Author Archive


Partnerships Come in All Shapes and Sizes

November 7, 2016

Jamie Merriman is is the Acting Director of ITA’s Office of Strategic Partnerships

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In the government, as in many other places, you often hear “do more with less.” Our Strategic Partnership Program helps us to do just that. One example of a partnership in action is the Grow Global series led by our Strategic Partner, American Express.  This year, the Grow Global series visited Baltimore, MD and Long Beach, CA. It brought together small and medium-sized businesses who were seeking to export or expand their export markets.  American Express provided their organizational and programmatic support to the events.   During the panels and presentations, ITA told the audience about the various U.S. government resources available to them, including our Top Markets reports. We brought our industry experts who could answer their sector-specific questions and helped guide them to the right market. Attendees had the opportunity to connect directly with free and low-cost trade resources that they may not have otherwise been aware of.


These events allow both ITA and American Express to leverage their strengths to provide actionable export information to U.S. companies.  More than 70 percent of the world’s purchasing power is located outside of the United States, while less than one percent of America’s 30 million companies export – a percentage that is significantly lower than all other developed countries. “The ITA has been an important partner to the American Express Grow Global program, providing important resources and information to help U.S. companies take advantage of exporting opportunities and to grow their business.” – Rosa Alfonso-McGoldrick, Vice President, American Express Global Commercial Payments.

You don’t have to be a large corporation to be a partner with ITA. We also partner with smaller businesses, universities and associations. One example is our partnership with the non-profit association WIPP (Women Impacting Public Policy).  ITA and WIPP worked together to develop and launch the ExportNow webinar curriculum in 2015.  ExportNow, a series of webinars which provides an overview of export sales channels with detailed segments on market analysis and building marketing plans, including financing requirements and opportunities, is targeted to WIPP’s members and other U.S. small and medium-sized enterprises.  WIPP and ITA continue to collaborate on new webinars in the series, and have also engaged other ITA partners to focus on the legal and financial aspects of exporting.  “WIPP’s goal is to provide our members with the best resources available to help them launch and grow their exporting businesses. In that regard our partnership with ITA, which gives us access to their experts, materials and know-how, has been invaluable.”  Jane Campbell, President of WIPP and Director of the National Development Council’s Washington office.

Our partnerships enable us to broaden and deepen our outreach and also provide ITA with important feedback. Benefits include:

  • Growing the U.S. exporter base, thereby supporting U.S. jobs at wages 13 to 18 percent higher than non-exporting firms;
  • Helping ITA target its products and services to the needs of America’s businesses; and
  • Increasing awareness of the benefits of international trade and foreign direct investment to the U.S. economy.

Partnerships come in all shapes and sizes. The Strategic Partnership Program enables ITA and its partners to each focus their core competencies in contributing to the larger goal of U.S. economic success, creating the capacity to achieve more than we could accomplish alone.  To reach that goal requires open communication, clear objectives, and a shared sense of mission.  Since his first day in office, President Obama has recognized the importance of public private partnerships, and called on agencies and departments to increase their collaboration with the private sector.  ITA’s Strategic Partnership Program is a prime example of that collaboration, and we look forward to continued collaboration with our private sector partners in the years ahead.

To learn more about who our partners are, visit


On Long Island, Startups Emphasize Opportunities to Trade at Startup Global Event Hosted by U.S. Department of Commerce and Global Innovation Forum

November 4, 2016

Elizabeth Montaquila is a Communications Specialist at International Trade Administration

On October 27, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s U.S. Commercial Service, NFTC’s Global Innovation Forum (GIF), Small Business Administration and Stony Brook University co-hosted Startup Global Long Island, an event to help startups launch their products or services in international markets. The hosts welcomed over 80 guests, including startup founders in industries from health-tech to agribusiness.

The event featured panels on the global market outlook for startups, intellectual property protection and crafting an international business strategy – all designed to prepare entrepreneurs to engage in international markets and plan for potential challenges.


Michelle Gillette-Kelly, owner of Ms. Michelle’s gluten free cookies, talks about how she started her company and is now focusing on entering new global markets, with the help of the Commercial Service.

Jake Colvin, Executive Director of GIF, led a discussion on the path to going global, highlighting that, “for all of the anxiety we hear on the campaign trail about trade, the reality is that startups and small businesses today are naturally global.” He continued, “the Internet makes it easy to leverage global markets to support local businesses and jobs.”

During the discussion, Michelle Gillette-Kelly, the owner of Ms. Michelle’s, a gluten-free cookie company, spoke about her startup’s global journey during the first panel on the global outlook for startups. She said, “With my brick-and-mortar bakery, I realized I wasn’t reaching enough people, so I decided to go into manufacturing and sell internationally. Using I found people at the U.S. Commercial Service who helped me meet European buyers directly to find out which countries might be interested in gluten-free cookies. I am now targeting Canada, the Netherlands and Italy as my first markets and I hope to be exporting soon.”

During the panel on intellectual property protection, IP trade and legal specialists outlined the different forms of IP protection, offered guidelines on when they should be used, and warned against failing to adequately protect IP in international settings. “It’s important to pursue trademarking of your brands and logos before you start printing or shipping anything, not only in the United States, but in all major markets you plan to export to, before you get a cease and desist letter,” cautioned George Likourezos, Intellectual Property Counsel at law firm Carter, Deluca, Farrell & Schmidt.

Dr. Satya Sharma, the Executive Director of the Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology (CEWIT) at Stony Brook University, led the final panel of the day on resources available to startups to go global and develop an international business strategy. The panelists emphasized that free resources are available from local, state and federal government agencies, such as market entry research, business planning and financing.

The event was a part of the Startup Global initiative, an ongoing partnership between GIF and the Commerce Department to help entrepreneurs think globally from Day One, which has held similar events around the country including in New York City, Seattle, Nashville and Washington, DC.

The day concluded with key takeaways from the day and a look forward. “We want the next administration to know what has and hasn’t worked for startups and to remove any obstacles that might prevent a U.S. company from being competitive. We welcome startups to work with all the public sector resources represented here today, and let us know how we can improve,” noted Josh Mandell, Senior Adviser for Innovation and Competitiveness at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

About the Global Innovation Forum

The Global Innovation Forum is a nonprofit startup that connects entrepreneur, small business, development, and university communities with policymakers and select corporations to explore the opportunities and challenges of engaging in the global marketplace.  GIF serves as a hub for startup, university and development communities around the world to communicate with officials and corporations, discover public and private resources to help them succeed, and improve the public policy landscape to enable global innovation. GIF is a project of the 501(c)(3) National Foreign Trade Council Foundation.

For more information, contact: Kaveri Marathe, Deputy Director, Global Innovation Forum, Tel: (202) 464 2035,


Workforce Development with UNICOR

November 3, 2016

This month, SelectUSA is pleased to feature a new multi-part guest blog focusing on workforce opportunities. These posts are authored by members of the Federal Interagency Investment Working Group (IIWG), which is responsible for coordinating activities across federal agencies that promote investment. 

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


Companies looking to establish, reshore, or expand manufacturing operations in the United States can benefit from a unique federal partner that exemplifies the business principle of doing well by doing good.  This partner – which offers modern facilities as well access to a reliable U.S. workforce with a broad spectrum of manufacturing and technical expertise – is UNICOR, a government corporation under the U.S. Department of Justice.

Let’s begin with the idea of doing good.

Since 1934, UNICOR has been a crucial correctional program, with a mission to provide federal inmates valuable “real world” job and life skills training to enhance their prospects for employment and reentry success upon their release from prison. President Obama has emphasized the Administration’s goals of helping inmates prepare for reentry, stating: “Our prisons should be a place where we can train people for skills that can help them find a job…” UNICOR provides job skills to approximately 17,500 inmate workers annually. Upon release, program participants are 24 percent less likely to recidivate and 14 percent more likely to find and maintain sustainable employment, than those who did not participate. These numbers mean more productive, law-abiding citizens, more intact families, and safer communities.

UNICOR is good for local economies as well. On average, 72 percent of UNICOR’s revenues return to the economy from the procurement of ancillary equipment, supplies, and services within the region of factory production. Companies that first manufacture with UNICOR may even grow to the point of building their own factories. Additionally, the UNICOR workforce can add to the skilled labor force of the community upon release from prison.

Now on to doing well.

UNICOR serves as a viable business incubator or manufacturing extension for business operations. When companies lack capital to build new or additional factories in the United States or face other constraints, UNICOR can provide immediate access to factory and warehouse space nationwide. UNICOR also offers a flexible labor force to help meet companies’ surge production needs. Moving production to the United States – the world’s largest market – can help companies reduce transportation costs, increase sales, as well as lower production costs, most notably by avoiding the significant outlays of purchasing equipment and leasing factory space.

UNICOR also possesses repatriation (reshoring) authority to produce or assemble products for a company that certifies they are currently produced, or would otherwise be produced, outside the United States. UNICOR can also produce non-repatriated products for the private sector when the work performed will not displace sector jobs, inmates are paid the local prevailing wage, and other conditions are met. UNICOR also provides commercial market services (e.g., call centers) to the private sector when doing so does not displace local workers.

Through the Federal Interagency Investment Working Group, SelectUSA and UNICOR have partnered to assist and encourage companies to create and retain U.S. jobs both through UNICOR factories and the private sector at large. By working with UNICOR, companies can obtain financial and manufacturing benefits, help inmates obtain technical skills, and turn distressed areas into vibrant hubs of economic activity. To discuss opportunities with UNICOR, visit or email


TPP’s Impact on The Media and Entertainment Industry

November 2, 2016

Andrea DaSilva is a Senior Policy Analyst for Media & Entertainment Industries in Industry and Analysis’ Office of Digital Services Industries. She serves as Team Leader for the Global Media & Entertainment Team.

The Media and Entertainment (M&E) industry is one of the most vibrant exporting sectors of the U.S. economy – and with the help of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, M&E companies will experience increased benefits in high-growth international markets.


Media and Entertainment

ITA’s comprehensive 2016 Top Markets Report for Media & Entertainment provides specifics on how this sector is expanding. It details export market prospects across four sectors, including book publishing, filmed entertainment, music, and video games, and provides a special review of the significant opportunities that will be generated for the M&E sector in TPP agreement countries.

TPP is anticipated to produce significant benefits to the U.S. Media and Entertainment industry, including robust growth rates, stronger anti-piracy protections, and unique opportunities for partnerships in licensing content.

Even after excluding the United States and Brunei, the ten TPP partner countries comprise $308 billion in M&E revenues for 2016. This trade zone will present opportunities for diverse sub-sectors, content, and delivery platforms. Opportunities across the TPP countries for M&E companies abound as policymakers focus on creating an equitable, fair, and accessible digital economy that protects intellectual property.

The TPP agreement has many essential components for enabling the M&E industry to share, create, and distribute content globally. Important facets and provisions of the TPP agreement include:

  • Prohibition of customs duties on digital products so that M&E businesses that distribute products electronically are not disadvantaged.
  • A clause detailing that imports of digital products (music, movies, videos, games, e-books and related entertainment software) are not subject to discriminatory taxation, outright blocking, or other forms of content discrimination.
  • Promoting global interoperability, so U.S. companies are less likely to have to produce special hardware for each country in order to operate there.
  • Promoting reasonable network access and competitive supply of telecommunications services, which enable communications and the distribution of M&E content and services.
  • Ensuring a competitive digital marketplace so that small businesses, individuals and others can access and move data freely, with commensurate privacy protections; this in turn protects an open Internet and digital and online cross-border trade.

The policies and regulations governing M&E sectors are struggling to keep pace and remain relevant. Many foreign governments are pursuing trade restrictive barriers to protect their markets. The TPP agreement is designed to remove undue restrictions and ensure that U.S. media and entertainment companies can access the valuable opportunities in the global digital economy.  Summary snapshots reflecting some of the potential TPP agreement opportunities are below:

Sub-sector: Video Games

Video games (especially digital) are growing exponentially across the globe, and there is no exception in the TPP countries. Every country is seeing major growth in this sector. The video games market is part of trend of transitioning to digital downloading platforms in TPP markets, with the Asian partner countries leading the way in growth: By 2019, Japan (17.1 percent CAGR, $707 million), Malaysia (19.8 percent CAGR, $38 million), Singapore (18.2 percent CAGR, $28 million), and Vietnam (24.1 percent CAGR, $14 million). These figures demonstrate the tremendous potential for U.S. companies to partner or license with in-country companies.

Country Case Study: Mexico

The sixth top market in the M&E Top Markets Report, Mexico has a booming M&E sector with the second largest media market in Latin America. Mexico’s M&E industry is set to grow at a 6.7 percent CAGR to reach $35.5 billion by 2019. The nominal GDP growth at 7.0 percent with an increasing household consumption, urbanization and broadband penetration (to reach 75 percent in 2018) signals a larger consumer base for M&E sectors. In 2010, the Mexican government launched a $20 million film tax incentive program aimed at encouraging both domestic production and foreign investment in the filmed entertainment sector. Piracy is a significant challenge, and neither the legal framework nor enforcement is particularly effective in protecting creative content, and therefore this is a major policy focus for the government to meet the standards of the TPP agreement.

For more information on this historic trade agreement and the future opportunities for M&E exports, please download ITA’s Media and Entertainment Top Markets Report  and visit our TPP site.



U.S. Commercial Service Video Series Offers Window to Exporting, World Markets

November 1, 2016

Curt Cultice is a Senior Communications Specialist in ITA’s U.S. Commercial Service

Each year, our U.S. Commercial Service global network of trade professionals counsel thousands of small and medium-sized businesses on exporting. And based on this experience, we understand that the export process can be challenging for companies like yours. Perhaps you are looking to evaluate your export readiness, develop an export plan, or navigate the mechanics of exporting. You might even have some orders sitting directly in front of you.So no matter where you are in the export process, how best to become a successful, proactive exporter for the long-term?  Look no further, as the U.S. Commercial Service has developed a new set of “How to Export” resources including a series of themed export basics video shorts.

[Download the full video (16 MB)]

The first of six themes, Get Ready to Export!, consists of three videos and related resources that outlines in simple, animated detail, what businesses need to know about exporting:

  • Identifying each step of the export process
  • How to become export ready
  • Guidance on preparing a comprehensive export plan that includes determining potential markets, customers, pricing, and financing options.

As noted in the video, “A well-thought out export plan can make all the difference between generating a few international sales and achieving real business growth.”

Get Ready to Export! will be followed by five more export themes to be released on an ongoing basis through early 2017, as noted below:

  1. Get Ready to Export
  2. Plan Your Market Entry Strategy
  3. Find Foreign Buyers 
  4. Get Paid
  5. Make the Export Sale
  6. Navigate Your Export Market Successfully

Making the Case  

While many U.S. businesses are boosting their bottom line and competitiveness by making foreign sales, many have yet to do so. Only a small fraction of all U.S. companies export, and U.S. Department of Commerce data show that 59 percent of all current U.S. exporters sell to only one market. What are some reasons? For many companies, and especially smaller firms, exporting is often viewed as being too burdensome or ripe with pitfalls that might outweigh the potential for rewards, i.e., dealing with documentation and regulations or the risk of not being paid by the potential international customer.

In today’s global economy, the consequences of not looking beyond U.S. borders can directly impact your business’s long-term growth or success, as more than 95 percent of the world’s consumers are outside the United States. After all, if your business is not exporting, it’s highly likely your competitors—both foreign and domestic—are or will be selling internationally.

The  growth of emerging world markets, the rise of e-commerce, improved logistics options, and free trade agreements are among the major trends that has made exporting more viable than ever for even the smallest companies. In fact, Census Bureau data shows that 98 percent of U.S. companies that export are small- and medium-sized firms with fewer than 500 employees.

Looking at your business, there are some other attributes that might provide further incentive to explore exporting or expand current international sales. If your business has a good track record of selling in the United States, one of the world’s most open and competitive markets, it may also be a good candidate for selling into foreign markets. Also, if your firm has a web presence, you can look at customizing your website for global customers and taking advantage of e-commerce opportunities.

One of the most important things to know is that when it comes to exporting, your business doesn’t have to go it alone. The U.S. Government and its public and private sector partners provide a wide range of export assistance, starting with the U.S. Commercial Service’s global network of 108 offices across the United States and in U.S. embassies and consulates in more than 75 countries. For more information, visit


Manufacturing USA Connects People, Ideas, and Technology to Advance Manufacturing

October 31, 2016

As we close out Manufacturing Month, SelectUSA is featuring a two-part guest blog from members of the Federal Interagency Investment Working Group (IIWG). The IIWG is responsible for coordinating activities across federal agencies that promote investment. You can read the first entry here.

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

Mike Molnar is Director of the Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office at Manufacturing USA.

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker opening the International Technology Manufacturing Show on September 12, 2016

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker opening the International Technology Manufacturing Show on September 12, 2016.

Fall is not traditionally known as the season of renewal. However, this fall has represented exciting changes for our efforts to build a network of institutes dedicated to securing the nation’s future through manufacturing innovation, education, and collaboration. On Sept. 12, 2016, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker revealed the new public name of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation: Manufacturing USA. This program is a network of innovation institutes—each of which are public-private partnerships that bring together industry, government, and academia to solve critical challenges in advanced manufacturing.

Secretary Pritzker told the crowd at the biennial International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) in Chicago, “This name embodies our vision for a unified American manufacturing sector—where the brightest minds and the most innovative companies come together to develop the most cutting-edge technology in the world.”

Since the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology first recommended the creation of the network four years ago, nine manufacturing innovation institutes have been announced, with six more planned by 2017. The current institutes are operated by the Departments of Defense and Energy. The institutes’ membership rolls include more than 1,300 companies and they are working on more than 240 major research and development projects. They are teaming up with universities, community colleges, technical schools and industry associations to train the workforce—of today and tomorrow—to support the high-tech manufacturing of the future. Each institute is stimulating investment in its local region and building relationships that span the country.

A few short weeks after the secretary’s announcement on Manufacturing Day, October 7, we launched a new website. provides an industry-facing home for the stories of the network and its partners. As it grows, it will become a resource for the latest news on the institutes and advanced manufacturing.

And there are many stories to tell already. Manufacturing USA leverages federal funding to catalyze greater private investment of resources and expertise in key national manufacturing areas. More than $600 million in federal funding has been matched by more than $1.3 billion in non-federal investment. That high level of non-federal investment tells us that we are on the right path to reach one of the program’s goals—to foster sustainable institutes that are independent of federal funding within five to seven years.

Manufacturing USA shows why the United States—already a world leader in manufacturing and innovation—is the best country in the world to invest. Investors and international firms know that when they choose to invest in U.S. manufacturing, they’re selecting a thriving, dynamic market. Foreign direct investment (FDI) holds a significant position in the U.S. manufacturing industry: $1.2 trillion. This FDI directly supports almost 2.5 million U.S. jobs.

Manufacturing USA connects people, ideas, and technology to advance U.S. manufacturing; it demonstrates America’s dedication to remaining on the cutting edge of innovation. Each institute coordinates research that propel new products to market, benefiting communities across the country and helping keep the United States globally competitive in the 21st century.

Follow SelectUSA and Manufacturing USA on Twitter and join the conversation at #MFGmonth.


Manufacturing and Innovation

October 28, 2016

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Guest blog post by Laura Taylor-Kale, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing, International Trade Administration

As October winds down, I say farewell to Manufacturing Day and what has turned into a celebration of manufacturing and innovation this entire month. Over the last few weeks, I have had the privilege of participating in events in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Tennessee to raise awareness about the importance of U.S. manufacturing and the critical role it plays in our economy. The factories and labs that I visited are bringing incredible ideas to the marketplace and beyond. The innovation happening in the manufacturing sector is inspiring – and so are the career opportunities!


Deputy Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing Laura Taylor-Kale Participates in a Manufacturing Day Event at Phononic in Durham, N.C.

Witness the creativity and expansion of ideas generated by employees in both small and large manufacturing companies as well as at Manufacturing USA institutes  around the country.  Innovation and manufacturing are truly inextricably linked.

As President Obama stated in his 2015 State of the Union Address, “Twenty-first century businesses will rely on American science and technology, research and development. I want Americans to win the race for the kinds of discoveries that unleash new jobs.”

In Knoxville, Tennessee last week, I visited Local Motors, an auto manufacturer using 3D printing to make electric vehicles; the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and the Institute for Advanced Composite Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI), one of the Manufacturing USA institutes. Local Motors’ innovative technologies used in design and processing builds on scientific research in advanced composites and additive manufacturing at IACMI – and these are exactly the kinds of synergies that the Administration is working to strengthen.

In addition, U.S. automakers and suppliers are investing heavily in new electric technologies and models. Electric vehicle sales continue to grow around the globe and are expected to be 35% of global new car sales by 2040. Since the Chevy Volt, Ford Focus Electric, Tesla, and Nissan Leaf all have assembly, research and development, and inventory processing in the U.S., sales of these vehicles will support the U.S. economy and job creation.

As the White House noted in the Administration’s Strategy for American Innovation last year, “Facilitating exports by innovative U.S. companies means giving them the tools to navigate foreign markets effectively.”  We in ITA’s Industry and Analysis unit help innovators become exporters by offering the Top Market Reports, a set of comprehensive, sector-specific market studies to help firms identify the best markets in which to grow their business. But we don’t stop there. We are proactively moving a trade agenda that advances market conditions to enable U.S. innovators to commercialize products, services, ideas, and business models on an international stage. They will be able to derive full benefit from an equal international playing field and utilize a competitive advantage earned through investments, ingenuity, hard work and sweat.

For instance, we are leading technical coordination to support harmonized standards and regulatory approaches in Asia, a key region of the world for both electric vehicle and auto parts exports, and an area to which we’ll be able to better export under high-standard trade agreements like TPP.

These and other efforts will help ensure that growing foreign markets stay open, thereby helping to ensure the global competitiveness of U.S. automotive and technology companies and to support the growth of manufacturing and innovation at home.  We are proud to support the manufacturing innovators who are shaping the world we live in today and the stronger one we will live in tomorrow.