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Economic and Community Development Networks and Partners

In addition to the program staff assigned to various state, regional, and district offices, federal agencies can extend their reach by partnering with nonfederal entities to deliver economic development services across the US. Information about various networks and related resources is provided below, and organized under the following topic headings:

Strategic Planning and Project Development Networks

Locally-owned strategic planning is critical to facilitating regional economic development efforts. Effective planning creates a road map, which practitioners and policymakers can use to identify and take the steps necessary to realize their desired economic vision. This is central to the bottom-up strategy of working with local communities to help them meet goals set and achieved locally with support from federal agencies. In addition to the EDA planning partners shown here, several other federal agencies work closely with similar partners to develop and implement long term strategies for transportation, rural development and related regional goals. In many cases, these organizations and plans present excellent opportunities to coordinate, enhance and leverage each other’s work.

EDA’s National Network of Regional Economic Development Partners includes:

Planning organizations supported by other federal agencies and programs:

Like EDA EDDs and University Centers, the entities below can be valuable partners to engage with for resource coordination, program alignment and to help advance regional economic development strategies. Follow the links below to find development and planning partners near you:

  • The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) works with the Appalachian states to support a network of multicounty planning and development organizations, or Local Development Districts (LDDs), throughout the Region. The 73 LDDs cover all 420 counties in Appalachia.
  • Delta Regional Authority (DRA) supports a network of Local Development Districts in its service area, that help to identify effective and impactful economic development projects for consideration for DRA investment.
  • Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO) and Regional/Rural Transportation Planning Organizations (RPOs) are created and designated to carry out the transportation planning process, including plans for transportation improvement programs (TIPs) that are submitted through the state for DOT funding consideration.
  • Rural Regional Development Centers are four university based organizations that collaborate with their local Land Grant Universities and the USDA to provide planning assistance to rural regions participating in USDA RD’s Stronger Economies Together (SET) program.

Assistance for Businesses and Industry

EDA provides flexible program grants to eligible public and nonprofit entities that develop strategic plans, invest in infrastructure and equipment, and undertake capacity building projects to support conditions that allow large and small businesses to thrive. Other federal agencies partner with local organizations to provide direct assistance to individuals and businesses –helping them to find affordable capital, enter new markets, refine business plans and improve processes that can make them more stable and profitable assets for the region and the US. The following organizations, networks and centers are important components of the regional ecosystem that supports innovation, entrepreneurship, investment and broad based economic opportunities.

U.S. Department of Commerce Resources:

Partner Networks supported by other Federal Agencies:

Capital Access and Lending Intermediaries

One frequent barrier to success for many US entrepreneurs and businesses is the ability to find and secure affordable start-up and growth capital. A number of federal programs have programs that provide gap financing, loans and guarantees to address this need. Typically, these programs work with local or regional intermediaries such as community banks, credit unions, venture funds and other financial institutions, to provide financing for clients that may be overlooked or underserved by traditional financing sources. See below for more information about these federally-supported capital resources, and how to access them in your area.

  • EDA Revolving Loan Fund program. Through EDA’s Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) grant program, applicants can request funds to establish a Revolving Loan Fund (RLF), in order to operate a lending program that makes loans to businesses that cannot obtain traditional bank financing and to governmental entities for public infrastructure.
  • USDA Rural Development’s Intermediary Relending Program (PDF) USDA-RD’s IRP program provides low-interest loans to local intermediaries that re-lend to businesses and for community development projects in rural communities.
    • Contact your local Rural Development office for a current list of intermediaries who manage these loan funds. You can also inquire about lenders participating in USDA-RD’s business loan and loan guarantee programs.
  • U.S. Treasury Department’s CDFI Fund provides financing to CDFIs throughout the country that, in turn, provide financing to businesses, individuals and economic development projects across the country. The CDFI webpage lists Certified CDFIs that can be sorted by name, location and type (bank, credit union, venture capital fund), and provides contacts for more information.
  • SBA’s MicroLoan Program works with designated intermediary lenders across the country to provide financing to small businesses. SBA also works with Certified Development Companies (CDCs), which are non-profit corporations set up to contribute to the economic development of its community. CDCs are certified and regulated by the SBA.

Workforce Development Partners

The capacity of regions to effectively address the creation and/or retention of high-quality jobs, especially in distressed areas, is a core objective for EDA and our local partners. An important federal partner in this mission is the Department of Labor’s Employment Training Administration (DOL ETA), which administers various grant resources and related service networks to equip American workers with the skills they need to secure positions in high demand sectors and industries. EDA stakeholders can find productive collaboration partners in the following entities that offer resources and technical assistance to job seekers and employers:

How Can We Improve This Page? Let Us Know!

The EDI team is always looking for opportunities to update and improve the federal economic development resources featured on this page. Please help us make sure that the information we post is consistently useful to your organizations, communities and regions. If you have ideas or updated content you would like us to include here, please contact us at

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