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Blog Category: Grants

$6 Million i6 Challenge to Spur High Growth Entrepreneurship and Expand Proof of Concept Centers

i6 Challenge logo

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

The Obama administration has unveiled several actions that are designed to speed up the growth of new, job-creating companies. Today, a new $6 million i6 Challenge, the third round of the national innovation competition, was announced. Six winning teams from around the country will get awards of up to $1 million this fall for innovative proposals to create and expand Proof of Concept Centers, such as the Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Stevens Institute for Innovation at the University of Southern California.

Centers like these incorporate a range of services—such as technology and market evaluation, business planning and mentorship, and early-stage access to capital—that are critical to regional economic growth and job creation.

The i6 competition series has generated great momentum since it was first introduced as part of the roll-out of the White House’s Startup America initiative last year. Projects funded in 2010 and 2011 are already starting to show results.

Creating High-Quality Jobs in Growing Industries through Public-Private Partnerships

Sandia Science and Technology Park

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

There are dynamic collaborations and initiatives supporting regional growth strategies across the country. Today, I addressed a group of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and technology commercialization leaders brought together by Technology Ventures Corporation during their Deal Stream Summit. This premier conference seeks to facilitate investment partnerships between federal labs, start-ups, innovators, and the venture community to bolster commercialization of technology and increase competitiveness. I discussed the Obama administration’s commitment to advancing innovation and accelerating the commercialization of new technologies to the marketplace.

Earlier in the day, I visited the Sandia Science and Technology Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico. With their focus on advanced technologies, technology parks such as this are vital to America’s economic future. These public-private ventures bring together innovators with entrepreneurs and transform theoretical ideas for the marketplace. It’s quite a dynamic environment for the businesses located there, such as ATA Aerospace, Emcore Photovoltaics, and Nanogenesis. And the end results? They include the development of new and unique products, the creation of high-quality jobs, the growth of vibrant communities, and an improvement in the quality of life—both in the immediate region and well beyond.

MBDA: Strengthening Support to Minority-Owned Firms

MBDA logo

Guest blog post by David A. Hinson, National Director, Minority Business Development Agency
 
Supporting the growth and global competitiveness of minority-owned businesses is a priority for the Department of Commerce and the Obama administration.

And we’re making good on that priority. Last year, the Department’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) registered the best annual performance in its 41-year history. It assisted minority-owned businesses in gaining access to nearly $4 billion in contracts and capital, supporting the creation of nearly 6,000 much-needed jobs. Over the last three years, our network of 39 MBDA Business Centers, has been largely responsible for generating $10 billion in contracts and capital while helping to create and save nearly 20,000 jobs.

Today, the challenge for MBDA–like so many organizations across the federal government–is to figure out how we build on that record while becoming more efficient.  A number of bureaus right here within the Commerce Department are facing a similar challenge, which has led, for example, to consolidating or otherwise cutting several programs in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), restructuring some units within International Trade Administration (ITA) and shifting the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) emphasis to regional innovation strategies. So how do we at MBDA meet the President’s mandate to improve services to minority-owned businesses and entrepreneurs in an increasingly difficult budget environment?

The answer for our Bureau started with looking at the grassroots where MBDA interacts on a daily basis with minority business owners. Our front lines are our 39 MBDA Business Centers and related business development support services. Our plan is to strengthen connections at that level to enhance services and get more for your tax dollar.

Commerce’s EDA Partners with Fraunhofer USA, Boston City Leaders to Build Sustainable Energy Research and Innovation Center

U.S. Assistant Secretary John Fernandez with Mayor Thomas Menino, Fraunhofer USA, and local leaders at the groundbreaking of the $19.5 million Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems in Boston’s Innovation District.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez was in Boston this week with Mayor Thomas Menino for the groundbreaking of the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems, a sustainable energy research and building innovation center at 5 Channel Center in Boston's Innovation District. The 50,000-square-foot facility will support area entrepreneurs and advance the commercialization of sustainable energy technologies and next-generation building efficiency systems.

Commerce’s Economic Development Administration awarded $3.5 million to Fraunhofer USA in 2009 to support the project, which is expected to create an estimated 180 jobs and generate $30 million in private investment. The applied research facility and building technology showcase will serve as a unique factory of innovation in support of established companies and startups that are developing and demonstrating the next generation of energy efficiency technologies.

Boston city leaders hope the Center will become a living laboratory, attracting building technology pacesetters from around the country and the international business community to demonstrate the future of sustainable buildings. The project serves as an innovation platform for collaborative research and development activities in the region, as well as an enduring pipeline for new technologies and startup companies.

“The U.S. Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration is pleased to work with Mayor Thomas Menino, Fraunhofer USA and local leaders to help build the $20 million Center for Sustainable Energy Systems, which will serve as a catalyst for job and economic growth in the region,” Fernandez said. “This smart investment to advance the development of the 5 Channel Center and commercialize sustainable energy technologies and next-generation building efficiency systems will provide a much needed boost to the local economic ecosystem as new businesses are attracted to the community.”

EDA Awards Christian Evangelistic Economic Development Grant That Will Make Entrepreneurial Dreams Come True for Many in Pittsburgh Region

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced a $300,000 grant to Christian Evangelistic Economic Development (CEED) of Pittsburgh, Pa., to provide technical assistance to economically distressed microenterprises in the Pittsburgh region.

“Providing technical assistance to enthusiastic entrepreneurs ready to achieve the American Dream and strengthen local economies is a key component of Christian Evangelistic Economic Development efforts. Already, efforts have seen the creation of a number of successful neighborhood businesses and its expansion will provide opportunity to 75 new microbusinesses,” said Rufus Idris, Executive Director of the Christian Evangelistic Economic Development.
 
This project, an example of the important partnership between the federal government and faith-based organizations, is expected to facilitate the creation of new jobs and generate private investment in microenterprises that are a key building block in the repositioning of challenged areas.

The EDA investment will support local efforts to address the challenges faced by start-up and existing underserved and disadvantaged entrepreneurs, by providing pragmatic technical assistance to immigrant-owned, refugee-owned, minority-owned, veteran-owned, microenterprises in the Pittsburgh region. Assistance may include business review and planning, training and counseling, market analysis, current business technology, and on-going mentoring, case management and capacity building.

Commerce Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships works to engage community groups in the national economic development process by promoting awareness of funding opportunities in order to ensure faith-based community groups, such as Christian Evangelistic Economic Development can play a role in helping to increase competitiveness.

NIST Opens $20 Million Grant Competition to Support New Scientific Research Facilities

The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has launched a new competition for grants to support the construction of new and expanded scientific research facilities at institutions of higher education and nonprofit scientific research organizations.

Through the NIST Construction Grant Program (NCGP), the agency expects $20 million to be available for grants ranging from $5 to $10 million over a period of no more than five years.

The program provides competitively awarded, cost-shared grants for the construction of new science research buildings or the expansion of existing buildings, including laboratories, test facilities, measurement facilities, research computing facilities and observatories. Proposed projects must complement the research goals of one or more of the department’s three science agencies: NIST, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). These agencies conduct research in measurement science, engineering, oceanography, atmospheric research and telecommunications.

Since 2008, NCGP has provided over $250 million in grant funding for new or expanded facilities at 24 institutions across the nation to pursue research in topics ranging from earthquakes and ocean ecology to nanoscale engineering and quantum physics.

Additional details of the competition, including deadlines, application procedures and requirements, are available at Grants.gov and the NCGP website. Read the full press release.

Secretary Locke Announces $10.27 Million in Grants to Gulf Coast Region

Grants to aid economic recovery for communities impacted by BP oil spill

Following his second visit to the Gulf Coast to talk with local businesses impacted by the BP oil spill, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced today eight grants for the Gulf region totaling $10.27 million – most for economic development planning and coastal management.

Locke heard firsthand from affected businesses last week when he traveled to Mobile, Ala., Biloxi, Miss., and New Orleans, La.

“People’s livelihoods across the Gulf are at risk,” Locke said. “From day one, the Obama administration has been committed to containing the damage from the BP oil spill and extending to the people of the Gulf the help they need to confront this ordeal. These grants are one more aspect of the administration-wide commitment to doing whatever it takes to help folks deal with the unexpected challenges brought on by this environmental disaster.”

Three grants will be administered through the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) and five other grants will be administered through Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (NOAA).  Read more

Secretary Locke Announces Grants in Iowa to Aid Flood Rebuilding Efforts

Secretary Locke at podium

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke viewed new flood-resistant construction at the University of Iowa and announced grants totaling $30 million to assist in flood rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of the 2008 Iowa flood—part of a continuing effort by the Obama administration to help those impacted by the flooding. Locke was joined by Governor Chet Culver, Congressman Dave Loebsack and Mayors Matt Hayek and Jim Fausett. Commerce’s Economic Development Administration will administer the grants. (Remarks) (Press release)

Secretary Locke Announces Recovery Act Grants to the Navajo Nation in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah

Recovery logo.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke held a press conference call with Sen. Jeff Bingaman (NM), Sen. Tom Udall (NM), Rep. Jim Matheson (UT), Rep. Ben Lujan (NM) and former New Mexico Governor Toney Anaya and announced a $32 million Recovery Act grant to the Navajo Nation in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah that will help bridge the technological divide, boost economic development, create jobs, and improve education and health care. Locke announced a total of 10 grants totaling more than $63 million that will increase broadband access and adoption in more than a dozen states. (More)

Secretary Locke Announces ARRA Grants in NY and CA to Expand Broadband Internet Access and Expand Economic Growth

Recovery Act logo. Click to go to Commerce Department Recovery Web site.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced two American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) investments to help bridge the technological divide, improve education, and increase economic opportunities for low-income families in New York, New York and Los Angeles, California. The grants, totaling more than $29 million, will fund computer training and provide more than 30,000 computers to middle school students and their families in high-need schools, enabling them to make use of key educational, employment, and health resources online. (More)