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Cross-posted from the International Trade Administration's Tradeology blog.

During the past few years, U.S. producers of transportation related goods and equipment have experienced an increase in demand for their products at home and overseas.  Products such as U.S.-built commercial aircraft, aircraft engines, miscellaneous aircraft parts, and parts of railway rolling stock, have become critical components to other countries’ transportation infrastructure system.

Commercial aircraft

Recently, leaders across the Pacific Rim signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The new agreement will eliminate tariffs, lower service barriers, and increase transparency while also increasing competitiveness by instituting stronger intellectual property rights protection, and establishing enforceable labor and environmental obligations.  The TPP will lead to an overall increase in economic activity and trade for the region.  As economies grow there will be a natural, corresponding rise in demand for transportation related products...

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As they do in many cities and towns across America, elected officials, business leaders, and other key influencers in Fayetteville, North Carolina, are invested in helping their community thrive. And, as so many leaders in other cities and towns in America do, Fayetteville's leaders understand that the thriving community they build today will be in the hands of the next generation tomorrow.

And, when I say “the next generation,” I mean everyone in that generation –the alert girl who is sits in the front row as well as the quiet boy who sits in the back --the one whose silence is not a sign of a lack of interest or intelligence, but of the fact that he was too busy taking care of his younger siblings to get his homework done or get a good night's sleep.

So this morning, I joined Congressman David Price and Fayettevillians of several generations for a roundtable discussion and a youth town hall at Fayetteville State University (FSU)...

FSU advertisement for Secretary Foxx's town hall

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One of the things I appreciate about the national holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is not the day off, but the day on.

Yesterday, across the country, millions of Americans came together to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., through a specific kind of action: service.

Dr. King

One of the enduring lessons of Dr. King's life is that Americans can effect incredible change if only we are willing to stand up, speak out, and take action. And on Martin Luther King Day, we heed that lesson by volunteering our services and working together for at least this one day to make something better...

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This is a very exciting time for the auto industry. And I don't just mean the 2016 North American International Auto Show taking place in Detroit. 

Yesterday, I announced DOT’s efforts in 2016 to support the safe deployment of autonomous vehicles that carmakers have been developing. And that includes President Obama's proposal to invest $4 billion in pilot programs to make sure we get it right. Next week, the President will visit Detroit to celebrate a history-making year of record auto sales.

And today, DOT and 18 automakers are taking a strong stand --together-- for a new proactive, collaborative approach to safety...

Secretary Foxx speaking at Detroit Auto Show

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There is nothing like the annual North American International Auto Show in Detroit. With all of the latest vehicles and automotive technologies on display, it's true hotbed of innovation.

Which makes it a good place for me to announce some terrific news about the Obama Administration's ongoing effort to see connected and automated vehicles developed, deployed, on the market, and available to US drivers.

Secretary Foxx at the N.A.I.A.S.

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In his remarks at the Transportation Research Board's Annual Meeting, known affectionately as TRB, Secretary Foxx acknowledged that there were a lot of "transportation nerds" in the room, including himself. It wasn't an insult; it was a point of pride.

In addition to the hundreds of presenters from all facets of the transportation community, many members of the DOT family were also active at TRB this week...

Twitter pic from USDOT Research

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Last night, President Obama delivered the final State of the Union address of his Administration, and --to start at the end-- he made it clear that, "the State of the Union is strong."

I couldn't agree more. And I am proud of the role this Department has played in helping make it strong.

Economic Progress

In early February, 2009, just weeks after President Obama took the oath of office, First Lady Michelle Obama visited DOT and set the tone for the Administration by reminding us that, “There isn’t a day that goes by that the work of the Department of Transportation doesn’t touch the lives of every single person in America.”

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In its very first year, the Obama Administration asked senior leaders across Federal Agencies to establish 2-year Agency Priority Goals in key areas where agencies were focused on accelerated performance improvement.

Recently, the White House closed the books on the goals for Fiscal Years 2014-15, and we’re pleased to say that, for two of DOT’s goals –Improving Efficiency through ERAM at Air Route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCCs) and Reducing Aviation Accidents– we’ve achieved a status of “Above Target.”

ERAM at Air Route Traffic Control Center

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In a new year, people often resolve to take action to better themselves: learning a new language, or parking a few blocks away from work to get in a little extra exercise. At Volpe, The National Transportation Systems Center, we are always trying to better our transportation systems, but we're excited to be taking action on six emerging issues this year.

These six issues will be priorities for our staff of technical researchers, engineers, economists, statistical and policy analysts, community planners, and communications professionals as they work to improve mobility across all transportation modes.

We're also pleased to announce a national search for the next Volpe director. We welcome all qualified applicants to apply for the director position by Friday, February 19...

graphic array of transportation modes Volpe engages in

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Opportunity belt logoTo increase outreach with minority serving institutions, Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC) Deputy Administrator Craig Middlebrook met with officials from the Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) in downtown Milwaukee back in June 2015.  The discussion focused on opportunities for the SLSDC, the Port of Milwaukee, and others to engage with area students and raise awareness about career opportunities in maritime transportation and waterway logistics.

The effort was part of our strategic vision and ongoing commitment to highlight the Great Lakes region as an Opportunity Belt for economic growth and job creation.  

From these early discussions, we embarked upon an exciting new initiative: SLSDC would host a marine transportation forum at MATC featuring local employers and others associated with marine transportation and waterway logistics.  And last November, we did exactly that...

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