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New Investment Priorities to Promote Work-Based Learning

The Economic Development Administration (EDA) works directly with communities and regions to help them build the capacity for economic development based on local business conditions and needs. EDA awards competitive grants for planning, technical assistance, and infrastructure construction, which are designed to leverage existing regional assets to support strategies that make it easier for businesses to start and grow. A set of investment priorities connects EDA local investments with national economic development priorities. 

EDA recently updated its investment priorities, in part to align them with the Executive Order "Expanding Apprenticeships in America." With its new grant competitions, EDA underscores its interest in:

Projects that support the planning and implementation of infrastructure for skills-training centers and related facilities that address the hiring needs of the business community -- particularly in the manufacturing sector -- with a specific emphasis on the expansion of apprenticeships and work-and-learn training models.

$92.6 million in Workforce-oriented Grant Investments since January 2017

Since 2017, EDA has invested more than $92.6 million of Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance grant funding in 62 projects to help communities and regions build the capacity for economic development through workforce development strategies. Grantees estimate that these funds will leverage close to $959 million in private investment. EDA also invested more than $9.6 million in 10 projects to support planning, research, technical assistance, access to capital, or other activities that are essential for successful economic development and job creation in the future. The Public Works program provides resources to meet the construction and/or infrastructure design needs of distressed communities. Through the Economic Adjustment Assistance program, EDA provides investments that support a range of construction and non-construction activities in regions experiencing severe economic dislocations, including workforce development, manufacturing, as well as export and foreign direct investment. Recent workforce-related projects include:

  • $3 million in Economic Adjustment Assistance funds to the Northern Wyoming Community College District (NWCCD) of Sheridan, Wyoming, supports the acquisition of equipment, instructional supplies, and other training materials to support the expansion of the NWCCD’s workforce training facilities in Sheridan and Gillette. The new resources will allow NWCCD to train the region’s workforce using the most current technology aligned with existing industry in high-demand occupations such as machinists, welders, diesel mechanics/hydraulics, electrical and HVAC apprenticeships, as well as construction technology.
  • $2.4 million in Public Works Funds to Ranken Technical College and the Saint Louis Development Corporation in Saint Louis, Missouri, supports the demolition of existing warehouse facilities located on the College’s campus to allow construction of Manufacturing Inc., a workforce training facility. Development of the facility will allow Ranken Tech to expand its instructional and manufacturing training curriculum to support pre-apprentice/apprenticeship training and entrepreneurial start-ups that will provide students with work experience, industrial training and certifications, college credits and part-time salary, while directly aligning employer talent and credentialing needs with industry-trained young men and women about to enter the workforce.
  • $1.2 million in Public Works funds to the Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana in Indianapolis, Indiana, supports the renovation of a former warehouse and site improvements to an adjacent lot to create the Precision Agricultural Equipment Technology Center of Excellence, a workforce training facility. Development of the Center will allow Ivy Tech Community College to expand its vocational training curriculum to include training in geospatial technology related to crop planting, fertilization, harvesting, and other farming operations.
  • A $0.9 million Economic Adjustment Assistance award to Prairie State College, Chicago Heights, Illinois, supports the purchase and installation of equipment and other platforms to house a mobile workforce training center specializing in welding and machining. This project will provide on-site job training at area employer and community organizing locations throughout Cook County.
  • $0.4 million in Public Works funds allows Santa Fe Community College, Santa Fe, New Mexico, to purchase critical equipment for two workforce training labs on the College’s campus in North Central New Mexico. The two workforce training labs will be the first to serve the entire district with hands-on training for workers in the fields of automation and microgrid energy distribution systems.
  • $0.4 million in Public Works funds is helping Mayland Community College in Spruce Pine, North Carolina, renovate an existing test facility on the Mayland campus to allow the American Welding Society to expand its advanced welding certification program to include a 2-year degree program.

New Call for Research Proposals

The Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion underscored in several of its recommendations the need for new research and case studies to evaluate the effectiveness and broaden awareness of apprenticeships and work-based learning programs.  In recognition of the Task Force recommendations, EDA is currently seeking proposals under its Economic Development Research and National Technical Assistance (RNTA) Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) to support work on conceiving and researching the most effective ways to harness the power of work-based learning and apprenticeship programs.

Under the RNTA NOFO, EDA accepts proposals on a rolling cycle for a wide variety of economic development topics. For more information regarding the RNTA program, eligibility requirements, and average grants size, interested parties are encouraged to review the RNTA NOFO found here:

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