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Blog Category: Economic Development Administration

Winning the Future in Detroit: Public-Private Partnerships Advance Economic Transformation

Members of the Detroit Regional Chamber pictured meeting with Fernandez and Baruah

Guest blog post by John Fernandez, U.S Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration

Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting Detroit, Mich., to see firsthand how close collaboration between the public and private sectors is working to transform the region’s economy and create the businesses and jobs of the future.  I was pleased to be joined by Sandy Baruah, President and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber and also my predecessor at the U.S. Department of Commerce during the Bush administration. 

The trip was a great opportunity to witness how the economic landscape in America’s "Motor City" is being transformed, particularly around the emerging and robust information technology and robotics cluster, which is thriving due to the city’s skilled talent pool, affordable retail opportunities and urban attractions such as the Fox Theater and Detroit Opera House.

There is something positive in the air in Detroit and the local economy is reaping the benefits. From the mayor, to members of Congress, to business leaders, to community stakeholders—there is a shared commitment to strengthen the city and create new jobs. Vibrant public-private partnerships are being leveraged and driving growth.

U.S. EDA Invests in Rural America—West Virginia Receives Over $5 Million to Advance Innovation Economy

Aerial view of Tech Park

Guest blog post by John Fernandez, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, U.S. Economic Development Administration

On August 1, 2011, the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) invested $5.25 million in the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission of Charleston, W. Va., to upgrade a key research lab building in South Charleston’s West Virginia Regional Technology Park to help attract rural small businesses. The effort is expected to create an initial 96 jobs and an additional 9,000 jobs over the long term.

The facility will provide leased incubator space to high-tech start-up companies in the chemical, energy, and advanced materials industries. The renovations will result in significant energy savings for the State and businesses working in the facility, reducing operating costs by nearly 50 percent annually. Start-up companies and entrepreneurs in the park will conduct innovative product and process research, testing and business development, and will also have manufacturing capacity. The building will also include research and teaching facilities for Marshall University, West Virginia University, and four community colleges. 

This rural investment enjoys wide Congressional and State support.

Jobs of the Future Today

Logo for WET Center

Guest blog post by John Fernandez, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is investing to create the jobs of the future today. 

In Fresno, California, for example, EDA provided $1.9 million to help the Central Valley Business Incubator, Inc. (CVBI) build the Claude Laval Water and Energy Technology (WET) Incubator located on the campus of Cal State Fresno.  This vital incubator provides start-ups access to active research within the university’s labs and state of the art facilities to advance cutting edge research in the use of water to support the agricultural sector while helping grow small businesses.

Since opening their doors four years ago in 2007, WET has helped create and sustain over 15 start-ups that are developing water and energy technology innovations. They are generating real returns, creating hundreds of new jobs for Central Californians and spurring $17 million in private sector investment to help fuel the nation’s economy. One of WET’s graduates recently sold its business for $30 million.

Startups and entrepreneurs like these bring an unparalleled wealth of transformative innovations to market, especially over the past three decades — think of everything from the airplane to the automobile to Amazon.com.  These small businesses are tackling the nation’s challenges in clean energy, medicine, national security, and other fields. They will build the leading industries and jobs of the 21st century.

Obama Administration’s Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative Strengthens Local Capacity to Help Spark Economic Growth

Guest blog post by John Fernandez, Assistant Secretary for Economic Development, Economic Development Administration

Mayors across the country are working hard to strengthen local economic ecosystems, given the economic challenges cities face today.

As a former Mayor myself, I understand those challenges–How do we create more jobs? How do we attract new businesses? How do we enhance our workforce? And equally as important, how do we leverage the state and federal resources that may be available to help us achieve our economic goals and objectives?

The Obama administration understands these challenges and knows that cities play a vital role in strengthening our nation’s economy.  

We are finding ways to be a better partner, and that is why today the administration launched the Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) initiative in Fresno, Calif., and five other cities: Chester, Pa.; Cleveland, Ohio; Detroit, Mich.; Memphis, Tenn.; and New Orleans, La.

We know that development happens from the bottom up - that the best ideas come from America’s communities. Whether investment comes from the federal government, states, the private sector, or ideally all of the above, resources do more good when they serve a well-developed, robust plan.

In Fresno, for example, this bottom up approach will help the region capitalize on the coming high-speed rail station to improve the downtown area and to build on a successful neighborhood development program to help create new economic opportunity and jobs.

We can’t have a strong national economy without strong cities. The 14 federal agencies participating in this effort are working to break down traditional Washington silos and identify ways to partner more effectively with cities and regions across the country.

This is an important initiative that will help to support cities across the nation, create a new framework for intergovernmental cooperation and strengthen the American economy.

2nd Quarter Performance Excellence Awards Ceremony

Early in his tenure, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke issued a challenge to the entire Commerce Department to improve service delivery to the American public and to develop measureable standards by which each of the bureaus could judge their customer service and internal performance.  It is this vision that launched the Commerce Performance Excellence program, putting the department at the cutting edge of the Administration’s efforts to increase the return on investment of government programs.  The program supports the education of staff, recognition of significant achievements and the sharing of winning strategies to help the department become more engaged in improving processes to deliver more effective and efficient services.

On May 25, 2011, Secretary Locke recognized three exemplary employee teams from the Census Bureau, NOAA, and the Economic Development Administration with Performance Excellence Awards.  For the second time in less than one year, Commerce employees were honored for successfully implementing streamlined processes to better the administration and delivery of service to the American people.

In this video, Secretary Locke, Acting Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank and others discuss the program, the awards and why process improvement matters.

In addition to its efforts to identify and promote quality improvements by role model teams throughout Commerce, the Performance Excellence program also deploys a system of Balanced Scorecards, quarterly Performance Reviews, and team process improvements to all bureaus.  Employees can learn learn more about the Performance Excellence program and Award recipients as well as information on the Balanced Scorecard or how they can improve processes in their own office by visiting the Performance Excellence page on the Commerce Intranet.

EDA Grantee Honored as Champion of Change at the White House

Champion of Change Award Winners

This week, Roland Arriola, founder and president of recent EDA grantee Texas Valley Communities Foundation, was honored at the White House as a ‘Champion of Change’ for the foundation’s work to advance the innovation economy and empower and inspire other members of the Lower Rio Grande Valley community.

The Champions of Change Series: Winning the Future Across America is a White House initiative to spotlight Americans who are making an impact in their communities and helping the nation rise to meet the many challenges of the 21st century. Arriola and other winners were joined by White House Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and White House Senior Policy Advisor for Rural Affairs Doug McKalip and participated in a roundtable discussion on Rural America.

The Texas Valley Communities Foundation received a $1 million EDA grant last week along with the city of Mercedes and the Texas Polytechnic Institute of Mercedes, Texas, to help develop a feasibility study for a ‘Technopolis Village’, a community focused on innovation and identifying ways to enhance and produce positive economic growth that spans the regional economy.
 
Learn more about the Champions of Change Series and the award winners. Learn more about the Texas Valley Communities Foundation project that received an EDA grant.

Assistant Secretary Fernandez To Mayors: "Manufacturing Goes Hand-in-Hand with Innovation"

Assistant Secretary Fernandez Tells Mayor's "manufacturing goes hand in hand with innovation"

Guest Blog by John Fernandez, Assistant Secretary for Economic Development.

I had the pleasure of addressing the National Conference of Black Mayors 2011 Legislative Policy Summit in Washington, D.C. today. I focused on what the Obama administration is doing to grow local economic ecosystems and help create jobs, particularly in manufacturing.

The summit of almost 40 mayors from across the nation was a great opportunity for intergovernmental collaboration and provided an excellent platform to share best practices and discuss the challenges of creating jobs and increasing competitiveness. 

As a former mayor myself, I understood the pressing issues facing these leaders. They are the same issues the Obama administration is aggressively tackling at the federal level. And they all boil down to creating more jobs, particularly in manufacturing.

The manufacturing sector currently employs over 11 million Americans, providing good-paying jobs for millions of families. Preparing Americans to enter into the manufacturing sector will not only strengthen the economy and put folks back to work, it’s critical to our nation’s success as we compete in a 21st century global economy. 

U.S. EDA Supports Downtown Business HUB in California’s San Joaquin Valley

Image of video clip showing Guevara

Guest blog by Thomas Guevara, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Regional Affairs, U.S. Economic Development Administration

On June 7, 2011, I was honored to join U.S. Congressman and Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Jeff Denham (CA-19), Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, and Fresno Area Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Dora Westerlund for the ribbon-cutting for the Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation’s Downtown Business HUB (DBH). The innovative business incubator facility located in Fresno, California will provide local entrepreneurs of various ethnicities the opportunity to develop and grow their ideas for new products and services to create the economy of the future.

EDA Helps Launch Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge to Promote Regional Growth, Competitiveness

Unprecedented initiative leverages resources of 16 federal agencies to create jobs and economic prosperity

UPDATE: Read Gene Sperling and Ginger Lew's post on this subject on the White House blog.

The Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), along with 15 other federal agencies within the Obama Administration, today announced a $33 million Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge to drive innovation-fueled job creation and global competitiveness through public-private partnerships in at least 20 regions around the country. 

The Challenge will award funds to regions with high-growth industries that support a wide range of economic and workforce development activities.

The Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration will invest up to $20 million for technical skills training; EDA will invest up to $10 million in Economic Adjustment Assistance funds; and the Small Business Administration will invest up to $3 million in technical assistance. 

The Obama administration is committed to smarter use of existing federal resources to foster regional innovation in support of sustainable economic prosperity. Strong industry clusters – like the Research Triangle in North Carolina or Silicon Valley in California – promote robust economic ecosystems and the development of a skilled workforce, both of which are critical to long-term regional success.

“Regional innovation clusters bring together the knowledge and financial resources that America needs to compete in the global economy,” said NationalEconomic Council Director Gene Sperling. “The Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge will help regional innovation clusters produce the nextgeneration of innovative products and drive sustainable economic growth and job creation.”

The deadline to apply to the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge is July 7, 2011. Details about the application process are available here.