Pella Chronicle

August 6, 2013

U.S. Secretary of Commerce to visit Pella


The Chronicle

Pella — U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker will travel to Iowa on Thursday as she continues her nationwide listening tour, during which she is traveling across the country to meet with businesses and thought leaders, entrepreneurs, academics and Department of Commerce employees. She’s hearing from these groups about their priorities, concerns and ideas on how the public and private sectors can work together to strengthen the economy and create American jobs.

Secretary Pritzker launched her listening tour in July in Colorado, and has also made stops in Albany, New York, Hartford, Conn., and Nashville, Tenn.

“As Secretary of Commerce, my goal is to serve as a bridge to the business community – both domestically and abroad – so that we can work together to strengthen the economy and create jobs and opportunities for all Americans,” said Pritzker. “I intend to leverage the sum of my experiences as an entrepreneur, a business leader, and a citizen deeply committed to American competitiveness to help strengthen the Department and the government-wide leadership it provides in areas such as manufacturing, attracting business investment, innovation, and exporting.”

In Iowa, Pritzker will visit Pella, home to Vermeer Corporation, a family-owned and managed U.S. manufacturer of forage, construction, and industrial equipment. Over its 65 year history, Vermeer has grown to become competitive on a global scale, even earning a Presidential award for exports, in recognition of their efforts to increase exports. Secretary Pritzker will also tour downtown Pella and make a stop at Jaarsma Bakery with Pella Mayor Jim Mueller. In the afternoon, Secretary Pritzker will visit the Iowa State Fair.

“The purpose of this listening tour is to hear directly from business leaders, entrepreneurs, and elected officials about their efforts to drive economic development and create good-paying, long-term jobs,” Secretary Pritzker said. “I believe it’s particularly important to connect with business and thought leaders early and often, both to hear their ideas on how government and the private sector can partner on strategic initiatives to grow business, and to promote the tremendous work the Department of Commerce does on behalf of U.S. companies. Whether it’s supporting manufacturers, empowering exporters to reach new markets, bringing broadband to communities across the nation, or providing intellectual property protection, the Department of Commerce is pushing forward with efforts to protect, promote, inform and anticipate what America needs to be competitive and innovative in the 21st century.” 

Penny Pritzker was sworn in as the 38th Secretary of Commerce by Vice President Joe Biden on June 26, 2013.

She is a civic and business leader with more than 25 years of experience in the real estate, hospitality, senior living, and financial services industries. Ms. Pritzker served as CEO of PSP Capital Partners, and has previously developed such diverse companies as Vi (formerly Classic Residence by Hyatt), a leader in luxury living for older adults; The Parking Spot, a large U.S. network of off-site airport parking facilities; and Pritzker Realty Group. 

President Obama appointed Pritzker to the President's Council for Jobs and Competitiveness, which formerly advised the administration on economic growth and job creation. Ms. Pritzker previously served on the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board.  She has also served on the boards of Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, Marmon Group and LaSalle Bank Corporation. She is past executive chairman of TransUnion, a global financial services information company.  

Much of Pritzker's civic work focuses on public education. She served as advisory board chairman of Skills for America's Future, The Aspen Institute. Skills for America's Future is a national initiative that brings together businesses, community colleges and others to prepare workers for 21st century jobs. In 2012, she helped launch Skills for Chicagoland's Future, the first city model of Skills for America's Future. Pritzker is past chair of the Chicago Public Education Fund, the first venture philanthropy to raise private equity to invest in public schools, and a former member of the Chicago Board of Education.  

In 2012, Pritzker received the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service, an honor given to individuals who have served with distinction in public life and have shown a special commitment to seeking out informed opinions and thoughtful views.  

Pritzker earned her bachelor's degree in economics from Harvard University and J.D. and M.B.A. degrees from Stanford University. She and her husband Dr. Bryan Traubert have two children.