Joanne Vliet is the director of the Silicon Valley U.S. Export Assistance Center, in San Jose, California, part of the network of 108 Export Assistance Centers located throughout the United States.
Over the past few months, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren has been busy recognizing companies and organizations in her Silicon Valley district for their significant achievements in exporting. Four Silicon Valley technology firms and community organizations have been awarded the Commerce’s Department’s prestigious Export Achievement Certificate, which were presented by Representative Lofgren.
Silicon Valley is recognized worldwide as the epicenter of innovation and entrepreneurship, but also is an exporting powerhouse. The San Francisco Bay Area is the fourth largest exporting region in the U.S., with nearly $50 billion in exports annually – more than half of which come from Silicon Valley. The Valley has also been a bright spot for employment in recent years. Silicon Valley leads the region with the greatest percentage increase in jobs in 2011 — and those jobs are tied to exports. Indeed, San Jose has the largest percentage of jobs created by exports in the entire United States, which is both an impressive statistic and significant benefit to the region, as exports typically support higher paying jobs.
In recognition of these organizations’ accomplishments in exporting, Lofgren presented U.S. Department of Commerce Export Achievement Certificates to Echelon Corporation, SolFocus, San Jose State University, and the City of San Jose. All have worked with the Commerce Department’s local Silicon Valley U.S. Export Assistance Center to expand into overseas markets.
Echelon Corp. of San Jose has long been a leader in energy control networking systems to improve the efficiency of energy distribution in buildings and industrial environments. In 2010, Echelon generated more than 70% of its revenue from outside the U.S. Acknowledging the support provided to his company by the U.S. Commercial Service, Echelon CEO Ron Sege stated, “We are proud of what we’ve accomplished worldwide with our proven, open standard, multi-application solutions, and we could not have done it without the hard work and dedication of our employees and the support of the U.S. Department of Commerce and particularly the staff of the Silicon Valley office of the U.S. Commercial Service.”
SolFocus, a producer of concentrated photovoltaics, also headquartered in San Jose, deployed business development staff to Australia in 2009 to meet with a dozen business prospects. Through the Commerce Department’s Gold Key Service, SolFocus was introduced to local development partners for a $2.3 million project at the Alice Springs Airport. As a result, 28 SolFocus arrays began generating power for the airport’s internal grid in the summer of 2010.
The fast-growing clean tech sector depends on outstanding business managers and engineers, and in Silicon Valley, many of those highly skilled workers attended San Jose State University. Higher education is one of the top ten U.S. service exports and San Jose State is one of the 200 top research universities in the nation. With more than 30,000 students enrolled, San Jose State University also has become a leader in attracting foreign students. Through its Office of International and Extended Studies, San Jose State has engaged with the U.S. Commercial Service for the last 15 years to expand their international student population and international partnerships around the world. Since that time, the U.S. Commercial Service’s global network of trade professionals and programs has supported San Jose State’s efforts through trade counseling, business matchmaking, and the recruitment of academic delegations and partnering activities with educational organizations in countries such as China, India, Russia, Japan, Taiwan, among a number of other markets.
Businesses in Silicon Valley depend heavily on a number of organizations and networks to be successful. A critical component of the Valley’s ecosystem is its vast array of business organizations, which are vital to the commercial infrastructure. The City of San Jose has long been an active supporter of exporting through a variety of programs, services and resources. Congresswoman Lofgren and the City of San Jose have long understood the crucial role exporting plays in the economy – both were deeply involved in rallying community support for the opening of the U.S. Export Assistance Center in San Jose in 1996. Since its opening, the Silicon Valley U.S. Export Assistance Center has collaborated with the City to highlight the importance of trade to the region and collaborated on seminars, trade missions, visiting delegations, and VIP visits. When accepting the award, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed observed, “When the Presidentsaid he wanted to double exports in five years, I knew this would be great for the San Jose economy. I want to thank the U.S. Department of Commerce for supporting our businesses who want to do business overseas.”
As Representative Lofgren noted, “Exports constitute an important element of the growth of San Jose’s economy. We have the highest percentage of jobs created by exports, which attests to the benefits of international trade for our companies and for our City.” The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Silicon Valley U.S. Export Assistance Center plays a key role in Silicon Valley’s trade promotion infrastructure by helping grow and foster export activities in the community. Through awards such as the Export Achievement Certificate, the U.S. Commercial Service recognizes the contributions that companies such as Echelon and SolFocus, as well as organizations such San Jose State University and the City of San Jose, make to the success of the Silicon Valley economy.