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Blog Category: Economic Development Administration

Obama Administration Applauds Opening of Innovation Hub in Gainesville, Florida

View of incubation hub lobby from balcony

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

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, Gainesville Mayor Craig Lowe, and University of Florida President J. Bernard Machen, all gathered for the opening of the Florida Innovation Hub on January 11, 2012. I was proud to address the large crowd that was here to support the unveiling of a new tech business incubator that will help entrepreneurs, innovators, and start-up companies commercialize their research and bring it into the marketplace.

As Florida seeks to diversify beyond tourism and agriculture, and transition to a more innovation-based economy, the $8.2 million grant that the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) invested in the University of Florida in Gainesville to build this facility will promote a more diverse economy in the state. It will lead to the creation of new higher-skill, living-wage jobs that are vital to the prosperity of this region. This incubator is expected to create 300 jobs and generate $30 million in private investment.

Obama Administration Invests $2 Million to Spur Advanced Manufacturing in South Central Kansas

Assistant Secretary Fernandez participates in roundtable discussion at Wichita State University

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

The Obama administration recently announced a $2 million Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge award to the Center for Innovation and Enterprise Engagement to support the south central Kansas region’s efforts to jumpstart advanced manufacturing and create the jobs of the future. The $37 million Jobs Accelerator competition leverages funding from three federal agencies and technical assistance from 13 additional agencies to support the development of 20 high-growth industry clusters across the country. Funding for workforce training and technical assistance is provided by the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA), the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), and the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Two manufacturing industries—wind turbine and medical equipment—are specific targets of the initiative being led by Wichita State University. The effort encourages the migration of technology into the region’s economy to develop composite and advanced materials products and processes and bring with it new, high-paying jobs. But other opportunities will undoubtedly come from exploitation by other industries of the composite materials sector in the region.

The investment will help assure that south central Kansas will remain a dynamic center of manufacturing and a generator of jobs for years to come.

EDA Investments and Programs Help Strengthen America’s Economic Ecosystem, Create Jobs

i6 Challenge logo

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

With the private sector creating more than three million new jobs over the last 21 months, and nine straight quarters of positive GDP growth, the U.S. economy is showing signs of recovery. But with millions of people across the nation still unemployed, there is nothing more important right now than working to accelerate business development and job growth.

In the 2011 fiscal year, Commerce's U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) continued its important work of investing in competitive projects across the country that are spurring innovation at the regional level, helping to create jobs, and mitigating the effects of natural and man-made disasters.

Commerce’s EDA Investing to Strengthen Tennessee Businesses and Grow Nashville’s Hospitality Industry

Workers prepare to reconstruct flooded road (File photo: National Park Service)

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

Between March and May of 2010, severe storms and floods devastated many parts of Tennessee, Kentucky, Nebraska and Rhode Island. While Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is not a first responder to such disasters, the agency quickly got to work assessing the damage and connecting with local leaders regarding their needs as they began to pick up the pieces and rebuild. Recognizing the critical role that EDA can play for these communities, Congress provided $49 million in supplemental funding for EDA to award to these states to help them in their recovery efforts.

Last week, businesses in Tennessee got some good holiday news, when EDA announced its investment of $5.8 million to help build critical infrastructure to support Tennessee businesses and jobs and to develop a strategic marketing strategy to grow the Nashville hospitality sector following the floods of 2010.

These grants will assist in Tennessee’s recovery and redevelopment efforts by funding the necessary improvements that will ensure the resilience of physical and economic infrastructure and include:

  • $2 million to the Jackson Energy Authority to build core sewer infrastructure to protect major regional employers, including the Jackson-Madison Hospital and numerous industrial and manufacturing businesses, from flooding. The project is expected to result in the retention of 9,690 jobs, according to grantee estimates;
  • $1.49 million to the city of Dyersburg to help build an elevated water storage tank that will improve water capacity for manufacturing and industrial businesses and will serve new tracts of land being developed outside of the flood plain to accommodate business needs. The project is expected to save 433 jobs, create 200 jobs and generate $4 million in private investment, according to grantee estimates;
  • $1.3 million to Conexion Americas of Nashville to help build the Casa Azafran Community Center, which will provide expanded business startup or expansion assistance to Latino small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs;
  • $1 million to the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau to implement a regional marketing strategy that will support the city’s economic recovery by promoting the hospitality industry, which lost hundreds of millions of dollars in the wake of the flooding that impacted the city in 2010.

In announcing the grant, U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson said “The Obama administration is committed to helping communities impacted by natural disasters rebuild stronger and smarter to protect businesses and jobs. These critical EDA investments will provide the infrastructure needed to help keep businesses running and workers productive in the event of future floods, expand vital business assistance to Nashville’s Latino community and help Nashville revitalize its critical hospitality sector to create new jobs.”

In May 2010, President Obama signed the Tennessee Disaster Declaration and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area struck by severe storms, flooding, straight-line winds, and tornadoes beginning on April 30, 2010, and continuing. The president's action made Federal funding available to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

Obama Administration Investment Promotes Job Growth and Mitigates Environmental Risk in Tribal Communities

Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez Participates in the Third Tribal Nations Conference at the White House

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

This year, President Obama hosted the third White House Tribal Nations Conference to hear directly from tribal leaders about their priorities. I had the opportunity to address some of the representatives of federally recognized tribes during a series of briefings and listening sessions hosted by the White House.

The President is committed to strengthening the government-to-government relationship with Indian Country and partnering and investing to find solutions to complex issues and to win the future for Indian Country.

Environmental challenges are affecting tribal economies. The Obama administration has taken significant steps to mitigate environmental risks and strengthen the capacity of reservations to meet the training and economic needs of their communities.

Native Americans living on reservations experience higher incidences of environmentally-related health issues than other groups, including in the upper Missouri River basin. This includes 19 reservations in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota, along the Missouri River system and its tributaries where minerals and wildlife are abundant both in water and on land. Unfortunately, as concerns about the environment have plagued these communities, the response has not been timely or meaningful. These are areas of the country where the norm is economic depression and generational unemployment. In some cases unemployment rates approach 90 percent. The impacts of environmental degradation have contributed to stagnant business growth in these rural communities and severely limited opportunities for workers.

Investments in the Seattle Region’s Innovation Clusters Spur Economic and Job Growth

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Development Matthew Erskine with i6 Green Seattle winners from Puget Sound Regional Council, South Seattle Community College and Cleantech Open.

Guest blog post by Matthew S. Erskine, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

The Seattle region is noted as one of our nation’s hotbed of innovation and entrepreneurship with world-class cleantech, health sciences, biotechnology and advanced manufacturing clusters. It is home to the headquarters of companies like Microsoft, Amazon and Starbucks and its regional assets are fueling job growth.

This week, I traveled to Seattle to spotlight Obama administration investments to advance these critical innovation clusters, promote entrepreneurship and small business development and create the jobs and industries of the future.

I met with the leaders of the Washington Clean Energy Partnership, awardees of the i6 Green competition. This collaboration between the Puget Sound Regional Council, South Seattle Community College, Cleantech Open and the Innovate Washington Foundation will work to foster collaboration between industry and institutions of higher education to expand the clean energy cluster.  This will spur the creation of new jobs, companies and export opportunities in the market for energy efficient technologies.

Commerce Secretary Bryson Announces Grant to Stimulate Job Growth and Business Development

Photo of Harris Corporation

U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson today announced a $2.8 million Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant to the city of Palm Bay, Fla., to make critical roadway infrastructure improvements needed to help a major local employer expand its operations. The project is expected to create 180 jobs and generate $100 million in private investment, according to grantee estimates.

“The Obama administration is committed to helping stimulate job growth and business development,” Bryson said. “This grant will fund vital infrastructure in the community and help bring high-quality jobs and economic growth to Palm Bay.”

Putting Americans back to work is President Obama’s top priority. His American Jobs Act would put more money in the pockets of American families and do so without adding a dime to the deficit. In Florida, 410,000 firms would receive a payroll tax cut under the American Jobs Act, and a typical household in Florida, with a median income of around $46,000, would receive a tax cut of around $1,430.  Release

Driving Innovation and Economic Growth in West Virginia and Virginia

Erskine speaking from the podium

Guest blog post by Matthew S. Erskine, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

Today, I had the pleasure of joining U.S. Congressman Nick Rahall at Concord University in Athens, West Virginia to formally announce a major EDA investment to create a new EDA University Center in Southern West Virginia. Following the announcement, Congressman Rahall and I engaged in a roundtable discussion with regional businesses leaders to discuss strategies to foster local growth and increase regional competitiveness.

Congressman Rahall was instrumental in helping Marshall University, Concord University, and the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing partner and apply to join the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) University Center program–a competitive initiative that awards grants to universities across the country to help make the resources of these institutions available to the economic development community.

Congressman Rahall said, “Placing faith and funding in American higher education is nothing new. In fact, it has a proven track record that continues to be the envy of the world. Not only did our land grant colleges and universities usher in the greatest agricultural economy the world has ever known, the first G.I. Bill equipped the greatest generation with the tools that crafted the world’s largest economy. Our training grounds, workshops, research and product development revolve around an alliance of business, industry and universities.”

EDA: Working with the Private Sector to Create Jobs

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Guest blog post by by John Fernandez, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, Department of Commerce

The Obama administration is collaborating with the private sector in an unprecedented way to promote American innovation, ignite entrepreneurship, and spur small business development to get the economy moving and put people back to work.

And we are seeing results. Private sector payrolls increased by 137,000 in September. And despite a slowdown in economic growth from substantial headwinds experienced throughout the year, the economy has added private sector jobs for 19 straight months, for a total of 2.6 million jobs over that period. While the economy is growing modestly, we understand that it is not fast enough for Americans who are struggling to make ends meet.

That is why it is more important than ever for the federal government to work with industry to create new jobs.

Obama Administration Jobs & Innovation Accelerator Competition Boosts New York’s Renewable Energy Cluster

Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez at the State University of New York Orange campus in Newburgh, New York celebrating the award of $1.95 million in federal Jobs & Innovation Accelerator Challenge funding.

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

I was pleased to join U.S. Congressman Maurice Hinchey today at the beautiful State University of New York Orange (SUNY Orange) campus in Newburgh, New York to celebrate the award of $1.95 million in federal Jobs & Innovation Accelerator Challenge funding to catalyze the growth of the Hudson Valley region’s alternative energy cluster.

The federal investments will help to establish the New York Renewable Energy Cluster (NYREC) by allowing The Solar Energy Consortium (TSEC) to expand its industry-led clean energy manufacturing cluster into Orange County through a partnership with Orange County Community College and Gateway to Entrepreneurial Tomorrows (GET).

The Jobs & Innovation Accelerator Challenge (JIAC) is just one example of how the Obama administration is collaborating to ensure a smarter use of existing federal resources to foster regional innovation in support of sustainable economic prosperity. 

Supporting bottom-up regional strategies through inter-agency collaboration is not only smart government, but the type of support regional economies need to grow and prosper.  It’s not about new programs, it’s about better programs.  It’s not about new money, but smart money.