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U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Announces New Director for the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship


Housed within the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship is a catalyst for economic growth

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today announced the appointment of Julie Lenzer Kirk, an award-winning entrepreneur and advocate, as the new Director of the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Housed within the Economic Development Administration, the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship works to foster a more innovative U.S. economy focused on turning new ideas and inventions into new products and technologies that spur job growth and competitiveness and promote economic development.

“I am excited to have Julie join our team here at the Department of Commerce. She is a visionary leader and tireless advocate for entrepreneurs who has focused her career on leveraging innovation to create jobs and empower communities,” said U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. “By connecting Commerce to local communities and business leaders, the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship is building ladders of opportunity for all Americans through fostering innovation and supporting entrepreneurs, both of which are key drivers of U.S. economic growth and key priorities of the Department’s Open for Business Agenda.”

Ms. Kirk most recently served as the Executive Director of the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship (MCE), an initiative of the Howard County Economic Development Authority. As the leader of the MCE, she worked closely with businesses and entrepreneurs across the state to help them develop strategies to grow and succeed. Ms. Kirk is also the co-founder of Startup Maryland, a regional chapter of the Startup America Partnership, a national network of communities dedicated to advancing the success of American startups. She is also the co-founder and former CEO of the Path Forward Center for Entrepreneurship, a non-profit organization she started to help women expand economic opportunity by building growth-oriented businesses.

“Julie’s energy and enthusiasm helped the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship create the ecosystem we need to foster innovation and job growth,” said Howard County Executive Ken Ulman. “Julie is a talented professional, and I am thrilled that even more entrepreneurs and companies across the country will benefit from the strategies we have put in place in Howard County.”

“We cannot say enough about the innovative contributions Julie made to the Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA) and the MCE,” said Lawrence F. Twele, CEO Howard County Economic Development Authority. “We look forward to working with her in her new role with the Obama administration.”

The Department of Commerce supports entrepreneurship through its “Open for Business Agenda,” a set of strategic priorities focused on data, innovation, and trade and investment. As the primary voice of business in the Administration, the Department produces policies and initiatives that help in the establishment and success of new start-ups as well as the growth and competitiveness of existing businesses. In April Secretary Pritzker chaired the first ever meeting of the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) initiative, a committee of successful American business leaders who have committed to sharing their time, energy, ideas, and experience to help develop the next generation of entrepreneurs. The Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship plays an important role in these outreach efforts by helping businesses and nonprofits work together to grow the economy and create jobs.

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.