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Frequently Asked Questions for the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership Designation for Manufacturing Communities

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(Updated 5/28/2014)

What is IMCP?
A: The Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) program is an initiative designed to revolutionize the way federal agencies leverage economic development funds. It encourages communities to develop comprehensive economic development strategies that will strengthen their competitive edge for attracting global manufacturer and supply chain investments. Through IMCP, the federal government is rewarding best practices – coordinating federal aid to support communities’ strong development plans and synchronizing grant programs across multiple departments and agencies. Non-designated communities nationwide can learn from the best practices employed by these designated communities to strengthen American manufacturing.

Is IMCP an ongoing initiative?
A: IMCP is an ongoing initiative comprised of several phases. In September 2013, the Obama Administration awarded $7 million in planning grants to 44 communities nationwide to support the development of their strategies. On May 28, 2014, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced the first 12 communities that will be designated as Manufacturing Communities, the second phase of IMCP. Later this year, the Administration will launch a second IMCP competition to designate the next round of communities. In the meantime, the Administration and federal agencies will work with all the applicant communities to help them strengthen their plans and to identify opportunities for communities to work with the federal government on their local economic development priorities. Later this year, the White House will convene the more than 70 communities that participated in IMCP to share best practices in economic development planning and attracting new jobs and investment in manufacturing.

How many applications were received in the 2nd phase?
A: More than 70 communities from across the country applied for the Manufacturing Communities designation  

How were the designated communities selected?
A: An interagency panel evaluated the applications on several key criteria:

  • Proposals must demonstrate regional cooperation through a consortium of public and private partners and the strength of their partnerships.
  • Applicants must define a geographic scope for their proposed community. The community must be large enough to contain critical elements of key technologies and supply chains, but small enough to enable close collaboration.
  • Another important objective was to show how an IMCP designation will help a community build on its existing strengths and comparative advantages – not start from scratch – and have a substantial impact on a community’s overall prosperity.

There were three major areas that reviewers were asked to look at when scoring applications: the quality of the community’s implementation strategy, partnership capacity and commitment of the partnership. Applicants were asked four important questions in each area: what is your region’s current capability, what are the current institutions for improving capability, what are the gaps in your region’s industrial ecosystem, and what is your community’s plan to address those gaps.
Scoring was based on the quality of their implementation strategy, which included a detailed, data-driven assessment of the local industrial ecosystem as it exists today, what is missing, and an evidence-based path to development that could make a region uniquely competitive. Communities were asked to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses in the following six “public good” areas: workforce and training, supplier network, research and innovation, infrastructure and site development, trade and international investment, and operational improvement and capital access.

The second element for scoring was based on the extent to which the proposal demonstrated the capacity to carry out the implementation strategy, including an evidence-based assessment of: overall leadership capacity, sound partnership structure, partner capacity to carry out planned investments, state of the ecosystem’s institutions, and the depth and breadth of communities’ development and employment goals.

The third element for scoring proposals was asking communities to demonstrate a verifiable commitment from existing and prospective stakeholders, both public and private, to executing a plan and investing in a community. For this area, reviewers looked at the cohesion of the partnership; the strength and extent of partnership commitments that were not contingent on federal funding; and investment commitments.

How long will this designation be good for?
A: Manufacturing Communities will remain designated for two years. Current designees will have the opportunity to reapply to keep their designation. 

Will communities that were not selected have the opportunity to receive designations in the future?
A: Any communities can apply for designation next year. Regions that were not designated this year still gained a great deal from this process. Many of the applicants reported that, regardless of whether they were designated, the coordination and comprehensive planning effort that this initiative spurred in their region and at the local level will prove to help strengthen their public-private partnerships that will lead to more job creation and economic growth.   

What are the benefits to communities that went through the designation process, but were not selected?
A: Many of the applicants reported that, regardless of whether they were designated, the coordination and comprehensive planning effort that the initiative spurred in their region will help to strengthen local public-private partnerships that can lead to job creation and economic growth. Communities were asked to define their own regions, build strong and durable industrial ecosystems, and align industry needs for worker training, research, supply chains, capital access, infrastructure and site development and trade. However, because the IMCP designation process helped drive wide collaboration and helped focus regions on their assets, it is expected that communities that did not receive a designation will move forward with their strategies using state, local, and private resources. Further, communities that did not receive designation this year are still eligible for federal economic development funds, and may apply for IMCP designation next year.

What will the agencies coordinating on IMCP do to ensure that grant funding still goes to the non-designated communities?
A: Communities that did not receive designation are still eligible to apply for funding from the participating federal agencies.

How can non-designated communities receive feedback on why their applications did not lead to a designation?
A: EDA is planning to host a webinar in the coming weeks to offer general feedback on the application process. More information about that will be forthcoming. In addition, EDA is planning to organize an opportunity for non-designated applicants to make appointments to receive individual feedback on their applications.  To learn more about IMCP, visit http://www.eda.gov/challenges/imcp/index.htm.

Communities are also encouraged to reach out to their regional EDA office for technical advice on receiving federal grants. For a list of locations and contact information, visit http://www.eda.gov/contact/.