Economic and Community Development Networks and Partners
In addition to the program staff assigned to various state, regional, and district offices, federal agencies can extend their reach by partnering with nonfederal entities to deliver economic development services across the US. Information about various networks and related resources is provided below, and organized under the following topic headings:
Locally-owned strategic planning is critical to facilitating regional economic development efforts. Effective planning creates a road map, which practitioners and policymakers can use to identify and take the steps necessary to realize their desired economic vision. This is central to the bottom-up strategy of working with local communities to help them meet goals set and achieved locally with support from federal agencies. In addition to the EDA planning partners shown here, several other federal agencies work closely with similar partners to develop and implement long term strategies for transportation, rural development and related regional goals. In many cases, these organizations and plans present excellent opportunities to coordinate, enhance and leverage each other’s work.
EDA’s National Network of Regional Economic Development Partners includes:
- Over 380 multi-jurisdiction Economic Development Districts (EDDs). Each EDD helps lead the locally-based, regionally driven economic development planning process that leverages the involvement of the public, private and non-profit sectors to establish a strategic blueprint (e.g., Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy, or CEDS) for regional economic growth and diversification.
- 58 EDA-designated University Centers, which are required to devote the majority of their funding to respond to technical assistance requests originating from organizations located in the economically distressed portions of their service regions.
- Click here for EDA’s listing of National Economic Development Organizations, associations and related partners.
Planning organizations supported by other federal agencies and programs:
Like EDA EDDs and University Centers, the entities below can be valuable partners to engage with for resource coordination, program alignment and to help advance regional economic development strategies. Follow the links below to find development and planning partners near you:
- The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) works with the Appalachian states to support a network of multicounty planning and development organizations, or Local Development Districts (LDDs), throughout the Region. The 73 LDDs cover all 420 counties in Appalachia.
- Delta Regional Authority (DRA) supports a network of Local Development Districts in its service area, that help to identify effective and impactful economic development projects for consideration for DRA investment.
- Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO) and Regional/Rural Transportation Planning Organizations (RPOs) are created and designated to carry out the transportation planning process, including plans for transportation improvement programs (TIPs) that are submitted through the state for DOT funding consideration.
- Rural Regional Development Centers are four university based organizations that collaborate with their local Land Grant Universities and the USDA to provide planning assistance to rural regions participating in USDA RD’s Stronger Economies Together (SET) program.
EDA provides flexible program grants to eligible public and nonprofit entities that develop strategic plans, invest in infrastructure and equipment, and undertake capacity building projects to support conditions that allow large and small businesses to thrive. Other federal agencies partner with local organizations to provide direct assistance to individuals and businesses –helping them to find affordable capital, enter new markets, refine business plans and improve processes that can make them more stable and profitable assets for the region and the US. The following organizations, networks and centers are important components of the regional ecosystem that supports innovation, entrepreneurship, investment and broad based economic opportunities.
U.S. Department of Commerce Resources:
- The U.S. Department of Commerce provides technical assistance to manufacturers through the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). MEP Centers work with manufacturers to develop new products and customers, expand and diversify markets, adopt new technology, and enhance value within supply chains. Operating as a public private partnership, the MEP National Network™ has centers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
- The Manufacturing USA network is administered by the interagency Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office, headquartered at NIST. The network consists of 14 manufacturing innovation institutes that work with manufacturers and their stakeholders to solve industry-relevant advanced manufacturing challenges, overcome technical hurdles, and enable innovative new products.
- Identify the Manufacturing USA institute that best represents the priorities and objectives of your organization.
- The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) administers a nationwide network of Minority Business Assistance Centers, which provide minority business owners with technical assistance on critical topics such as securing capital, competing for contracts, identifying strategic partners and becoming export-ready.
- Locate the MBDA Business Center near you.
- The U.S. Commercial Services, part of DOC’s International Trade Administration, provides technical assistance on export planning and finance to help US companies enter global markets, through its network of more than 100 U.S. Commercial Service offices nationwide and in more than 70 international offices.
- DOC’s Select USA program can assist regional planners with another aspect of global trade; helping local stakeholders with efforts to attract foreign investment that brings jobs and opportunities to their community. SelectUSA assists U.S. economic development organizations to compete globally for investment by providing information, a platform for international marketing, and high-level advocacy.
Partner Networks supported by other Federal Agencies:
- The Small Business Administration (SBA) supports a national network of small business assistance centers that provide technical assistance and consulting services to help local entrepreneurs start, grow and improve the profitability of their businesses.
- View information about all of SBA’s various local and regional assistance centers and network partners, which include:
- The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) supports a national network of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) that help businesses seeking to sell products and services to federal, state, and/or local governments. PTAC advisers can help you register your business as a government vendor, obtain certifications, find and prepare bids, and understand post-award requirements.
- Find a PTAC near you.
One frequent barrier to success for many US entrepreneurs and businesses is the ability to find and secure affordable start-up and growth capital. A number of federal programs have programs that provide gap financing, loans and guarantees to address this need. Typically, these programs work with local or regional intermediaries such as community banks, credit unions, venture funds and other financial institutions, to provide financing for clients that may be overlooked or underserved by traditional financing sources. See below for more information about these federally-supported capital resources, and how to access them in your area.
- EDA Revolving Loan Fund program. Through EDA’s Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) grant program, applicants can request funds to establish a Revolving Loan Fund (RLF), in order to operate a lending program that makes loans to businesses that cannot obtain traditional bank financing and to governmental entities for public infrastructure.
- USDA Rural Development’s Intermediary Relending Program (PDF) USDA-RD’s IRP program provides low-interest loans to local intermediaries that re-lend to businesses and for community development projects in rural communities.
- Contact your local Rural Development office for a current list of intermediaries who manage these loan funds. You can also inquire about lenders participating in USDA-RD’s business loan and loan guarantee programs.
- U.S. Treasury Department’s CDFI Fund provides financing to CDFIs throughout the country that, in turn, provide financing to businesses, individuals and economic development projects across the country. The CDFI webpage lists Certified CDFIs that can be sorted by name, location and type (bank, credit union, venture capital fund), and provides contacts for more information.
- SBA’s MicroLoan Program works with designated intermediary lenders across the country to provide financing to small businesses. SBA also works with Certified Development Companies (CDCs), which are non-profit corporations set up to contribute to the economic development of its community. CDCs are certified and regulated by the SBA.
The capacity of regions to effectively address the creation and/or retention of high-quality jobs, especially in distressed areas, is a core objective for EDA and our local partners. An important federal partner in this mission is the Department of Labor’s Employment Training Administration (DOL ETA), which administers various grant resources and related service networks to equip American workers with the skills they need to secure positions in high demand sectors and industries. EDA stakeholders can find productive collaboration partners in the following entities that offer resources and technical assistance to job seekers and employers:
- Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs): WIBs have several important functions in the public workforce system. They determine how many One Stop Career Centers are needed in their area, where they will be located, and how they will be operated. The boards analyze workforce information to identify targeted industries and plan for future growth.
- In coordination with the Department of Education, ETA established the American Job Center network, that identifies online and in-person workforce development services that are available across the country, as part of a single network.
- Find the American Job Center located near you.
- SkillsCommons Open Source Library for Workforce Related Curricula - The US Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) program has created a free and open online library called SkillsCommons containing free and open learning materials and program support materials for job-driven workforce development in key sectors such as manufacturing, healthcare, energy, and information technology. SkillsCommons.org is designed and managed by the California State University and its MERLOT program for the Department of Labor’s TAACCCT program under a 4+ year cooperative agreement. Thousands of resources are already available for download, featuring curricula for both short and long-term courses leading to industry-certified credentials.
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