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EDA Highlights for Fiscal Year 2012


As the United States continued to recover from the deepest economic downturn in recent history, EDA investments supported economic growth in distressed communities and promoted long-term strategies and projects that will provide the foundation for business growth and job creation for many years to come.

During 2012, EDA continued to help regions strategically build strong economic ecosystems that will support entrepreneurship and business growth, enhance and grow their existing economic assets and create well-paying jobs in growing sectors. By investing in bottom-up regional economic development EDA helped communities devise new, well-thought-out, sustainable strategies based on their unique assets.


Across the country, rural and urban communities are looking for new ideas and new engines for job creation. In response to this need, EDA offered a series of competitive grants for regional initiatives. These grants brought together various regional players with strategic action plans forming new and innovative partnerships between business, higher education, and government.


One of these competitions— the Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge—focused on strengthening rural communities. In line with other silo-busting efforts of the Obama Administration, EDA, along with 12 federal partner agencies, implemented the challenge which offered $9 million to help fund efforts that accelerate economic and job growth across rural regions.

Joining EDA in funding this challenge were the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Appalachian Regional Commission, and the Delta Regional Authority. It was supported by nine other federal agencies.

The competition funded 13 rural partnerships (see sidebar) focusing on a wide range of industrial sectors, including advanced manufacturing, agribusiness, energy and natural resources, technology, and tourism. By leveraging local assets, the selected industry clusters and partnerships will be able to do even more to help small enterprises foster innovation, increase competitiveness, and employ highly skilled workers.


  • Alaska: Bristol Bay Jobs Accelerator Project – Bristol Bay Native Association
  • Connecticut: New England Food Hub Cluster Initiative – Wholesome Wave
  • Illinois: Henry-Rural Rock Island-Mercer County Economic Development Consortium – Bi-State Regional Commission and Henry County Economic Development Partnership
  • Kansas: Project 17 - Advanced Manufacturing Institute at Kansas State University
  • Louisiana-Arkansas: I-20 Corridor Regional Accelerator - Louisiana Tech University and Winrock International Institute
  • Mississippi: Accelerating Jobs and Innovation through Community and Economic Development in Rural Mississippi -Mississippi State University
  • New Hampshire: Northern Tier Farm and Forest Jobs Accelerator – Northern Community Investment Corporation
  • North Carolina: WNC AgriVentures—Cultivating Jobs and Innovation Project - AdvantageWest Economic Development Group and Land-of-Sky Regional Council
  • North Carolina: Northern Carolina Eastern Region Aerospace and Automotive Cluster Project - North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center/ North Carolina State University
  • South Carolina: Southern Carolina Alliance Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge Southern Carolina Regional Development Alliance
  • Virginia: Appalachian Spring—Using Asset-Based and Creative Economy Methods to Catalyze Rural Job Acceleration 'Round the Mountain: Southwest Virginia's Artisan Network
  • West Virginia: Southern West Virginia Rural Jobs Accelerator Partnership - Marshall University Research Corporation
  • West Virginia: Value Chain Cluster Initiative - Natural Capital Investment Fund


In order to maintain its competitive edge in the global economy, the United States also needs to make more things that the rest of the world wants to buy. In FY 2012, EDA joined six other federal agencies in the Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, a competitive grant process designed to support initiatives that strengthen advanced manufacturing at the local level.

The 10 public-private partnerships funded by the challenge (see sidebar) consist of colleges, nonprofits, and other local stakeholders that in turn provide services to small and large businesses in a particular area. The $20 million in total awards made available by this challenge are helping the winning clusters support local efforts to spur job creation through a variety of projects, including initiatives that connect innovative small suppliers with large companies, link research with the start-ups that can commercialize new ideas, and train workers with skills that firms need to capitalize on business opportunities.

The awards will help regional clusters grow by strengthening their connections to regional economic development opportunities and advanced manufacturing assets, helping develop a skilled and diverse advanced manufacturing workforce, increasing exports, encouraging the development of small businesses, and accelerating innovation in technology.

The winning initiatives are expected to train a total of 1,000 workers and help nearly 650 companies leverage their cluster's resources in their regions and create jobs across the country.


  • Arizona: Growing the Southern Arizona Aerospace and Defense Region - Arizona Commerce Authority  
  • California: Advanced Manufacturing Medical/Biosciences Pipeline for Economic Development (AM2PED) -Workforce Development Board of Contra Costa County
  • Michigan: Innovation Realization: Building and Supporting an Advanced Contract Manufacturing Cluster in Southeast Michigan - Southeast Michigan Community Alliance
  • New York: A Proposal to Accelerate Innovations in Advanced Manufacturing of Thermal and Environmental Control Systems - Syracuse University  
  • New York: Rochester Regional Optics, Photonics, and Imaging Accelerator - University of Rochester
  • Oklahoma: Manufacturing Improvement Program for the Oil and Gas Industry Supply Chain and Marketing Cluster - Oklahoma State University
  • Pennsylvania: Agile Electro-Mechanical Product Accelerator - Innovation Works, Inc.  
  • Pennsylvania: Greater Philadelphia Advanced Manufacturing Innovation and Skills Accelerator - Delaware Valley Industrial Resource Center
  • Tennessee: AMP! The Advanced Manufacturing and Prototyping Center of East Tennessee - Technology 2020
  • Washington and Oregon: Innovations in Advanced Materials and Metals - Columbia River Economic Development Council  


In 2012, EDA participated in the third round of the i6 Challenge and made seven new awards. This national competition was first launched in 2010 to advance American innovation, foster entrepreneurship, increase the commercialization of research and ideas into viable companies, and create jobs. It seeks to accelerate innovative product development, spur the formation of start-ups, and create small businesses by supporting Proof of Concept Centers at universities and research consortiums across the country.

 The 19 winners from all three rounds of the competition are helping to jumpstart the production of emerging technologies and revolutionize manufacturing processes. The Proof of Concept Centers that have been funded incorporate a range of services, such as technology and market evaluation and business planning, that are critical to regional economic growth and job creation.

The i6 Challenge is led by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The office leads efforts to promote innovation-based, high-growth entrepreneurship, develops policy recommendations, and implements initiatives to commercialize technology developed through university and federally-funded research.


  • New Mexico: Arrowhead Innovation Network (Las Cruces)
  • Florida: FirstWaVE Venture Center (Tampa)
  • Indiana: Energy Storage Proof of Concept Center (Crane)
  • Wisconsin: Wisconsin Innovates for Success Proof of Concept Center (Madison)
  • Missouri: Digital Sandbox Proof of Concept Center (Kansas City)
  • Virginia: Virginia Innovation Project (Charlottesville)
  • California: University of California–Davis, and the Sacramento Area Regional Technology Alliance (Davis)
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