A few weeks ago the first bits of information started to trickle out on the Economic Development Administration’s Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge. Now, as of Friday, the EDA has released full details on the $33 million grant program.
The pertinent information can be found in the Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO) announcement. Here are some of the key things to know:
- Awards will be handed out to support development of approximately 20 high-growth industry clusters. The funds will range from $1.5 million to $2.2 million.
- The deadline to apply is July 7, and it’s “strongly suggested” that organizations that are going after an award to submit a letter of intent by June 10.
- The EDA, ETA, and SBA will hold a teleconference to discuss the Challenge on June 7. Click here for details.
EMSI Consulting and our partners are well positioned to provide assistance in both the grant application and implementation process. Along with Linda Fowler of Regionerate, we hosted a webinar on this today — see here for slides of the presentation (PDF).
We’ve also taken a quick look through the FFO, and below are a few passages of note. As we highlighted in the webinar, part of the requirements deals with identifying the industries that make up selected clusters, providing key data and analysis on the clusters — and outlining the associated needs and opportunities.
From page 15:
Successful applicants may use EDA funds for innovation inputs that foster regional competitiveness or activities determined appropriate by the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. Allowable activities may include a wide range of non-construction assistance, including technical assistance, feasibility studies, planning activities, technology or process development, cluster networking, market expansion, and other activities critical for accelerated cluster development leading to job creation, economic growth, and global competitiveness.
The Economic Adjustment Assistance Program is designed to respond flexibly to pressing economic development and recovery issues and challenges faced by regions. Examples of how EDA funding can be used for cluster development might include, but are not limited to, providing funding to any of the following:
• A District Organization (defined in 13 C.F.R. § 300.3) to launch a regional innovation cluster strategy that supports or provides technical assistance to smaller manufacturers to promote the growth of a competitive field within a cluster, stem job losses in manufacturing businesses, support high-growth entrepreneurship, and promote the successful industry diversification of the region’s economy;
• A city to strengthen a growing cluster through attracting new private-sector partners into the cluster, integrating small businesses into the supply-chain, promoting connections and communication among all cluster partners, developing relationships between the clusters and entities or clusters in other regions, promote entrepreneurship among historically underrepresented and excluded communities, and helping the cluster identify new markets and
facilitate sales and exports of products and services; or
• A university to support technology transfer, deploy new processes, and
accelerate the commercialization of research.
The meat of the requirements starts on page 33. Part A of Section 2 is of particular importance. Under Part i …
This section should also include a table outlining information on the regional population by race and ethnicity, including: household income; unemployment rate; poverty levels; and education and skill levels of the region’s workforce. The table may also include comparison year data (up to ten years) and supportive text to discuss demographic changes in the region. Applicants should note if the data does not match the boundaries of the identified region and briefly explain the reason for the discrepancy.
And Parts ii and vii …
Clear and comprehensive identification of the cluster. The application must fully describe the cluster, identify the applicable industry sector and provide a brief summary of the cluster’s development. Data must be provided to demonstrate a concentration of firms in the identified industry sector (including mature and start-up firms), industry-specific infrastructure, and an
existing supply chain. Types of evidence to demonstrate a concentration of firms could include location quotients, employment and wage data, business listings or maps to show concentrations of firms, or cluster studies conducted by the applicant or partner organizations in the region.
Evidence that the cluster has high-growth potential. The application must provide strong, comprehensive evidence that the identified cluster has significant potential to grow and cultivate new jobs, businesses and export opportunities. Applicants must identify targeted occupation(s) and the industry sector on which the project will focus and cite evidence that the industry and/or occupation(s) are high-growth according to one or more of the following factors: (1) projected to add substantial numbers of new jobs to the economy; (2) being transformed by technology and innovation requiring new skill sets for workers; (3) composed of new and emerging businesses that are projected to grow; (4) has a significant impact on the economy overall or on 37
the growth of other industries and occupations; or (5) forecasts for increased regional, national or international demand for cluster products and outputs. The application should also be clear about the time projections for adding new jobs, sales and exports. Applicants should cite the source of current and projected demand, such as from DOL, State workforce agencies, employers and other relevant sources.