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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

July 2016

Spotlight: NACIE Finishing Strong through the Fourth Quarter

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NACIE members meet at the Department of Commerce.

On June 16th and 17th, EDA’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE) hosted the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE) for their seventh and penultimate quarterly meeting.

On the 16th, NACIE members convened in the Department of Commerce library where Assistant Secretary Jay Williams was excited to update them on many of the ways EDA and other bureaus have already leveraged their recommendations to affect policy and programs while also encouraging Council members to finish strong through the “fourth quarter” of their term.

To do just that, this driven Council is working to deliver a new proposal that will provide insights and strategies for government to better connect and scale place-based solutions that support innovation and entrepreneurship in communities outside Silicon Valley, or in what NACIE member Steve Case refers to as the “Rise of the Rest” cities.

Click here to read more.

Success Story: Digital Sandbox KC Advances Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Job Creation in Kansas City

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Kansas City-based incubator Digital Sandbox.

In 2012, EDA awarded Digital Sandbox KC a $1 million i6 Challenge grant to create a new process for commercialization in Kansas City by clustering digital innovation in a central hub and providing the needed technology infrastructure. In 2015, EDA invested an additional $500,000 in i6 funds to Digital Sandbox KC to help them continue support for early-stage proof-of-concept projects and to help them expand to create a community-wide network of product development and testing resources. 

Digital Sandbox is a perfect example of how the U.S. Department of Commerce and the entire Obama administration are supporting entrepreneurial ecosystems across the country through public-private partnerships. EDA is proud that our i6 investments to support development of Digital Sandbox KC have payed-off handsomely for the Kansas City region.

Since its launch in 2013, Digital Sandboxs' proof-of-concept program has worked with more than 300 entrepreneurs and early-stage companies across the metro area. To date, Digital Sandbox has raised roughly $18 million in private funding to promote new ideas, business opportunities, and job growth in the region.

Click here to read more.

Success Story: The Florida Innovation Hub Expands with Help of $8.2 million EDA Grant

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EDA Signage Heralds the Expansion of the Florida Innovation Hub.

The Florida Innovation Hub will double in size after receiving an $8.2 million EDA grant award. The grant will create a technology business incubator at the University of Florida in Gainesville, as part of Phase II of the development of the Florida Innovation Hub. According to grantee estimates, the incubator will have the capacity to serve up to 45 companies of varying size. 

EDA’s investment will construct a new, state-of-the-art, LEED certified, multilevel technology business incubator facility. The facility will provide space to companies that require specialized wet and dry laboratories that are not yet available in the commercial market. A portion of the space will be devoted to an Entrepreneurial Woman's Center to provide ongoing assistance to the population that, according to the grantee, is currently underrepresented in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. The grantee expects this project to continue the success of Phase I of the Innovation Hub, which in its first three years assisted 60 companies resulting in 760 jobs and $50 million in private investment.

Read how this investment will continue the success of Phase I.

Highlights: Assistant Secretary Jay Williams Affirms Commitment to the U.S. Virgin Islands During Visit

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USVI Business roundtable discussion.

On June 27, Assistant Secretary Jay Williams visited the U.S. Virgin Islands where he met with various stakeholders and discussed the island’s economic resiliency in the wake of the loss of more than 2000 jobs following the closure of the Hovensa petroleum refinery.

During the visit, Assistant Secretary Williams also highlighted EDA’s partnership with FreshMinistries by participating in a groundbreaking ceremony for a new Agri-Business Economic Development Center.

Click here to read more.

Highlights: Microgrids - Powering and Preparing Alaskan Villages for Economic Growth

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Deputy Assistant Secretary Matt Erskine touring the Alaska Center for Energy and Power (ACEP).

In Alaska, the cost of energy carries a hefty price tag, both economically and environmentally. For isolated, rural Alaskan villages, the economic disadvantage doubles. As a result of this challenge, Alaska has identified an innovative solution: Microgrids.

Read Deputy Assistant Secretary Erskine’s blog on his visit to Alaska to learn about microgrids.

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2015 EDA Annual Report Now Available On-Line

EDA’s FY 2015 Annual Report is now available on-line. See how the agency is supporting your local economic development initiatives!


National Association of Regional Council’s (NARC) 50th Annual Conference & Exhibition

On June 28, Deputy Assistant Secretary Matt Erskine delivered the keynote address at NARC’s 50th Annual Conference & Exhibition in Salt Lake City, Utah. The annual conference is the largest national event focused on promoting effective regional cooperation and solutions through interaction and education. Learn more.

Deputy Assistant Secretary Matt Erskine with NARC leadership.


EDA Hosts HBCU Webinar

On June 28, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) hosted a webinar highlighting EDA’s funding and grant opportunities available for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). A recap of the presentation is available here.


SelectUSA Investment Summit

“We want more of you to invest in America. We are ready to welcome more of the jobs you help create, just as you are ready for American workers and customers to help you succeed globally. I believe investing in the U.S. is the best business decision you can make.” - President Obama at the 2016 SelectUSA Investment Summit. Watch the President’s address.

President Barack Obama delivers keynote at 2016 SelectUSA Summit.


EDA Invests to Support Workforce Training in South Central Louisiana

Assistant Secretary Williams Announces $1 Million Investment to Support Workforce Training in South Central, Louisiana.

Assistant Secretary Jay Williams with representatives from Louisiana’s Economic Development District.


EDA Invests to Support Baton Rouge Ecosystem Mapping Initiative

Assistant Secretary Williams Announces $280,000 Investment to Support Business Development and Encourage Disaster Resiliency in Baton Rouge.

Louisiana grant announcement ceremony.


EDA Hosts POWER Initiative Webinar

The POWER Initiative is an integrated, multi-agency effort to invest federal economic and workforce development resources in communities and regions negatively impacted by changes in the coal economy. On July 7th, 2016 EDA hosted a webinar to provide information and guidance on the POWER initiative. To learn the basics of the initiative, how to apply, and the details of the review process, download the slides here. Questions regarding the POWER Initiative can be directed to


On the Ground - Economic Development Administration Meets Communities Where They Are

Guided by the basic principle that communities must be empowered to develop and implement their own economic development and revitalization strategies, EDA works directly with local leaders and economic development officials to make grant investments that are well-defined, timely, and linked to a long-term, sustainable economic development strategy. Read Deputy Assistant Secretary Erskine's blog post.


Assistant Secretary Williams Delivers Commencement Address at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School

On June 13, Assistant Secretary Jay Williams, delivered the commencement address to Benjamin Banneker Academic High School. Since its founding in 1981, the school has maintained a 100 percent college acceptance rate. Read the blog post.

The 2016 graduates of Benjamin Banneker Academic High School.


Indiana Business Research Center Launches Innovation Index

On July 1st, the Indiana Business Research Center (IBRC) launched an Innovation Index that will provide insight into the innovation capacity and innovative output of a region. Visit the IBRC website to learn more.


Department of Labor Announces Availability of ApprenticeshipUSA Industry Intermediary Contracts

The Department of Commerce is a key partner in the Department of Labor’s (DOL) effort to double the number of registered apprenticeship programs nationwide. On June 30, DOL announced the availability of up to 12 ApprenticeshipUSA Industry Intermediary Contracts to national organizations to start or scale apprenticeship programs that meet the occupational and skill needs of their industries. The contracts will support employers pursuing apprenticeship training across the United States in key sectors. image