Economic Transformation News

New Federal Money Available for Regional Cluster Economic Development

From the U.S. Economic Development Administration:

$33 Million “Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge” Announced

May 20, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. – To accelerate innovation-fueled job creation and global competitiveness, today the Obama Administration announced a $33 million Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, an initiative to spur economic growth through public-private partnerships in at least 20 regions around the country.

The Challenge leverages existing resources from 16 federal agencies and will award funds to regions that demonstrate the existence of high-growth industries that support a wide range of economic and workforce development activities. Strong industry clusters—like the Research Triangle in North Carolina or Silicon Valley in California—promote robust economic ecosystems and the development of a skilled workforce, both of which are critical to long-term regional success.

The competition offers a total of $33 million in funding from three federal agencies and technical assistance from 13 additional agencies to support the advancement of at least 20 competitively-selected industry clusters. The Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration will invest up to $20 million for technical skills training; the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration will invest up to $10 million in Economic Adjustment Assistance funds; and the Small Business Administration will invest up to $3 million in technical assistance.

As noted in the federal funding opportunity published today, the Challenge targets high-growth clusters from rural, urban and multi-jurisdictional regions across the nation with strengths in various industries. Investments in each winning cluster will aim to drive additional private capital from an array of sources, including foundations, financial institutions, corporations and other private-sector partners.

Applicants will be considered based on their ability to demonstrate a focus on measurable outcomes, such as:

  • Achieving sustainable economic growth in the region;
  • Augmenting business formation, especially of small businesses, and leveraging existing businesses assets;
  • Advancing commercialization of federal and private research;
  • Increasing exports;
  • Developing a skilled workforce through outreach, training, and the creation of career pathways, and;
  • Integrating historically underserved businesses and communities into the economic activities of the cluster.

Strong regional clusters grow from dynamic public-private partnerships that bring together business leaders, government officials, universities, non-profits and other strategic partners to help regions capitalize on shared strengths to enhance the local economy, create jobs, and compete globally.

The deadline to apply to the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge is July 7, 2011. Applicants are requested to submit a letter of intent by June 10, 2011. Details on the application process are available here, and the full funding opportunity announcement from the EDA is here.

The Administration will host an informational conference call/webinar on June 7th, one month before the applications are due. Click here to register for the webinar.