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Blog Category: Economic Development Administration

EDA: Helping Communities Build Economic Resilience

EDA: Helping Communities Build Economic Resilience

Guest blog post from Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, Jay Williams

Since taking office, President Obama and his administration have worked to help communities and regions impacted by natural disasters and major economic challenges respond and rebuild stronger than before.

This week, on a visit to Colorado, I was pleased to have the opportunity to announce two Economic Development Administration investments that support those efforts in two communities.

In Estes Park, a picturesque town located at the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, residents are working diligently to rebound from severe flooding that hit them hard as they were preparing for the busy snow season – and the economic tourism boon that comes with it - last fall. 

To help the town following the federally-declared flood disaster, I was honored to announce a $300,000 EDA investment to help the Town develop a strategy that will guide their economic diversification and resiliency efforts. One key component of this grant is developing specific actions to make use of Estes Park’s existing fiber optic ring to deliver improved broadband services to the town and surrounding region. By working with other affected communities – including nearby Loveland and Lyons – this strategy will help the region diversify while strengthening their existing established industry clusters.

In Colorado’s central western region, the recent closure of Oxbow Elk Creek coal mine has resulted in a regional economic emergency. 

To help the region respond, I announced a $245,000 EDA grant to the Region 10 League for Economic Assistance and Planning of Montrose, Colorado, to help create a strategy that aims to improve and enhance the economic resiliency and sustainability of Delta and Gunnison counties.

Resiliency is critical to economic prosperity: all communities—whether in a position likely to weather significant natural disasters, or struggling to deal with immediate or pending catastrophes—must have or be able to develop strategies that can mitigate an economic downturn and support long-term recovery efforts.

I am proud of the important role EDA plays in helping communities get back on their feet stronger than before.

U.S. Commerce Department Invests $2.8 Million to Foster Innovation in Louisiana and Massachusetts

U.S. Commerce Department Invests $2.8 Million to Foster Innovation in Louisiana and Massachusetts

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today announced $2.8 million in Economic Development Administration (EDA) investments to support projects that will foster innovation and entrepreneurship in Louisiana and Massachusetts.

“The Obama Administration and Commerce Department have prioritized supporting American innovation, which is the key driver of U.S. competitiveness, job growth and long-term economic growth,” said Secretary Pritzker. “The EDA investments announced today will support critical infrastructure and manufacturing projects that use innovation to help attract investment and create jobs in Louisiana and Massachusetts.”

The investments announced today include the following:

  • In Vidalia, Louisiana, EDA is investing $1.2 million to help construct the 5,700-square-foot Vidalia Technology Center that will function as an incubator to help entrepreneurs to compete globally and create viable employment opportunities in the region. The EDA grant will also support the building of a more robust high speed broadband infrastructure with alternative power sources. Given its relative isolation from major markets and employment hubs, this Mississippi Delta region town needs adequate Internet connectivity to better prepare for and respond to natural disasters. The increased access to broadband communication and back-up power sources will make both the public and business sectors more resilient and strengthen the speed of future recovery efforts.

EDA and the International Economic Development Council Create User-Friendly Tool to Help Communities Recover Their Economy after Disasters

EDA and the International Economic Development Council Create User-Friendly Tool to Help Economies Recover after Disasters

Everyone sees the destruction caused by a natural disaster – the loss of life and property make headlines for weeks. But natural disasters can have lasting effects that don’t garner as much media attention. Beyond property and infrastructure costs, disasters impact the health of the business community. According to the Small Business Administration, as much as 25 percent of small businesses do not reopen after major disasters. Communities need to be prepared for all of the effects of a natural disaster, and there is a new tool available to help them be more resilient.

The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) recently launched "Leadership in Times of Crisis: A Toolkit for Economic Recovery and Resiliency" – a guide to help communities recover their economy after a disaster. The toolkit was funded in part by an Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant and is available for free download at www.RestoreYourEconomy.org. It includes practical resources, proven how-to's, real world case examples, checklists and best practices to implement recovery programs following any type of disaster and to make preparations in order to be more resilient after potential future events.

"Leadership in Times of Crisis" provides strategies and tactics for community leaders to focus on for economic recovery and preserving jobs, incorporating useful information for convening private and public stakeholders to identify key economic recovery strategies, tips on how to navigate federal resources for response and recovery, and implementation of recovery initiatives.

A wide range of public and private sector officials that provide support to businesses and industries in the economic recovery process can benefit from using the toolkit, including economic development organizations (EDOs), chambers of commerce, business leaders, small business development centers (SBDC), community colleges and business schools, and community development financing institutions (CDFIs), among other organizations.

Building Infrastructure to Strengthen Environmental Resiliency

Assistant Secretary Williams announces $1 million EDA investment to help build the Austin’s [re]Manufacturing Hub Eco-Industrial Park. (L-R): Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell,  Assistant Secretary Williams, U.S. Congressman Lloyd Doggett.

Guest blog post by Jay Williams, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

Environmental sustainability is a priority for the Department of Commerce and EDA. In the last 5 years alone, EDA has made more than 130 investments that support green projects and environmental resilience across the nation. As climate change becomes more pronounced, it is crucial that communities and regions factor in to their strategic plans new development and infrastructure to account for and mitigate the potential environmental impact.

Earlier this month, I had the honor of being joined by Congressman Lloyd Doggett and Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell in Austin, Texas to announce an EDA grant to the city. EDA is investing $1 million to build infrastructure to serve Austin’s [re]Manufacturing Hub Eco-Industrial Park, which will house recycling manufacturing firms and focus on recycling market development.  This grant checks some critical boxes by creating jobs and securing private investment. But, this particular investment will also help Austin achieve its Zero Waste goals and is an excellent example of how infrastructure can be used in an innovative way toward forward-looking goals. The Austin [re]Manufacturing Hub will be the nexus for green jobs in the recycling, reuse and repair industry to support Austin's Zero Waste goals and will provide the economic driver for jobs and investment through waste-based industry in the Central Austin region. The infrastructure will not simply provide utility service to this project, but will drive economic development opportunities along a currently underdeveloped corridor in Austin, ultimately leading to jobs for economically distressed areas of the city and unincorporated Travis County as well as Central Texas.

There are many other examples of EDA green investments – investments that enable alternative energies, help upgrade buildings to achieve LEED certification, or promote reducing a region’s carbon footprint.  We are proud to be supporting President Obama’s and Secretary Pritzker’s goals for environmental sustainability. You can learn more about EDA’s commitment to the environment and how economic development can aid conservation efforts in EDA’s April 2014 Newsletter.

Data Driving Development: EDA Releases New Cluster Mapping Tool to Help Spur Regional Economic Growth

Data Driving Development:  EDA Releases New Cluster Mapping Tool to Help Spur Regional Economic Growth

Guest blog post by Jay Williams, Assistant Secretary for Economic Development

Earlier this week, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker announced the launch of the U.S. Cluster Mapping and Registry project, a national economic initiative based at Harvard Business School’s Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness and supported by the U.S. Economic Development Administration.  The U.S. Cluster Mapping and Registry project aims to strengthen U.S. competitiveness by understanding the economic performance of clusters and regions across the United States.

EDA staff gets inquiries daily from different organizations looking for grant information. Every community we speak with has a plan it is developing to spur economic growth and create jobs. Some are more fleshed out that others, but EDA’s advice is always the same: look at the resources in your community and make sure this project fits with the economic strengths of your area. In short, identify your regional clusters.

Clusters are geographic concentrations of interconnected industries and supportive organizations that make regions uniquely competitive for jobs and private investment – like the automotive cluster in the South and the biotech cluster in the Northeast. Clusters are not top-down formulas aimed at being a panacea for all economic development needs. Nor are they intended to serve as a litmus test for qualifying or strictly characterizing good or bad projects. Clusters thrive and are critical in both urban and rural communities and provide a framework for understanding regional competitiveness and drivers of private investment and job creation. They also help identify and prioritize opportunities for public investment and provide a platform for linking, leveraging, and aligning federal or state programs to get a better return on investment of taxpayer funds.

Engaging Indian Country to Help Create Conditions for Economic Opportunity on Trust Lands

Engaging Indian Country to Help Create Conditions for Economic Opportunity on Trust Lands

Guest blog post by Jay Williams, Assistant Secretary for Economic Development 

Traveling this week on my first official trip as Assistant Secretary for Economic Development, I was honored to participate in the National Congress of the American Indians mid-year conference “Claiming our Rights and Strengthening our Governance” in Anchorage, Alaska.
 
While there, I served on a panel with Kevin Washburn, Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior, Kevin Gover, Director of the National Museum of the American Indian and former Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, and James M. Olguin, Councilman, Southern Indian Tribe. We met with tribal leaders for a focused discussion on the importance of developing modern trust management systems and creating the conditions for economic growth on tribal trust lands. 
 
The Obama Administration has a long history of being actively engaged in helping tribal communities expand their economic footprint, and recent changes in federal laws and regulations have opened the door to development of tribal trust lands. As a critical part of our discussion, I explained how the U.S. Department of Commerce can work with Tribes to develop these lands and attract the private investment they need to create more jobs.
 
For nearly 50 years, the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration has partnered with Tribal communities throughout the United States to foster job creation, collaboration and regional innovation. In the last five years alone, EDA has awarded nearly $42 million in assistance to Indian tribes to help them plan and implement their bottom-up economic development strategies.

EDA Investment Supports Business and Workforce Development in Southern New Hampshire

EDA Investment Support Business and Workforce Development in Southern New Hampshire

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

Today I was honored to join Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte, Representative Carol Shea-Porter, and a host of local economic and business leaders to celebrate the opening of a new business development and job training facility that will serve 41 towns and cities in Southern New Hampshire. 

The Regional Economic Development Center of Southern New Hampshire’s new business and job training center is a unique facility. Both business management and workforce training will be delivered in an efficient learning environment. Resources will be provided for entrepreneurs and small businesses to conduct research and receive technical assistance, and space will be available for start-up enterprises to conduct limited business in a professional environment. 

Supporting job-creating entrepreneurs and ensuring that America has a strong and skilled workforce is essential to our economic competitiveness. 

That is why Secretary Pritzker - a business leader with more than 25 years of experience - has made innovation a key pillar of the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda.” 

Secretary Pritzker is the first U.S. Secretary of Commerce to focus on how we can best prepare workers with in-demand job skills as part of efforts to continue innovating and remain globally competitive. 

The Commerce Department plays a key role in partnering with businesses to facilitate industry-driven training programs. 

U.S. Economic Development Administration: Supporting Workforce Development in Rural Alaska

AVCP Vice President Michael Hoffman (far left) and General Counsel Carol Brown (second from right) pose with EDA Director of External Affairs Angela Belden Martinez and Aaron Trujillo, the Commerce Department’s Acting Senior Advisor on Native American Affairs following the announcement of an EDA investment to support workforce development in rural Alaska.

Guest Blog Post By Angela Belden Martinez, Director of External Affairs, U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration

It was my pleasure today to be joined by Aaron Trujillo, the Commerce Department’s Acting Senior Advisor on Native American Affairs - who serves as the primary liaison between the Department of Commerce and tribal leaders of federally-recognized tribes and regional tribal organizations – in welcoming some very special guests from the Association of Village Council Presidents (AVCP) of Bethel, Alaska.

During the meeting with AVCP Vice President Michael Hoffman and AVCP General Counsel Carol Brown, we informed them that AVCP is receiving a U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) investment to support workforce development in rural Alaska.

Specifically, the $697,991 EDA grant will help the AVCP purchase equipment that will be used to train workers in several mechanical disciplines to help the delta of the Yukon and Kuskokwin rivers region rebound from the impact of the commercial failures of area fisheries and tributaries.

Providing these new training opportunities for displaced workers is an important step to getting this rural, regional economy back on track. 

Spurring Economic Growth through Infrastructure and Planning

Spurring Economic Growth through Infrastructure and Planning

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

Generally, when people think about economic growth, they think in terms of big ideas: workforce development, increasing exports, foreign-direct investment. Most people don’t think about sewer systems or roads – the hard infrastructure that enables communities to achieve those big idea goals. The critical infrastructure that are the building blocks to economic growth are a major focus for the Economic Development Administration (EDA), and I was fortunate to be able to announce EDA grants for such projects in Massachusetts this week.

On Tuesday, I traveled to Worcester, Massachusetts to announce a $1 million grant to New Garden Park, Inc. with Congressman Jim McGovern. The money will be used to create more than 15,000 square feet of incubator space to establish the Worcester Technology and Idea Exchange in the former Worcester Telegram & Gazette facility. This is an investment for the future, an investment that is critical to the continued revitalization of Worcester’s downtown business district. According to grantee estimates, the planned technology incubator and accelerator will create more than 100 jobs by supporting a central location for entrepreneurs to explore and start a business in growing industries.

Following that announcement, I visited Devens to announce a $1.85 million grant to the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency of Boston. This grant will support the final phase of the Jackson Road reconstruction project at the Devens Industrial Park. In today’s global economy, first-class jobs gravitate to first-class infrastructure. The improvements will enable two manufacturing firms to expand their operations and attract private investment from automotive and film/video production businesses. The EDA investment is expected to generate $307 million in private investment and create 460 jobs, according to grantee estimates. 

U.S. EDA-funded William Factory Nurtures and Graduates Job-creating Businesses

William M. Factory - Small Business Incubator

Guest Blog Post by Tim Strege, Executive Director, The William Factory

The William Factory Small Business Incubator has a vision to build and sustain an “Innovation & Employment Campus” that connects disadvantaged individuals with entrepreneurship and desirable jobs.

Located adjacent to Interstate 5 within the economically distressed East Tacoma community in Washington State, the Incubator has a 28-year track record of nurturing firms through their formative years by providing advisory and professional assistance in technology sophisticated facilities. 

The Incubator historically focused on the specialty trade construction cluster – a “good fit” for workers who no longer had gainful employment after Tacoma lost over 10,000 manufacturing jobs during the 1980s. Recently, with critical support from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the Incubator completed a “Phase II” Scientific & Technical Services Incubator to grow information technology oriented companies. 

Among the recent graduates are Juli Norris & Tanya Stack, owners of Chi-Chack, which provides language translation services for federal agencies and private parties; disabled veteran Roger Lyons of Lyons Technology, which installs technology in the financial sector; and Greg Stewart of Orbiter, which combines radio frequency devices with software for military fitness programs, research projects and inventory control.  These firms continue to grow commercial revenues and support the productivity of others that use their products and services.