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Latest Blog Posts

You Don’t Have to Start a Business to Think Like an Entrepreneur

Photo of Jay Williams, Assistant Secretary for Economic Development One of my favorite things about my time as Mayor of Youngstown was having the opportunity to go out and speak to students in local schools. I found myself inspired and energized by their enthusiasm and idealism. It’s so easy to get cynical in this world, but young people tend to be optimistic about the future, and it’s nice to be reminded that there are infinite possibilities for all of us – even those of us who have been out in the world for a while.

I have had the opportunity to speak to many different audiences in my previous role as the executive director of the auto recovery office and recently as Assistant Secretary. But last week, I got to get back to what I love when Montgomery College invited me to address its Business and Economics majors.

I was humbled by the turnout – in a room that had more than 75 seats, there was standing room only. Most of the students in attendance were minorities or immigrants, and it was very meaningful to me to be able to address such a group as an official of the Obama Administration.

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Highlight: When It Comes to Innovation, Size Does NOT Matter

Assistant Secretary Williams and DRA Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill participate in roundtable discussion with Arkansas entrepreneurs at the AR Innovation Hub There is a perception that innovation and entrepreneurship happen on the coasts while the rest of the country gets left behind. Yes, there are many places in America where the airports are so small you have to travel by puddle jumper to get there, and there is not a proliferation of a certain ubiquitous coffee shop on every block. But when it comes to innovation, size doesn’t matter. Small towns and cities across the country are doing some truly amazing things to support their innovators and entrepreneurs. Recently, Assistant Secretary Jay Williams and DRA Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill traveled to Tennessee, Missouri, and Arkansas to meet with local entrepreneurs at the incubators and training facilities that support them to see what innovation looks like with a touch of Southern hospitality.

After arriving in Memphis, Assistant Secretary Williams and Chairman Masingill met with several entrepreneurs at Memphis Bioworks, an organization that seeks to create companies, jobs, and investments in bioscience. Some of the solutions presented by companies are brilliant in their simplicity.

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Spotlight: EDA Participates in High-Level Economic Dialogue (HLED) with Mexico

Deputy Assistant Secretaries Matt Erskine and Tom Guevara participate in the Bi-National Workshop for Regional Economic Development Strategies and Innovation Ecosystems in Mexico. Economies don’t fit into neat borders of cities, counties, or states. Along the U.S.-Mexico border, they don’t always fit neatly into countries either. There are roughly 2,000 miles of shared border between Mexico and the United States that create a dynamic commercial relationship that generates more than $500 billion in two-way trade and supports millions of jobs in both countries.

Recognizing this, in May 2013, President Obama and President Peña Nieto announced the formation of the High-Level Economic Dialogue (HLED) to promote economic growth in both countries, create jobs for citizens on both sides of the border, and ensure that the United States and Mexico could compete globally. The first HLED was launched in September 2013, which developed a work plan based on the pillars of promoting competitiveness and connectivity; fostering economic growth, productivity, entrepreneurship, and innovation; and partnering for regional and global leadership.

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Success Story: Workforce Training is Not One Size Fits All

Officials cut the ribbon to open Tec Centro in Lancaster, Pa. Ensuring employers have a well-trained workforce with the skills employers need is key to economic growth. But it’s impossible to learn a skill if you don’t understand the instruction being given or if there are cultural barriers to the training. Culturally appropriate workforce training is crucial to ensuring a properly trained workforce in many parts of the country, and EDA has supported projects to provide that training in areas ranging from Pennsylvania to California.

In 2011, EDA announced a $1.3 million grant in Lancaster, PA to the Spanish American Civic Association (SACA) and the SACA Development Corporation of Lancaster to help renovate a vacant facility for use as the state-of-the-art Bilingual Technology Training Center. The center would extend bilingual and remedial training opportunities to prepare low-income minority clients for high-demand growth jobs in the Lancaster region

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EDA: Helping Communities Build Economic Resilience

Julie Lenzer Kirk, Director of the EDA Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Since taking office, President Obama and his administration have worked to help communities and regions impacted by natural disasters and major economic challenges respond and rebuild stronger than before.

This week, on a visit to Colorado, I was pleased to have the opportunity to announce two Economic Development Administration investments that support those efforts in two communities.

In Estes Park, a picturesque town located at the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, residents are working diligently to rebound from severe flooding that hit them hard as they were preparing for the busy snow season – and the economic tourism boon that comes with it - last fall.

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Economic Trail Blazers

Americans are intrepid by nature. From the first settlers, to the pioneers who tamed the Wild West, we are always looking to chart the uncharted. While there aren’t new lands to explore in our country – NOAA satellites have pretty much covered every inch – there are always new frontiers in business. Entrepreneurs drive the economy forward by pursuing new ideas and ventures or reinventing existing industry.

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Highlight: OECD Looks at Small Business

OECD Logo Large companies may seem to define American culture worldwide, but it is the small business that represents the American identity. Small business helped build this county and is still vitally important to the economy today.

The 2008 global economic crisis generated a major shock to regional and national economies, but the effects were particularly significant for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Even as the country begins to recover, SMEs continue to face serious challenges in obtaining financial support and loans. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recently published a preliminary report, Financing SMEs and Entrepreneurs 2014, which outlines some of the difficulties facing SMEs, and suggests some key reforms to support these small businesses to strengthen national economies.

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Spotlight: The Privilege of Public Service

Photo of Jeannette Tamayo, Regional Director, CRO I have always wanted to make a difference in low-income communities.

I started my career as full-time as a legal aid attorney during the day and volunteered as a pro bono attorney at night and on weekends. I realized that my work needed to be part of a greater goal, focused on outcomes. While I am not an economic development practitioner, I have worked around the economic development edges for a long time. You cannot address homelessness, joblessness, educational deficits, and a myriad of other issues without addressing the opportunities for gainful employment. When I looked at the federal government as a potential employer, I saw that EDA’s work helps build communities from the bottom up, which made it a logical choice and a natural fit for me.

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Success Story: Making Green Through Bi-National Trade in the Blue Water Region

Image of the Blue Water Region The $700 billion trade relationship between the United States and Canada represents the largest binational trade relationship in the world.  The Blue Water Region of east Michigan and southwest Ontario is home to the Blue Water Bridge, the nation’s third most valuable border crossing, and the only double-stack rail tunnel crossing between Michigan and Ontario. Therefore, the region is immensely important to sustaining the world’s largest trade relationship.  In addition to these transportation links, the region is home to a number of other binational economic assets in the automotive, agricultural, and bio-manufacturing sectors that can be mutually leveraged to diversify and drive the transitioning binational regional economy.

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Q&A: Reflections from EDA Staff

Photo of Millie Hayes, Civil Engineer, Austin Regional Office What drew you to EDA?

In my previous position with the US Department of Transportation, I worked on highway projects in urban metropolitan areas. There, I was asked to serve on national review teams for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Discretionary Grant Program. During that time, I was able to become involved with projects that I wasn’t typically able to provide oversight for, such as mobility and multimodal projects in rural economically distressed areas throughout the country. While working on USDOT’s program, I realized that I was motivated by projects that would improve economically distressed areas. The purposes of the projects struck a chord with me, so I was thrilled to see a civil engineer vacancy for EDA earlier this year that would allow me to use my engineering and environmental expertise to focus on economic development projects. I started working in the Austin Regional Office in early June and I am excited to join an agency with the mission to promote growth in the economy

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