BLOG | Celebrating 400 Blueprints for a Modern Economy
In January 2023, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) reached a historic milestone with three additional regional organizations designated as Economic Development Districts (EDD). With these additions, there are now 400 such organizations across the country, leading locally-driven economic development planning, technical assistance, strategies and coordination.
What is an EDD?
EDDs are organizations comprised of public and private sector bodies, non-profits and other community-based stakeholders. Their collaborative efforts are designed to create greater economic development and growth on a regional level or within a specific targeted industry.
EDDs often cover multiple jurisdictions, and in some cases, cross state lines. Working with a variety of groups, EDDs establish an inclusive, competitive, and future-oriented blueprint for their region known as a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). Creating this blueprint for success requires organizations to engage in an inclusive and meaningful conversation about the direction of their region and ways to build a more resilient economy that works for all.
EDDs in Action
EDDs are a vehicle for regional leaders to chart a coordinated path and provide knowledge, resources and expertise needed to create and sustain development and build successful investment strategies. EDDs have real impact. Recent outcomes of technical assistance and coordination include:
- Operation of a Revolving Loan Fund, which helps lending programs service small businesses and entrepreneurs who cannot otherwise obtain traditional bank financing. Most recently, RLF loans have helped a California psychologist continue to care for her patients, a Louisiana pharmacy continue serving its community, and a Delaware restaurant owner rebuild following the coronavirus pandemic.
- Identifying opportunities for repurposing buildings and infrastructure from one business to another, including the recent development of a new park and environmental education center in Washington, D.C.
EDA is proud to announce the addition of these new EDDs, which combined, will cover 11 U.S. counties and over 1.3 million Americans, spanning a variety of industries and creating a more promising economic future for its citizens.
- Illinois. The first of these new EDDs is the Region 1 Planning Council (R1PC), representing the Rockford Region in Illinois. Their model promotes well-informed, comprehensive dialogue that addresses regional issues by fulfilling the needs of government entities. Today, the region has four primary clusters in their economy, including advanced manufacturing, transportation and logistics, agriculture and food processing, and health and medical services. R1PC is poised to help local economic development by assisting with the manufacturing of plastics, metals, and other products, and through site selection, air and rail freight, and e-commerce services.
- Massachusetts. The second new entry is the Southern Worcester County Region in Massachusetts. Prior to the 1970s, this community had a long history of industrial production, employing advanced methods for the manufacturing of textiles, grinding wheels, and commercial wire. While manufacturing still plays an integral role in its economy today, the region has also diversified into educational services, healthcare, social services, and farming. They have also advanced into the biotechnology arena, with an investment in the UMass Medicine Science Park, and in critical infrastructure, by developing the region’s Long Range Transportation Plan.
- Virginia. The third new EDD is the Commonwealth Regional Council (CRC), representing five counties in Central Virginia’s Heartland Region. This area has a long agricultural history with ties to the James River. Today, they have focused on two specialized clusters, wood products and forestry, while branching out into other areas as well, including, education, manufacturing, and healthcare services. CRC is well positioned to facilitate economic improvement through technical and program assistance, grant assistance, planning, and GIS services.
Like the EDDs that came before them, these organizations will provide a strong foundation of planning and regional collaboration, fostering equitable economic development and industrial growth in their respective regions. EDA is proud to support these efforts and we look forward to sharing their success stories in the near future.