U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo announced Monday the 60 finalists for the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) $1 billion “Build Back Better Regional Challenge” – the marquee of EDA’s American Rescue Plan programs – that aims to boost economic pandemic recovery and rebuild American communities, including some that have been grappling with decades of disinvestment. The Build Back Better Regional Challenge provides transformative investments – up to $100 million per grantee – to develop and strengthen regional industry clusters across the country, all while embracing economic equity, creating good-paying jobs, and enhancing U.S. competitiveness globally.
The 60 finalists – each a coalition of partnering entities – have proposed projects that will develop or scale industry sectors, develop and train the workforce of today, and build resilient economies. Finalists will now compete for Phase 2 of the Challenge, which will award 20-30 regional coalitions up to $100 million to implement 3-8 projects that support an industry sector. The deadline for Phase 2 is March 15, 2022.
Today’s finalists, chosen from a pool of 529 applicants, will each receive a grant of approximately $500,000 to further develop their proposed projects. These grants will help the finalists take their projects to the next level and position those who ultimately do not receive Phase 2 implementation awards to find new partners and sources of funding. The program has already catalyzed new partnerships and creative approaches to regional economic development.
“The Build Back Better Regional Challenge aims to supercharge local economies and increase American competitiveness around the globe,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “The outpouring of interest in this program shows the demand for the Build Back Better agenda and the desire to not only create good-paying jobs, but also strengthen our country’s economic resiliency for years down the road.”
“We are thrilled to help communities work together—in coalitions of government, nonprofits, academia, the private sector, and others—to craft ambitious and regionally unique plans to rebuild their communities,” said Alejandra Y. Castillo, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “These projects will help revitalize local economies and tackle our biggest challenges related to climate change, manufacturing, and supply chains and more. EDA is proud to ignite these plans and help communities nationwide build back better.”
Finalists’ projects span 45 states and Puerto Rico. Twelve finalists are in coal communities, to which EDA has dedicated $100 million of the Build Back Better Regional Challenge funds as part of its Coal Communities Commitment. Overall, EDA will allocate $300 million of its $3 billion American Rescue Plan appropriation to support coal communities as they recover from the pandemic to help create new jobs and opportunities, including through the creation or expansion of a new industry sector.
Projects represent industry sectors that are unique to each region, including advanced manufacturing; aerospace and defense; agriculture and natural resources; biotechnology and biomanufacturing; energy and resilience; health care and digital health, information technology; transportation; construction and logistics; and water and blue economy.
The “Build Back Better Regional Challenge” is one of EDA’s many programs aimed at building strong regional economies and supporting community-led economic development. EDA was allocated $3 billion in supplemental funding under the American Rescue Plan to assist communities nationwide in their efforts to build back better by accelerating economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and building local economies that will be resilient to future economic shocks. For more information about EDA’s American Rescue Plan programs, visit https://www.eda.gov/ARPA/.