After a 13-city listening tour to get opinions from business leaders, entrepreneurs and employees, new Commerce Department Secretary Penny Pritzker on Thursday outlined a new policy strategy
for creating conditions to help businesses succeed centered on trade, innovation and data sharing.
Among the new initiatives in her "Open for Business" agenda are a revitalized National Export Initiative (NEI); an enhanced program to attract foreign investment; a new effort to ensure skills training programs meet industry needs; and partnering with the private sector and communities to make better use of government data.
Pritzker, a Chicago businesswoman and benefactor of President Obama's, was sworn in on June 26.
Without giving many details, she said the Commerce Department would take the NEI to the next level to help businesses realize the opportunities for selling their products overseas. Top business priorities include gaining access to foreign markets and attracting foreign business to the United States. Pritzker said she would drum up support for Congress to pass Trade Promotion Authority for the president and that her department will continue to work closely with the U.S. Trade Representative to conclude new free trade agreements.
The Commerce Department will also continue its work to attract direct foreign investment through its Select USA program, which Congress should fully fund, she said.
The most concrete new change Pritzker proposed was to put more of the Commerce Department's extensive data into the hands of businesses to help them make informed decisions and capitalize on growth opportunities.
She said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will soon begin to make available the 17 terabytes of data it produces that go largely untapped. Currently, the agency produces 2 terabytes of weather and climate data that the public can easily use for weather forecasting, which is manifested in weather news and smartphone apps. The data will empower entrepreneurs to launch businesses using public information about oceans, climate and weather, she said.