Guest blog post by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker 
This past spring, the Commerce Department launched the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership  (IMCP), a first-of-its-kind initiative to provide communities with the resources needed to create and implement development plans and recognize their full economic potential.
I’m so pleased to announce 26 grant award winners  have been selected by the Department of Commerce. Along with our agency partners – the Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Small Business Administration – we are awarding $7 million in grants and investments that comprise the first funding phase of the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership.
The communities selected as winners by the Department of Commerce represent 17 different states. They have developed cutting-edge plans that capitalize on these communities' comparative advantages as a place to do business. These plans make investments in public goods, and encourage collaboration between multiple public and private entities to expand the area's commercial appeal to investors. In total, the first funding phase of the program provides 44 planning grants and investments.
The IMCP stemmed from the recognized need to effectively accelerate manufacturing investment in the United States. Too often, communities have relied on the practice of “smokestack chasing” to attract investment, in which communities will offer tax breaks and subsidies to attract the attention of a single firm. Economists have found this approach often yields a low return for taxpayer investment. The Obama administration seeks to encourage and assist American communities to not merely make efforts to attract individual investments but instead to transform themselves into manufacturing hubs that that draw all kinds of businesses.
Grants and investments awarded in 2013 will help communities undertake the strategic planning necessary to compete for the IMCP Challenge being launched in fall 2013 and awarded in the spring of 2014. In the 2014 Challenge competition, the Administration will designate stand-out “Manufacturing Communities” and give them an advantage in securing grant money through programs offered by 10 federal departments and agencies across the government. Moreover, top “Manufacturing Communities” may receive large IMCP Challenge grants and investments to finance – in partnership with industry and localities – substantial economic development investments such as workforce training, business parks or incubators, or infrastructure.
In order to make this transformation a reality, the IMCP allows American communities to capitalize on U.S. economic strengths in order to be a magnet for investors. In short, the IMCP grants reward communities which:
- Develop implementation plans that highlight their comparative advantages;
- Invest in public goods through both private and public funding;
- Emphasize workforce training;
- Provide specialized research and infrastructure for businesses; and
- Promote exportation of products internationally.
The 2013 candidates made significant progress in all of these areas.
Find out more about the recipients of the 2013 IMCP Strategy Grants  awarded by the Department of Commerce.