The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is traditionally at the point of the spear for the federal government related to economic development program. The recently Congress recently provided the EDA with $1.5 B in supplemental funding for the Economic Adjustment Assistance program, of which 2% is carved out to support ‘salaries and expenses’ expected from a surge of requests for funding.

The EDA’s Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) program is designed to offer a wide range of technical, planning, and public works and infrastructure assistance in regions experiencing adverse economic changes that occur suddenly or over time. With the recent onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, almost every community in the United States is experiencing sudden and adverse economic change.

Economic Adjustment Assistance funding can provide invaluable support to your economic development efforts:

Strategy Grants – supports the development, updating or refinement of a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). As a community, having a CEDS in place is a prerequisite for qualifying for EDA funds for projects. Some questions to ask about a CEDS:
⦁ If you have a CEDS in place, how has the COVID-19 crisis impacted priorities in your current strategy? Does your strategy need to be updated or refined?
⦁ If you do not have a CEDS in place, should you have one? A strategy grant will help fund developing your strategy.

Implementation Grants – supports the execution of activities identified in a CEDS. What strategic priorities are listed within your CEDS that will prepare your community for future economic development success?
⦁ CEDS strategies around infrastructure improvements, including site acquisition, site preparation, construction, rehabilitation and equipping of facilities can be funded through implementation grants.
⦁ Specific strategies within a CEDS can be funded, as can multiple elements of a single investment (think establishing a new industrial park where land acquisition and extension of public infrastructure are necessary).

The EAA program is EDA’s most flexible program. Under the EAA program, EDA can fund market and environmental studies, planning or construction grants, and seed or replenish revolving loan funds (RLFs) to provide small businesses with capital needs.

Project Competitiveness Perspective. In these trying times, focusing on priorities like creating a CEDS or catalyzing a priority within an existing CEDS elevates a community’s competitiveness in receiving EDA funding. To position your community’s projects competitively for EDA EAA funding, prioritize projects that are positioned to start quickly and create jobs faster; look at how the project will enable your community/region to become more diversified and economically balanced; and relieves economic distress of your community/region.

One catalytic success story that was awarded EAA program funds was to aide a community impacted by the decline of its primary economic driver, its energy-producing sector. Using EAA funding, the community developed a strategy to accelerate the region’s transition out of the coal economy via entrepreneurial growth, workforce development, cluster expansion, Opportunity Zone enhancement, and prioritizing infrastructure investment needs to access local, national and global markets. The results of this strategy will diversify the economy and create new opportunities for entrepreneurs and manufacturers.

Almost any community across the country can argue that EDA Economic Adjustment Assistance funding would be key to raising businesses and employees up out of economic adversity. The Montrose team has extensive experience in strategic planning, Opportunity Zone utilization and building financial structures to fund economic development priority projects. Let us help your community access EDA’s expanded Economic Adjustment Assistance program to catalyze your most needed projects.

Contact Nate Green at ngreen@montrosegroupllc.com or Jamie Beier Grant at jbgrant@montrosegroupllc.com at the Montrose Group if you have an interest in gaining access to EDA funding or for other economic development efforts.