Author: US EDA Staff             Published: 11/30/2021            EDA

Innovate at EDA


In This Issue

Spotlight: Assistant Secretary Castillo Testifies on EDA Reauthorization Before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo Testifies Before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee

On Wednesday, November 3, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Casillo testified before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works during an oversight hearing to examine programs at the Economic Development Administration (EDA) and review programs for reauthorization.

In her testimony, Assistant Secretary Castillo made an important case for reauthorization of EDA.  It has been 17 years since EDA was last reauthorized and, in that time, new industries have emerged while other sectors have declined, regions have encountered and responded to devastating natural disasters, and all communities have suffered the impacts of a global pandemic. In addition, during this period, EDA has grown exponentially in size and budget – especially over the past four years in response to disasters, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

These external events, combined with EDA’s growth and proven impact, create a critical moment to reauthorize the bureau, allowing EDA to better serve the communities and regions of today.

“We need to modernize our tools to provide the services that communities across the nation need to build contemporary, resilient economies. We need to update how we define distress so that our funding is more equitably distributed.

“To me, reauthorization is more than a technical process – it is essential for EDA to fulfill its historic mission. Reauthorization will allow EDA to help our nation build back better by giving us the ability to implement programs in a way that further improves conditions in highly distressed communities and supports the following priorities: Equity, U.S. Competitiveness, Modern Infrastructure, and Resiliency,” said Assistant Secretary Castillo.

During the hearing, Assistant Secretary Castillo committed to working closely with Congress to get EDA reauthorized as soon as possible.

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Success Story: Assistant Secretary Alejandra Castillo Travels to Puerto Rico to Visit EDA Investments Sites Critical to Disaster Recovery and Preparedness

Alejandra Castillo, Local Redevelopment Authority Director Nilda Marchan, and Bernadette Hobson tour the former Roosevelt Roads Naval Station.

In 2017, Puerto Rico was devastated by back-to-back storms that resulted in Category 5-level destruction. More than 3,000 people lost their lives in  Hurricanes Irma and Maria  and the entire population was left without power. Total economic losses were estimated at $20 million. This November, Assistant Secretary Alejandra Castillo visited Puerto Rico to see firsthand how EDA and other federal investments are helping the territory recover and build back stronger by ensuring economic, pandemic, and disaster recovery. It also highlighted how the Biden Administration is delivering on its commitment to address inequities and support communities to drive local economic growth and spur job creation.

As a part of its mission, EDA has a long history of successfully supporting natural disaster recovery and resiliency efforts. Since the devastation of 2017, EDA has awarded 34 grants to Puerto Rico, totaling more than $111 million through supplemental disaster funding. These investments are expected to create or retain more than 43,000 jobs and attract close to $283 million in private investment.

Under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF), EDA also leads the Economic Recovery Support Function (ERSF) on behalf of the Department of Commerce. In this capacity, EDA provides leadership, coordination and oversight for all federal agencies that share a role in the provision of grants, loans, training and other forms of economic recovery assistance in disaster-impacted communities.

During the Puerto Rico visit, Assistant Secretary Castillo got a firsthand look at the newly established Marine Business, Research, and Innovation Center at the former Roosevelt Roads Naval Station. This 45,000-square foot building, made possible through an EDA grant, will be at the forefront of the ‘Blue Economy,’ helping to bridge the gap in maritime, oceanographic and marine science business innovation.

She also visited Conservacion Conciencia, a non-profit funded by an EDA grant that is working to spur the blue economy in Puerto Rico through its collaboration with local fishermen to remove ocean debris, digitize their fishing practice, and increase sustainable development. There, she also toured a conch lab and viewed a sea vegetable lab, all of which aim to stimulate the blue economy and address food insecurity issues.

Additionally, Assistant Secretary Castillo met with stakeholders from Puerto Rico’s philanthropic, non-profit, business, and education community at the Centro Unido de Detallista (United Retailer Association), an EDA grantee. They discussed areas of opportunity for collaboration with EDA to help advance both Puerto Rico’s economic development and the blue economy.

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Highlight: Las Vegas Visit Highlights Focus on Equity and EDA Investments in Nevada

Senator Masto speaks with Assistant Secretary Castillo prior to last week’s roundtable discussion about economic development in southern Nevada.

Southern Nevada’s economic development was the forefront of a roundtable discussion with Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Castillo and United States Senator Catherine Cortez Masto this month. More than a dozen Nevada businesses, community, and governmental leaders joined the event on Wednesday, November 10th.

Held at the Historic Westside School in West Las Vegas, the roundtable discussion served to highlight the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) recent American Rescue Plan investments in Nevada and a $6.9 million investment made to the College of Southern Nevada for construction of a 10,000 square-foot facility to house its Westside Workforce Education and Training Center.

The Westside Workforce Education and Training Center, to be located adjacent to the Historic Westside School, will support education and instruction for underserved students by helping them obtain both a GED and specific vocational training leading to a good-paying job in the healthcare, construction, and IT sectors.

“EDA has always supported our nation’s underserved communities, but today we are doubling down to ensure communities of color, rural communities, and others receive the support they need to build back better,” said Assistant Secretary Castillo. “Equity is our top investment priority.”

In recent years, EDA has invested tens of millions of dollars in the state of Nevada to help communities build their capacity for economic development. In addition to EDA’s grant to the College of Southern Nevada, other recent EDA investments in Nevada include $1.7 million to the city of Las Vegas to expand wireless connectivity to economically disadvantaged neighborhoods in the Westside area,  $13.5 million American Rescue Plan Statewide Travel, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation award to alleviate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic by helping strengthen the travel and outdoor industries of Nevada, and $1 million to support statewide planning efforts.

“I was glad to join Assistant Secretary Castillo to highlight what we’ve been doing to help support economic development in the historic Westside of Las Vegas and across Nevada,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “From the American Rescue Plan to the bipartisan infrastructure bill, I’ve been working to get funds into our communities to deliver broadband to students, prepare workers for jobs in in-demand industries, and promote Nevada’s travel and tourism industry. The Economic Development Administration projects highlighted today are great examples of what happens when we work together to invest in our communities, and I’m grateful for the administration’s continued support in delivering pandemic relief funds to those that will benefit most.”

Prior to the roundtable, Assistant Secretary Castillo toured the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas to learn about its work training Nevadans for good-paying jobs in the hospitality sector.

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EDA American Rescue Plan Funds Flowing Into Communities

EDA Investing in America’s Communities logo

On October 21, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo announced that the Economic Development Administration (EDA) had begun awarding its historic $3 billion in American Rescue Plan funds to assist communities nationwide in their efforts to build back better by accelerating the economic recovery. The first awards announced were $24 million in grants to states and territories across the nation to support statewide planning efforts to boost economic development, enhance U.S. competitiveness, combat the climate crisis, and recover from the pandemic. Later the same day, Secretary Raimondo announced EDA’s first local investment as part of the Coal Communities Commitment. On November 4, an additional $30 million in statewide planning grants were announced and on November 8, $314 million in State Travel, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation grants were awarded. Stay tuned for more announcements coming soon!

Good Jobs Challenge Deadline Approaching

Good Jobs Challenge logo

The Good Jobs Challenge allocates $500 million dollars toward industry-led workforce training programs to help get Americans – particularly women, people of color and those in underserved communities – back to work in good-paying jobs. Applications due January 26, 2022! Get your applications in today!

Urban Institute Releases Early Results of EDA Evaluation

Urban Institute logo

On October 29, the Urban Institute released two briefs providing policymakers and public stakeholders a detailed overview and evaluation of the Economic Development Administration. This release is the first part of an expansive review of EDA undertaken by Urban Institute and funded by the Research and National Technical Assistance (RNTA) program. It will be followed by additional content in the coming months. The two briefs, available for download on Urban Institute’s website, provide a historic background to EDA and offer a detailed, data-driven assessment of EDA activities since 2010, segmented by project size and type.

EDA Called in to Help in the Recovery from Hurricane Ida in Louisiana

LA has suffered from 10 federally-declared disasters since 2019, including most recently, Hurricane Ida. Courtesy: LA National Guard

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) asked EDA to join an Interagency Recovery Coordination group (IRC) to assist following the natural disaster. Read more here.

EDA Partners with Milken Institute and Rural Community Assistance Partnership to Aid Underserved Communities in Accessing Predevelopment Services

EDA plus Milken Institute and RCAP

EDA’s Research and National Technical Assistance program has awarded a $500,000 grant to the Milken Institute and sub awardee, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) to launch a predevelopment training and project accelerator for small, rural, and underserved communities. Read more here.

Equitable Lending Leaders Online Cohort Program to Advance Equitable Outcomes in Small Business Lending

Equitable Lending Leaders

EDA grantees, Institute for Local Self Reliance (ILSR) and Recast City, are launching a program for RLF operators to improve on their focus to achieve equity outcomes with their small business lending. Learn more.

“Taking CEDS to the Next Level” Toolkit Launched

“Taking CEDS to the Next Level” is a new toolkit with links and descriptions to over 40 CEDS and other resources that demonstrate the full potential of what a CEDS can be. These examples and best practices – highlighting key themes, content, and design elements – demonstrate the possibilities that exist for organizations as they create their CEDS, all with the ultimate goal of making regions more competitive, resilient, and equitable. View the toolkit at CEDS Central.

Extra Extra graphic

Federal grants for business initiatives promoted in Puerto RicoEl Nuevo Dia News – 11/8/21

Gina Raimondo: Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration Awards Statewide Planning Grants to 30 StatesExecutive Gov – 11/5/21

Alejandra Castillo ’92 Reflects on Journey from Stony Brook to WashingtonStony Brook University News – 11/2/21

Commerce Department announces first round of awards for American Rescue Plan programsThe Hill – 10/21/21

Rhode Island tourism industry gets $10.6M federal grantAP News – 11/9/21

Delaware gets federal travel and tourism grantDelaware Business Now – 11/9/21

Deputy Secretary Graves and Assistant Secretary Castillo close out Hispanic Heritage Month by celebrating contributions, successes of local Hispanic-owned small businessU.S. Economic Development Administration – 10/21/21

Las Vegas Roundtable: News 3 Live at 6KSNV News – 11/12/21