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The Importance of Service

Assistant Secretary Jay Williams tours robotics lab with Detroit Public School Students at the Cody Academy of Public Leadership. Detroit was an early adopter of the My Brother’s Keeper initiative. We all face frustrations and challenges in our daily lives. Most of us are fortunate that our biggest complaint is often a bad day at our office job, the perils of DC traffic, or the fact that our DVR didn’t record the end of the game. It’s become a bit of a joke on social media with the advent of #FirstWorldProblems. Yet, there are many people living in the “First World” whose problems are much bigger than we realize.

Many young men of color in this country live in poverty. In fact, minority children are 6 to 9 times more likely to be raised in areas of concentrated poverty. For most living below the poverty line, this gap in wealth creates a gap in opportunities that only grows as these children enter adulthood. I was privileged to have been afforded many opportunities growing up in a middle class household, but I know many of the other young black men of Youngstown, my hometown, were not so fortunate. That's why the President's efforts to address this issue are so personal to me.

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Highlight: What You Need to Know About EDA Grant Process and Regulation Changes

Submitting a grant application to EDA? Toying with the idea of applying for funding at some point? There are some important changes to our processes that you need to know.

You may remember that EDA had requested comments a while back on ways to improve its regulations. Our stakeholders submitted 170 comments which shaped a proposed rule. EDA considered all of the feedback in developing the final rule, which appeared in the Federal Register on December 19, 2014. The new regulations will take effect on January 20, 2015. The final rule clarifies EDA’s policies and definitions, streamlines regulations, and facilitates coordination among federal investment opportunities.

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Spotlight: Guest Column - The Important Work of NACIE Begins

NACIE Member Julie Goonewardene By Julie Goonewardene, Vice Chancellor for Innovation & Strategic Investment, Diaceutics Chairwoman, AMA Board, MBI Board

Last year, I was honored to be appointed as an advisor to Secretary Pritzker as part of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE). NACIE is emblematic of all the entrepreneurs, educators, philanthropists, and innovators in all sectors of the economy who are working to ensure that our country remains a place of opportunity, innovation and entrepreneurship for generations to come. In December 2014 Secretary Pritzker convened the first meeting of the 27-member NACIE.   My NACIE colleagues impress me. We are a diverse group, and I was excited to hear from my fellow council members as they brought their experiences to bear as we began discussing the issues. I can’t think of a better group to address the challenges of creating an innovation economy.

As the current NACIE we are charged with bringing our ideas, and networks together to identify and recommend policies, programs, and partnerships that can help American businesses, individuals, and communities become even more competitive in the global marketplace.

Economic development is hard. It demands years of sustained effort that transcends political movements, market cycles, demographic changes, and geopolitical shifts. It also requires people from all sectors of the economic ecosystem to analyze and understand what is working, to offer alternatives where improvement is needed, and to reach consensus around policies and investments that support paths to prosperity for all Americans.

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Success Story: Flooding Wisconsin with Innovation

Map of the UWM Innovation Campus In 2008, flooding devastated the City of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. Heavy rain, winds, and several tornadoes had caused lakes, rivers, and creeks to overflow, literally washing away homes and businesses. The manufacturing sector was particularly affected, which contributed to a rise in unemployment. The entire state of Wisconsin was declared a disaster area in June of that year, and the long task of rebuilding began with help from several federal and local agencies. As things were slowly put back together, the City of Wauwatosa and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Real Estate Foundation, Inc. opted to think about the long-term resiliency of the region’s economy and began working on a plan.

In 2010, the two organizations received an EDA grant for $5.4 million to construct a LEED silver certified industry accelerator facility with world class laboratories. The facilities funded by the EDA grant were part of an innovation campus that the city and University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee (UWM) created to nurture advanced manufacturing businesses. This blend of higher education with business initiatives minimizes technology transfer difficulties and helps the region’s pillar sector of manufacturing recover from the floods of 2008 and the subsequent rise in unemployment. The Innovation Campus already credits over 325 jobs and $15 million in private investment to the development of the Accelerator project.

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Message From Assistant Secretary Jay Williams

The New Year is always a time of great promise – and it’s no different at EDA. This year, EDA will celebrate its 50th anniversary. For 50 years EDA has been helping communities across the nation strengthen and grow their economies. While we look back to commemorate our history and community impact, we are also excited to look to the future. In 2015, we will continue our work across agencies that foster regional collaboration, like IMCP. We will continue to support small businesses and entrepreneurs through the Regional Innovation Strategies programs, and we will help communities plan, build, or rebuild in order to be more resilient and competitive in the global economy. Thank you to all of our stakeholders and community partners for their instrumental work in helping to create sustainable economic growth and opportunity for the communities we serve.

Thank you for your continued support. Happy New Year! Let’s make 2015 a great year together.


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New Program for Coal-Reliant Communities: Application Now Open!

ALT_TAG The National Association of Counties and the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) Research Foundation are pleased to announce a new opportunity for counties and regions experiencing economic challenges due to the contraction of the coal industry. Throughout 2015, NACo and NADO Research Foundation will host three intensive, hands-on workshops designed to boost the innovative potential of coal-reliant counties and regions seeking to grow and diversify their economies.

Counties and regions are asked to form teams to apply to enter the program, and teams that submit winning applications will be selected to attend a training workshop facilitated by expert practitioners. These workshops will be structured to guide counties and regions to design solutions tailored to their communities’ needs and identify implementable projects.

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2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit is Now Open for Business

ALT_TAG In my first year as Secretary, one of my proudest moments was welcoming international investors to the 2013 SelectUSA Investment Summit. Alongside President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, we made it clear that America is “Open for Business.” 

As 2015 begins, we are moving full speed ahead with registration for the second SelectUSA Investment Summit, which will take place in the DC metro area on March 23-24, 2015. 

In November, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released new data showing why efforts to attract international investment are so important. U.S. affiliates of foreign firms employed 5.8 million people in the United States in 2012. These companies spent $48 billion on U.S. research and development, and they exported nearly $344 billion worth of goods manufactured in the United States. In 2013, the United States attracted $231 billion in FDI, up from $170 billion in 2012.

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Building Data-Driven Workforce Solutions

Building Data-Driven Workforce Solutions Last Friday was the kickoff meeting for NACIE 2.0 – the Department of Commerce’s National Advisory Committee on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. I was proud to join my fellow committee members to address global competiveness. Without question, the meeting started in what can only be described as a sprint out of the blocks. We began the morning with Secretary Pritzker asking us what transformational investments and policies the Federal Government facilitate to help communities, businesses, and workers be globally competitive. By the end of the day we were presenting a list of ideas with the potential to answer this charge. Additional comments from Julie Kirk, Director of the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and Tom Kalil, Deputy Director of Policy for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, helped frame the opportunities ahead. 

A new and welcomed feature of NACIE 2.0 is three subcommittees focusing on innovation, entrepreneurship, and workforce development. I’m looking forward to serving on the workforce subcommittee. At JPMorgan Chase, we’ve just completed the first year of New Skills at Work, a five-year, $250 million global initiative supporting the development of data-driven workforce training and education solutions to help address the mismatch between the needs of employers and the skills of current job seekers.

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Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Workforce Skills Pillars in Ensuring U.S. Competitiveness

Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Workforce Skills Pillars in Ensuring U.S. Competitiveness It’s an honor to serve with such distinguished members of NACIE and to have a voice in this national conversation about innovation and entrepreneurship. This is an especially personal topic to me. Innovation and entrepreneurship are in my blood – and a part of my heritage. I’m the son of international students from China who sought – and largely achieved – the American dream in Delaware, where I grew up and first discovered my love of science and technology.

Like the children of many immigrants, I was born with high expectations from my high-achieving parents. My late father was an accomplished DuPont polymer engineer, process inventor, and NASA Lifetime Achievement Award-winner. My mother helped found the University of Delaware’s clinical chemistry department. As you can imagine, there was a lot of pressure on me and my siblings to excel.

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Highlight: An Innovative Year at EDA

Asst. Secretary Jay Williams and OIE Director Julie Kirk participate in an Innovation Roundtable for Global Entrepreneurship Week Innovation is a huge priority for the Department of Commerce. Promoting innovation and entrepreneurship is one of the five pillars of the strategic plan, and it permeates the activities across the entire department. In April, Secretary Pritzker chaired the first meeting of the President’s Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE), which is a group of successful American businesspeople who have committed to sharing their time, energy, ideas, and experience to help develop the next generation of entrepreneurs.

This year, EDA has made tremendous strides in its efforts to promote and foster innovation. In May, Secretary Pritzker announced Julie Lenzer Kirk’s appointment as the Director of the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE). In the little over six months since Julie came aboard, OIE has worked to fill the 2014-2016 National Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE) board, launched a Regional Innovation Strategies program, and has emphasized the vital role economic development plays in fostering innovation.

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