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Blog Category: Economic Development Administration

Obama Administration Holds Rural Swing in North Carolina and Louisiana to Promote Jobs and Innovation

EDA Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge Logo

Guest blog post by Matt Erskine, Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

Over the next two days, I will join several colleagues for a rural swing in North Carolina and Louisiana to promote jobs and innovation. Along with Deputy Under Secretary for USDA Rural Development Doug O’Brien, Appalachian Regional Commission Federal Co-Chair Earl F. Gohl, and Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Christopher Masingill, I will attend events in rural America and tour two projects that were among the 13 winners of this year’s Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge.

The Rural Jobs Accelerator—designed by the Taskforce for the Advancement of Regional Innovation Clusters and the White House Rural Council—is a joint effort of 13 federal agencies, working together to help accelerate economic and job growth across rural regions. It is a great example of collaboration across federal agencies to pool resources and identify new, innovative ways to create an economy built to last.

Since taking office three and one-half years ago, President Obama has been deeply committed to strengthening rural economies all across America—helping to create jobs, support business growth, and expand opportunity for rural Americans. The administration has advanced new policies and initiatives and made significant investments in rural communities. The Rural Jobs Accelerator builds on those goals, seeking to foster job creation and business innovation in these communities.

EDA Works with Federal Partners to Help Drought-Stricken Rural Areas

President Barack Obama meets with the White House Rural Council on August 7 to discuss ongoing efforts in response to the drought. (White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Guest blog post by Matt Erskine, Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

A look at the recent national weather map underlines the reason for the Obama administration’s comprehensive response and action plan: large sections of the country are experiencing one of the worst droughts in decades—with levels ranging from “severe” to “extreme” and “exceptional.”

The consequences of drought don’t just affect farmers and their crops and livestock, but have ripple effects throughout the regional economies that depend on them. It is with this in mind that President Obama convened a recent meeting of the White House Rural Council to coordinate an administration-wide response to the drought and focus agency activities to partner and support Americans impacted by it.

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), with its decades of experience helping communities stricken by natural disasters, will play an important role to help rural communities with economic recovery. Along with the Small Business Administration (SBA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and other federal partners, it will leverage its resources, economic tool box, and expertise to help implement initiatives to alert drought-stricken communities to the federal resources that are already available to them.

Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge Awards $9 Million to 13 Projects to Boost Rural Economies, Strengthen Regional Industry Clusters

Jobs & Innovation Accelerator Challenge logo

Guest blog post by Matt Erskine, Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

Over the last three and a half years, President Obama has been committed to investing in efforts that strengthen rural economies, create jobs, support business growth, and expand opportunity for rural Americans.

Today, the administration announced the 13 winners of a key component of this goal, the Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge. Economic development partnerships and initiatives in Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia will receive awards ranging from nearly $200,000 to more than $1 million.

The projects will promote job creation, accelerate innovation, and provide assistance to entrepreneurs and businesses in a wide range of industrial sectors, including advanced manufacturing, agribusiness, energy and natural resources, technology, and tourism. They range from the Bristol Bay Jobs Accelerator in Alaska, a job training initiative put together by a consortium of 31 Alaskan tribes that will support a fisheries and seafood processing industry cluster; to the I-20 Corridor Regional Accelerator, a project involving the collaboration of institutions in Louisiana and Arkansas to promote science and technology clusters in these states; to the “Project 17: Together We Stand,” a 17-county business development effort led by Kansas State University.

EDA Helps Ohio Auto Community Build a New Future

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Guest blog post by Matt Erskine, Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

Economic recovery in the wake of an economic disaster—such as the closing of a large employer—doesn’t happen overnight. It requires careful planning, the coordination of human and financial resources, and a willingness to consider alternative directions that will benefit the community in the long run.

This is the story that the city of Moraine, Ohio, can tell. For nearly 90 years, Moraine—located in close proximity to Dayton, Ohio—was the location of a single, prominent manufacturing plant whose successive owners read like an honor roll of 20th century American business: Dayton-Wright Airplane (manufacturer of DeHavilland aircraft), Frigidaire (maker of an iconic line of refrigerators), and, since 1981, General Motors (GM).

When GM announced plans in June 2008 to close this plant, the development came as a blow to the local economy. Just think about the impact to suppliers and the distributors that get their business from them.  According to a report published by the International Economic Development Council, the Moraine region, with more than 90 GM suppliers in 14 surrounding communities, lost more than 800 jobs at larger suppliers in addition to the 4,200 jobs that were lost when GM shut down.

Within weeks of GM’s announcement, staff from the Chicago regional office of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) began working with state and local officials in Ohio to develop a strategy to deal with the effects of the Moraine plant closure. As a first step, an EDA investment helped the city develop a bottom-up Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) to guide the region’s recovery efforts.

EDA: By Attracting Investment in America, We Create New Jobs

Today, Acting Assistant Secretary for Economic Development Matt Erskine joined Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, Rochelle Mayor Chet Olsen, and Members of Congress at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for this new Nippon Sharyo railcar production facility in Rochelle, Illinois

Guest blog post by Matt Erskine. Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

Attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) to the United States, and the jobs that come with it, has been a priority of the Obama administration since it came into office. Business programs from every federal agency have been thoroughly ramped up, and a new initiative targeting foreign companies thinking about locating in the United States, SelectUSA, was launched in 2011.

The United States is already the largest recipient of FDI in the world. In 2010, such investment totaled $228 billion, up from $153 billion in 2009, supporting more than five million jobs throughout the country. Those workers made up 4.7 percent of total private-sector employment in the United State, with an annual payroll of $410 billion.

Success in attracting FDI doesn’t happen without a lot of hard, collaborative work on the part of states, municipalities, development agencies, and the federal government. I saw an excellent example of this today in the city of Rochelle, Illinois, where I participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of a new manufacturing facility for Nippon Sharyo U.S.A., the U.S. subsidiary of a Japanese manufacturer of railcars.

22 Ways the Department Of Commerce Is Supporting and Fostering American Innovation

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In an increasingly competitive world, the United States must invest in its best scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs so that they innovate here, make things here, and create good paying, high quality jobs for middle class families. The Department of Commerce and its bureaus are supporting and fostering innovation at all stages of product development, from original research through to final manufactured goods.

Commerce’s Economic Development Agency has launched two grant challenges, the i6 Challenge and the Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator, to move ideas from the lab and shop floor to the marketplace at an accelerated rate. Supporting this work is the Regional Innovation Acceleration Network, a web-based tool to help economic development professionals promote entrepreneurship, business development, and technology commercialization in their region.

In April 2010, the Commerce Department launched the Internet Policy Task Force to ensure that the Internet remains open for innovation. In doing so, it has produced the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, made important steps forward for a National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, started a conversation about privacy concerns within mobile apps, and worked to combat Botnets that threaten internet security. To ensure continued Internet security, Commerce has opened a Cybersecurity Center of Excellence.

Innovation in the Marketplace: Dr. Desh Deshpande on Successful Proof of Concept Centers

Portrait of Desh Deshpande

Guest blog post by Nish Acharya, Director of the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration.

The National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE) supports President Obama’s innovation strategy by helping to develop policies that foster entrepreneurship and identifying new ways to take great ideas from the lab to the marketplace to drive economic growth and create jobs.

One of the guiding forces of NACIE is its co-chair, Dr. Desh Deshpande, who is also Chairman and President of the Sparta Group and has been involved with many other companies, such as A123 Systems, Sycamore Networks, Tejas Networks, Sandstone Capital, and HiveFire. He is also the founder of the Deshpande Foundation, and creator and supporter of the Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which is a leading proof of concept center.

In the last of a series of conference calls with members of NACIE, on June 27, participants spoke with Dr. Deshpande, with whom I have worked closely to identify and implement strategies to spur entrepreneurship and innovation.

During the call, Dr. Deshpande defined innovation as coming up with new ideas, while entrepreneurship is putting those ideas into practice. He pointed out that all innovation is contextual, in that no group of individuals can just sit down and solve all the world’s problems. It is important, he noted, that innovators live in the areas where the problems exist. His point echoed one that has been made by several other NACIE members, namely that innovators have a greater chance of success if they begin by solving the problems that exist in their own communities.

The Road to Revitalizing Anderson, Indiana’s Auto Sector

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Guest blog post by Thomas Guevara, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development and a native of Indiana

As auto communities across the country work to strengthen and redefine their economies, the Obama administration is making good on the President’s commitment to invest in American innovation and advanced manufacturing to spur growth.

In my home state of Indiana, the city of Anderson, located about 25 miles northeast of Indianapolis, was once home to one of the greatest concentrations (after Flint, Michigan) of General Motors facilities in the United States. Today, not a single one of those plants is in operation.

While this is a significant challenge, there is also opportunity. That was the focus of the Auto Community Revitalization Roundtable at the Flagship Enterprise Center that I recently attended in Anderson: to hear from communities affected by the loss of manufacturing jobs, offer practical tools, share available resources, and explore solutions for auto communities in Indiana that are on the road to revitalization. The forum was organized by the Manufacturing Alliance of Communities, the Obama administration’s Office of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers, and the RACER Trust, which was established to clean up and redevelop closed General Motors sites.

The road to revitalization requires a change of mindset. Rather than think of the abandoned facilities and their accompanying infrastructure as a disadvantage, cities such as Anderson are finding ways to repurpose these assets for future economic growth. The built industrial environment—including manufacturing plants, warehouses, road and rail links, etc.—can be refashioned and reused to suit the needs of newer, growing industries to replace the industries that departed. These industries are not the traditional manufacturers that employed our parents, but rather are modern advanced manufacturing sites that are leading the way in global competitiveness and attracting foreign direct investment.

Disaster Recovery Funding Available Now for Counties with FY 11 Disaster Declarations

Map of eligible and ineligible U.S. counties for disaster assistance

Guest blog by Matt Erskine, Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

Applications are now being accepted for investments in regions experiencing severe economic distress as a result of natural disasters that were declared as major federal disasters between October 1, 2010, and September 30, 2011. The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) received an appropriation of $200 million from Congress to address economic recovery challenges in regions impacted by a major disaster.

More than 1,400 counties in 44 states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia are eligible for the federal funding. Successful projects will support long-term economic recovery; demonstrate a clear connection between the project scope of work and the applicable disaster; demonstrate that the project will foster job creation and promote private investment; align with a relevant strategic, economic development, or disaster recovery plan; and demonstrate the incorporation of disaster resiliency. Applications are accepted on a continuing basis and processed as received.

EDA: Economic Recovery in Fremont, California's Auto Community

Ed. note: Cross-posted from U.S. Department of Labor's "Auto Communities" blog by Matt Erskine, Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development (EDA)

We all know the situation a few years ago when President Obama took office: the American auto industry was shedding jobs by the hundreds of thousands and General Motors and Chrysler were in financial crisis. In the year before GM and Chrysler filed for bankruptcy, the auto industry lost more than 400,000 jobs. Had President Obama failed to act, conservative estimates suggest that it would have cost at least an additional million jobs and devastated vast parts of our nation's industrial heartland. But that did not happen because the president quickly intervened to save the U.S. auto industry from collapse. Today, GM, Ford and Chrysler have all returned to profitability.

President Obama's decision to respond so boldly was about more than the auto companies. It was about standing behind the countless workers, communities and businesses—large and small—that depend on the automotive industry. It was also about revitalizing American manufacturing.

Across the administration, federal agencies have outlined an agenda to support growth, job creation, and competitiveness in U.S. manufacturing. The U.S. Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration (EDA) has a strong track record of working with automotive communities to develop plans for economic recovery. The agency's efforts to help revitalize the nation's auto industry have been significant in Fremont, California, where a large auto assembly facility operated by the New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMMI) was shut down in early 2010. The plant had employed nearly 5,000 workers, with thousands more dependent on it. The blow to the local economy was severe.