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A bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce


Blog Entries from July 2015

Supporting Vibrant Native American Communities

Supporting Vibrant Native American CommunitiesWhen Secretary Pritzker declared that the Department of Commerce is “open for business,” she meant that this agency would be on the side of all businesses across our country – including Native American entrepreneurs, business owners, workers, tribal governments, and families

Today, the Secretary will spend time meeting with Native American youth and tribal leaders in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to highlight the key services offered by our Department in Indian Country, such as data resources, trade promotion, infrastructure funding, access to capital, and contracting opportunities to promote robust, sustainable economic growth, opportunity, and job creation.

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Q & A with Julie Lenzer, Director of EDA’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Julie Lenzer Julie Lenzer was appointed by Secretary Pritzker to lead the Economic Development Administration’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE) in May 2014. As Director of OIE, she is charged with driving programs and priorities that support innovative economic development such as innovation-based entrepreneurship and regional innovation clusters. She took a few minutes to answer some questions about her first year in the role and what she hopes will be her EDA legacy when her term is over.

How do you see the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship's work fitting into the larger EDA mission?

OIE provides subject matter expertise for EDA regional teams and communities across the nation in leveraging innovation and entrepreneurship as a driver of economic growth and resiliency, a key pillar of EDA’s mission. We help amplify the great work going on in our regions and create national grant programs such as the Regional Innovation Strategies aimed at helping communities support the building blocks of an ecosystem of innovation.

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Secretary Pritzker Promotes Entrepreneurship and a Path Forward for America's Economy in Kansas City

On Tuesday, Secretary Pritzker traveled to Kansas City to address up-and-coming entrepreneurs as well as important community groups.

She began the day with a roundtable at Digital Sandbox, a company that provides proof-of-concept resources to support the commercialization of new ideas and promote business and job growth in the Kansas City area. There, Secretary Pritzker spoke with local entrepreneurs about how the Department of Commerce can work alongside new businesses to shape the next great era of American entrepreneurship and innovation. As “America’s Innovation Agency,” the Department of Commerce prioritizes its support of startups, entrepreneurship and business incubators through intellectual property protection, collection and dissemination of data that helps build businesses, and investments in local economic development.

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Spotlight: Commerce Signs Agreement with Germany to Coordinate Workforce Development and Apprenticeship Opportunities

Assistant Secretary Williams (left) joins Secretary Pritzker (center) to sign an MOU with Germany In this country, the word “apprentice” may conjure historical images of colonial times – or for some of Mickey Mouse being overrun by brooms in Fantasia. But apprenticeships are a valuable workforce development tool and an opportunity for skilled workers to teach those skills to the next generation. In many European countries, apprenticeships offer an alternative career path to college or university and more academic pursuits.

The Obama Administration recognizes the value of promoting apprenticeships, and on June 5, the U.S. Department of Commerce joined with the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Germany. The German vocational training system (dual system) is a proven apprenticeship model, and this MOU will help build partnerships with German employers to expand apprenticeships in their U.S. operations.

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Highlight: Guest Column - EDA partners with AspenWSI to Accelerate Industry-Driven Workforce and Economic Development Strategies

Cathy Katona, AspenWSI As America’s economic recovery gathers steam and labor markets tighten, economic development is increasingly driven by the availability of skilled workers. Businesses at all stages, whether they are start-ups, expanding, or relocating, depend on the availability of appropriately trained employees to fill open positions. Economic developers have long been listening to employers say that there is a shortage of skilled workforce. Yet, one also hears of unemployed and underemployed workers unable to find positions that allow them to contribute to the economy.

While businesses are seeking higher-skilled workers, greater productivity, increased competiveness in a global marketplace and higher profits, job seekers and workers are looking for educational opportunities, better wages and benefits, as well as career advancement opportunities. Meeting the needs of both is a regional imperative as we seek to reduce high unemployment and inequality of opportunity as well as create the types of communities that we aspire to live in and that provide opportunities for all.

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Success Story: A Training Center of Their Own

Central Texas Technology Center If you create a job and no one has the skills needed to fill it, did you really create a job? Workforce development must be a critical focus of all economic development organizations. It’s imperative that workers receive training that matches the needs of employers. In 2000, the town of New Braunfels, Texas, was faced with a problem. The town wanted to attract new industries, but their existing businesses were expressing concerns about the lack of skilled workers to meet their current and future needs.

Located between San Antonio and Austin, New Braunfels had no education or training facility. Residents looking to attain entry-level skills, increase technical skills or connect to jobs or higher education opportunities had to travel the 30-50 miles to San Antonio or Austin to do so. As a result, the Alamo Community College District joined with officials from the towns of Seguin and New Braunfels to create the Central Texas Technology Center (CTTC).

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Growing the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) Initiative

Assistant Secretary Jay Williams visits with IMCP designee Puget Sound Regional Council Promoting American manufacturing is a significant priority for President Obama, Secretary Pritzker, and the Department of Commerce’s U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA). The Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) initiative is one way the Administration is working to bolster our nation’s manufacturing sector. IMCP is designed to revolutionize the way federal agencies leverage economic development funds by incentivizing the creation of comprehensive economic development strategies that will strengthen the communities' competitive edge for attracting global manufacturer and supply chain investments.

Through IMCP, the federal government is rewarding best practices – coordinating federal aid to support communities’ strong development plans.

In May 2014, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced the first 12 designated manufacturing communities under the IMCP initiative. In October of that year, Deputy Secretary Bruce Andrews announced that Commerce would be conducting a second round of competition, and on July 8, 2015, Secretary Pritzker announced the additional 12 communities designated under the IMCP.

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