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Blog Category: Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams

Manufacturing: Rebuilding America’s Economy

Manufacturing: Rebuilding America’s Economy

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

Last week, I was honored to participate in Partnering for Illinois’ Economic Future Second Annual Economic Summit hosted by Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-IL) in Rock Island, Illinois. This summit is the highlight of an initiative the Congresswoman launched in 2013 to foster economic collaboration in the 17th Congressional District of Illinois, and my keynote focused on the challenges and opportunities facing the American manufacturing sector, how we can prepare for success in the global economy, and what is being done at the federal level to help regions succeed. 

Manufacturing matters:

* Manufacturing supports 17.4 million U.S. jobs.

* Manufacturing career opportunities include engineers, designers, machinists, and computer programmers.

* The annual average salary of manufacturing workers is more than $77,000, which is approximately 17 percent more than similar workers employed in other sectors.

* For every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, the sector creates $1.32 for the U.S. economy. 

While some have been quick to write the obits for nearby manufacturing towns like Moline, and East Moline, Illinois, and Davenport, Iowa, it was refreshing to see the close collaboration taking place locally to bring manufacturing back. 

At the national level, we are working to support our manufacturers by supporting efforts to build the President’s National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), which is working to accelerate development and adoption of cutting-edge manufacturing technologies.

Two weeks ago, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker spoke of the need for passage of pending bipartisan legislation that would establish the network. NNMI is all about keeping America – our manufacturers, businesses, and economy – globally competitive. NNMI is focused on helping America lead the global economy; boosting local, regional, and state economies, and most importantly, create new growth industries, right here in America. 

U.S. Department of Commerce Announces $15 Million Grant Competition to Spur Regional Innovation

U.S. Department of Commerce Announces $15 Million Grant Competition to Spur Regional Innovation

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today announced the launch of the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) $15 million 2014 Regional Innovation Strategies Program competition to spur innovation capacity-building activities in regions across the nation. Under this program, EDA is soliciting applications for three separate funding opportunities, including: the i6 Challenge, Science and Research Park Development grants, and cluster grants to support the development of Seed Capital Funds.

“President Obama and I are committed to strengthening American innovation, which is crucial for sustained economic growth and competitiveness,” said Secretary Pritzker. “The EDA Regional Innovation Strategies Program announced today, which builds on the highly successful i6 Challenge, will help spur innovation through the development and strengthening of regional innovation clusters. Innovation clusters strengthen communities by creating good jobs and growing regional economies nationwide.”

“EDA helps foster connected, innovation-centric economic sectors to support commercialization and entrepreneurship, including through regional innovation clusters,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams. “EDA’s new funding opportunity will provide more communities and regions with the resources they need to help local businesses start and grow. Specifically, EDA will help regions across the country develop regional innovation strategies, including proof of concept and commercialization centers, feasibility studies for the creation and expansion of science and research parks, and opportunities to close the funding gap for early-stage companies. This new funding opportunity is also an important component of the Administration’s commitment to build globally competitive regions.”.

The 2014 Regional Innovation Strategies Program originally started as the Regional Innovation Program under the reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act of 2010. This year’s program includes $15 million in funding for the following programs:

  • i6 Challenge ($8M): Launched in 2010 as part of the Startup America Initiative, the i6 Challengeis a national competition based on the most impactful national models for startup creation, innovation, and commercialization. The 2014 i6 has been broadened to include growing or expanding existing centers or programs and considering funding for later-stage Commercialization Centers, which provide opportunities for fine tuning and refinement of innovations. Special consideration will be given to programs which include initiatives focusing on innovative manufacturing and exports. 

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.

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.