To Bolster Economic Competitiveness and Resiliency, U.S. Department of Commerce Funds Eight Communities of Practice
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) had completed awarding $27.9 million in cooperative agreements to establish eight economic development Communities of Practice. Communities of practice are designed to connect participants to capture and disseminate practical knowledge. Each Community of Practice supported through these EDA awards will bring together thematically related groups of economic development practitioners who are working to develop economic ecosystems conducive to the creation of quality jobs for American workers.
A new approach that expands EDA’s channels for supporting economic development practitioners, the Communities of Practice build on the Commerce Department and EDA’s decades of experience working directly with communities and regions to help them build the capacity for economic development. These investments are central to the Biden-Harris Administration’s industrial strategy to drive U.S. competitiveness, innovation, equity, and resilience through economic development activities to bolster local economies.
Slated activities include tailored technical assistance, strategic networking, and topical programming opportunities to help identify, amplify and scale best practices in economic development. These efforts will enable EDA to meet the needs of economic development organizations with a responsiveness and scale not yet seen to date.
“Local economic development practitioners are critical to making sure workers and entrepreneurs have the tools and skills they need to succeed in every community, especially those that have too often been left out and left behind,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “As part of President Biden’s commitment to investing in workers, these awards will support our nation’s economic development practitioners, helping to grow local economies and bolster communities across the country.”
The success of these programs lays a strong foundation for the innovative approaches and community collaborations needed to fulfil the promise of EDA’s newest initiatives to drive technological growth and the creation of many new, good jobs: Tech Hubs and the Recompete Pilot Program. Both initiatives will be powered by the types of place-based, community focused thinking that these Communities of Practice are designed to foster.
“The Economic Development Administration is excited to make these groundbreaking investments in the future of economic development as a practice,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo. “These EDA grants represent a bold, new approach to the development of formal structures that facilitate the creation, dissemination, and preservation of critical place-based economic expertise and best-practices.”
The eight Communities of Practice (CoPs) are focused on:
- Capacity Building. $5.4 million was awarded to the National Association of Development Organizations Research Foundation (NADO RF) to establish and manage a CoP to strengthen the organizational capacity of Economic Development Districts and similar planning organizations to guide regions towards becoming more competitive, resilient, and equitable.
- Workforce Development. $4.8 million was awarded to Jobs for the Future (JFF) to coordinate and lead a CoP dedicated to providing wraparound support and cross-community connectivity for Good Jobs Challenge grantees and amplifying emerging best practices to unlock the full potential of America’s workers.
- Stronger Regional Economies. $4 million was awarded to RTI International to coordinate and lead a CoP for the Build Back Better Regional Challenge’s 60 finalist coalitions to leverage each other's collective knowledge and make the industry sector investments even more impactful for national competitiveness, regional growth, and economic opportunity. This effort expands on a $3 million grant to the National League of Cities (NLC) to support the coalitions through phase two of the competition.
- Commercialization & Entrepreneurship. $3.5 million was awarded to the State Science and Technology Institute (SSTI) to coordinate and lead a CoP dedicated to building capacity and disseminating effective technology-based economic development practices across the economic development industry. This work will inform and complement interagency work to drive innovation and entrepreneurship in the U.S.
- Energy Transition. $2.6 million was awarded to the National Association of Counties Research Foundation (NACo RF) to establish the Building Resilient Economies in Coal Communities Initiative, a CoP to advance economic diversification strategies and projects in coal-reliant communities.
- Small Business Support. $1.6 million was awarded to the National Development Council (NDC) to coordinate and lead a CoP dedicated to building connections between Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) operators, expanding capacity of RLF lending entities, and growing the expertise and impact of the RLF industry.
- Support for Indigenous Communities. $1.5 million was awarded to the Urban Institute to develop resources and research designed to deepen contact among a pilot group of economic development practitioners working on Indigenous issues, and to enhance EDA’s process for Indigenous-focused grantmaking.
- Industrial Competitiveness. $1.5 million was awarded to the American Manufacturing Communities Collaborative and the Northeast-Midwest Institute to establish and operate the Manufacturing Communities National Expansion Project, a CoP for manufacturing stakeholders to support the growth and competitiveness of key sectors that are essential to rebuilding U.S. industrial capabilities, economic resilience, and geostrategic advantage.
These projects are funded under EDA’s $100 million American Rescue Plan Statewide Planning, Research and Networks program, which was part of EDA’s multi-phase effort to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
For more information on EDA’s new Communities of Practice portfolio, visit https://www.eda.gov/strategic-initiatives/communities-of-practice.
About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)
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.