RNTA Past Projects

The following list includes current RNTA projects. For completed research and tools, please reference the EDA Research Reports and the Tools for Economic Development. To learn more about these RNTA projects, please contact [email protected].

Research and Evaluation Projects

  1. Advancing Economic Development in Persistently Poor Communities

    Economic Innovation Group (EIG) 2021-2022
    This project aims to understand why certain types of places remain persistently poor and chronically under-developed.  EIG will identify and analyze areas of persistent poverty in the United States, develop a typology of persistently poor places based on their needs to better inform future policy approaches, and assess how effective past EDA investments have been in alleviating deprivation in areas suffering from persistent poverty. For more information, please view the award announcement.

    Final Report (PDF)
  2. National Economic Resilience Data Explorer

    Argonne National Laboratory, 2020-2022
    In partnership with the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), Argonne developed the National Economic Resilience Data Explorer (NERDE) to help a variety of users across the country with local economic recovery and resilience analysis. The tool consolidates information and data on economic distress criteria, including COVID-19 's impact on local economies and information about industry clusters. Information is available at the Economic Development District (EDD) and county levels.
  3. What Works in Rural: Strategies for Rural Economies in the Age of Automation

    Rural Innovation Strategies, Inc. (RISI), 2020-2022
    Through this Research and Evaluation award, Rural Innovation Strategies, Inc. (RISI) assessed the state of rural economies. Accompanying this research is concrete recommendations on how EDA can best move forward with future-focused rural economic development initiatives in the current environment. Training and support for rural communities was provided on best practices for working with EDA, with a focus on digital economy ecosystem work. RISI delivered a series of webinars and associated toolkits aimed at introducing a broad swath of rural communities to the EDA ecosystem and demonstrated how rural communities can leverage EDA funding to build thriving digital economy ecosystems.
  4. RCAP-NLC Rural-Urban Connections Research & Policy Project (PDF)

    Rural Community Assistance Partnership, Inc. (RCAP), 2019-2021
    This Research and Evaluation project by Rural Community Assistance Partnership, Inc. (RCAP) built on the National League of Cities Institute’s (NLC) prior research by conducting a review of available literature on the drivers of rural-urban linkages, discovering the practical implications of the NLC's findings and disseminating the results of this analysis and economic development tools needed to support regional efforts that create economically meaningful linkages between urban and rural areas in ways that leverage existing assets and ensures everyone in the region benefits from growth. Over the course of approximately 18 months, RCAP and NLC reviewed literature and summarized key themes, gathered evidence and conducted data analysis; convened urban and rural leaders to inform research and laid the foundation for longer term partnerships; and widely disseminated the findings and tools to NLC's and RCAP's vast memberships, as well as other national audiences, via appealing and digestible data visualizations, policy briefs, workshops, blogs and webinars.
  5. Evaluating the Success of EDA’s Disaster Awards from FY12 Supplemental Funds - Evaluation of Impacts Using the APRED Tool

    Trustees of Indiana University, 2019-2021
    This Research and Evaluation project awarded to Indiana University School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering (IU-SICE) supported an evaluation of the success of the awards made under the FY12 Disaster Supplemental Appropriation; and in order to accomplish that task, a disaster resilience tool and effective measure for long-term economic recovery success was developed. The resulting map-based platform, APRED, promotes the development of those tools and a concise evaluation and validation of the approach using the FY12 awards as data. APRED also provides policy makers with information on the disaster resilience and vulnerability profile of all counties across the United States.
  6. Regional Economic Development as a New Theoretical Framework: Integrating Data Science, Complex Adaptive Systems and Social Sciences for Precision Policies

    Trustees of Indiana University, 2017-2021
    This Research and Evaluation project awarded to the Trustees of Indiana University supported the development of a model and an academic discipline to enable policymakers and practitioners to create development strategies and polices that fit precisely with a region's characteristics and capacities. This research aimed to advance theory building about regional economic development from what it is today, something of an economic-analytical core plus an amalgam of add-ons from institutionalism to sustainability to social capital (and others), to a more unified and comprehensive framework to understand the interplay of the "add-ons," or disciplinary domains.
  7. Independent Study on Savings Associated with Public and Private Mitigation

    National Institute of Building Sciences, 2017-2018
    Through this Research and Evaluation grant, the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) developed a framework for estimating benefit-cost ratios (BCR) for hazard mitigation based on the 2005 Mitigation Saves study. The team identified specific mitigation measures and estimated their individual BCR which is aggregated to calculate the BCR. Under this project, the cost-effectiveness of a representative sample of EDA mitigation programs for non-building utility and transportation infrastructure and outside projects was examined as a valuable example of the benefits of mitigation.
  8. The Regional Economic Impacts of University Research/Science Parks

    University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 2017
    Through this Research and Evaluation grant, the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Greensboro gathered a portfolio of impact information from each university in the United States associated with a research/science park through which UNC created a detailed inventory of assessment/evaluation practices by park universities, along with their impact on the development of their regional economy, and offered an information portfolio of current activities to inform other universities.
  9. Manufacturing in America: The Proposed Regional Economic Analysis of the New York Nanotechnology Cluster

    Georgetown University, 2016-2018
    Through this Research and Evaluation grant, Georgetown University conducted a study that provided a regional analysis of the New York Nanotechnology innovation cluster. This study was particularly relevant for policymakers and business decision makers in the region. The approach was to present a clear, readable description of the achievements, methods used, and the current challenges facing the region. To this end, the study emphasizes empirical research, including interviews with key players, mining the historical record, and references and acknowledges the value and applicability of certain relevant models, such as the considerable academic work on innovation clusters.
  10. Integrating Economic Development Across the Federal Government

    New York University, 2016-2017
    Through this Research and Evaluation grant, New York University (NYU) developed a toolkit of information about federal economic development programs that can be easily used by local stakeholders; and is categorized in a way that stakeholders can readily know which aspect(s) of economic development the program serves. NYU delivered 6-10 case studies focused on projects and/or places of notably successful economic development initiatives that resulted from funding collaborations across various federal (and potentially other) programs. An assessment was also conducted of CEDS requirements and the criteria used by other federal economic development programs and led to a set of policy recommendations for EDA and others to consider.
  11. Research, Evaluation & Development to Enhance StatsAmerica

    Indiana Business Research Center (IBRC), 2016-2017
    The Indiana Business Research Center (IBRC) used this Research and Evaluation grant to significantly enhance and improve StatsAmerica, the EDA-supported website that provides one of the most widely used sets of tools for economic development. StatsAmerica is a portal to essential economic and demographic data for every county in the U.S., designed to facilitate assessment and monitoring of the performance of any region in the nation. The value of StatsAmerica to users was greatly enhanced by creating new data tools and ways to visualize and use data; researching and creating new, complete “no-holes” datasets that overcome the limitations in existing public data (e.g., estimating the values that are undisclosed in BLS and BEA data); researching and developing an improved version of StatsAmerica’s Innovation Index; and many more enhancements.
  12. The Pier Dataset Development Project

    The University of Central Florida Board of Trustees, 2015-2019
    This Research and Evaluation project awarded to the University of Central Florida Board of Trustees aimed to design and deploy a baseline Performance Index for Entrepreneurial Resources (PIER) dataset and leverage this dataset to provide a robust comparative index that longitudinally highlights the performance outcomes of entrepreneurial programs such as incubators, accelerators, university innovation centers, and coworking spaces. The dataset includes key metrics that enable tracking of comparative performance of programs that have evolved into hybrid programs that contain two or more programmatic or facility models within a single center. PIER was designed to incorporate new models, and longitudinally track performance outcomes for the entrepreneurs and young companies they serve.
  13. Tri-State Regional Development Case Study

    Alliance for Regional Development, 2015-2018
    This Research and Evaluation award funded the Alliance for Regional Development’s case study focused on the Chicago tri-state metro region (the Megaregion), comprising 21 counties in southeastern Wisconsin, northeastern Illinois and Northwest Indiana, as a case study for regional collaboration that can be replicated across the United States. The vehicle for this collaboration was the Alliance, which was created following the 2012 publication of OECD Territorial Reviews: The Chicago Tri-State Metropolitan Area, United States by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation & Development. The OECD assessed the Megaregion’s economic strengths and weaknesses and offered recommendations for improvement.
  14. Innovative Metrics for Economic Development - Proof of Concept Study (PDF)

    SRI International, 2015-2017
    This Research and Evaluation grant enabled SRI International's Center for Science, Technology, and Economic Development (CSTED) to build directly on EDA's previous evaluation and assessment work to identify robust indicators and measures of program activities/outputs, capacity-building program outcomes, and economic development outcomes. These indicators were used to establish and justify general-purpose program metrics that are intuitive, reliable, and independently validated. A metrics tool kit was developed for EDA program staff, regional staff, grantees, and other practitioners, including model protocols for the collection and use of selected metrics. By using the toolkit, potential and new grantees and others can adopt common and easily understood program-reporting protocols and generate data appropriate for continuous program monitoring and assessment by EDA staff and others.
  15. “Supporting Reshoring in Communities: Tools and Strategies for Economic Developers”

    International Economic Development Council (IEDC), 2014-2017
    In September 2014, EDA awarded $360,000 to the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) for a two-year project to support research on reshoring and outreach to help economic developers and American companies return jobs to U.S. soil. Through this support from EDA, IEDC has developed an online toolkit entitled, “Supporting Reshoring in Communities: Tools and Strategies for Economic Developers.” This toolkit is the most comprehensive guide to date that walks economic developers through the reshoring process, from convincing companies of the cost benefits down to the final site selection process. The toolkit is helping economic development practitioners learn how to incorporate reshoring into existing marketing, lead generation, and business retention and expansion efforts. It also offers advice on creating a strategic reshoring plan, which examines how workforce, clusters, business climate, and quality of life factor into companies’ reshoring decisions. Particular attention is paid to supply chains, including strategies to help offshored companies find and switch to domestic suppliers.
  16. U.S. Cluster Mapping Project

    Harvard Business School, 2010-2014
    This Research and Evaluation award enabled a collaboration between EDA and the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness at Harvard Business School. The goal is to help create connections within and between industry clusters to build vibrant regional economic ecosystems. This is a federal economic development initiative that aims to strengthen U.S. competitiveness by helping clusters and regions understand and improve their economic composition and performance. Now in an “alpha” version, the U.S. Cluster Mapping Project consists of an interactive website that offers a unique set of tools that are designed to help businesses, policymakers, and researchers better understand the dynamics of clusters.

National Technical Assistance Projects

  1. Economic Future of Nuclear Host Communities Technical Assistance

    Smart Growth America (SGA), Nuclear Decommissioning Collaborative (NDC), NADO Research Foundation (NADO RF), the Center on Creative Land Recycling (CCLR), 2021-2023
    This project funds a technical assistance program to increase issue awareness, build local capacity, and better prepare nuclear closure communities (NCCs) and their economies for a post-nuclear power plant future.

  2. National Economic Development District (EDD) Leadership Capacity Building Initiative

    National Association of Development Organizations Research Foundation (NADO - RF), (2021-2023)
    This project developed a national network of Economic Development Leaders. Activities included the creation of an EDD Executive Leadership Curriculum, EDD Executive Leadership Peer Mentoring Exchange, and EDD Emerging Leaders Academy.

  3. Inclusive Recovery Initiative

    New Growth Innovation Network (NGIN), National Association of Development Organizations Research Foundation (NADO - RF), (2021-2023)
    The Inclusive Recovery Initiative was a national program supporting Economic Development Organizations (EDOs) and Districts (EDDs) in embedding inclusive and equitable growth strategies into their COVID-19 recovery strategies and in the development of regional Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies (CEDS).This project provided insights, best practices and training for a National Community of Practice on inclusive economic recovery from coronavirus economic impacts that culminated in the development of an Inclusive Recovery Toolkit. This guide highlights examples and best practices from more than 35 Economic Development Districts (EDDs) and Organizations in more than 20 states across the country.

  4. Predevelopment Training and Project Accelerator Program for Small, Rural, and Underserved Communities

    The Milken Institute, (2021-2023)
    This award established the Community Infrastructure Center which provides direct technical assistance to small, rural, and distressed communities to help advance their projects from initial ideation through pre-project development to completion.

  5. Improving the Capacity of Revolving Loan Fund Recipients

    Institute for Local Self Reliance (ILSR), Recast City, (2021-2023)
    This project established the Equitable Lending Leaders Program, an online cohort program that brought together leaders from revolving loan funds (RLFs) across the country to learn, adopt best practices in equitable small-business lending. The cohort curriculum covered a wide variety of topics, including decision-making processes and underwriting criteria, marketing outreach, and the accessibility of technical assistance.

  6. Innovative Finance Project

    Blueprint Local LLC, Nowak Metro Finance Lab at Drexel University, 2021-2023
    The project paired direct technical assistance for six regionally distinct economic development organizations with a broad research effort to provide innovations in capital product offerings for entrepreneurs across the country.  The result of these efforts was the creation of the Innovative Finance Playbook, a wholistic resource with detailed information on innovative capital products and models, case studies, and the best practices on supporting inclusive entrepreneurship. 

  7. Recovery and Resilience Strategies for Pandemics: What We’ve Learned from COVID 19

    International Economic Development Council (IEDC), 2020-2022
    This project was designed to increase the knowledge of the economic development profession regarding resilience and recovery, specifically related to the ability of communities to recover from pandemics. Through direct technical assistance to 8 communities and research, IEDC was able to highlight common challenges and best practices that emerged during COVID-19 recovery.  The cumulation of this research was the release of their whitepaper, What We’ve Learned from COVID-19 (PDF), and updates to the Leadership in Times of Crisis Toolkit. (PDF)

  8. Developing and Sharing Community Best Practices in Response to Nuclear Power Plant Closures

    Smartpower, Inc., 2018-2020
    This National Technical Assistance grant funded Smartpower, Inc.’s project, which included in-person interviews with key Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) stakeholders across the country, a national webinar, and the hosting of one or more Regional Economic Diversification Summits (REDS). Using these tools to address the increasing rate of NPP closures, the scope of work was designed to accomplish the following objectives: enhance collaboration between and among communities facing NPP closure and the resulting loss of high paying jobs and tax revenues; provide information and outreach to stakeholders facing this challenge; enhance federal interagency understanding of NPP community and stakeholder issues; and improve coordination and effectiveness of the Department of Energy, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and EDA programs to address NPP stakeholder needs.

  9. Technical Assistance Project for Strengthening the Economies of Rural America

    Rural Innovation Strategies, Inc. (RIS), 2018-2020
    Through this National Technical Assistance grant, Rural Innovation Strategies, Inc. (RISI) conducted a project that supported outreach, engagement, and the provision of technical assistance in rural areas while helping these communities develop stronger economies through the support and expansion of digital innovation ecosystems. Further, this project was supportive of, but not limited to, communities in the development of EDA Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) – now Build to Scale - proposals, alignment with other federal programs and potentially foundation or private sector funders in support of creating opportunities in rural America.
  10. CDFA EDA RLF Best Practices Program

    Council of Development Finance Agencies (CDFA), 2017-2019
    Through this National Technical Assistance grant, the Council of Development Finance Agencies (CDFA) curated a Revolving Loan Funds (RLF) Best Practices Program with five main objectives: RLF Program Training; Online Learning; Peer to Peer Learning Exchange; Online EDA RLF Program Resource Center; Development of an Effective Program Measurement Standard. The CDFA EDA RLF Best Practices Program is an innovative technical assistance approach to better support and improve EDA funded Revolving Loan Funds in the United States. The program included a diverse set of offerings that encourages learning, best practice collaborations, evaluations of service efficiencies and improvements, and a comprehensive resource collection and dissemination process.
  11. International Engagement Ready Communities Initiative

    SRI International, 2017-2018
    This National Technical Assistance project by SRI International produced a rigorous, validated set of tools for communities across the United States to use in order to increase inward Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and increase exports. SRI International, along with The Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness, produced a Best Practices Toolkit and "How-to" Guide for regions to develop SWOT analyses with respect to trade and investment strategy.
  12. Americas Competitiveness Exchange on Innovation and Entrepreneurship in 2017

    Pan American Development Foundation, Inc., 2017-2018
    The Pan American Development Foundation, Inc., through this National Technical Assistance grant, created the Americas Competitiveness Exchange (ACE) to serve as a pilot project connecting leaders from the public, private and academic sector to share successful practices and experiences accelerating business development and supporting an integrated approach between federal, state and local governments. Furthermore, it supports the coordinated participation of several Federal departments and agencies of the United States as part of the high-profile effort to identify and showcase key partnership-ready assets and capabilities in the regions and clusters profiled in each of the ACE programs.
  13. Stronger CEDS, Stronger Regions: A Capacity Building Program for Economic Development Districts

    National Association of Development Organizations Research Foundation, Inc. (NADO RF), 2016-2021
    The National Association of Development Organizations Research Foundation (NADO RF) received support from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to continue building and strengthening the capacity of Economic Development Districts (EDDs) as they plan, publicize, and implement their Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies (CEDS). NADO RF conducted a capacity building program that enhanced and expanded NADO RF resources available on the CEDS, provided customized trainings and technical assistance to EDDs and other regional partners, and amplified EDA's message about the tremendous value and potential of the CEDS to support broader regional economic and community development goals. This effort also advanced EDA's priority of integrating resilience strategies into the CEDS to address how best to prepare for, respond to, and recover from both natural disasters and other economic disruptions.
  14. Small-Scale Manufacturing Technical Assistance

    Smart Growth America, 2016-2019
    Through this National Technical Assistance grant, Smart Growth America provided free technical assistance to six communities interested in using small-scale manufacturing to help revitalize a downtown or neighborhood and create economic opportunity. As a result of this grant, SGA published a methodology whitepaper describing what is known about small-scale manufacturing at this nascent stage of its emergence specifically describing what it is, why it's important, what it needs to succeed, how to create it locally and where it needs to be located to thrive. This project also delivered technical assistance pilots in communities to truth-test and ground the findings in the methodology paper, create additional examples for other communities to learn from, and gain experience from which the whitepaper can be modified and improved.
  15. Regional Innovation Acceleration Network (RIAN)

    State Science and Technology Institute (SSTI), 2016-2017
    Through this grant, SSTI extended the work of the Regional Innovation Acceleration Network (RIAN) to look more deeply into the university research community’s efforts to encourage more faculty entrepreneurship in partnership with the federal I-Corps programs, state technology-based economic development (TBED) initiatives and regional venture development organizations. The project hypothesis was to assess the potential value of participants in the National Science Foundations I-Corps program as a pipeline of startup opportunities to feed regional innovation systems. The goal was to increase the number of states and other actors in the regional innovation systems aware of and working in partnership with the federal I-Corps programs to expand faculty entrepreneurship opportunities and universities across the country, resulting in more startup firms and job opportunities.
  16. Local Leaders Economic Development and Resiliency Training for the Mississippi Delta Region

    International Economic Development Council Inc., 2016-2017
    The International Economic Development Council (IEDC), in partnership with the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and Delta Regional Authority (DRA), delivered economic development and disaster resilience training courses for public and elected officials and economic development practitioners throughout the eight states in the Delta region. This intensive training course was designed as a two-day classroom-style "boot-camp" focused on the role of public and elected officials in economic development. The interactive course content provided participants with concrete, practical tools to support critical economic development and disaster resilience activities within their communities.
  17. Innovation Policy Forum

    National Academy of Sciences, 2015-2018
    The Academies' Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy established a new forum called the Innovation Policy Forum through this National Technical Assistance grant. The Forum acts as a focal point for a national and international dialogue on innovation policy and brings together representatives of government, industry, national laboratories, research institutes, and universities foreign and domestic to exchange views on current challenges and opportunities for U.S. innovation policy and to learn about the goals, instruments, funding levels, and results of national and regional programs and discuss their lessons for U.S. policy and their potential impact on the composition of the U.S. economy. The Forum provides the opportunity to regularly exchange information on current and potential policy initiatives to advance innovation and the development of the knowledge economy in the United States and abroad.