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


Press Release

U.S. Department of Commerce Names Aspen Institute as National Partner for Talent Development

Aspen’s Workforce Strategies Initiative to launch the Communities that Work Partnership

WASHINGTON –– U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today named the Aspen Institute Workforce Strategies Initiative (AspenWSI) as the Department of Commerce’s national partner for a new program to strengthen regional economies by equipping American workers with the skills needed for 21st century jobs.

AspenWSI has received a $500,000 grant from the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to develop the Communities that Work Partnership, which will seek to build more effective, employer-led workforce initiatives across the country. AspenWSI will competitively select six teams from different regions, comprised of leaders in industry, government, education and workforce/economic development. These six groups will receive technical assistance and undergo leadership development through the Communities that Work Partnership, with the goal of strengthening their ability to boost skills development.

In late spring, AspenWSI will release a Request for Proposals from leadership teams interested in applying to be one of the six participating communities.

“The Obama Administration has undertaken unprecedented efforts to support the skills development of our workforce because a labor force prepared for 21st century jobs is critical to our national competitiveness,” said Secretary Pritzker. “This new partnership between AspenWSI and the Department of Commerce is an innovative effort to engage regional stakeholder groups in industry-driven skills development that will benefit our workers, keep our businesses strong, and help grow our economy.”

“In today’s economy, efforts to help workers build skills and connect to good jobs are more important than ever. I’m proud that the Aspen Institute will be working with the Commerce Department to engage a diverse set of leaders from business, education, the public and non-profit sectors, and others in support of their efforts to build opportunities for working Americans to succeed,” said Walter Isaacson, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute.

“The work of AspenWSI has frequently highlighted the critical role that leaders play in building strong organizations that can manage the complex set of relationships and activities that lead to successful workforce development efforts. We are delighted to be partnering with the Commerce Department to develop and document a shared leadership approach that can meet the challenges America’s communities now face,” said Maureen Conway, VP and executive director Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program.

To expand effective models of regional talent development partnerships beyond the six original teams, Aspen will develop new learning tools and case studies describing how local ecosystems can work in new ways to grow the region’s talent pipeline for jobs in demand today and in the future. These will serve as guides for communities around the country.

In November 2014, Commerce issued a Federal Funding Opportunity announcing that it would seek a national partner to launch a regional learning exchange that will identify, promote, and expand on successful best practices for industry-driven regional partnerships for talent development. AspenWSI was selected from among a dozen other applicants. This new effort will receive additional financial support from The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)
The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation's regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.