G2G has been tracking the COVID packages and the most recent American Rescue Plan Act. We recently participated in a webinar series hosted by the Economic Development Administration (EDA) on some exciting grant opportunities. The bureau will implement a series of programs, together known as Investing in America’s Communities, that collectively invests $3 billion from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act to help communities across the country recover in the wake of the pandemic.
The largest economic development investment from the Department of Commerce in decades, Investing in America’s Communities funds will support bottom-up economic development focused on advancing equity, creating good-paying jobs, helping workers to develop in-demand skills, building economic resilience and accelerating the economic recovery for the industries and communities hit hardest by the pandemic.
- Economic Adjustment Assistance ($500 million) – Invest in infrastructure, technical assistance, planning, and revolving loan programs through competitive gratns available to every community
- Travel, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation: Rolling ($750 million) – Accelerate communities impacted by COVID-related travel and tourism decline through state grants ($510 million) and competitive grants ($240 million)
- Indigenous Communities ($100 million) – additional economic Adjustment Assistance funds to specifically support Indigenous communities.
- Build Back Better Regional Challenge ($1 billion) – Transform 20-30 economically distressed regions through substantial investment through groups of 3-8 projects, totaling ~$25-75 million per region; open to proposals up to $100 million
- Statewide Planning, Research and Networks ($90 million) – Invest in economic plans, research to assess the effectiveness of EDA’s programs, and support for stakeholder communities around key EDA initiatives
- Good Jobs Challenge ($500 million) – Establish or strengthen regional systems to train workers with in-demand skills through employer-drive training, supporting participants with wrap-around services and employer commitment to hire
- Coal Communities ($300 million) – Support coal communities as they recover from the pandemic and help create new jobs and opportunities, including through the creation or expansion of a new industry sector
BUILD BACK BETTER CHALLENGE
Among these initiatives, fully one-third of funding is allocated to the Build Back Better Challenge. The program’s intent is to transform economically distressed communities through a collection of collaboratives and aligned projects designed to grow new industries and scale existing ones. It follows a two-phased process.
In the first, approximately $500,000 will be awarded to each of 50-60 regions for technical assistance. Successful projects must demonstrate application readiness, adherence to equity goals, the creation of a Regional Economic Competitiveness Office, and long-term infrastructure improvements. In Phase 2, 20-30 of the Phase 1 regions will be awarded $25 million to $100 million each for implementation.
Specifically, Build Back Better grants support the following activities:
- Workforce - Start and grow workforce development programs to support the needs of industry
- Entrepreneurship - Support entrepreneurs to commercialize technologies for industries of the future
- Planning - Create and scale visionary goals, partnerships and plans for the future
- Infrastructure - Build the roads, grids, fiber, and bricks that will enable all communities to thrive
Phase 1 concept proposal deadline is October 19, 2021.
Phase 2 application deadline is March 15, 2022.
To receive grant funding, lead institutions or regional coalition members must be one of the following:
- District Organization of an EDA-designated Economic Development District (EDD)
- Indian Tribe or consortium of Indian Tribes
- State, county, city, or other pollical subdivision of a State (including a special purpose unit of a State or local government engaged in economic or infrastructure development activities or a consortium of pollical subdivisions)
- Institutions of higher education or consortium of institutions of higher education
- Public or private nonprofit organizations or association acting in a cooperation with officials of a public subdivision of a state
Key elements of a successful project must include the following:
- Regional Assets – Identifies, makes use of, enhances, and/or creates regional assets that will support the regional growth clusters competitiveness. Regional assets might include basic infrastructure (broadband), existing competitive advantages (access to the ocean, research universities), and newly proposes projects to catalyze economic growth (new training facility).
- Industry Leadership – Aligns the coalition’s version with existing or prospective industry needs and strong leadership from the private sector. This could include employer commitments to job creation in the region, expected privates sector investments, and the coalitions private sector engagement strategy.
- Sustainability – Plans to maintain or improve the cluster’s economic growth in the year following the American Rescue Plan awards.
- Equity – Ensures that the proposed projects and broader clusters benefits are shared across all affected communities. EDA encourages efforts to reach historically excluded populations, racial minorities, and women.
If you would like to explore more opportunities for non-dilutive government funding opportunities, or to discuss ways to make your organization’s application stand out, reach out to us for a complimentary consultation.