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.
As we close out the year, here’s a look at some of EDA’s key numbers:
- 51,000: The estimated number of jobs that will be created or retained as a result of EDA investments in infrastructure development projects.
- 700: The number of projects in communities all over the country in which EDA has invested nearly $305 million. EDA’s diverse portfolio of projects ranges from traditional public works infrastructure development to over 460 investments that support planning and provide technical assistance to practitioners, infusing the economic development community with the skills and knowledge required to optimize job creation in our economy.
- 16: The number of federal agencies that coordinated to breakdown Washington silos and reward bottom-up economic development as part of the inaugural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge . As part of the challenge, 20 competitive projects were selected to receive a portion of the overall total of $37 million to help these regions accelerate innovation-fueled job creation and economic prosperity through public private partnerships.
- 17: The millions of dollars invested in projects supporting job creation in the high-skill, high-wage advanced manufacturing sector.
In the coming year, EDA will continue to support merit-based, competitive investments in regional innovation ecosystems that advance bottom-up, regionally-owned strategies. The agency will also continue to coordinate resources from multiple federal agency partners to create smarter competitions, such as the Strong Cities, Strong Communities  (SC2) Challenge, i6 Challenge , the Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge  and the Regional Advanced Manufacturing Partnership Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge .
As a former mayor, I know that there is no silver bullet for getting our economy to grow faster and to create more jobs. But by making catalytic investments that accelerate the creation of high-quality jobs and spur economic growth, EDA is well positioned to help foster vibrant economic ecosystems and increase our global competitiveness.