The U.S. Economic Development Administration: An Overlooked Resource for Communities?

This year, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is celebrating 50 years of partnering with communities throughout the United States to establish a foundation for sustainable job growth and building durable regional economies. As the only federal government agency focused exclusively on domestic economic development priorities, have you given much thought to how the EDA may be a resource for your community?

As you think of how to answer this question, consider the two key economic drivers of EDA’s strategy – innovation and regional collaboration within distressed communities and regions that benefit . If I were a betting Economic Development professional (and by betting, I mean pouring pennies into the penny slots), innovation and collaboration are approaches that your EDO has thought about often. To be forward-thinking, EDO’s must find ways to support accelerating innovation and entrepreneurship; advancing regional competitiveness; creating higher-skill, living wage jobs; generating private investment; and bolstering targeted industry clusters. All of which fall in line with EDA priorities.

There are a variety of resources offered through the U.S. Economic Development Administration to assist communities and regions advance priorities. Programs such as Public Works, Economic Adjustment Revolving Loan Fund, and Partnership Planning are a few ways EDA funds help communities realize various regional economic development strategies. A snapshot of funding aspects includes:

  • EDA funding for public infrastructure improvements is typically structured as a 50/50 match and in an award range of $1M – $3M. Does your community have an economic development related public infrastructure project of at least $2M?
  • Did you know you can partner EDA money with federal CDBG funds and Opportunity Zones? 
  • Eligible uses of EDA public infrastructure funds could be roads, water, sewer, laying conduit for future fiber, and streetscape improvements.
  • EDA typically does not fund speculative projects – think of it as “if EDA funds are used, XYZ’s project can move forward.”
  • Having multiple beneficiaries along the route of the infrastructure improvements is critical.
  • Looking out over a 10-year period at the total estimated CapEx and job creation is a key aspect of justifying the need for EDA funds. What does the next 10 years of your project look like? 
  • Job creation benefitting low- and moderate-income individuals is an EDA priority.
  • Lead applicants are typically the local government authority (city, county, etc.).

EDA’s Public Works program and Economic Adjustment Act programs (which includes Assistance to Coal Communities) provide investments supporting construction, non-construction, planning, technical assistance, and revolving loan fund projects. Grants and cooperative agreements made under these programs are designed to leverage existing regional assets and support the implementation of economic development strategies that advance new ideas and creative approaches to advance economic prosperity in distressed communities, including those negatively impacted by changes to the coal economy.

If you have initiatives that align with EDA’s investment priorities, have you considered the potential of leveraging this federal funding resource to bring those initiatives to fruition? The Montrose Group is here to help you determine the right EDA funding source for your community. 

Source: U.S. Economic Development Administration