Guest blog post by Matt Erskine , Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development
Providing office space and support for budding entrepreneurs to develop and grow their businesses while boosting the synergies offered by their developing ideas, skills, and products is a critical economic development strategy.
This is exactly what I saw today in Philadelphia, when I attended the opening of the new Dorrance H. Hamilton Center for Culinary Enterprises  (CCE), an innovative facility that will provide shared business space for food entrepreneurs from throughout the Philadelphia region. This center was developed by Philadelphia’s The Enterprise Center , a business accelerator that since 1989 has supported local entrepreneurs and spurred economic growth in Philadelphia, and the Economic Development Administration  (EDA), which in 2010 provided $1.5 million to support the construction of the CCE.
The new CCE building contains 13,000 square feet of space, and includes four state-of-the-art commercial kitchens that will be available for rent to culinary entrepreneurs, an eKitchen Multimedia Learning Center, and retail space for tenants.The new center has big plans for supporting the food industry in the Philadelphia region. It anticipates helping launch 10 or more new food businesses a year and creating up to 60 new jobs annually. The center also intends to place 50 individuals in positions in the culinary industry and to train 100 high school students in restaurant and hospitality management.
That is an ambitious agenda, but one that builds on The Enterprise Center’s successful track record.
As President Obama remarked when he spoke about his National Innovation Strategy, supporting entrepreneurship is “far more than just recovery—it’s about sustained growth and widely shared prosperity. And it’s rooted in a simple idea: that if government does its modest part, there’s no stopping the most powerful and generative economic force that the world has ever known.”
Supporting and building local business ecosystems—the vital links that bind together leaders, industries, suppliers, and other resources—is the strategy that communities and regions today must implement if they wish to grow and create jobs.
Ensuring a viable workforce is also critical, and today I was pleased to follow my visit to Philadelphia with a tour of Respond, Inc .’s Sayre New Worker Job Development Center in Camden, New Jersey. There I announced a $640,000 EDA grant to help renovate and expand the job training facility and provide job seekers with the skills they need to fill entry-level jobs in the automotive sector. In total, EDA has invested more than $2.4 million to help establish and expand this critical job training facility.
Through its support of such projects as the CCE in Philadelphia and the Sayre New Worker Job Development Center in Camden, EDA is working to help these communities better support job-creating enterprises and grow a workforce that can keep America competitive.