Investing in America’s Communities
The Economic Development Administration’s American Rescue Plan Programs
July 22, 2021
Today, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is announcing $3 billion in funding opportunities to invest in distressed and underserved communities impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. This historic investment, funded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, will support bottom-up, middle-out economic development focused on advancing equity, creating good-paying jobs, helping workers to develop in-demand skills, building economic resilience, and accelerating the economic recovery for the industries and communities hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic.
EDA investments made under the American Rescue Plan will support the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment not just to build the American economy back to where it was before the pandemic, but to build back better and stronger. With these investments, communities across the country, including those historically left behind and left out, have the opportunity to excel. EDA will invest in infrastructure, innovation, and workforce training to create good-paying American jobs and strengthen our nation’s global economic competitiveness.
Today, EDA is announcing its Investing in America’s Communities programs:
- Build Back Better Regional Challenge ($1 billion)
- Good Jobs Challenge ($500 million)
- Economic Adjustment Assistance Challenge ($500 million)
- Indigenous Communities Challenge ($100 million)
- Travel, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation Grants ($750 million)
- Statewide Planning, Research and Networks Grants ($90 million)
Commerce and EDA, working with President Biden’s Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities, are also making a Coal Communities Commitment, allocating $300 million in American Rescue Plan funds (10 percent of the total EDA American Rescue Plan programs) to coal communities. This unprecedented investment in the economic development and diversification of these communities, which have powered America for more than a century, will ensure they have the resources to recover from the pandemic and will help create new jobs and opportunities, including through the development or expansion of new industry sectors.
To meet this commitment, EDA will allocate $100 million from the Build Back Better Regional Challenge and $200 million of Economic Adjustment Assistance Challenge to support coal communities.
EDA’s Investing in America’s Communities will:
- Build Back Better by Investing in All of America: As communities begin to recover from the economic crisis, EDA is uniquely positioned to support broad-based, equitable, community-led economic development. Utilizing funds from the American Rescue Plan, EDA will launch a $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge. This program will capitalize on American ingenuity and American workers by providing a transformational investment to 20 to 30 regions across the country to revitalize their economies. The challenge will invite regional coalitions to apply for funding to implement three to eight projects aligned with a cohesive regional development strategy, totaling $25 million -$75 million, and up to $100 million. These regions will have the opportunity to accelerate recovery and inclusive economic growth by developing new industries or expanding existing ones through planning, infrastructure development, workforce training, innovation and commercialization, access to capital, and more.
EDA will allocate an additional $500 million provided by the American Rescue Plan for Economic Adjustment Assistance Challenge. This is EDA’s most flexible program and will award grants to hundreds of communities across the country to support efforts to plan, build, innovate, and put people back to work through projects tailored to meet local needs.
Additionally, EDA is committing $300 million across its American Rescue Plan programs to coal communities. EDA’s Coal Communities Commitment will help ensure that these communities are supported as they recover from the pandemic and create new jobs and opportunities, including through the creation or expansion of a new industry sector. EDA will meet this commitment by allocating $100 million from the Build Back Better Regional Challenge and $200 million of Economic Adjustment Assistance Challenge.
- Get Americans Back to Work: The coronavirus pandemic has devastated the economic well-being of workers across the country. From big cities to small towns, Americans—particularly women, people of color, and low-wage workers—have faced economic insecurity and job loss. While the economy is showing signs of significant growth, there are still more than seven million fewer jobs in the United States than there were before the pandemic. EDA’s American Rescue Plan programs will get Americans back to work in good-paying jobs. From investing in worker training, to supporting manufacturing, to funding infrastructure projects, all six programs will put Americans back to work in communities across the country.
EDA’s Good Jobs Challenge addresses the structural barriers that American workers face head-on. The program will help to ensure that workers can develop in-demand skills that lead to good jobs and long-term careers. EDA will allocate $500 million to invest in building and strengthening regional workforce training systems and sector-based partnerships, with a focus on programs targeted at women, people of color, and historically underserved communities. EDA’s grantees will help workers complete training programs, including Registered Apprenticeships, and secure good-paying jobs by providing the wrap-around services that they need to succeed, like childcare and transportation. This program will encourage community organizations, training providers, and unions to partner with employers to create the talent pipeline to meet industry needs for today and the future and create concrete pathways for American workers to secure good-paying jobs.
- Support Underserved Communities: The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the inequalities that exist across and within our communities. Supporting underserved communities is fundamental to EDA’s work, and the Investing in America’s Communities programs will pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity by focusing on populations and underserved communities that have been denied full access to economic prosperity. The flexibility of funding and wide range of programs are designed to meet communities where they are in their economic development process. That could mean supporting planning projects to develop an economic vision for the future, breaking ground to develop the infrastructure needed to house industries or providing workforce training. EDA recently updated its investment priorities, the overarching framework that informs how EDA evaluates applications; equity is at the top of these priorities and every application will be reviewed through this lens.
Through the Indigenous Communities Challenge, EDA will allocate $100 million specifically for Indigenous communities, which were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. EDA will work hand-in-hand with Tribal Governments and Indigenous communities to develop and execute the economic development projects they need to recover from the pandemic and build economies for the future. Indigenous communities are also encouraged and eligible to apply to all of EDA’s other programs.
- Accelerate the Recovery of Our Hardest-Hit Communities: EDA is focused on revitalizing the industries that have been hardest hit by the pandemic, including the travel, tourism, and outdoor recreation industries. $750 million of American Rescue Plan funds will be allocated to accelerate the recovery of the travel and tourism sector and the communities that rely on the industry. EDA will distribute $510 million in State Tourism Grants that will be dispersed quickly to address the immediate needs of the tourism industry by investing in marketing, infrastructure, workforce, and other projects to rejuvenate safe leisure, business, and international travel.
In addition, through Regional Tourism Grants, EDA allocates $240 million for competitive grants to further invest in infrastructure, workforce, or other projects to support recovery and resilience in the communities hardest hit by disruptions in the travel, tourism, and outdoor recreation sectors.
- Plan for a Resilient Future: Building back better means developing equitable and resilient local economies that can withstand future economic shocks. EDA will allocate $59 million in State Planning grants to support this effort. Similarly, EDA has allocated $31 million for Communities of Practice and Research grants to evaluate implementation by EDA and its grantees and extend technical assistance to support EDA’s ability to work with and build capacity with new and existing grantees.
Through the implementation of these programs, EDA will play a central role in the economic recovery and growth of our nation as we work to build back better from the coronavirus pandemic. EDA will lead America’s economic development agenda and will promote innovation and competitiveness; provide opportunities for all Americans to thrive; and foster broad-based, equitable, and sustainable growth and prosperity in our economy.
Notices of Funding Opportunity for each challenge will be released shortly. All EDA American Rescue Plan funds must be awarded by September 2022.
We encourage all Americans to visit www.eda.gov/ARPA for more information on how to participate. Assistance is also available via our social media platforms, including Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube. Under the American Rescue Plan, EDA may make grants to state and local governmental entities, institutions of higher education, not-for-profit entities, and Tribes. EDA is not authorized to provide grants to individuals or for-profit entities.