Knowing your revitalization partner’s priorities adds clarity and saves time. When they are a funder with a competitive grant process, there’s all the more reason to know their priorities.
For local communities interested in knowing where the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is at with their current investment priorities, this month’s speech at the 88th Winter Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors delivered by Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Development and Chief Operating Officer Dennis Alvord pointed the way.
As an agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, the EDA makes clear they are the federal agency whose sole mission is economic development. The approach to EDA’s work and performance, shared Deputy Assistant Secretary Alvord, is “to help advance locally-created economic development strategies.”
“I’d like to emphasize,” Alvord said, “that EDA does not go into communities preaching a Washington-knows-best sermon. Rather, we support impactful, well-thought out, locally-devised strategies designed to make it easier for businesses to start and grow; and our grants, for the most part, require local match.”
The EDA invests in eligible grantees in communities for planning, technical assistance, and infrastructure projects and strategies, all designed to spur economic development.
Alvord closed his speech with, “EDA is a small, nimble agency that employs a flexible set of program tools that can help your communities realize their economic potential. I encourage you to reach out to the EDA regional office with jurisdiction for your state to see how we might be able to help.”
Regional EDA offices are located in Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Denver, Philadelphia and Seattle.
Here are the five investment priorities of the EDA, with recent examples to illustrate.
Recovery And Resilience
Projects that assist with economic resilience — including business continuity and preparedness — and long-term recovery from natural disasters and economic shocks to ensure U.S. communities are globally competitive.
Projects that establish the fundamental building blocks of a prosperous and innovation-centric economy and a secure platform for American business, including physical — broadband, energy, roads, water, sewer — and other economic infrastructure.
Workforce Development And Manufacturing
Projects that support the planning and implementation of infrastructure for skills-training centers and related facilities that address the hiring needs of the business community — particularly in the manufacturing sector — with a specific emphasis on the expansion of apprenticeships and work-and-learn training models. Also includes projects that encourage job creation and business expansion in manufacturing, including infrastructure-related efforts that focus on advanced manufacturing of innovative, high-value products and enhancing manufacturing supply chains.
Exports And Foreign Direct Investments
Primarily infrastructure projects that enhance community assets – for example, port facilities — to support growth in U.S. exports and increased foreign direct investment, and ultimately the return of jobs to the United States.
Planning and implementation projects aimed at attracting private investment – including from Opportunity Funds – to grow businesses and create jobs in Census tracts that have been designated as Opportunity Zones. This includes targeted projects located within an Opportunity Zone; projects that, while not located within an Opportunity Zone, have a clear intent of benefitting nearby Opportunity Zone(s); and regional projects that encompass an area containing at least one Opportunity Zone with a clear intent of benefitting that Opportunity Zone.