Through its competitive grant process, EDA evaluates all project applications to determine the extent to which they:
- Align with EDA’s investment priorities,
- Effectively address the creation and/or retention of high-quality jobs, and
- Document that the applicant can or will leverage other resources, both public and private, and Demonstrate the applicant’s capacity to commence the proposed project promptly, to use funds quickly and effectively, and provide a clear scope of work that includes a description of specific, measureable project outputs.
EDA’s investment priorities are designed to provide an overarching framework to guide the agency’s investment portfolio to ensure its investments contribute the strongest positive impact on sustainable regional economic growth and diversification. Competitive applications will be responsive to the evaluation criteria listed under each individual funding announcement, including at least one of the following investment priorities:
- Recovery & Resilience: Projects that assist with economic resilience (including business continuity and preparedness) and long-term recovery from natural disasters and economic shocks to ensure U.S. communities are globally competitive.
- Critical Infrastructure: Projects that establish the fundamental building blocks of a prosperous and innovation-centric economy and a secure platform for American business, including physical (e.g., broadband, energy, roads, water, sewer) and other economic infrastructure.
- Workforce Development & Manufacturing: 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. Also includes projects that encourage job creation and business expansion in manufacturing, including infrastructure-related efforts that focus on advanced manufacturing of innovative, high-value products and enhancing manufacturing supply chains.
- Exports & FDI: Primarily infrastructure projects that enhance community assets (e.g., port facilities) to support growth in U.S. exports and increased foreign direct investment—and ultimately the return of jobs to the United States.
- Opportunity Zones: Planning and implementation projects aimed at attracting private investment – including from Opportunity Funds – to grow businesses and create jobs in Census tracts that have been designated as Opportunity Zones. This includes targeted projects located within an Opportunity Zone; projects that, while not located within an Opportunity Zone, have a clear intent of benefitting nearby Opportunity Zone(s); and regional projects that encompass an area containing at least one Opportunity Zone with a clear intent of benefitting that Opportunity Zone. Opportunity Zones are designed to spur economic development by providing tax benefits to investors. For more information on Opportunity Zones and Opportunity Funds, see https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/opportunity-zones-frequently-asked-questions.