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Making U.S. Manufacturing Stronger

March 18, 2015

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Guest blog post by Phillip Singerman, Associate Director for Innovation and Industry Services at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

During his visit to Cleveland, Ohio, today, President Obama highlighted increased investment in a unique program that makes sure small and medium-size U.S. manufactures have the support they need to innovate, grow and succeed.

The president visited the Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network (MAGNET), one of 60 centers across the country in the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).  MAGNET is one of the Ohio MEP affiliates located at Cleveland State University. These centers have helped manufacturers such as Ohio-based Wright Materials Research and Heather Moore Jewelry make improvements that led to the hiring of new staff, sped delivery of their products and generated new sales.

As a new report released by the White House (which was supported by our colleagues at the Economics and Statistics Administration) finds that small and medium-size companies like these form the backbone of America’s manufacturing supply chains and employ nearly half of all U.S. manufacturing workers.

There are many success stories in MEP’s 26-year history that demonstrate the benefits of investing in these manufacturers. And we plan to support many more. MEP has issued a Federal Funding Opportunity for non-profit organizations to operate centers in Alaska, Idaho, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Utah, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. This is the second round of competitions in a multiyear effort to update MEP’s funding structure and will strengthen the network. We announced the first competition awardees in February 2015.

The awardees in this new competition will receive a total of nearly $32 million annually for five years from MEP, and all of that funding will be matched at a minimum dollar-for-dollar by non-federal sources. Over the course of the five-year awards, more than $320 million total federal and non-federal investment will be provided to support the small and medium-size manufactures in these states.

That investment will go a long way. For every dollar of federal funding, MEP clients generate nearly $19 in new sales, which translates into $2.5 billion annually. And for every $2,001 of federal investment, MEP creates or retains one U.S. manufacturing job. Since 1988, MEP has worked with nearly 80,000 manufacturers, leading to $88 billion in sales and $14 billion in cost savings, and it has helped create more than 729,000 jobs.

Revitalized centers will benefit each of these states, but I’m especially glad to see that Alaska is included in this competition because it is the only state that does not currently have an MEP center. However, based on a recent study funded by MEP, the state does have a small and vibrant manufacturing community that could truly benefit from the collaborative, public-private nature of an MEP center.

Running an MEP center is not an easy task, but the benefits to the country and local communities is tremendous. We’ll be hosting an informational webinar regarding the latest MEP competition on March 30, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern time (register by sending an email to mepffo@nist.gov), and applications are due June 1, 2015. I encourage all eligible non-profits to consider applying for this opportunity to help ensure a strong future for U.S. manufacturing.

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North Carolina Attracts FDI in Manufacturing and Textiles

March 13, 2015

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Stefan M. Selig is the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

Under Secretary Stefan Selig (seond from left) participates in a ribbon cutting ceremony with North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory (left) PEDS Legwear President and CEO Michael Penner and Walmart Vice President of U.S. Manufacturing Cindi Marsiglio.

Under Secretary Stefan Selig (seond from left) participates in a ribbon cutting ceremony with North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory (left) PEDS Legwear President and CEO Michael Penner and Walmart Vice President of U.S. Manufacturing Cindi Marsiglio.

On Wednesday afternoon, I delivered remarks in Hilderbran, North Carolina at a ribbon-cutting ceremony where we officially opened the new Canadian-based Peds® Legwear (PEDS) production facility. PEDS’ recent $16 million investment in the plant and new machinery has allowed the company to hire North Carolina factory workers who were previously laid off. By 2018, this new facility will bring more than 200 jobs to Hildebran, providing a lift to the local economy.

SelectUSA, our program to attract foreign direct investment (FDI), along with our Commercial Service Canada team, helped facilitate this deal. SelectUSA provided counseling to PEDS on how to navigate the federal regulatory process and also helped identify sources of federal funding. In addition to PEDS’ investment in the Hildebran facility, the company plans an additional $8 million venture, bringing their total investment in the United States to $24 million. In less than two weeks, similar FDI deals will be highlighted at this year’s SelectUSA Investment Summit, which will take place March 23-24.

In addition to ITA’s support, PEDS’ new investment is made possible because of a multi-year purchase order contract from Wal-Mart as part of the retailer’s commitment to buy domestically produced goods.

As I noted in my remarks—before an audience that included Michael Penner, president and CEO of Peds® Legwear; Cindi Marsiglio, Wal-Mart’s vice president of U.S. manufacturing; and North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory—PEDS’ investment in the facility shows our nation’s prowess to attract FDI.

Because the United States offers a transparent, fair, and stable business climate, as well as our second-to-none workforce, many global companies like PEDS are beginning to establish or expand operations here. In fact, in 2013, U.S. FDI inflows totaled $231 billion, of which $51 million was invested in U.S. textile and apparel manufacturing. In 2012, majority-owned U.S. affiliates of foreign firms accounted for $48 billion in R&D expenditures, exported $334 billion worth of U.S. goods exports, and employed nearly 6 million workers.

To keep the momentum, ITA will continue to develop opportunities for U.S. workers and businesses by promoting international trade, encouraging FDI, and working to foster a level playing field for American products and services.

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Increased Exports and the Jobs Supported by Exports Are Keys to Heightened Economic Confidence

March 12, 2015

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Guest blog post by Stefan M. Selig, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Stefan M. Selig

Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Stefan M. Selig

When we look back at 2014, it will be seen as the year our country regained its economic confidence, symbolized by the nearly 3 million jobs our economy created in 2014.

While this feat extended the longest streak of job growth in American history, we should not overlook the role our exports and our exporters played in regaining that economic confidence.

U.S. exports of goods and services tallied a record $2.35 trillion in 2014. That was the fifth consecutive year we achieved record exports. This is a clear validation of the Administration’s commitment to a robust trade and investment agenda.

In fact, there are three ways that our exports played an important role in the breakthrough year our economy produced.

First, at the same time that we were experiencing the longest streak of job growth, we also experienced a record year when it came to export-supported jobs: more than 11.7 million. This number includes the 2.8 million jobs supported by the exports to our North American Free Trade Agreement partners Canada and Mexico. And we know those export supported jobs pay 13 to 18% higher wages than non-export supported jobs.

Second, U.S. exporters reaped the benefits of a record year of exports with our 20 free trade partners – with a total of $765 billion in goods sent to these markets. That record included increases in exports to Colombia (up 10.5%), South Korea (up 6.8%) and the Central America Free Trade Agreement-Dominican Republic partners (up 5.7%). Overall, these 20 countries purchase nearly half of all U.S. exports today – 47% to be exact.

Third, a major driver of our export growth came from our Latin American free trade partners, such as Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Panama, and Peru. Exports to these 11 countries alone represented more than a third of our entire year-over-year increase in exports. The region is a major destination for U.S. petroleum and coal, computers and electronics, chemicals, and transportation equipment.

So 2014 was clearly a breakthrough year for our exports and for our economy in general. Now, we need the tools that will allow us to carry that momentum into 2015 and beyond.

That is why passing trade promotion legislation is even more crucial, particularly as we work to finalize the historic Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP).

TPP will give U.S. exporters better access to the Asia-Pacific, which will carry the majority of global middle class by 2030. TPP means taking the very success we have seen in Latin America – U.S. goods exports to Look South markets increased 5.4 percent in 2014 from the previous year, more than double the increase of goods exports to the rest of the world — and replicating it in the Asia-Pacific.

To help our negotiators reach the best deal possible, the President needs Congress to pass trade promotion legislation. This would signal to our negotiating partners that a successfully negotiated TPP will not be held up by amendments when it goes to Congress for a final vote. This would give those trading partners the confidence to put their final offers on the table.

And because trade promotion legislation empowers Congress to determine the priorities and objectives our negotiators must pursue, it will ensure TPP embodies the values of 21st century global commerce: environmental protection, workplace regulations, and fair wages.

If we want a future that will include connecting U.S. exporters to 60% of global GDP, accessing the majority of global middle class consumers, supporting more American jobs through expanded exports, and locking 21st century values into the global trading system, then trade promotion legislation will be an essential element.

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Exporting: Mission Possible – Two Companies’ Stories

March 3, 2015

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Laura Ebert is a Trade Specialist at the International Trade Administration.

First Choice Marine Supply CEO Craig Ruda and interpreter Gabriela Schulten meet with potential distributor Maress Supply in Santiago, Chile

First Choice Marine Supply CEO Craig Ruda and interpreter Gabriela Schulten meet with potential distributor Maress Supply in Santiago, Chile

At the end of last year, 14 companies from the Tampa Bay area in Florida traveled to Santiago, Chile on a trade mission. Led by the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation, the companies came armed with market assessments and meeting agendas prepared by the U.S. Commercial Service in Chile. Their mission: to find new export opportunities in Chile.

Joining a trade mission is a great way to learn firsthand about new export markets and meet face-to-face with potential partners and clients. Increasingly, city, state, and regional organizations are teaming up with the U.S. Commercial Service to offer tailored missions for local companies. What is it like to participate in a trade mission? To find out, we recently spoke with two companies that participated in the mission to Chile.

Hydro-Dyne Engineering is a manufacturer of screening and grit removal equipment for water and waste water treatment plants. The company began exporting to help diversify its sales base. Initially, joining the mission was a hard sell to President Jay Conroy. “I was afraid that going down with a government contingency could slow us down and thought we could do it on our own,” said Conroy. “The biggest surprise was how well the mission was organized. Even putting a lot of resources behind it, we wouldn’t have done as good a job on our own.”

Conroy joined the mission with the goal of interviewing and selecting a representative in Chile. For Hydro-Dyne, this kind of long-term commitment is necessary to market its products, provide design and installation support, and build momentum in a market. Conroy was impressed with the quality of the meetings that were scheduled for him. “We went on the mission to find a representative and I am confident we will have one now because of the trip,” Conroy stated. “The icing on the cake was getting to meet with customers who have already asked for proposals on equipment for specific projects.”

His biggest surprise about Chile? How modern it is. “Most water services are privately operated and run like a business looking for a return,” Conroy added.

First Choice Marine Supply designs, manufactures, and distributes solar lighting for the commercial and industrial marine industry, among others. CEO Craig Ruda came across the mission while doing research on expanding to Brazil. He decided to turn his attention to Chile when he learned of the relative ease of doing business there—especially with the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the United States and Chile in place. “Given the FTA, Chile’s growing economy, and their interest in new, energy efficient technologies, it just made sense,” said Ruda.

Ruda went to Chile looking to gather market intelligence and to meet a diverse client base. For him, nothing beats face-to-face interactions for getting an assessment of the true capabilities of a potential agent and for establishing trust with clients. He was impressed by how comfortable Chilean companies were with importing and surprised by the strength of the infrastructure there. Does he consider the mission a success? “Yes, we met all our objectives,” Ruda said enthusiastically.

After all the time and effort put into exploring markets halfway around the world, has exporting been good for business? “Absolutely. Exporting has increased our sales and allowed us to hire,” says Conroy. Hydro-Dyne has doubled its staff over the last two years as exporting has become a larger part of the company’s sales. Exports have driven growth at First Choice Marine as well. “About 50 percent of our market is served through exports. Every one of our people has relationships in other countries on a daily basis,” Ruda added.

If you would like to explore export opportunities for your company and learn more about upcoming trade missions led by the International Trade Administration (ITA), visit our trade mission page. For trade missions to Latin American FTA markets led by ITA and state and local partners, visit our Look South events page.

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President Obama Renews Charge to Help Rural Companies and Communities Compete Globally

February 27, 2015

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Spiral candles proudly made in North Dakota.Yesterday, President Obama announced new commitments in the “Made in Rural America” export and investment initiative, which is charged with bringing together federal trade-related resources for rural communities and businesses. This announcement reflects the Administration’s strategy for ensuring workers and businesses of all sizes, from communities large and small, benefit from the nation’s economic resurgence.

The Department of Commerce also released data yesterday that show 26 states set new export records in 2014, and many of those states are in the nation’s heartland.

The Administration’s next steps in the “Made in Rural America” initiative build on input received from rural businesses and communities throughout the past year.  Following the President’s announcement of the initiative in February 2014, agencies led several regional forums across the country, a Rural Opportunity Investment conference last summer, and new partnerships to help more rural businesses – making everything from amphibious vehicles to aquaculture products – plug in to export assistance.

Last year, we confirmed that rural businesses have the products and services in demand worldwide, and the drive to export – just like urban businesses. The challenge is improving their access to information and export services, including financing and logistics. U.S. Commercial Service – North Dakota Director Heather Ranck and rural companies spoke about that in this “Export Experts” video released last October.

Highlights from yesterday’s announcement include the following:

  • The International Trade Administration has established a new National Rural Export Innovation Team to help more rural businesses access export-related assistance, information and events. The team already has 74 members nationwide.
  • Through the support of the Appalachian Regional Commission, Delta Regional Authority and others, we will double the number of rural businesses served by these partners that international trade shows and missions.
  • The Economic Development Administration (EDA) will launch a new i6 Rural Challenge, based on the previously successful i6 challenges, which will focus on providing funding to rural communities to build capacity for commercializing technology.
  • EDA will establish a mentor-protégé program for rural communities that will help all communities involved learn how to leverage their own assets, build their resources, and foster a culture that drives innovation and entrepreneurial thinking.
  • Agencies will work with state and local partners to raise awareness of federal resources with rural businesses and community lending institutions.  This includes commitments from the Ex-Im Bank, SBA and the Delta Regional authority as well as the U.S. Postal Service’s commitment to host internationally-focused “Grow Your Business” day-long events across the country.
  • The Department of Agriculture and its partners will lead reverse trade missions and ITA will conduct outreach events for rural businesses to meet foreign buyers and commercial experts.

Many at the county, state, and national level responded to the President’s “Made in Rural America” charge, as we saw first-hand in Canonsburg, PA; Memphis, TN; Cortland, NY; Tuscaloosa, AL; Cedar Rapids; Gila County, AZ and Clackamas County, OR. In addition, the Administration has made efforts like Made in Rural America a key priority in our national export strategy, NEI/NEXT.

For more information, visit businessusa.gov/rural-exporting.

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Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker Announces Twenty-Six States Achieved Record Export Levels in 2014

February 27, 2015

A  cargo container ship representing exports.

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today announced new data that shows 26 states achieved records in goods exports in 2014, while eight additional states experienced growth in merchandise exports over 2013 levels. Total merchandise exports from all 50 states helped the U.S. achieve the fifth consecutive record-setting year of goods and services exports, which reached $2.35 trillion in 2014.

Secretary Pritzker praised today’s announcement stressing the fact exports are critical to economic growth and job creation in communities across the country. “With 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside the United States, opening more markets to ‘Made in America’ goods and services is fundamental to our nation’s competitiveness, job creation, and the economic security of our families,” she said.

Strengthening partnerships with states and rural communities in support of exporters and investment attraction efforts is a key objective for the second phase of President Obama’s National Export Initiative – NEI/NEXT, which Secretary Pritzker launched in May 2014. Through NEI/NEXT, 20 federal agencies are advancing program and policy improvements to provide exporters more tailored assistance and information; streamline export reporting requirements; expand access to export financing; ensure market access and a level playing field; and collaborate with state and local organizations.

The 26 states that set new records for exports in 2014 include:

  • Texas ($289.0 billion);
  • California ($174.1 billion);
  • Washington ($90.6 billion);
  • Illinois ($68.2 billion);
  • Louisiana ($65.1 billion);
  • Ohio ($52.1 billion);
  • Georgia ($39.4 billion);
  • Indiana ($35.5 billion);
  • Tennessee ($33.0 billion);
  • North Carolina ($31.3 billion);
  • South Carolina ($29.7 billion);
  • Kentucky ($27.5 billion);
  • Wisconsin ($23.4 billion);
  • Minnesota ($21.4 billion);
  • Arizona ($21.1 billion);
  • Oregon ($20.9 billion);
  • Virginia ($19.2 billion);
  • Iowa ($15.1 billion);
  • Maryland ($12.2 billion);
  • Nebraska ($7.9 billion);
  • North Dakota ($5.3 billion);
  • New Hampshire ($4.4 billion);
  • New Mexico ($3.8 billion);
  • Rhode Island ($2.4 billion);
  • Wyoming ($1.8 billion); and
  • Hawaii ($1.5 billion).

In addition, the following states achieved growth in total merchandise exports in 2014: Alabama; Alaska; Maine; Massachusetts; Missouri; Montana; New Jersey; and South Dakota.

More information and additional facts about state exports in 2014 can be found by accessing the full press release.

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What is the SelectUSA Academy?

February 26, 2015

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

By Genilson Brandao, Outreach and Communications Senior Specialist, SelectUSA

SelectUSA Summit Academy: March 22, 2015, 2:00pm-6:30pmThe 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit is fast approaching and the excitement around it continues to build. To date, there are more than 2,100 registrants from almost 80 international markets and nearly every U.S. state. The Summit will bring together high-profile business leaders, investors, state and local representatives, and government officials to network and discuss the latest investment trends.

New this year is an important addition for participants who are looking to make the most of their Summit experience: The SelectUSA Academy.

The Academy is an intensive, practical pre-Summit orientation that will give companies, state and local governments, and economic developments organizations (EDOs) the basics on investing in the U.S. market and strategies to attract investment to their locations.

The sessions will offer indispensable analytical tools and information to help participants navigate regulations and investment incentives, investor visas, current foreign direct investment (FDI) and reshoring trends, and more—see the Academy agenda for more details on the sessions and speakers.

You can participate in the Academy in two different tracks:

  1. The Investor Track is designed for potential investors and companies of all sizes who want to learn the basics of investing in the United States.
  2. The EDO Track is tailored to state/local governments and EDOs looking to develop specific strategies for attracting FDI and discuss the latest trends and resources in economic development.

Participants in the SelectUSA Academy will not only gain valuable, first-hand insight from experienced investors, economic developers, and government officials to boost their investment strategies, but they will also have a chance to meet and mingle the night before the Summit. Following the Academy sessions, there will be a special networking reception on Sunday evening for all Academy participants and speakers.

Want to jumpstart your 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit experience? The Academy has already sparked great interest from international firms, exhibitors, and U.S. EDOs, but there’s still time to join us. To sign up for the Academy, first register for the 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit at www.selectusasummit.com/registration and then select the “SelectUSA Academy” add-on option. If you are already attending the Summit and want to update your registration to include the Academy, please contact our Summit event planner at info@selectusasummit.com.

About the SelectUSA Summit: The 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit will be held on March 23rd and 24th and the SelectUSA Academy will be held on March 22nd in the Washington, D.C. area at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center. More than 2,500 participants will find the practical tools, information and contacts they need to move investments forward. To learn more and register, visit www.selectusa.gov.

About SelectUSA: Housed within the U.S. Department of Commerce, SelectUSA promotes and facilitates business investment into the United States by coordinating related federal government agencies to serve as a single point of contact for investors. SelectUSA assists U.S. economic development organizations to compete globally for investment by providing information, a platform for international marketing, and high-level advocacy. SelectUSA also helps investors find the information they need to make decisions; connect to the right people at the local level; navigate the U.S. federal regulatory system; and find solutions to issues related to the U.S. federal government.  More information at http://www.selectusa.gov.

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