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Michele Nash-Hoff

Government Programs


Government Programs

Department of Commerce

Investigations and Compliance Unit -
Recently established to take new and proactive measures to ensure that our trading partners honor their commitments; this office is staffed with experts in intellectual property rights, investigations, and intelligence. It works closely with United States Trade Representative (USTR) and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to investigate and resolve violations of trade agreements.

STOP! Initiative
The Department of Commerce is a key member of the STOP! (Strategy Targeting Organized Piracy) Initiative, announced in October 2004. It was created to coordinate government-wide activities to confront global piracy and counterfeiting. The program seeks to:

  • Keep global supply chains free of infringing goods.
  • Dismantle criminal enterprises that steal America's intellectual property.
  • Stop fakes at U.S. borders.
  • Secure and enforce intellectual property rights in international markets.
  • Reach out to like-minded partners and build an international coalition to stop piracy and counterfeiting worldwide. For manufacturers or other parties who have observed violations or who have other related concerns, there is a hotline, (1-866) 999-HALT, and a Web site, www.StopFakes.gov.

Coordinator for International Intellectual Property Enforcement
Works with agencies across the Administration to develop policies to address international intellectual property violations and enforce intellectual property laws overseas. This person heads the international work of the National Intellectual Property Law Enforcement Coordination Council (NIPLECC), coordinating and supervising international intellectual property protection plans among other agencies. The coordinator for IPR enforcement plays a significant role in the implementation of the Administration's STOP Initiative.

Intellectual Property Rights Attaché in China
To deal specifically with intellectual property rights abuses in China, the Department of Commerce arranged for the assignment of Mark Cohen (cohenma@state.gov) through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The two agencies have increased their intellectual property enforcement and compliance staff by 25 percent since 2001.

Unfair Trade Practices Task Force
Also stemming from the Manufacturing Report, the Department of Commerce in 2004 established the Unfair Trade Practices Task Force within its Import Administration to pursue the elimination of foreign unfair trade practices that adversely affect U.S. commercial interests. The task force is available to advise U.S. manufacturers of their full rights under U.S. trade law. Small companies may not have the resources to hire trade lawyers and the petition process may be difficult to understand. The task force can help in these situations. The mission of the Import Administration is to enforce laws and agreements to protect U.S. businesses from unfair competition within the United States resulting from unfair pricing by foreign companies and unfair subsidies to foreign companies by their governments.

Standards Initiative
In March 2003, the Department of Commerce launched the Standards Initiative, an eight-point plan that responds to industry concerns that divergent standards, redundant testing and compliance procedures, and regulatory red tape are becoming one of the greatest challenges to expanding exports. The report can be accessed through the Department of Commerce International Trade Administration Standards Home Page at www.ita.doc.gov/td/standards. The assistant secretary for manufacturing and services has assumed responsibility for the Standards Initiative.

Services for Exporters
U.S. Commercial Service - The U.S. Commercial Service has a network of export and industry specialists located in 108 U.S. offices and 150 international offices in 83 countries. The service helps a SMM to grow its international sales in four ways:

  • Market research.
  • Trade events that promote products or services to qualified buyers.
  • Introduction to qualified buyers and distributors.
  • Counseling through every step of the export process.

To help companies export their products and/or services, U.S. Commercial Service of the Department of Commerce has a very helpful website, www.export.gov, which brings together resources form across the government to assist American businesses in planning their international sales strategies and succeed in today's global marketplace. From market research and trade leads from the Department of Commerce's Commercial Services to export finance information from Export-Import Bank and the Small Business Administration to agricultural export assistance from USDA, Export.gov helps American exporters navigate the international sales process and avoid pitfalls such as non-payment and intellectual property. This website serves as the U.S. government's export portal for companies just beginning to export and those expanding their international sales. It provides online trade resources and access to one-on-one counseling. The Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration manages Export.gov as a collaborative effort with the 19 Federal Agencies that offer export assistance programs and services. A manufacturer can also call (1-800) USA-TRADE.

International Partner Search
For an SMM that wants to find qualified international buyers, partners or agents without traveling overseas, U.S. Commercial Service specialists can deliver detailed company information on up to five prescreened international companies that have expressed an interest in the company's products and services. Telephone (1-800) USA-TRADE.

Customized Market Analysis (CMA)
The CMA program is a custom-tailored research service that provides U.S. firms with specific information on marketing and foreign representation for individual products in particular markets. Interviews or surveys are conducted to determine the overall marketability of the product, key competitors, prices of comparable products, customary distribution and promotion practices, trade barriers, possible business partners and applicable trade events. Telephone (1-800) USA-TRADE or visit www.export.gov.

Gold Key Service
The Gold Key Service is a custom-tailored business matching service offered by the Commercial Service in key export markets around the world. It includes orientation briefings, market research, appointments with potential partners, interpreter services for meetings, and assistance for development of follow-up strategies. Telephone (1-800) USA-TRADE or visit www.export.gov.

International Company Profiles (ICPs)
ICPs are background reports on specific firms prepared by commercial officers overseas. Telephone (1-800) USA-TRADE or visit www.export.gov.

Trade Event Programs
The Commercial Service in overseas embassies and local Export Assistance Centers in the United States can help exporters identify trade shows that may be appropriate for their products and take the necessary steps to participate in them. Telephone (1-800) USA-TRADE.

Export Trading Company Affairs
The Export Trading Company Affairs function, part of the International Trade Administration, can advise an SMM on forming a legally protected export joint venture, understanding the antitrust implications of such a venture, finding export partners and trading partners, and finding an export trading company, export management company or export intermediary. Telephone (202) 482-5131.

Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization
The Department of Commerce, through its Prime Contractor Directory, can assist small businesses with their marketing efforts in obtaining suitable subcontracting opportunities and presenting their capabilities to prime contractors registered with the Department. Telephone (202) 482-1472.

International Company Profiles (ICPs)
ICPs are background reports on specific firms prepared by commercial officers overseas. Telephone (1-800) USA-TRADE or visit www.export.gov.

Department of Labor Programs

Workforce Investment Act (WIA)This legislation provides for the federal government to spend $15 billion each year for employment and job training activities. In a February 2005 meeting with the Manufacturing Council Subcommittee on the U.S. workforce, Assistant Secretary of Labor Emily DeRocco encouraged the subcommittee to develop a dialogue on how best to utilize these funds. Available raining resources often go unused because state and local workforce agencies to not know how to make use of them. There is an opportunity for Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) around the country to bring manufacturers into their membership and for manufacturers to inform WIBs of their workforce challenges.

The WIA Act appropriate funds in 2008 as follows:

Youth activities
$ 924,069,465
Adult activities
Dislocated worker activities
Employment services
Community service employment for seniors
Total 2008 WIA Budget

The National Association of Workforce Investment Boards (NAWB)
Represents the interests of the nation's Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs). Across the country, more than 600 state and local WIBs are providing workforce development leadership in their communities. The business-led WIBs have the critical role of governance and oversight of the federal resources that support the operations of the national network of taxpayer-supported One-Stop Career Centers and federal training investments. Workforce Board membership consists of private-sector businesses and employer representatives, working in concert with public sector representatives to design effective workforce development services for job seekers and employers alike. NAWB can be reached at telephone (703) 778-7900 or visit www.nawb.org.

High Growth Job Training Initiative
The purpose of this presidential initiative, implemented by the Department of Labor, is to grow industries with advanced manufacturing occupations. It is a strategic effort to prepare workers to take advantage of new and increasing job opportunities in the high-growth, high-demand and economically vital sectors and industries in the U.S. economy. The foundation of this initiative is partnerships that include the public workforce system, business and industry, education and training providers, and economic development authorities. Training programs are tailored to meet local workforce needs. Contact Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration, Business Relations Group, (1-877) US-2JOBS or
visit www.doleta.gov.

The High Growth Job Training Initiative has awarded 31 grants for advanced manufacturing for a total of $75 million. The grants ranged from lean manufacturing to training for dislocated workers. One grant of $1,956,700 went to a Competency based Apprenticeship System for Metal Working, which is at the hart of advanced manufacturing. The Initiative gave 157 grants worth $145 million to 13 other sectors ranging from hospitality to healthcare and information technology.

Community-Based Job Training Initiative
The purpose of this program is to improve the capabilities of the U.S. workforce through community-based job training grants, a new, employer-focused competitive grant program for training in community and technical colleges. Two rounds of $125 million grants were made available in 2005. Manufacturers can work regionally to define parameters for retraining that can be implemented by community colleges. Contact Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration, Business Relations Group, (1-877) US-2JOBS or
visit www.doleta.gov.

Advanced Manufacturing Initiative
In October 2004, Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao announced a series of investments of more than $43 million to address the workforce needs of the advanced manufacturing industry. The Department of Labor has sought to understand and implement industry-identified strategies to confront critical workforce challenges based on input from employers, industry associations and other experts. The department's Employment and Training Administration is supporting comprehensive partnerships that include employers, the public workforce system, and other entities that have developed innovative approaches while also helping workers find good jobs with good wages and promising career pathways in the advanced manufacturing industry. This set of workforce solutions is based on defined manufacturing industry priorities such as training for innovation, pipeline development (too few young people consider the possibility of manufacturing careers), image (manufacturing confronts a negative public image characterized by such phrases as: moving offshore, declining, dirty, low pay, etc.), immigration, employability/soft skills, training program design, and matching training providers to business needs.

At the Greater Rome, GA Chamber of Commerce event, January 18, 2007, U.S. Department of Labor Secretary, Elaine Chao, mentioned the Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) initiative, which "integrates economic and workforce development activities and encourages regional governments, employers, education providers, foundations, venture capitalists, and others to come together and invest in the talent that promotes job creation." (www.dol.gov/sec/media/speeches) This program addresses the challenges associated with building a globally competitive and prepared workforce. The total appropriation is $195 million for 13 regional economies.

San Diego County is included in the California Innovation Corridor that received First Generation grants in February 2006. First Generation WIRED Regions were awarded $15 million grants over three years to revitalize their local economy. The California Innovation Corridor is implementing a three-target approach for WIRED:

  • Innovation Support - Sustainable Entrepreneurship
  • Industrial Rejuvenation - Manufacturing Value Chain and Supplier
  • Competitiveness Talent Development - Creation of 21st Century
Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training
Assists private industry in developing and improving apprenticeship and other training programs designed to provide the skilled workers needed to compete in today's global economy. Contact Office of Apprenticeship Training, Employer and Labor Services Department of Labor, telephone (202) 6933812 or visit www.doleta.gov

Environmental Protection Agency Programs
Useful information resources for SMMs concerning environmental regulations include the following:

Small Business Ombudsman
Provides an information clearinghouse and hotline to provide private citizens, small communities, small business enterprises and trade association information on environmental regulations. Telephone (1-800) 368-5888, www.epa.gov/sbo/.

Small Business Environmental Home Page
An EPA-sponsored Web site to help small businesses access environmental compliance and pollution prevention information. Visit www.smallbiz-enviroweb.org.

Suppliers Partnership for the Environment
A partnership of the EPA and NISTMEP centers that makes available environmental management tools, best practices and lessons learned based on the experience of OEMs and Tier I suppliers in the automotive supply chain. Visit www.supplierspartnership.org.

Department of Energy Programs

Industrial Technologies Program
Works with U.S. industry to improve industrial energy efficiency and environmental performance and invests in high-risk, high-value R&D to reduce industrial energy use. Also provides information to manufacturers on energy efficiency and renewable energy best practices through EERE Information Center. Telephone (1-877) 337-3463 or visit www.eere.energy.gov/industry.

Small Business Administration Programs

The SBA's PRO-Net has recently been integrated with the Defense Department's Central Contractor Registration (CCR) database. This combined database serves as an electronic gateway of procurement information for and about small businesses that serves as a search engine for contracting officers, a marketing tool for small firms, and an Internet-based database of information on more than 180,000 small, disadvantaged, 8(a), and women-owned businesses.
Contact pronet@sba.gov or www.ccr.gov.

Office of Advocacy
Represents the views of small business before federal agencies and Congress, receives criticisms of federal policies that affect small businesses and makes proposals for minimizing the burden of regulations on small businesses. It monitors and reports to Congress on federal agencies' compliance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), which requires a regulatory flexibility analysis of the impact of proposed rules on small entities. Contact www.sba.gov/advo/ or telephone (202) 205-6533.

SBA Loan Programs
The SBA offers many loan programs to assist small businesses, primarily as a guarantor of loans made by private and other financial institutions.

  • Basic 7(a) Loan Guaranty - This program serves as the SBA's primary business loan program to help qualified small businesses obtain financing when they might not be eligible for business loans through normal lending channels. The program is delivered through commercial banks. See www.sba.gov/financing.
  • 504 Certified Development Company (CDC) Loan Program - Provides long-term, fixed-rate financing for small businesses to acquire real estate or machinery or equipment for expansion or modernization. Typically a 504 project includes a loan secured from a private-sector lender with a senior lien, a loan secured from a CDC (funded by a 100 percent SBA-guaranteed debenture) with a junior lien covering up to 40 percent of the total cost, with a contribution of at least 10 percent equity from the borrower. CDCs are private, nonprofit corporations set up to contribute to the economic development of their regions. See www.sba.gov/financing.
  • Export Express - Combines the SBA's lending assistance with its technical assistance to help small businesses that have exporting potential but need funds to buy or produce goods or to provide services.
    See www.sba.gov/financing.
  • Export Working Capital Program - Supports export financing for small businesses when that financing is not otherwise available on reasonable terms. The EWCP is a combined effort of the SBA and the Export-Import Bank of the United States. See www.sba.gov/financing.