Public entities including state and local governments and port authorities, and non-for-profit entities including Community Improvement Corporations and Economic Development Corporations have an opportunity to apply to the US Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration for its Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance Program. The deadline to apply electronically for these programs is June 12, 2015 to receive funding in 2015.
The EDA invests its dollars in the following investment priorities: Collaborative Regional Innovation; Public/Private Partnerships; National Strategic Priorities; Global Competitiveness; Environmentally-Sustainable Development, and; Economically Distressed and Underserved Communities.
The Public Works program is designed to provide investments in infrastructure and facilities that will have a transformative impact on a community and have regional reach and collaboration. The average Public Works program investment has been $1.4 million but awards range from $200,000 to $3,000,000. The EDA invests in: sewer and water improvements; industrial parks; high-tech shipping and logistics facilities; workforce training facilities; business incubators and accelerators; brownfield development; technology based facilities; wet labs; multi-tenant manufacturing facilities; science and research parks, and; telecommunications infrastructure and development facilities. Projects that submit an application for funding must be tied to a regional economic development strategic plan and be able to identify the job creation and retention tied to the project.
The Economic Adjustment Assistance Program provides funding for infrastructure, design and engineering, technical assistance, economic recovery strategies, and capitalization or recapitalization of Revolving Loan Funds. The program is tied closely to communities that are experiencing a sudden loss of economic activity due to job losses or a community that can see a loss on the horizon. An example of a funded project is a community that has recently lost a large manufacturer and is devising a revitalization strategy to move forward from that plant closing and promote the creation and retention of jobs in the community. The average Public Economic Adjustment Assistance program investment has been $820,000 but awards range from $100,000 to $1,250,000.
To qualify for the programs the applicant needs to provide outside verification that the project is in a region that meets the EDA’s economic distress criteria that is determined by demographic data including unemployment rate and per capita income and special needs criteria such as the amount of plant closings, threat of closure, military base alignment and closure, natural disasters, changing trade patterns, depletion of natural resources, or designation as a Promise Zone.
Funding provided by EDA generally must not exceed 50% of the total cost of the project. Projects that request no more than 30% of the project cost may receive special consideration. Additionally a “maximum investment rate” is applied over and above the project cost as determined by a number of demographic and economic factors.
Projects seeking funding for construction must complete the Federal application and provide a preliminary engineering report along with a narrative about the environmental conditions of the property and environmental reports if they have been completed.
Projects that have strong support from the region, have a collaboration amongst various institutions in a community, including higher education institutions, are likely to viewed favorably by EDA. Discussions with EDA regional staff are strongly encouraged before submitting an application.