It takes a multitude of resources, dedicated professionals, and committed organizations to promote economic development. Successfully realizing the economic potential of a place requires doing the hard work of leveraging all existing regional assets to build the environment, or ecosystem, where business can flourish, jobs are created, and citizens prosper. It is this integration of assets, resources, best practices, and complementary actions that energizes a region’s economic potential.
While there are many components to building a local/regional economic ecosystem, financing the projects that will fill identified gaps and meet regional needs can be a challenge. And no wonder: as federal, state, and local budgets constrict, economic development professionals and their partners have to become knowledgeable on a wider array of financing opportunities, how they matchup with each other and any specific project, and how they work in a coordinated, complementary manner to accomplish goals and objectives.
Like pieces of a puzzle, funding sources have specific parameters and criteria that help achieve explicit objectives. The trick for economic developers and public officials is to remember that no single funding source alone is likely to be a panacea for realizing a community’s or region’s comprehensive economic development vision. When a region’s public and private leadership, organizations, and other entities who serve the area understand the requirements and objectives of the various funding available, they are better able to assemble the mix of resources needed to advance their development goals.
One funding source that some organizations may not be familiar with is the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), a bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce. EDA is the only federal agency that has as its sole mission economic development. The agency provides grant funding for economic development on a competitive basis focused on job creation and private investment outcomes. Eligible recipients include EDA Designated Economic Development District organizations; Indian Tribes or consortium of Indian Tribes; a state, county, city, or other political subdivision of a state; institutions of higher education or a consortium of institutions of higher education; or a non-profit organization acting in cooperation with officials of a political subdivision of a state. EDA has a number of grant programs and tools available to support economic development.
Through EDA’s Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance Programs, funding is possible to support construction or renovation of publically owned assets that will directly lead to job creation or retention by private sector beneficiaries. Through these programs, EDA can support a wide range of activities that will facilitate job creation or retention, including construction or renovation of water/sewer lines, public access roads, water tanks, and construction of workforce training centers. Applicants may submit a proposal at any time during the year, and if deemed eligible and aligned with EDA’s funding requirements the applicant will be able to submit a full application to compete for potential grant resources.
Through the Technical Assistance and Short-Term Planning Programs, EDA provides resources to support a wide array of small technical assistance projects, including but not limited to feasibility studies, cluster analysis, and export strategies.
EDA works collaboratively with an array of multi-jurisdictional councils of government and designated Economic Development Districts (EDDs), throughout North Carolina that are charged with leading the development and implementation of their region’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). These CEDS plans serve as a critical component of how EDA reviews potential grant applications as the agency is committed to investing in projects that will align with existing resources and that represent an opportunity to realize locally-defined economic development goals.
For more information on EDA’s grant programs and how they may align with your development objectives, please contact Hillary Sherman, NC Economic Development Representative at firstname.lastname@example.org or 404.730.3013. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the NC Economic Development Representative prior to submitting an application or proposal to EDA.
Hillary Sherman is the NC Economic Development Representative with the U.S. Economic Development Administration