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Statement from the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

I am pleased to report to Congress the accomplishments of the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA) for fiscal year 2012. During the year, EDA continued to work collaboratively with public- and private-sector partners to break down bureaucratic silos and maximize the effectiveness of its programs in supporting economic growth and job creation in regions throughout the United States.

Two initiatives that EDA led in FY 2012— the Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge and the Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge—exemplify these efforts.

The Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge marshaled the resources of EDA and 12 other federal agencies to make $9 million worth of investments in 13 organizations across the country that today are leveraging their local assets to support industry clusters and partnerships. Their programs will have a catalytic effect, helping entrepreneurs and small businesses foster innovation, increase regional competitiveness, and employ highly skilled workers in rural regions throughout the country.

The Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge was an initiative that brought together EDA and five other federal agencies to award $20 million to 10 public-private partnerships. These partnerships are supporting local efforts to spur job creation through a variety of projects, including initiatives that connect innovative small suppliers with large companies, link research with the start-ups that can commercialize new ideas, and train workers with skills that firms need to capitalize on business opportunities.

This initiative is a testament to the Obama Administration’s commitment to protecting and growing America’s manufacturing sector. Manufacturing has the highest multiplier effect of any industry. It is responsible for 70 percent of private-sector R&D, 90 percent of our patents, and 60 percent of our exports. Most important, it is a critical jobs generator for America’s middle class, adding hundreds of thousands of jobs to the economy in recent years.

These two Challenges, along with EDA’s regular programs and other targeted investments—such as the successful third round of the i6 Challenge and the continued support of the Strong Cities Strong Communities Initiative—are making long-term investments to better equip America’s regions to compete in both the domestic and global marketplaces. And they build on EDA’s nearly 50 year history of supporting regionally-driven economic development strategies by focusing on creating opportunities that encourage regions to plan for their long-term stability, build on their unique assets, and create the conditions for the private sector to flourish and create jobs.

In FY 2012, EDA awarded approximately $297 million to support 674 investments through its Economic Development Assistance Programs and disaster relief funding.  These investments included construction projects that many communities determined would enhance their local economic development efforts. In FY 2012, EDA invested approximately $194 million in such construction projects, which are expected to help create or retain approximately 40,000 jobs and generate nearly $4.6 billion in private investment, according to grantee estimates.

EDA also worked with communities by funding regional planning strategies that help them make smart decisions regarding their long-term economic growth. In FY 2012, EDA made 327 awards to regions and communities, providing them with $29 million to develop such plans.

As the only federal government agency with economic development as its sole mission, EDA is uniquely positioned to address needs that are not met by other public- and private-sector resources. And the success of its investments shows that when the right partners in regional economic ecosystems come together and increase their level of interaction, good things happen for job creation, investment, and improved prosperity. It is through such efforts that EDA is working to ensure that America is not just able to face the challenges of the 21st century economy, but to prosper and grow for years to come.

Sincerely,
Signature of Matt Erskine, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development
Matthew S. Erskine
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce
   for Economic Development