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Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership: Leveraging Strengths for a Stronger Future

Charles Shoopman, Assistant Vice President, UT Institute for Public Service On June 23, 2014 I received a letter officially designating the 69-county, four-state DRIVE! for the Future region as one of the nation’s first 12 Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) communities. Serving as the primary contact person for a public-private partnership effort involving more than 15 organizations, I could hardly wait to send copies of the letter to my colleagues. After all, we had invested hour after hour in crafting consensus around a shared work agenda and at least grudging acceptance of a narrative describing that agenda in the context of a 35-page proposal (plus appendices!) that was due in Washington, D.C. by April 14, 2014.

Receiving notification of the designation was exciting, but was simply the beginning of a non-stop effort to actually deploy the ideas we had so painstakingly assembled during the January – April proposal development period. In short, receiving the designation didn’t complete anything; we simply were given an opportunity to go do what it was we wrote we wanted to do!

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Spotlight: Women in Leadership

We’re at an interesting moment in history for women. The debate about “having it all” or “leaning in” versus “opting out” dominates conversations about women’s contributions to the working world. So much is made about how women balance their career and family (or their decision to forgo one or the other), but less is said about the contributions they make to their organizations. March marks Women’s History Month, and EDA would like to take a moment to highlight several prominent female leaders for what they accomplish within their organizations and communities. Let’s all applaud them for what they do instead of debating how they do it.

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Highlight: Guest Column - SAGE Leading Economic Development in San Antonio’s Promise Zone

Jackie Gorman, San Antonio for Growth on the East Side (SAGE) Executive Director As executive director of San Antonio for Growth on the Eastside (SAGE), I’m working in what you could describe as economic development petri dish: an intensive experiment in community revitalization in the newly designated federal Promise Zone on San Antonio’s Eastside.  A subset of our Promise Zone is known as EastPoint. Eastpoint is the only area in the country to receive a Department of Education Promise Neighborhood grant, a Choice Neighborhood Grant from the Department of Housing & Urban Development, and Byrne Criminal Justice grants from the Department of Justice.

SAGE is leading the economic development elements of a highly focused effort to see if an integrated approach combining housing, education and economic development initiatives can significantly improve the quality of life in what has been an economically distressed and underserved community.

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Success story: Wellston’s Next Chapter

Workers getting trained at the MET Center You’ve heard this story a million times. Business locates in American city. Business creates jobs and a boon for the local economy. Life is good until business closes its doors. Unemployment runs rampant. City falls into disrepair. People flee the city. Crime gets bad, which keeps business and people from coming back to city. Sadly for some cities, that is the end of the story. Luckily for the people of Wellston, Missouri, a city located just west of St. Louis, there is another chapter.

In the 1980s, two large employers in the area shuttered their doors. The area began a long economic development process spearheaded by the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, and in 1997 the city opened the MET Center, a strategic partnership created to stimulate the economic self-sufficiency of unemployed or underemployed individuals living in low to moderate income communities of the St. Louis region. The Center provides focused, comprehensive, and accessible career development and assessment services, job training, and transportation assistance.

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How EDA Helps Create Conditions for Economic Success

How EDA Helps Create Conditions for Economic Success A successful harvest depends on the soil, the temperature, and the amount of water the crops receive. Putting together a winning sports team requires talented athletes, strategic coaches, and team members who can work together toward a common goal. Building a successful, resilient economy in a given region or community also requires having the right conditions in place. It’s about having the appropriate infrastructure, supply chains, access to capital, engaged stakeholders, an appropriately trained workforce, and an understanding of the unique assets of the area. Creating those conditions is the core of economic development.

I like to tell people that Washington, D.C. is where I live; Youngstown, Ohio is my home. I understand economic distress on a very personal level, and I understand the importance of the sort of work that the Economic Development Administration (EDA) does each and every day.

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President Obama Renews Charge to Help Rural Companies and Communities Compete Globally

President Obama Renews Charge to Help Rural Companies and Communities Compete Globally

Yesterday, President Obama announced new commitments in the “Made in Rural America” export and investment initiative, which is charged with bringing together federal trade-related resources for rural communities and businesses. This announcement reflects the Administration’s strategy for ensuring workers and businesses of all sizes, from communities large and small, benefit from the nation’s economic resurgence. 

The Department of Commerce also released data yesterday that show 26 states set new export records in 2014, and many of those states are in the nation’s heartland.

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Spotlight on Commerce: Jay Williams, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

Spotlight on Commerce: Jay Williams, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

Outside of my parents, the most influential person in my life was the late Bishop Norman L. Wagner.  Bishop Wagner served as the pastor of the church I attended virtually my entire life.  Some of his most powerful lessons focused on service to others and living a life of purpose.  One of Bishop Wagner’s quotes that continues to resonate with me today is the “significance is paramount to success.” Those words have guided me in my career and life. I strive to do things that have significance and affect real change. 

After graduating from Youngstown State University in my hometown of Youngstown, Ohio, with a business finance degree, I worked in the banking industry for several years, until leaving to pursue a career in public service – leaving to pursue significance.  In 2005, I was elected as the youngest and first African-American mayor in the City’s history.  I am proud to have been given the opportunity to help change the dynamics and the conversation about Youngstown.  Not just because it’s my hometown, but also because the issues facing Youngstown were not unique.  My work at EDA allows me to focus on critical issues that affect distressed communities like Detroit, Michigan; Gary, Indiana; Fresno, California; and rural areas such as Conover, North Carolina. 

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Understanding and Measuring Innovation Ecosystems at the Global Innovation Summit

Matt S. Erskine

There’s a lot of talk these days about “innovation ecosystems,” but what is an innovation ecosystem? What does it mean? Think about the ultimate ecosystem: earth. When we refer to the earth’s ecosystem, we are talking about the interconnectivity of animal, plant, and elements that sustain life. Well, an innovation ecosystem is the same idea. It’s everything in the environment, including and especially culture, that work together to foster and sustain innovation. How we create those ecosystems is at the core of the Global Innovation Summit, taking place this week in San Jose, California. 

The Global Innovation Summit is an opportunity for entrepreneurs, innovators and those that support them from 50+ countries to come together to build solutions, apply new tools to accelerate innovation, and learn from one another.

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Spotlight: The Economic Development Leadership Institute

Leadership Fellows with SBA Administrator from  left: Maurice Harris III; Zachary Corrothers; Maria Contreras Sweet, SBA  Administrator; Audrey Scott-Hinson, DSU Administrator; Dr. Michael H. Casson  Jr., UC Director; and Jamal Maddox The economic development challenges faced by the U.S. are often concentrated in communities plagued by low educational attainment, high crime rates, low income levels and limited financial and physical capital.  These communities are disenfranchised and underrepresented in the public arena and can be found in both urban and rural environments.  Delaware State University's (DSU) student population represents many of the urban environments of the Northeast that are both disenfranchised and underrepresented.  Thus, the question was, "How do we identify and train tomorrow's economic development leaders?" More specifically, "How do we empower the youth in our most economically challenged communities with the prerequisite skills for successful economic development within their own community?"

DSU’s Center for Economic Development and International Trade (UCEDIT) is a recent recipient of the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) University Center award.  The purpose of this funding is to leverage the resources of the University to support the economic development initiatives of the State of Delaware.

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Highlight: Rebuilding Youngstown and Communities Like It

Then Mayor Williams highlighting the growth in  Youngstown, Ohio. When I was growing up Youngstown, Ohio was the sort of place you worked to get out of. Crime was bad. The economy was stagnant. It seemed like everyone thought that you had to leave to make something of yourself. But Youngstown was my home, and I wanted to help make it the sort of place you’re proud to come from and think twice about leaving. There was so much potential there, but people had to stop living in the past – stop waiting for the manufacturing sector to rebound. We needed a plan and a vision – we needed economic development. I was moved to run for office and help shepherd my community through its economic recovery.

By the time I took office as Youngstown’s mayor in 2006, the Youngstown Business Incubator (YBI) that had been established in the 1990s was driving huge change, but there was still work to be done. Through a combination of visioning, planning, public/private partnerships and investments, and most importantly a determined citizenry, my hometown of Youngstown, Ohio is redefining itself. Today, I am proud to say, that Youngstown is experiencing a renaissance, a renewal beyond what most would have thought possible.

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