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A bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce


Press Release

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U.S. Commerce Department Announces Third Americas Competitiveness Exchange

Nearly 50 Senior Officials from Across the Western Hemisphere to Tour Midwestern Centers of Innovation to Support Competitiveness

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) and International Trade Administration (ITA), in coordination with the Organization of American States (OAS) and the U.S. Department of State, announced the 48 participants from 28 countries in the Americas and 41 sites that will participate in the third Americas Competitiveness Exchange (ACE) on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The ACE is the ideal opportunity for commerce and economic development officials to establish long-term global and regional partnerships and to see the results of economic development initiatives in the Americas that are strengthening innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems. 

“The Americas Competitiveness Exchange is a prime example of what can be achieved when government silos are broken down and agencies come together to work toward a common goal,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams. “This trip will build on the success of the previous two ACE trips in the American South and Mexico, this time showcasing the amazing work of innovators and entrepreneurs – including several EDA investments – in the Midwest.”

“This year’s ACE is perfectly timed, as it builds on the enormously successful SelectUSA Investment Summit that the Commerce Department hosted last month,” said John Andersen, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for the Western Hemisphere. “The delegation represents high-ranking commerce and economic development officials from all over the Americas, and is an opportunity for participants to establish partnerships with and strategic investments in Midwest America’s centers of innovation and advanced technology hubs, which can lead to greater market access for U.S. exporters.”

The Third ACE is an opportunity for key leaders and decision makers to experience firsthand successful projects and networking activities in the Midwest U.S. States of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois, April 19-25. The ACE is included in the Inter-American Competitiveness Network (RIAC) Work Plan for 2015 to facilitate collaboration on the 150 successful experiences that OAS Member States shared in the 2012-2014 Signs of Competitiveness Americas Reports available at www.riacreport.org.

The ACE seeks to strengthen personal and professional relationships among the countries in the Western Hemisphere in order to encourage collaboration, share best practices, and ultimately strengthen the economy of the Americas. Participants will have the opportunity to see and learn from successful centers of innovation first-hand as well as increase the prospect of advancing commerce and trade between participating economies, accelerate business opportunities and collaboration for all stakeholders.

Members of Congress, mayors, and representatives from federal agencies have participated in prior ACE trips. The 3rd ACE trip has a full roster of participants from local and federal government:

  • U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams
  • National Director for the Minority Business Development Agency Alejandra Y. Castillo
  • Executive Secretary for Integral Development for the Organization of American States V. Sherry Tross
  • U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush
  • Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Development Matt Erskine
  • Deputy Assistant Secretary for U.S. Operations Antwaun Griffin
  • Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere John Andersen
  • Deputy Assistant Secretary for Regional Affairs Tom Guevara
  • Wisconsin Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch
  • Director for Economic Development for the Organization of American States Ms. Maryse Robert
  • The Mayor of Minneapolis Betsy Hodges
  • The Mayor of Rochester Ardell Brede
  • The Mayor of LaCrosse Tim Kabat
  • President of Gays Mills Harry Heisz
  • The Mayor of Madison Paul Soglin
  • The Mayor of Milwaukee Tom Barrett
  • The Mayor of Wauwatosa Kathy Ehley
  • Chief Deputy Commissioner, Minnesota Department of Employment & Economic Development Cathy Polasky

High-ranking officials from the Americas include:

  • Argentina: Guillermo Acosta, Minister of Industry, Commerce, Mining and Science, Province of Cordoba
  • Bahamas: Matt Sweeting, Secretary/Director The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce
  • Barbados: Charles Cyrus, Acting Director, National Council for Science and Technology
  • Belize: Michael Eugene Brian Singh, Chief Executive Officer, Ministry of Trade, Investment and Private Sector, and Nilda Riverol, Manager, SBDC Belize, and
  • Bolivia: Guillermo Pou Munt, President, National Chamber of Exports
  • Canada: Douglas Walter Kinsey, Executive Director (Pacific Region) Industry Canada; Hélène Joncas, Partnerships, Industrial Research Assistance Program, National Research Council (NRC) Canada, and Dani Rachel Fisher, Public Affairs/Policy and Economic Relations Officer, Consulate General of Canada in Minneapolis
  • Chile: Alejandro Espíndola, Autonomous University of Chile
  • Colombia: Iván Gutierrez, Executive Director, CENIRED- Network of I&DT Centers of the Colombian Agricultural Sector; Maria Eugenia Lloreda, Director, INVESTPACIFIC -  Investment Promotion Agency; and Victoria Ibañez, Executive Director, AmCham Barranquilla
  • Costa Rica: Carlos Mora, Vice Minister of Economy, Industry and Commerce; and Gabriela Castro, Director of the Investment Division, Foreign Trade Ministry
  • Dominica: Roselyn Paul, Minister of Commerce, Enterprise and Small Business Development
  • Dominican Republic: Tamara Vásquez, Coordinator of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Areas, National Competitiveness Council
  • Ecuador: Maria Walevska, Chief Executive Officer, Co-owner and founder, Quality Control
  • El Salvador: Luis Alonso Martinez Perdomo, Director of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Universidad Francisco Gaviria; and Yax Canossa,  ‎Innovation and Quality Director at Ministry of Economy
  • Guatemala: Karim Mercedes, Chief of Supply & Technological Demand, Innovation Section, National Secretariat for Science & Technology; and Irvin Calderon, Head of Basic and Applied Research
  • Guyana: Christina Samanta Samaroo, Research & Marketing Officer, Small Business Bureau, Ministry of Tourism, Industry & Commerce
  • Honduras: Ricardo Irías, Founder and CEO at Grupo Nueva Higueras y Honduras (NH&H)
  • Jamaica: Reginald K. Nugent, Senior Policy Advisor to Minister G. Anthony Hylton, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce
  • Mexico: President of FUMEC, Guillermo Fernández; Iván Gerardo Torres, Vice-president of Innovation, Chamber of Commerce in Guadalajara and President, Youth CONCANACO - National Confederation of Chamber of Commerce; Rafael Carmona Dávila, Head of the Cleantech and Entrepreneurship division, GreenMomentum/CTO; Mildreed Noguera Leines, Director of  Hidalgo State Business Network; José Guadalupe Octavio Cabrera-Lazarini, Dean of Manufacturing Engineering Department (2006), Universidad Politecnica de Queretaro; and Adriana Tortajada, Managing Director of Entrepreneurship Programs and Financing, National Entrepreneurship Institute; Paloma Saldaña Sánchez., INADEM        
  • Paraguay: Gricelda Cañete, Technological Park Itaipu
  • Perú: Jorge Alfredo Huarachi, Director of INNOAE at Catholic University Santo Toribio of Mogrovejo
  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines: Bernadette Ambrose-Black, Executive Director of Invest SVG
  • Trinidad and Tobago: Armand Jackson, Senior Planning Officer, Ministry of Planning and Sustainable Development
  • United States: Daniel Christopher St. Louis, Director of the Manufacturing Solutions Center; Kristin Elizabeth Dozier, Leon County Commissioner, District 5, Florida; Roque Vela, City Councilman, Laredo City on the U.S.-Mexico border; Darrell Hinnant, Mayor of Kannapolis,  NC and Prior ACE Host; Ed Braddy, Mayor of Gainesville, FL; Devon Laney, President and CEO of Innovation Depot, and Patrick Charles Schaefer, Executive Director, Hunt Institute for Global Competitiveness, University of Texas, El Paso
  • Uruguay: Catherine Krauss, Director of NEXO – Center for Entrepreneurial Development at Catholic University of Uruguay
  • Venezuela: Dunia de Barnola, Executive Director, Venezuela Competitiva – National Center for Competitiveness

Additional participants include Carmen Castro, Entrepreneurship Coordinator – SICA Region for Cenpromype and, representing the country of Georgia, Irakli Kashibadze, Chairman, Georgia’s Innovation and Technology Agency.

This six-day tour will showcase advanced technology centers, innovation hubs, public-private partnerships, and strategic investments in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Featured sites on the tour target the following clusters: manufacturing, medical devices, water, agriculture, energy, and information and communication technology and include:

  • Minneapolis, Minnesota: The United States Cluster Mapping Project; The Minnesota Historical Society; The Fruit Crops Breeding Program at The University Of Minnesota; Natural Resources Research Institute at the University of Minnesota – Duluth; University of Minnesota Academic Health Center; Region Nine Development Commission; 3M; The Greater Minneapolis- St. Paul Regional Economic Development Partnership
  • Rochester, Minnesota: Mayo Clinic; Minnesota Bio Business Center; Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc.
  • Lacrosse, Wisconsin: Western Technical College; Trane Commercial North America; Westby Cooperative Creamery
  • Westby, Wisconsin: Westby Cooperative Creamery
  • Viroqua Wisconsin: The Food Enterprise Center; Vernon Economic Development Association
  • Gays Mills, Wisconsin: Community Commerce Center
  • Verona, Wisconsin: Epic Corporation
  • Madison, Wisconsin: StartingBlock Madison; Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery; Morgridge Institute for Research; The Center for Dairy Research; University of Wisconsin- Madison; MGE Innovation Center University Research Park; Madison Regional Economic Partnership; Madison Latino Chamber of Commerce
  • Wauwatosa, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Innovation Campus
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Midwest Energy Research Consortium The Water Council Global Water Center; The University of Wisconsin Milwaukee School of Freshwater Science; Menomonee Valley; Century City; Third Ward; Milwaukee 7
  • Chicago, Illinois: U.S. Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory; University of Illinois at Chicago; The University of Illinois System; UI Labs; U.S. Department of Defense; Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute; ;Blue Waters National Center for Supercomputing Applications; Alliance for Regional Development;; University Technology Park at Illinois Institute of Technology; Chicago Metro Metal Consortium; Cook County Bureau of Economic Development; The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce; World Chicago; World Business Chicago; Chicago Council on Global Affairs; Chicago Federal Executive Board.


About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)
The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation's regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

International Trade Administration

The International Trade Administration (ITA) is the premier resource for American companies competing in the global marketplace. ITA has 2,100 employees assisting U.S. exporters in more than 100 U.S. cities and 72 countries worldwide. For more information on ITA visit www.trade.gov.