Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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EDA 2023: A year of impact

By Alejandra Y. Castillo

2023 was another year of tremendous impact and growth at the US Economic Development Administration (EDA).

Our dedicated team of public servants work tirelessly to improve the competitiveness of American industry through equitable and inclusive economic growth, a core priority of the Biden-Harris administration. EDA’s efforts in 2023 resulted in approximately $403 million of federal investment in 584 projects, which are expected to support more than 27,000 quality jobs, and nearly $8.5 billion in private investment, according to grantee estimates.

As I reflect on EDA’s work during 2023, three major themes stand out in my mind. We look forward to building on each of these accomplishments in 2024 and beyond.

A continued commitment to regionally focused Economic Growth

EDA’s investments build a foundation for sustainable job growth and durable regional economies throughout the United States. This year, our regionally managed, cornerstone initiatives continued to deliver significant results for the American people.

  • Exceeding an aggregate capital base of more than $1 billion in 2023, Revolving Loan Funds (RLF) capitalized through EDA’s Economic Adjustment Assistance program continued to provide a vital source of gap financing to small businesses that face barriers to accessing capital through a traditional lender.
  • Over the last 12 months, our Public Works program achieved impactful improvements to American infrastructure.  For instance, in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, an EDA grant went to support an expanded water and sewer system that will allow the siting of a new business expected to create 400 quality jobs. Meanwhile, in Milan, New Mexico, EDA is supporting the development of a new industrial park that will bring dozens of jobs and millions of dollars in private investment to a majority-minority community. These represent a few among dozens of projects supported by the Public Works program.
  • In 2023, EDA assisted communities continuing their recovery from natural disasters including hurricanes Ian and Fiona, flooding, and other catastrophes. We were also on-the-ground, providing initial needs assessments following the tragic wildfires that swept through Maui in August. As the designated coordinating agency for the Economic Recovery Support Function within the National Disaster Recovery Framework, EDA provides a critical role facilitating grants, loans, training, and other forms of assistance to support economic recovery efforts in disaster-impacted communities.

Our technology investments are changing the face of American innovation

In October, President Biden announced the designation of the inaugural 31 Tech Hubs, as well as the recipients of 29 Tech Hubs Strategy Development Grants, authorized as part of the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022.

Led by EDA, the Tech Hubs program is investing directly in regions with the assets, resources, capacity, and potential to transform into globally competitive innovation centers, while catalyzing the creation of good jobs for American workers at all skill levels, equitably and inclusively. 

The initial $500 million investment our Tech Hubs grantees unlocked is part of a “downpayment” appropriated by Congress and expandable to its full authorization level of $10 billion. We look forward to working with Congress to ensure resources are available that will help us fully realize this generational commitment to the communities counting on it.

We also added a new “Ignite” tier to the Venture Challenge, part of our long-running Build to Scale program. Build to Scale is EDA’s $53 million initiative to support projects that strengthen equitable ecosystems and increase access to capital for innovators, entrepreneurs, and startups.

The new Venture Challenge Ignite tier provided up to $300,000 per designated grantee to facilitate regional collaboration in planning for and launching new regional technology-based economic development (TBED) strategies for a region.

Building connections across people, places and communities

EDA continues to be one of – if not the – biggest champions for the identification of economic development best practices and the transformation of economic theory into practice. Our programs and initiatives are helping ensure American business operates in an ecosystem primed for success.

  • In 2022, EDA helped stand-up nine Communities of Practice focused on facilitating shared learning and growth in coal communities, Tribal nations, manufacturing communities, technology-led regional economies, and more. In 2023, these communities hit their stride, delivering meaningful programming and technical assistance that is empowering state, local, and Tribal economic development practitioners to maximize the impact of their programs.
  • As part of EDA’s University Center economic development program, we were proud to designate or redesignate 23 colleges and universities in 14 states as EDA University Centers. These institutions will administer programs to leverage their assets, promote innovation, and strengthen regional economies.  We’re proud to say that awardees this year include a Historically Black College and University (HBCU), Native American-Serving Nontribal Institutions (NASNTIs), Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs).
  • Finally, as I write this, hiring letters are being readied to send to the inaugural cohort of 65 Fellows who will form the backbone of EDA’s new Economic Recovery Corps. Beginning next year, these early-to-mid career professionals will deploy to support local, state, and Tribal economic development agencies across the country, creating and executing regional economic development plans and projects in the communities they serve. We are motivated by strong demand for greater capacity to support creative and impactful place-based initiatives expressed by the more than 500 organizations that applied to host a Fellow.

Reflecting on our progress

Our efforts in 2023 integrated new and unique approaches towards fulfilling EDA’s  mission and will inform our work in the year ahead, serving as a blueprint for continued innovation. You can see examples of the real impact of our work on the lives of Americans at eda.gov.

Economic development is an ongoing process and, while we celebrate the accomplishments of 2023, we do so with one eye forward to the future and the ever-expanding responsibilities that await us. We are excited to build on EDA’s proud legacy of spurring equitable, placed-based economic development in 2024 and beyond.

* Alejandra Y. Castillo, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development



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