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“Building Back Better” with Improved American Infrastructure

EDA’s infrastructure projects vary in scope and size Each year, a significant amount of EDA funding is allocated to support locally-driven infrastructure projects under EDA’s Public Works (PDF) and Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) (PDF) programs.

Under the Biden Administration, improving our country’s infrastructure is critical in helping America build back better. The President’s American Jobs Plan outlines a variety of ways to specifically improve our infrastructure, pointing to many of the categories in which EDA specializes when it comes to helping distressed communities: building and improving roadways, railways, ports, and airports; ensuring clean drinking water and high-speed broadband; and revitalizing critical building infrastructure for businesses, healthcare institutions, schools.

EDA’s investments improve technology-based facilities that use distance learning networks, smart rooms, and smart buildings.

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Zeeland Clean Water Plant Leverages EDA Grant to Build Capacity

Aerial view of the Zeeland Clean Water Plant in Zeeland, Michigan Only about 5,500 people live in Zeeland, Michigan, but that number can triple during the workday as employees flock to several manufacturing businesses in the area.

The influx puts extra demand on the city’s wastewater treatment plant, originally built in 1915. However, thanks to a $2 million grant from EDA in 2014, combined with a matching local contribution, the Zeeland Clean Water Plant was expanded and can now easily handle the extra demand.

The $14 million project, completed in June 2018, has helped boost the local economy. According to grantee estimates, as of September 2020, the project has led to more than 275 jobs and has generated more than $88 million in private investment. Two Zeeland businesses – one focused on making auto parts and the other on plastic products – are responsible for a significant share of the job creation.

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EDA Helps Fuel Pelican, Alaska’s Economy with Hydroelectric Power Plant

Pelican, Alaska is located on Chichagof Island in Alaska’s Panhandle Fishing on Alaska’s Chichagof Island isn’t just for humans: more than 1,600 bears live on this sprawling and isolated landmass in the Alaskan Panhandle roughly the size of Delaware – one of the few places in the U.S. where bears outnumber people!

While the opportunities for sports angling and commercial fishing should make the http://pelican.net/ – Chichagof Island’s principal settlement – a destination spot for fishing and other pursuits, a power infrastructure issue has plagued the town over the past few years.

A 1940s-era hydroelectric plant supplies Pelican’s power source. The Pelican Hydroelectric Facility provides fresh drinking water to the community, water for its fish processors, and electricity for business and residential properties.

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Spotlight on Commerce: Mary Owen-Thomas, Regional Public Affairs Specialist-Chicago, Economic Development Administration

Mary Owen-Thomas, Regional Public Affairs Specialist-Chicago, Economic Development Administration I am a Regional Public Affairs Specialist with the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration’s Chicago regional office. I handle public affairs for the region, which includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. My goal is to raise the visibility of the agency and highlight the amazing work of our grantees. I do a lot of writing – press releases, success stories, newsletters, social media copy – and conduct media outreach.

I’m a storyteller by nature with more than 15 years of journalism experience. My favorite part of my job is talking to people about their economic development projects and then and then turning it into a relatable story to share with the public. Communicating these stories are important because the projects within EDA create jobs, spur entrepreneurship, help small business and improve the conditions of not only my region, but also in communities across this country.

I was born in Detroit, Michigan, and raised in nearby Dearborn – in the shadow of Henry Ford’s historic and belching River Rouge plant. Growing up in the Detroit area in the 1980s and 1990s gave me a unique perspective into how a whole region can be devastated by economic disinvestment.

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University of Oregon’s University Center Uses Solar Eclipse to Springboard Planning for Economic Resiliency in the Beaver State

The August 2017 eclipse is seen in this NASA photo taken in Madras, Oregon On August 21, 2017, millions of Americans bore witness to a once-in-a-lifetime event: the first solar eclipse viewable across the entire mainland United States in nearly a century. Oregon, where the eclipse was first seen, realized an unprecedented surge of visitors as hundreds of thousands of people flocked to the Beaver State for days.

In Eugene, the University of Oregon’s University Center took a leading role in evaluating the state’s response to the eclipse and identifying key learnings that will help Oregon plan for the next big event.

The University of Oregon’s Economic Development Administration University Center (EDAUC) links the resources of the University of Oregon with communities across the state to enhance sustainable economic development.

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The University of Tennessee Helps Rural Communities Realize Untapped Assets

Successful Blueway Trail project in Claiborne County improved access to the Powell River The University of Tennessee University Center (UTUC) has created an innovative planning process to assist local communities in realizing their economic potential. The UT Asset-Based Planning Program is specifically designed to identify all available assets and opportunities in order to best promote economic development.

Through the Asset-Based Planning Program, UTUC is partnering with two economic development organizations through this initiative – both the Tennessee Development Districts Association (TDDA) and Tennessee Economic and Community Development (TNECD) are committed to revitalizing local communities through economic development and quality-of-life services.

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EDA Supports the University of Albany’s Work in Cybersecurity to Help Protect Businesses in the New York Region

University of Albany Digital Forensics and Cybersecurity FACETS CENTER EDA partnered with the University of Albany’s Forensics, Analytics, Complexity, Energy and Transportation Security (FACETS) Center through our University Center program in 2011 to foster cybersecurity innovation, public-private partnerships, and cyber job growth in the New York Capital District. This University Center is building an engine of economic growth through collaborations, research, entrepreneurial opportunities, and jobs in the field of cybersecurity.

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Spotlight on Commerce: Ashley Zuelke, Program Manager, Denver Regional Office, U.S. Economic Development Administration

Ashley Zuelke, Program Manager, Denver Regional Office, U.S. Economic Development Administration I serve as a Program Manager in the Denver Regional Office at the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA). I joined EDA in August 2020 to support economic response to and recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. My team and I work with applicants throughout our 10-state region, manage grants, and ensure we are making impactful investments, such as capitalizing Revolving Loan Funds that provide gap financing to small businesses, partnering with states to support rural resiliency planning, equipping the next generation of nurses, and more. These investments advance job growth and contribute to economic resilience, quality of life, and opportunity – objectives that have driven me since the beginning of my career.

I graduated from the University of Montana in 2009 - at the height of the Great Recession - with degrees in journalism and international relations.

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UF Innovate Collaboratory for Women Innovators Helps Florida Woman Empower People of All Ages to Navigate Technology with Ease

Keeping up with technology can be a challenge even for those who use it on a day-to-day basis. Older adults often face additional challenges in a world that is increasingly dependent on new forms of technology.

Ming Yang is a 25-year-old from Florida who serves as a caregiver for her mother. She is often called upon to help navigate the online world of health insurance, completing necessary applications.

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Minnesota Economic Development District Executive Director Strives for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Economic Development

Region Nine Development Commission (RNDC) is an EDA-designated Economic Development District (EDD) focused on fostering economic development in a nine-county region in southern Minnesota.

Located in Mankato, RNDC’s service area is predominantly white but quickly diversifying. To address diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) issues, RNDC infuses these efforts into its economic development work.

“It’s not just an addendum chapter or vague language in a plan. Rather, we incorporate DEI principles into all the work that we are doing,” said Nicole Griensewic, Executive Director of RNDC.

In 2015, as the population became more diverse, Griensewic was questioned about how RNDC planned to incorporate the changing demographics into their plans to deal with equity gaps.

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