Press Release
September 2, 2022

U.S. Department of Commerce Invests Approximately $50 Million to Boost the Clean Energy Sector in New Orleans Region Through American Rescue Plan Regional Challenge

WASHINGTON – Today, President Biden will announce H2theFuture as one of 21 winners of the $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge, the most impactful regional economic development competition in decades. Funded by President Biden’s American Rescue Plan and administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), the Regional Challenge is awarding approximately $50 million in grants to H2theFuture, led by the Greater New Orleans Development Foundation, to boost the clean energy sector in New Orleans.

With $50 million in funding from EDA, H2theFuture will transition the regional hydrogen energy sector away from fossil fuel-reliant forms of hydrogen and towards green hydrogen produced from renewable energy sources. Coalition projects include a central campus that connects the entire cluster ecosystem, coordinating a range of programming to advance competitiveness, testbeds to improve hydrogen cost competitiveness, a development center for hydrogen-fueled ships, and a hydrogen fueling barge.

“The Build Back Better Regional Challenge places equity at the center of its investments,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “With this grant, the H2theFuture coalition will help support sustainable investments for HBCUs and jumpstart a community in need of systemic economic diversification and environmental transformation away from nonrenewable energy.”

 “The Economic Development Administration is proud to support the bold vision of the Greater New Orleans Development Foundation,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo. “This EDA investment will advance regional economic competitiveness in the clean energy space with a focus on equity, including creating a network of Louisiana’s HBCUs and one Historically American Indian University, creating a resilient regional economy for the future.”

“Louisiana has always taken the lead in the nation’s energy future and I am proud that tradition is continuing,” said Congressman Troy A. Carter (LA-02). “From the wind turbines being built in my district to transformative projects like this one, Louisiana is leading the way to a cleaner greener future. I am particularly pleased that this grant is inclusive of the HBCUs in my district and a Historically Native American University that were left out of opportunities like this in the past.”

“With the global demand for energy projected to surge 50 percent in just the next 28 years, it is critical that we expand, diversify and improve our energy technologies to meet these needs,” said Congressman Garrett Graves (LA-06). “Further investment in new clean energy technologies will help us maintain our energy position. Louisiana has always been – and will continue to be – a global energy leader.”

H2theFuture is one of 21 winners – each a regional coalition of partnering entities – that will receive awards between $25 million and $65 million to implement an average of six integrative projects that will enable each region's economic transformation and competitiveness.

The Build Back Better Regional Challenge (BBBRC) is an unprecedented competitive federal grant program that provides each regional coalition with significant investments to tackle a wide variety of projects – including entrepreneurial support, workforce development, infrastructure, and innovation – to drive inclusive economic growth. Each coalition’s collection of projects aims to develop and strengthen regional industry clusters – all while embracing economic equity, creating good-paying jobs, and enhancing U.S. competitiveness globally. Projects span 24 states and include $87 million to two primarily Tribal coalitions and over $150 million for projects serving communities impacted by the declining use of coal.

The 21 BBBRC awardees were chosen from 60 EDA-designated finalists that each received approximately $500,000 in funding and technical assistance to continue developing their cluster strategies. The funding for each coalition is approximate, with awards to be signed later in September. Those 60 finalists were chosen from a Phase 1 applicant pool of 529 applications, which exemplifies the tremendous demand for transformational economic development approaches. EDA will continue to support all 60 finalists with the creation of a Community of Practice that will provide technical support, foster connectedness with peer regions and build capacity.

The Build Back Better Regional Challenge is one of EDA’s many programs aimed at building strong regional economies and supporting community-led economic development. EDA was allocated $3 billion in supplemental funding under the American Rescue Plan to assist communities nationwide in their efforts to build back better by accelerating economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and building local economies that will be resilient to future economic shocks. As a part of this funding, EDA allocated $300 million through a Coal Communities Commitment to support coal communities in pandemic recovery and help them create new jobs and opportunities, including through the creation or expansion of a new industry sector. Specifically, EDA has dedicated $100 million of its Build Back Better Regional Challenge funds and $200 million of its Economic Adjustment Assistance funds to directly support coal communities. Grantees for EDA’s full suite of American Rescue Plan programs will be awarded on a rolling basis through September 30, 2022. For more information, visit

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (
The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation's regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA invests in communities and supports regional collaboration in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth. 


  • American Rescue Plan