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Fostering Innovation through Strong, Sustainable Regional Partnerships

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Fostering Innovation through Strong, Sustainable Regional Partnerships

Guest blog post by Matt Erskine, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Development

Earlier this week, I was honored to provide the keynote address at the International Economic Development Council’s (IEDC) 2014 Federal Economic Development Forum. Dr. Pat Gallagher, NIST Director performing the duties of Deputy Secretary and Mark Doms, Under Secretary for Economic Affairs, also participated in the forum. Both applauded the important work of the IEDC in fostering economic growth in communities across America.

The work that IEDC members are doing in communities here and around the globe is critical, timely and mirrors our philosophy at EDA: only by working together in effective, strong, and sustainable regional partnerships will we realize our collective economic vision. 

In fact, the three guiding themes of this year’s IEDC Federal Forum – Learn, Teach, and Collaborate – reflect EDA’ core mission to establish a foundation for sustainable job growth through innovation and regional collaboration.

Through our flexible grant programs, EDA provides construction, technical assistance, financing, strategic planning and network building tools that local and regional entities can use to support their communities’ unique economic development strategies and objectives. 

Our model of competitive, merit based co-investment in support of strong regional economic development strategies is a proven approach – an approach that always looks to maximize the return on investment and the impact of our assistance in communities.

Today, we are focused on synchronizing federal programs to both maximize federal taxpayer returns and maximize the impact in the communities we serve.  By breaking down Washington’s bureaucratic silos, we can be a more effective partner.

In just over the last three years, EDA has been at the forefront in implementing this new approach.  For example, EDA has launched and awarded funding for four multi-agency competitions, including three Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenges.  These challenges have provided approximately $200 million to a total of 44 projects nationwide. 

These national competitions have included coordinated funding from at least eight different Federal agencies—many of these agencies funding multiple challenges. 

Some examples of investment programs we support include the following:

  • The Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership is an Obama Administration initiative that will help accelerate the resurgence of manufacturing and create jobs in cities across the country.
  • Our three Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenges are bringing the public and private sectors together to build on America’s regional strengths and create local jobs in key industries of the future.  These coordinated, multi-agency competitions have provided approximately $200 million to a total of 44 projects nationwide. 
    • The Make it in America Challenge was designed to encourage foreign and domestic businesses to build and/or expand their operations in the United States. The 10 winners of the challenge are pursuing projects in nine states to do just that.
    • The i6 Challenge is a competition that encourages and rewards innovative, groundbreaking ideas that accelerate technology commercialization, new venture formation, job creation, and economic growth across the United States.

Direct relationships with our broad and deep network of local partners and stakeholder make all the difference in driving job creation and enhancing regional prosperity. Moreover, they have helped to change the very conversation about state and regional growth. They are helping to set the stage more effectively for driving the economy in ever-widening circles.

EDA looks forward to continued work with our federal, state and local partners to implement initiatives that promote job creation and economic growth. We will continue to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting innovation and competitiveness and helping prepare American communities for success in the global economy.

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