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Five Ways the Department of Commerce Exhibits Leadership in Innovation

Five Ways the Department of Commerce Exhibits Leadership in Innovation Through its 12 bureaus, the Department of Commerce creates the conditions for economic growth and opportunity on both a domestic and global scale. As the voice of business in the President’s Cabinet, Secretary Pritzker has spearheaded the Department of Commerce’s “Open for Business Agenda” Strategic Plan and focused on five strategic goals: trade and investment, innovation, environment, data and operational excellence. Secretary Pritzker’s two-year anniversary is this Friday, June 26, and each day this week we are highlighting one of our strategic pillars by recognizing recent achievements.

The Innovation pillar of the Strategic Plan calls for fostering a more innovative U.S. economy – one that is better at inventing, improving and commercializing products and services. The Department of Commerce is America’s Innovation Agency, whether it is through the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) protecting your intellectual property, the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) creating technology standards or the Economic Development Administration (EDA) investing in innovation ecosystems we are all working together to set the conditions for economic growth. Strengthening American innovation is crucial for sustained economic competitiveness, productivity and growth, and is at the core of the Department’s mission.

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Spotlight: Another Amazing Americas Competitiveness Exchange (ACE) Trip

EDA Infrastructure Projects What do you get when you take four agencies, 43 high-ranking foreign officials from 26 countries across three states, and to visit more than 40 sites? You get the most successful Americas Competitiveness Exchange to date! On April 19-25, EDA, the International Trade Administration, the Organization of American States, and the U.S. Department of State led an international delegation on a tour of innovative sites in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois for the Third Americas Competitiveness Exchange on Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

The tour kicked off in Minneapolis, where Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development treated participants to a briefing and tour. The next day, the delegation visited the University of Minnesota to hear about how the state is supporting apple breeding and flood mitigation to grow and protect jobs. The delegation then headed to Rochester where they participated in a tour of the Mayo Clinic to learn about the latest medical innovations taking place there.

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Highlight: We’ve Got the POWER…Implementation Grant Funding Available (Including Important Updates about SBA Cluster Solicitation)

From left: Lillian Salerno, Administrator for Rural Business-Cooperative Service, USDA; Wendy Spencer, CEO, Corporation for National and Community Service; Congressman Hal Rogers; Thomas Perez, Secretary of Labor; Governor Steve Beshear; Earl Gohl, Federal Co-Chair, Appalachian Regional Commission; Assistant Secretary Williams Changes in energy policy and economic downturns have affected the coal economy significantly over the last several years. Many communities that once relied on coal for jobs are struggling to find their way as the world changes around them. The federal government, including EDA, is helping these communities as they attempt to diversify and adapt to the changing economy. Today, federal agencies are collaborating on these issues to affect greater change.

On May 11, EDA joined Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez to announce up to $35.5 million in funding is available for coal-impacted communities across the country as part of the Obama Administration’s Partnership for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) initiative.

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Success Story: EDA’s Revolving Loan Fund Program

Beachy Cream Organic Ice Cream, a business supported by EDA’s RLF Program Imagine you have a small business or an idea for a small business. You need a relatively modest amount of money to get it off the ground or expand, but you’ve been turned down by the banks and other traditional lenders in your area. Maybe you don’t have the right credit or enough assets. Maybe you’re just a victim of bad timing and the fact that banks are being more cautious about business loans. No matter the reasons you’re being denied, there may be another option.

EDA has a number of programs designed to help support economic development and growth. Generally, EDA’s investments support communities as they attract businesses, but EDA’s Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) program is different. EDA capitalizes funds that are managed and loaned out by local organizations that serve as RLF operators. RLF funds are specifically intended to create small loans for high-risk projects – people who cannot get a traditional loan.

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NACIE and Federal Leaders Join Forces: Tackling Issues in Inclusion, Talent, and Capital

Assistant Secretary Jay Williams visited the Rutgers campus to announce that the University is among the recipients of the Science and Research Parks Development Grants, the last grants being issued under the 2014 Regional Innovation Strategies Program (RIS)

The National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE) convened last week for their third quarterly meeting. Hosted by EDA's Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE), NACIE members discussed their work on innovation, entrepreneurship, and talent development in the workforce, and received updates from Commerce Department leadership on new initiatives and research relative to NACIE efforts.

Members heard about initiatives such as the EDA-funded Communities that Work Partnership led by the Aspen Institute, prompting Council members for ideas on how their efforts might compliment this program. The Commerce Department’s Chief Economist Sue Helper shared insights on the latest research initiatives, discussed NACIE's interests in measuring innovation, and introduced new subjects to the Council to spur discussions around possible topics for the Council to explore. Gadi Dechter from the National Economic Council shared details about the White House's focus on inclusion in innovation and entrepreneurship and about the upcoming Demo Day.

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Supporting Regional Innovation for Global Competitiveness

Assistant Secretary Jay Williams visited the Rutgers campus to announce that the University is among the recipients of the Science and Research Parks Development Grants, the last grants being issued under the 2014 Regional Innovation Strategies Program (RIS) The world is changing at an ever-increasing rate. Companies and organizations that don’t innovate today may not be around tomorrow. The Obama Administration recognizes the vital importance of supporting innovation, and the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration has been at the forefront of those efforts through its Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Today, Assistant Secretary Jay Williams visited the Rutgers campus to announce that the University is among the recipients of the Science and Research Parks Development Grants, the last grants being issued under the 2014 Regional Innovation Strategies Program (RIS). Secretary Pritzker announced the recipients of the other two funding opportunities, the i6 Challenge grants and Cluster Grants for Seed Capital Funds, in March.

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Building a Brighter Future for Coal Communities

A Greener WorldA dramatic transformation in our energy economy is driving fundamental changes in the way we power our homes, offices, factories and communities. This means cleaner air, healthier communities, and new jobs and industries that didn’t exist two decades ago. But it’s also having a profound impact on workers, families and communities who have relied on the coal industry as a source of good jobs and economic security. There are many reasons for this transformation in energy – and there has been vigorous, impassioned debate about those reasons. But debates don’t put food on the table. Solutions do.

So, how can government - at all levels – partner with the private sector and civil society to help communities diversify their economies?

In Eastern Kentucky, a bipartisan collaboration between Governor Steve Beshear and Congressman Hal Rogers called Shaping Our Appalachian Region or SOAR is showing one path forward. Wary of yet another task force or commission, the pair instead brought the entire community together to “reassess its current challenges, and discuss ideas or innovations already underway which could be leveraged or aligned to capture emergent regional development opportunities.”

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Counties and Regions Talk Economic Diversification in Kentucky

A Greener WorldLast week, a group of county and regional leaders convened in Pike County, Ky., bound by a common interest in finding new ways to grow their economies.  Based in communities that have long been reliant on the coal industry, these leaders came together to share ideas and learn about innovative strategies to create jobs and improve quality of life through changing economic times.

NACo hosted this workshop in Pikeville from April 22 – 24 in partnership with the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) Research Foundation, as part of a larger effort to support communities seeking to diversify their economies and create jobs.  Known as the Innovation Challenge for Coal-Reliant Communities, this effort is centered on three workshops, the first of which was the Pikeville event. 

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Challenging Communities to Envision their Economic Future

A Greener World As our economy recovers from the impact of the Great Recession, we have to remember that it wasn’t just individuals who were deeply affected; municipalities and local governments also suffered devastating consequences. Local governments saw a dramatic reduction in their tax base, forcing them to reduce services and think of creative ways to operate while providing services to their residents.

Today, we can gladly say that the national unemployment rate is 5.5 percent, we have reduced the deficit from 9.8 percent of our economy in 2009, to below 3 percent in 2014, and the private sector has added 12.1 million jobs over 61 straight months of job growth—a new record.

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Spotlight: Infrastructure Week

EDA Infrastructure Projects America’s roads, bridges, sewers, water lines, and ports are crucial to its economy. They transport people to and from work. They transport goods across cities and states and facilitate domestic and international trade. Everyone can agree that infrastructure is necessary and important, yet America’s is in dire need of upgrading.  May 11-16 marks National Infrastructure Week. Now in its 3rd year, Infrastructure Week brings together thousands of stakeholders in Washington and around the country to highlight the critical importance of investing in and modernizing America’s infrastructure systems, and the essential role infrastructure plays in our economy.

EDA has understood the role of infrastructure in economic development for 50 years. In fact, the agency was conceived as part of the Public Works and Economic Development Act in 1965, which demonstrates that the two concepts have been linked for decades. Infrastructure improvements through our public works program have been central to our work from the start. Lately, the condition and importance of infrastructure is gaining wider attention.

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