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Statement from the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

This August will mark EDA’s 50th anniversary. Since its establishment under the Public Works and Economic Development Act, EDA has been supporting community strategies to help them adapt to and thrive in the ever-changing economy. During my first year as Assistant Secretary, I have had the opportunity to travel the country and see the impact of EDA’s investments at the local level first-hand. I have witnessed the breadth and depth of EDA investments across the country. From Alaska to Georgia, and many places in between, I have met with community members whose economies were completely revived with help from EDA investments.

While EDA’s investments are locally focused, the collective impact is felt nationally. Strengthening local and regional economies ultimately strengthens the national economy. Moreover, in our emerging role as the integrator of federal economic development efforts, EDA has led a number of multi-agency initiatives focused on growing the manufacturing sector, fostering innovation, and supporting regional resiliency. Fiscal Year 2014 was an exciting year for the Economic Development Administration in all of those areas.

In Fiscal Year 2014, EDA invested approximately $242 million in 657 locally-driven economic development projects nationwide. These investments included approximately $170 million in construction projects that many communities determined would enhance their local economic development efforts. Grantees expect these investments will help create or retain approximately 28,680 jobs and generate nearly $8 billion in private investment.

In addition to the nearly $250 million in investments across the country, EDA made significant progress on helping communities grow their economic ecosystems. FY14 was the first year EDA received funding under the America COMPETES Act as a separate and distinct program, which opened up new types of economic development projects. Our Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE) continued to help EDA support and foster innovation across the country through the launch of its Regional Innovation Strategies Program and with the assistance of a newly appointed National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE).

Early in the Fiscal year, we provided $20.5 million in Make it in America Challenge grants. The programs are designed to encourage U.S. companies to keep, expand or re-shore their manufacturing operations—and jobs—in America, and to entice foreign companies to build facilities and make their products here. So far, these efforts are working as foreign-direct investment has been increasing and proving that America is absolutely open for business.

The Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) program is a multi-agency initiative designed to revolutionize the way federal agencies leverage economic development funds. It encourages communities to develop comprehensive economic development strategies that will strengthen their competitive edge for attracting global manufacturer and supply chain investments. In May, the first 12 communities were designated as “manufacturing communities” under IMCP. We have provided technical assistance and a federal liaison to these communities to help them enhance their manufacturing sectors.

EDA also unveiled its latest economic development tool: the Cluster Mapping website and registry, which was created by the Harvard Business School Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness. The Cluster Mapping website provides unprecedented amounts of data about clusters in a single place.

I am very proud of EDA’s successes during my first year as Assistant Secretary, and I look forward to building on that success in FY15 and beyond.


Jay Williams

Signature of Jay Williams, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

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