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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

February 2015

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Assistant Secretary Jay Williams tours robotics lab with Detroit Public School Students at the Cody Academy of Public Leadership. Detroit was an early adopter of the My Brother’s Keeper initiative.


Success Story: Helping Minority and Women-Owned Start Ups Get Started

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MBA Students at the Enterprise Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

If building a successful business were as simple as having a good idea and putting in the requisite hard work, then the start-up world would look much more diverse. The fact of the matter is new businesses need support in order to grow. It takes capital, workforce, and office space to help most businesses succeed. In some parts of the country and for some populations, those things are relatively easy to come by. But for many of the budding entrepreneurs in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, those resources didn’t exist.

The City of Winston-Salem was heavily affected by downturns in the tobacco and textile industries. Thousands of workers had been laid off, and the displaced workers created greater competition for available jobs in the service industry. The region realized it needed to create new entrepreneurial opportunities for start-up businesses. That’s where the Enterprise Center came in. It sought to expand or recruit new business incubator prospects.

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Highlight: Rebuilding Youngstown and Communities Like It

By Jay Williams

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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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Spotlight: The Economic Development Leadership Institute

Guest Column by Michael Casson
Director, University Center for Economic Development and International Trade (UCEDIT) Associate Professor of Economics Delaware State University

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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.  The success of UCEDIT, as well as other entities throughout the country with the same charge, is contingent on the development of young economic development leaders who are often products of these environments.  The economic development, growth and sustainability of a community are contingent on both Economic Development Education and Leadership.

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Important Funding Update

EDA is continually looking for ways to improve its process so we can make sure we are able to give the best customer service and work in a more effective and efficient way with our partners.   As part of that improvement process, we are refining our grants process in 2015.  As you may know, EDA’s last Federal Funding Opportunity extended through the first quarter of the 2015 fiscal year, or through the end of December.  We have been working hard to  incorporate changes to our grant making process that will increase the impact and benefit you get from EDA assistance. We are currently finalizing  these changes in our FY2015 FFO and will be releasing it soon.  While EDA can still accept applications now, they will be reviewed after the FFO, which includes the funding criteria, is released.  EDA’s staff stands ready to assist your community in the application process and you are encouraged to reach out to your regional offices with any questions regarding project ideas or EDA’s process.  We understand that the delay in issuing the FY 2015 FFO may cause some inconvenience. We assure you that EDA’s staff will work hard to process the grant applications as quickly as possible to provide you with timely answers and excellent customer service.


Asst. Secretary Williams Presents Grant at Operation Hope Global Summit

Last month, Assistant Secretary Jay Williams attended the Operation HOPE Global Summit in Atlanta, Georgia, to announce $2.5 million in grants 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. During his remarks, Assistant Secretary Williams praised Operation Hope for its efforts saying, “The work that Operation Hope is doing to provide a bright future for the working poor, the underserved, and the struggling middle class is critical and is consistent with what the President has been doing from his very first day in office.”

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Assistant Secretary Williams at Operation Hope Global Forum

News CEDS Guidelines

In January, EDA issued new Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) guidelines. The new guide is intended to assist in efforts to develop the content of a CEDS document. It suggests how to develop the document’s format and substance to make the strongest, most useful and effective CEDS possible. The guide is available here: (PDF)


National Association of Counties (NACo) 2014 Report Tracks Economic Recovery at Local Level

County economies are the building blocks of regional economies, states and the nation. To better understand the dynamics within each county economy, the National Association of Counties (NACo) released its 2014 County Economic Tracker: Progress through Adversity, an analysis of the recovery patterns across the 3,069 county economies in 2014. The conditions of a county economy can constrain and challenge county governments, residents and businesses, while also providing opportunities. The 2014 County Economic Tracker analyzes annual changes of four economic performance indicators— economic output (GDP), employment, unemployment rates and home prices — between 2013 and 2014 across the 3,069 county economies.  In addition, it explores 2012-2013 wage dynamics, taking into account the effect of local cost-of-living and inflation on average annual wages in county economies. Read the full analysis, or to access the companion interactive maps and the individualized county profiles, go to NACo’s County Explorer interactive map at


Greensboro SC2 Update

Congratulations to the phase 1 winners of the Greensboro Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) competition. Six proposals designed to stimulate job growth and business expansion are competing for $500,000 as the City of Greensboro’s SC2 Challenge competition enters phase two. Gig G, a proposal based on the design and development of a publicly-owned gigabit speed Fiber Optic network for use in the Greensboro community, was awarded $55,000 after winning the first phase of the prize competition. Each of the finalists has the opportunity to enter phase two of the competition, which involves the final teams expanding their proposals by developing a more comprehensive economic development plan with attainable goals and objectives that can lead to implementation.


EDA Participating in Global Innovation Summit

The Global Innovation Summit is the world's largest gathering for building ecosystems of innovation and entrepreneurship. This February 17-19, more than 500 people from 50 countries are expected to come together in Palo Alto to learn together, build real-world solutions together, and apply the newest tools for accelerating innovation, entrepreneurship, and impact at scale together. During the Summit, EDA Deputy Assistant Secretary Tom Guevara and Director of the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Julie Lenzer will speak about EDA’s work supporting innovation. Click for more info on speakers and agenda. image