climate Housing Research Center prototype home in Alaska Alaska is unparalleled in its natural beauty. From Alaska, one has views of the Pacific Ocean, glaciers, mountain ranges, lush forests, and even Russia (according to one prominent Alaska resident, at least). But for its residents, that rugged beauty comes at a price. For a large portion of the year, Alaska is blanketed by endless nights and frigid temperatures. In much of rural Alaska, it is not uncommon for a household to spend 20-30% of their income on heating and electric bills. Finding energy efficient ways to deal with Alaska’s harsh winters not only benefits its residents, but it also has a significant positive effect in preserving environment. Luckily, EDA grantee the Cold Climate Housing Research Center (CCHRC) is making strides in finding an efficient and environmentally friendly means to deal with winter in Alaska and other cold climates.

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Map of i6 Green Challenge Winners In 2011, EDA awarded six i6 Green Challenge Winners. The $12 million i6 green challenge was a collaboration between EDA’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Energy, as well as Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. ‪ EDA made awards of $1 million to the six organizations with the most innovative ideas to drive technology, commercialization, and entrepreneurship in support of green innovation.

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The President’s Climate Data Initiative: Empowering America’s Communities to Prepare for the Effects of Climate Change

Climate change is a fact. While it is important to find ways to cut emissions and develop technologies that will lessen our impact on the planet, it is equally important to deal with the new climate and environmental realities we are facing. Last week, President Obama announced the launch of the Climate Data Initiative — a broad effort to leverage the Federal Government’s extensive, freely-available climate-relevant data resources to stimulate innovation and private-sector entrepreneurship in support of national climate-change preparedness.

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