Jump to main content.


This site contains information that has been considered archived and will no longer be updated. Please click here to go to the CURRENT eda.gov website.

A bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce


EDA Intern Spotlight: William Henagan, University of Virginia

Caption below

EDA Office of External Affairs intern William Henagan.

Over the last eight weeks, I have had the opportunity to work alongside a talented group of public servants in the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Office of External Affairs. EDA works to promote robust economic growth through innovation and job creation. It has been an honor and a privilege to work on these issues within the Obama administration.

My responsibilities ranged from staffing the 2016 SelectUSA summit, attended by the President, to helping write a speech for Deputy Assistant Secretary Tom Guevara. However, I spent most of my time helping EDA prepare for the upcoming deployment of an Economic Development Assessment Team to eastern Maine. The opportunity to help EDA respond to a request for economic assistance redoubled my commitment to a career in public service. Every day I felt like my work took steps towards improving the lives Americans who recently lost their jobs. Further, my experiences working within the framework of an evidenced-based policy solution will prove invaluable in the years to come.

Most importantly, this summer taught me about the essential role that the federal government plays in driving economic growth. EDA leverages scarce resources to lower the cost of doing business in often underserved communities around the country. My own experiences working as an advocate for agricultural entrepreneurship in central Virginia exposed me to this kind of work, but I never expected to learn so much about the ways our government encourages innovation and directly enables the success of the private sector. Next year, I will return to the University of Virginia to pursue a master’s degree in Commerce. I will also work as a research assistant on a project through the Batten School for Public Policy designed to align private sector incentives with positive social outcomes. My experience at EDA has more than prepared me excel in this arena.

I know the rest of my career will be guided by many of the principles I learned at EDA. As I seek to make a meaningful impact, I will remember lunches with Assistant Secretary Williams and Deputy Assistant Secretary Erskine. Their vision for economic development showed me the importance of bringing a diverse array of stakeholders to the table. EDA enables individuals, firms, and communities around the country to maximize the use of their talents: it certainly improved mine.