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Remarks by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo at White House Announcement of $3 Billion EDA Investment in America's Communities


Thank you, Jen. And good afternoon, everyone. 

As President Biden often says, we are on the road to recovery. And today marks a real step forward in that recovery. The President signed the American Rescue Plan into law to get our country back on its feet. Thanks to that law, I’m thrilled to announce the launch of a transformative $3 billion economic development initiative today.  

And I‘m even more excited that communities across the country can apply for that funding starting today. It’s the largest investment in our economic development from the Commerce Department in more than 40 years. It’s a testament to the President’s commitment to do far more than simply recover what we’ve lost. And it will have a real impact in communities across the country as we build back better. 

From working mothers balancing multiple jobs, to young adults looking for work, to factory and retail workers wondering what comes next − these funds will provide real, good-paying jobs for you and your community.    

But it will do more. What we saw during this pandemic is that those who did well did quite well. But millions of Americans are still struggling, particularly women, communities of color, rural communities and tribes.  

For example, nearly two million women dropped out of the labor force since the start of the pandemic, largely due to the lack of affordable childcare and paid leave. 

So ensuring that funds are distributed equitably is central to our investment strategy. It’s good for our workers, our businesses and our economy.  

As a former Governor, I know what good-paying jobs can mean to American families. That’s why we believe this initiative has the potential to create 300,000 new jobs in the near term, drive innovation in underserved communities and revitalize local economies.  

The Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration has a proven track record of success.  

I was in Albany Monday, where EDA’s investments over the last ten years have helped the city, and the region, become a global semiconductor and bioscience hub. And the employment growth rate there has grown by more than 30 percent in these industries! 

We’re going to bring that type of transformative growth to communities nationwide.  

At the end of the day, our economy simply can’t fully recover unless all Americans can fully participate in it. Which is why today we are announcing this historic investment in American communities. 

It starts with our Build Back Better Regional Challenge which invests $1 billion dollars in up to 30 regions across the country seeking to revitalize their economies. It drives innovation and spurs projects that grow new industries and scale existing ones.  

Next is the Good Jobs Challenge which allocates $500 million dollars towards industry-led workforce training programs and apprenticeships to place workers − particularly women, people of color, and underserved communities – in good-paying jobs.  

To ensure workers can complete these training programs, we designed it to cover services like childcare and transportation. It helps build a talent pipeline that specifically addresses the current labor shortage and places 100,000 American workers in good jobs.   

For the hard-hit Travel, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation sector, we provide $750 million dollars to accelerate its recovery – and the recovery of the communities that rely on tourism.  

Through Economic Adjustment Assistance, we offer $500 million dollars to hundreds of communities across the country to create new jobs, spur economic development and put Americans back to work. 

Our Indigenous Communities Commitment sets aside $100 million to meet the needs of indigenous communities with everything from broadband to health centers and more.  

Finally, we are making a $300 million commitment to invest in economic development in coal communities. This is the largest economic development initiative that EDA has ever made in coal country and will enable communities to recover, diversify and grow. 

These grants share the values and priorities of the President’s Build Back Better Agenda.  Alongside the Jobs Plan, they will accelerate America’s economic recovery and help the country continue to get back to work. 

So please spread the word and apply for these EDA grants!