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A bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce


Highlight: EDA: A Year in Review

December 2015 Newsletter

2015 marked EDA's 50th anniversary!

Taking the time to reflect on everything EDA has accomplished helps us showcase the power of economic development and reminds us of the importance of supporting regional collaboration and focusing on innovation to create jobs!

Listen to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Commemorate EDA's 50th Anniversary (video)

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Secretary Pritzker with EDA staff for EDA's 50th anniversary celebration.

Helping Communities Develop a Skilled and Adaptable Workforce

As the leader of the Commerce Department's strategic objective to catalyze innovation ecosystems in the U.S., EDA this year invested $55 million in 42 Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance program projects across the nation to help communities develop a skilled and adaptable workforce. These investments are expected to spur $593 million in private investment and create more than 9,800 jobs, exceeding targets set in the strategic plan.

In addition, this year EDA led the Communities that Work Partnership, a nationwide effort to recruit and select communities to participate a new learning exchange that builds regional partnerships to accelerate and document more effective, employer-led regional workforce initiatives across America.

As a result, seven communities, including New York City, Washington D.C., Greater Houston, San Francisco Bay Area, Buffalo and Northeast Georgia, and Greater Phoenix have embarked on a 15-month intensive learning exchange designed around each region's pursuit of job-driven talent development strategies to promote economic growth. The idea is that these communities will develop replicable methods and practices that any community can use to improve their workforce training efforts.

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Assistant Secretary Jay Williams visited Brenham, Texas, home of “Blue Bell” ice cream, in August to announce a $1.4 million EDA grant to build a workforce and technical training center.
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Secretary Pritzker joins Aspen Institute President & CEO Walter Isaacson to launch the Communities that Work Partnership.

Supporting America's Innovators and Entrepreneurs

Tapping into the ideas and minds of all of our citizens is crucial to the U.S. gaining and keeping a competitive advantage in an increasingly global economy. In 2015, EDA continued to reach out to underrepresented demographics and geographies and provide them with opportunities to build on their bright ideas and ambitions to create and grow companies.

This year, for example, EDA made a number of investments that will help support entrepreneurship in some of the nation's most underserved communities.

In January at the Operation HOPE Global Summit in Atlanta, Georgia, Assistant Secretary Williams announced a $2.5 million EDA grant to support the implementation of the HOPE Inside Small Business Empowerment Initiative (SBEI) to assist small business owners in nine states and the District of Columbia.

In September, Williams announced a $750,000 EDA investment to ArtSpace Projects, Inc., to help establish the Oglala Lakota Arts and Business Incubator on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. The facility will provide critical incubator space for artisan entrepreneurs and will also offer business services to new and emerging artisan businesses.

In November, Williams joined Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and National Urban League (NUL) President & CEO Marc Morial to announce a $300,000 EDA grant to the NUL for the development of a new Entrepreneurship Center Program. Read press release. Read blog post.

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Assistant Secretary Williams Announces EDA Investments to Boost Entrepreneurship at the Hope Global Summit in Atlanta, Georgia, at the National Urban League in Baltimore and on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
(Click on photos for larger versions)

In addition, EDA's Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE) is leading the 2015 Regional Innovation Strategies Program, which is designed to spur innovation capacity-building activities in regions across the nation. The 2015 RIS will provide $10 million, with up to $2 million targeted to Seed Fund Support Grants and $8 million targeted toward the i6 Challenge. This year's i6 Challenge will provide up to $2.5 million for projects that support innovation in rural or underserved communities. Awards will be announced early 2016.

Diversifying Coal-Impacted Communities

In 2015, the National Association of Counties and the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) Research Foundation, with the support of EDA, launched the Innovation Challenge for Coal-Reliant Communities program, a competition to support coal-reliant communities working to diversify their economies.

Today, twenty-three teams—led by counties and regional development organizations and including a broad range of other public- and private-sector partners—are benefiting from resources made available through the competition to help them become more resilient.

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Coal-Reliant Communities Innovation Challenge logo

In addition, EDA is leading the administration's Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative, a new interagency effort to assist communities negatively impacted by changes in the coal industry and power sector.

In October, the first round of grants under the POWER initiative were announced. In total, the Administration announced 36 POWER awards worth $14,546,457. The awards, which include both Planning and Implementation grants, will be given to partnerships in 12 states and tribal nations. The Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration (EDA) awarded nearly $10 million for 26 projects.

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Assistant Secretary Williams joined Governor Steve Beshear and U.S. Representative Hal Rogers in Kentucky to announce $10 million awarded under POWER

Welcoming 12 New Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership-Designated Communities

In July, Secretary Pritzker announced 12 new communities that have received designations under the administration's Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) initiative. The IMCP is designed to accelerate the resurgence of manufacturing in communities nationwide by supporting the development of long-term economic development strategies.

In October, the Department welcomed these communities along with our federal partners as hosts of the second Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) Summit.

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Secretary Pritzker opens the second Investing in Manufacturing Communities Summit in October

Improving our Nation's Critical Infrastructure

Improving our nation's infrastructure is crucial for both economic growth and job creation.

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Assistant Secretary Williams visits Rhode Island's Port of Galilee with U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and U.S. Congressman Jim Langevin. EDA investments to improve the Port's infrastructure are helping to ensure the continued economic viability of Rhode Island's fishing industry and spur economic development, tourism and new investment in the Narragansett region.

Spurring Trade and Investment

The Americas Competitiveness Exchange on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ACE) offers an ideal opportunity for decision makers to establish long-term global/regional partnerships and to see the results and good practices of economic development initiatives in the Americas that seek to strengthen innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems.

This past April, the third ACE brought key leaders and decision makers from across the Americas to experience firsthand successful projects and networking activities in the Midwest U.S. States of: Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois.

Shortly after ACE III, Argentina hosted ACE IV with many of EDA's Economic Development Districts participating.

In 2016, ACE comes back to the United States with visits to the states of Arizona and California.

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ACE III delegation poses as a group after touring the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota

Commemorates 50th Anniversary of the Watts Riots

“Watts has indeed rejoiced through both hope and suffering. Steadfast leaders like Janice Hahn, Maxine Waters, Yvonne Burke, Sweet Alice, Arturo Ybarra, Betty Day, and so many others, planted seeds of opportunity to help bridge the economic and social inequality gap.” – Assistant Secretary Williams

Read about EDA's role in rebuilding Watts, California.

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Assistant Secretary Williams and U.S. Congresswoman Janice Hahn participate in the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Watts riots.

EDA's Disaster Recovery Role: Commemorating 10 Years since Hurricane Katrina

On August 27, Deputy Assistant Secretary Matt Erskine traveled to New Orleans to announce $2.1 million in grants to support resiliency and economic growth in the Gulf Region. Additionally, DAS Erskine announced a new partnership between EDA and the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) to promote resiliency and training throughout the region and joined representatives from the DRA and the International Trade Administration for a roundtable discussion about promoting economic development and international trade with leaders in the Delta Region.

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Deputy Assistant Secretary Matt Erskine visits the Propeller business incubator in New Orleans

Advancing Operational Excellence

Improving the Grant Application Process

EDA is continually seeking to improve our processes to make the applicant experience easier and the review process more efficient. We hope you will share your experiences with us so we can keep improving.

In April 2015, EDA issued a Federal Register Notice announcing some proposed improvements to our forms as part of overall enhancements we're making to the grant application process.

In late October, those changes went into effect with the publication of the FY2016 Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance Programs Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO).

EDA Employees win 2015 Department of Commerce Honor Awards

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Dave Ives (center) with Deputy Secretary Bruce Andrews (left) and Assistant Secretary Williams (right) receives the Gold Medal for his work on the CEDS Guidelines

The Honor Awards are the highest honorary awards given by the Department of Commerce for distinguished performance.

This year, David Ives, Hillary Sherman, Thomas Pellegrino, and the 2014 ACE Team were noted for their remarkable achievements.

  • Dave Ives, Senior Program Analyst, HQ, received the Gold Medal for his leadership and work updating the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Guidelines, cooperating closely with both our colleagues and stakeholders across the nation to refine it. Dave was of course supported by team of tremendously talented EDA employees.
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    From Left: Deputy Secretary Bruce Andrews, Shawn Ricks from the International Trade Administration, Barrett Haga from EDA, Assistant Secretary Williams and ITA Deputy Secretary Ken Hyatt recognize Haga and Ricks for Silver Medal ACE program

  • Hillary Sherman, EDR for NC, received the Silver Medal for her leadership and work on the Policy and Operations Manual, a massive document recording everything from EDA's history to its inner workings. This was also of course accomplished with a team of vastly talented EDA staff.
  • Tom Pellegrino, EDR Alabama, was awarded the Silver Medal as well for his efforts to create a tool to monitor EDA's Revolving Loan Fund grantees, working with countless numbers of grants in the process. The team of highly capable RLF Administrators also shares in Tom's success.
  • The ACE Team, spanning both EDA and the International Trade Administration, was awarded the Organizational Silver Medal for their work bringing together the 2014 Americas Competitiveness Exchange program, showing the power of economic development to guests from twenty Latin American countries.