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U.S. Economic Development Administration - Innovate@EDA Monthly Update U.S. Department of Commerce homepage Innovate@EDA Monthly Newletter Archive U.S. Economic Development Administration homepage

January 2015

Message From Assistant Secretary
Jay Williams

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams The New Year is always a time of great promise – and it’s no different at EDA. This year, EDA will celebrate its 50th anniversary. For 50 years EDA has been helping communities across the nation strengthen and grow their economies. While we look back to commemorate our history and community impact, we are also excited to look to the future. In 2015, we will continue our work across agencies that foster regional collaboration, like IMCP. We will continue to support small businesses and entrepreneurs through the Regional Innovation Strategies programs, and we will help communities plan, build, or rebuild in order to be more resilient and competitive in the global economy. Thank you to all of our stakeholders and community partners for their instrumental work in helping to create sustainable economic growth and opportunity for the communities we serve.

Thank you for your continued support. Happy New Year! Let’s make 2015 a great year together.



Success Story: Flooding Wisconsin with Innovation

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Map of the UWM Innovation Campus

In 2008, flooding devastated the City of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. Heavy rain, winds, and several tornadoes had caused lakes, rivers, and creeks to overflow, literally washing away homes and businesses. The manufacturing sector was particularly affected, which contributed to a rise in unemployment. The entire state of Wisconsin was declared a disaster area in June of that year, and the long task of rebuilding began with help from several federal and local agencies. As things were slowly put back together, the City of Wauwatosa and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Real Estate Foundation, Inc. opted to think about the long-term resiliency of the region’s economy and began working on a plan.

In 2010, the two organizations received an EDA grant for $5.4 million to construct a LEED silver certified industry accelerator facility with world class laboratories. The facilities funded by the EDA grant were part of an innovation campus that the city and University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee (UWM) created to nurture advanced manufacturing businesses. This blend of higher education with business initiatives minimizes technology transfer difficulties and helps the region’s pillar sector of manufacturing recover from the floods of 2008 and the subsequent rise in unemployment. The Innovation Campus already credits over 325 jobs and $15 million in private investment to the development of the Accelerator project.

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Spotlight: Guest Column - The Important Work of NACIE Begins

By Julie Goonewardene, Vice Chancellor for Innovation & Strategic Investment, Diaceutics Chairwoman, AMA Board, MBI Board

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NACIE Member Julie Goonewardene

Last year, I was honored to be appointed as an advisor to Secretary Pritzker as part of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE). NACIE is emblematic of all the entrepreneurs, educators, philanthropists, and innovators in all sectors of the economy who are working to ensure that our country remains a place of opportunity, innovation and entrepreneurship for generations to come. In December 2014 Secretary Pritzker convened the first meeting of the 27-member NACIE.   My NACIE colleagues impress me. We are a diverse group, and I was excited to hear from my fellow council members as they brought their experiences to bear as we began discussing the issues. I can’t think of a better group to address the challenges of creating an innovation economy.

As the current NACIE we are charged with bringing our ideas, and networks together to identify and recommend policies, programs, and partnerships that can help American businesses, individuals, and communities become even more competitive in the global marketplace.

Economic development is hard. It demands years of sustained effort that transcends political movements, market cycles, demographic changes, and geopolitical shifts. It also requires people from all sectors of the economic ecosystem to analyze and understand what is working, to offer alternatives where improvement is needed, and to reach consensus around policies and investments that support paths to prosperity for all Americans.

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Highlight: What You Need to Know About EDA Grant Process and Regulation Changes

Submitting a grant application to EDA? Toying with the idea of applying for funding at some point? There are some important changes to our processes that you need to know.

You may remember that EDA had requested comments a while back on ways to improve its regulations. Our stakeholders submitted 170 comments which shaped a proposed rule. EDA considered all of the feedback in developing the final rule, which appeared in the Federal Register on December 19, 2014. The new regulations will take effect on January 20, 2015. The final rule clarifies EDA’s policies and definitions, streamlines regulations, and facilitates coordination among federal investment opportunities. Some key changes include:

  • Removing the requirement that RLF recipients request that EDA subordinate its interest when seeking approval to sell or securitize its portfolio.
  • Streamlining CEDS requirements by replacing the long list of CEDS elements with four essential planning elements.
  • Authorizing a grant rate of up to 80 percent to incentivize projects that encourage broad, innovative regional planning or demonstrate effective leveraging of other federal resources.
  • Eliminating membership thresholds and quotas for Economic Development Districts.

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Congress Passes Act to Revitalize American Manufacturing

Last month, Congress passed the Revitalize American Manufacturing Innovation (RAMI) Act, which is bipartisan legislation to create a new National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI). Secretary Pritzker issued a statement applauding Congress for including this as part of the Omnibus spending bill. NNMI will help keep America on the front-lines of discovery and keep our businesses, our manufacturers, and our economy globally competitive in the 21st century economy. It has the potential to accelerate U.S. manufacturing innovation by harnessing the collective power of our world-class universities and businesses.


Coming Soon: Announcements on Two Key EDA Initiatives

In September, EDA solicited applications for the Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) program. Applications closed in November, and the response was overwhelming. We had more than 250 applications and over $100 million in funding requests. The winners will be announced mid-February, so stay tuned to find out more! EDA is also planning to open the next round of competition for designation under the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership initiative. As with the first round of competition, in order to earn the designation, communities need to demonstrate the significance of manufacturing already present in their region and develop strategies to make investments in six areas: 1) workforce and training, 2) advanced research, 3) infrastructure and site development, 4) supply chain support, 5) trade and international investment, 6) operational improvement and capital access. Additional details will be available in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for more info.


Innovation Challenge for Coal Communities Launches

On January 7, the National Association of Counties and the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) Research Foundation, with the support of EDA, launched a competition as part of their new partnership to support county and regional leaders in coal-reliant communities with retooling their economies to become more resilient to changing conditions. Throughout 2015, NACo and NADO Research Foundation will host a series of three intensive, hands-on workshops designed to boost the innovative potential of coal-reliant counties and regions seeking to grow and diversify their economies. Counties and regions are asked to form teams no more than five people that must include at least one county elected official and an individual representing a regional development organization (such as an EDD staff member) to apply to enter the program. The Innovation Challenge is open to all counties and regions in the U.S. that are economically linked to the coal industry, including those that are coal-producing and those that are home to significant concentrations of coal processing and related facilities. View the application for the first workshop, along with details about eligibility and other FAQs.


First Competition: Application opens: January 7, 2015. First workshop: mid-April, 2015 in eastern Kentucky


Second Competition: Application opens: late May, 2015. Second workshop: mid-September, 2015 in Colorado


Third Competition: Application opens: late August, 2015. Third workshop: mid-November, 2015 in West Virginia image