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SPOTLIGHT | Tribal Engagement Coordinator Carolee Wenderoth is Creating Greater Access to EDA Opportunities Among Indigenous Communities

EDA American Rescue Plan Carolee Wenderoth came to EDA in 2021 as the Tribal Engagement Coordinator. She is the first person to occupy this new position and serves an advisory role on Tribal issues.

Originally from Montana, Wenderoth is a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. She began her federal career at the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), where she was first introduced to EDA and its mission.

“The Tribal Engagement Coordinator position was described in part as building and expanding relationships among all levels of government with American Indians, Indian Tribes, Alaska natives and other Native communities, as well as national and state economic development corporations," Wenderoth says. “It provoked my interest in joining the EDA, as I felt that this position, coupled with the new American Rescue Plan Indigenous Communities program, would offer me the opportunity to better serve Tribal communities and affect positive economic development.”

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EDA Partners With Jobs for the Future to Launch Good Jobs Challenge Community of Practice

EDA American Rescue Plan On August 3, 2022, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced its award of a $4.6 million grant to Jobs for the Future (JFF) to coordinate and lead a national Community of Practice (CoP) dedicated to sharing best practices, providing technical assistance, and extending professional networks among the $500 million Good Jobs Challenge’s grantee organizations announced earlier on August 3.

In managing the CoP, JFF will foster collaboration among grantees to increase and strengthen networks to fortify the connection between workforce and economic development professionals; provide access to subject matter experts, coaching and technical assistance to individual awardees on building workforce systems and sector strategies; curate a regular cadence of data-sharing workshops; coordinate with grantees on the development of program impact measurement methods; and convene quarterly and annual convenings among grantee organizations to enhance interorganizational networking and to share field-informed innovation.

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Spotlight | EDA’s First Tribal Economic Development Representative Ernest Weston, Jr. is Building Stronger Relationships With Our Tribal Communities

EDA American Rescue Plan Ernest Weston, Jr. is the Tribal Economic Development Representative (EDR) in the Denver Regional Office, the first Tribal specific EDR role within EDA. He came to EDA in 2021, at a time of historic funding opportunities made available through the American Rescue Plan. A key component of that is the Indigenous Communities program, which allocated $100 million specifically in grants to Indian country.

“I wanted to be a part of this historic time and put my skills to use by helping EDA build a stronger relationship with our Tribal stakeholders and partners,” Weston said. “I truly believe in public service to our communities and future generations, and I felt that this was an avenue to do so.”

Weston represents EDA to over 34 Tribal nations spanning ten western states. He is currently conducting outreach to many of those nations unfamiliar with EDA, its mission and its programs. It is that aspect of his position that he finds most rewarding, as he enjoys connecting with people and communities and listening to their stories.

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Communities of Practice Provide Long-Term Support for EDA Grantees

EDA American Rescue Plan For 56 years, EDA has dedicated its efforts to provide resources and support that advance economic development across the country. Our mission is to establish a foundation for sustainable job growth and build resilient regional economies across all corners of the nation.

To achieve that goal, EDA recognizes that innovation and collaboration are key drivers of successful economic development. The best outcomes occur when organizations and leaders across communities work as one team to align resources and capacity from academia, industry, and philanthropy to drive a region forward. This same spirit of regional collaboration is one reason why our agency invests in long-term support for grantees through national Communities of Practice that strengthen America’s economic development infrastructure by capturing, organizing, and scaling practices at the national level.

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EDA Celebrates Pride Month

Image of a rainbow flag Expanding on the achievements of a half-century of progress, over the last decade, the LGBTQI+ community has made significant strides in becoming more integrated into American civic life. In the U.S. Department of Commerce, as many as 7.1 percent of employees may identify as members of the LGBTQI+ community, on par with one recent estimate of the nation’s total LGBTQI+ population.

While substantial achievements in a more equitable United States have been made, work remains to be done to ensure the promise of American prosperity is experienced as widely as possible. In his proclamation of May 31, President Biden called on Americans to “confront the disproportionate levels of poverty, homelessness, and unemployment in the LGBTQI+ community.”

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Assistant Secretary Castillo Talks Cooperation, Advancement at Summit of the Americas IX

EDA American Rescue Plan Last week, the United States hosted the Organization of American States’(OAS) ninth Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, California, for the first time since 1994. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo was a senior member joining the U.S. Department of Commerce delegation to the historic summit. While there, President Biden announced the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity, a historic new agreement to drive the hemisphere’s economic recovery and growth.

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Build Back Better Regional Challenge Plays Catalytic Role in Accelerating Economic Development Strategies Across the Nation

EDA American Rescue Plan The Build Back Better Regional Challenge (BBBRC) – the marquee program of EDA’s American Rescue Plan programs – is a $1 billion investment towards competitiveness and prosperity of regional economies across the United States. It represents a bold belief that with the right resources , bottom-up and middle out economic participation of key stakeholders and an inclusive strategy all regions can successfully participate in the global economy and create good jobs for workers at all skill levels. For too many Americans, the pandemic represents just the latest economic shock that has battered their communities, reduced wages, and eliminated entire local industries. Yet all U.S. regions have existing assets that, with the right investments and stakeholder participation, can be built upon to ensure these places not only survive, but thrive in the modern, global economy.

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All EDA American Rescue Plan Programs Now Closed to Applications, Tremendous Demand for Full Spectrum of EDA Program Assistance Indicates Critical Local Need

EDA American Rescue Plan As the United States continues to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, the $3 billion allocated to the Economic Development Administration (EDA) under President Biden’s American Recue Plan is allowing the bureau to make once-in-a-generation investments to dramatically transform America’s communities during this critical moment in our history.

Since launching its six American Rescue Plan programs in July 2021, EDA has been working expeditiously to equitably move this critical funding into our communities. Today, EDA is celebrating the more than 2,500 communities that designed economic development strategies and submitted projects for this special funding.

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Supporting Technology-Based Economic Development is Key to EDA’s Mission

EDA American Rescue Plan For more than 55 years, EDA has practiced a place-based, bottom-up approach to economic development by investing in three critical elements: infrastructure, workforce, and business support that regional economies need to build globally competitive, future-focused industries.

As technology changes every aspect of the global economy, each community must pivot their strategies in ways that best serve them. EDA’s approach to support these locally driven strategies remains paramount. In fact, EDA’s investment priorities include technology-based economic development — meaning we encourage projects that foster entrepreneurship and startups, commercialization of new technologies, and workforce development for high-skilled, good-paying jobs of the future.

Modern infrastructure, including transportation hubs and research facilities, is an important ingredient for tech-based economic development. Beyond the traditional definition of infrastructure, the Biden Administration understands that broadband connectivity is a critical need for communities to build businesses of the future and is making strategic investments to reflect that, including $65 billion in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help deliver affordable, reliable, high-speed internet to every American.

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On Earth Day 2022, EDA Continues Its Commitment to Sustainable Development

EDA American Rescue Plan The Economic Development Administration (EDA) was founded on the eve of the modern environmental movement when, five years before the first observance of Earth Day, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965.

Climate Resilience & Sustainability at Our Core

Today’s EDA is at the forefront of sustainable economic development. We recognize that economic vitality, climate resilience, and quality of life are closely linked through the global ecosystem, and that the promotion of innovation and competitiveness, and the creation of good-paying jobs, is inseparably entangled with respect for people and planet.

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Americas Competitive Exchange (ACE) brings high-level global delegation to Louisiana

EDA American Rescue Plan Louisiana hosted the 14th America’s Competitiveness Exchange (ACE) between March 26 – April 1, bringing together more than 60 global leaders representing 21 countries and multiple international organizations to share economic development best practices and explore opportunities for partnerships.

ACE is the premier economic development, innovation, and entrepreneurial network of the Americas and is one of the leading high-level events of the Organization of American States (OAS). The ACE program is one of the core initiatives of the Inter-American Competitiveness Network (RIAC) and organized in partnership with EDA, the International Trade Administration, and the U.S. Department of State.

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EDA's American Rescue Plan Status Update

EDA American Rescue Plan Due to the continued high volume of applications and interest EDA has received for its programs funded through the American Rescue Plan, EDA is providing the following status update on its Economic Adjustment Assistance and Indigenous Communities programs.

Economic Adjustment Assistance Program

March 31, 2022 marked the suggested deadline for EDA’s Economic Adjustment Assistance program and EDA closed the program at that time. EDA received application submissions well in excess of available appropriations, totaling over $2 billion in demand across the country, or over 4 times the $500 million available through this program.

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EDA Focused on Equity

Photo of Ellen Heinz The pandemic has affected communities across the country, but widely reported statistics show how it is disproportionately impacting communities of color and those of lower income. It is critical that as local economies across our country continue to recover from the pandemic, it is done in an inclusive, equitable way.

We at the Economic Development Administration (EDA) take our responsibility seriously in creating that inclusive, equitable recovery. That is why, last spring, we revised our Investment Priorities, which are the principles that guide our grant giving, putting Equity at the top of the list.

We want to ensure that communities across country, particularly those that are underserved, get the resources, technical assistance and funding they need to spur economic development and create good paying jobs and that workers get the skills they need to land those good jobs.

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Female Mentors Helped Ohio EDR Navigate Career in Economic Development

Photo of Ellen Heinz When Ellen Heinz started her career in economic development 15 years ago, it was a male dominated field. Over the years, she credits a handful of female mentors and role models with teaching her to stand up for herself and make sure her voice was heard.

“They taught me to be courageous and strong, and to always do what was best for my community; to never give up,” said Heinz, who is now EDA’s Economic Development Representative (EDR) in Ohio.

Those lessons also emphasized the critical need for women’s voices in economic development, especially strategic planning. It’s something important to remember during Women’s History Month, she said.

“Women need to be at the table when a community is creating an economic strategy or developing a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS),” she said. “A CEDS is a roadmap for success that can only be built effectively with widespread input and everyone’s perspective.”

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EDA Invests in Coal Communities: Assistant Secretary Castillo Visits Ohio and West Virginia to Spotlight Projects throughout Appalachian Region

Photo of Deputy Assistant Secretary Michele Chang Alejandra Y. Castillo, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, visited Youngstown, Ohio, and Charleston, West Virginia, last week. She toured EDA grant projects and participated in two events led by the Biden Administration’s Interagency Working Group (IWG) on Coal and Power Plant Communities & Economic Revitalization.

The visit started March 17 at the Youngstown Business Incubator in Youngstown, Ohio, where the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) announced nearly $21 million in grants to 21 projects through its POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) initiative. POWER targets federal resources to communities affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries.

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EDA Seattle Regional Office Director Sheba Person-Whitley’s Love of Public Service Inspired by Women

Photo of Deputy Assistant Secretary Michele Chang For Sheba Person-Whitley, Women’s History Month is not just about recognizing notable women. It’s also about removing the veil that sometimes masks the role all women have played in building American prosperity.

“Historically, women were discouraged from working or entering into the workforce,” says Person-Whitley. “But in times of great need, women have had to step-up and step outside the home to support their families and support the nation’s economy.”

Person-Whitley’s interest in the commercial dimension of the contributions of women is particularly salient given her background in economic development. Recently appointed director of EDA’s Seattle Regional Office (SRO), the North Carolina native comes to federal service after a distinguished career in community and economic development in California and the southeastern United States.

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Deputy Assistant Secretary Chang Celebrates Women’s History Month with Focus on New Opportunities

Photo of Deputy Assistant Secretary Michele Chang March is recognized as Women’s History Month, both in the U.S. and abroad. It is a time to honor the generations of women and girls who came before us, overcame hardships, and strived for equity, equality and economic prosperity in communities across the country.

Michele Chang, EDA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, believes it is important for all women to have a voice, noting that according to the U.S. Census Bureau, women make up fifty percent of the U.S. population, but only 27% are board members of Fortune 500 companies and 26% are U.S. Senators according to Pew Research. She feels strongly that in order to build back better women will play a vital role so that we can plan and execute projects that will build resilient economies to serve all Americans for generations to come.

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Assistant Secretary Castillo Celebrates Women’s History Month with a Call to Action

Photo of Assistant Secretary Castillo Women’s History Month is an opportunity to celebrate the contributions of women and girls in our economy and society. Assistant Secretary Alejandra Y. Castillo also sees it as a call to action; a time for all of us to be allies on the issues that impact women most.

“We need every voice for women’s empowerment, to dream and dream big without any impediments,” Castillo said. “This month serves as an opportunity to make sure that we not only support women, but that we also help that little girl see her dreams realized.”

Inspiring and empowering women has long been a passion of Castillo’s, having served several years as CEO of YWCA USA. In that position, she oversaw a network of more than 200 associations across the country, which served more than 2 million women and girls nationwide. It’s something she wants to continue as Assistant Secretary.

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Assistant Secretary Castillo Highlights Trade, Entrepreneurship, and Ecotourism in Visit to South Texas

Screenshot of video U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo traveled to the Lone Star state for an up-close look at EDA’s investments in South Texas.

On Tuesday, February 22, 2022, Castillo helped cut the ribbon on the new South Texas Ecotourism Center, joining U.S. Congressmen Filemon Vela and Vicente Gonzalez and several local leaders in celebrating the grand opening of the center, including Cameron County Commissioner David Garza, who was critical in the development of the project The project itself demonstrates the impact of placed-based locally driven economic development and the importance of EDA’s impact in communities across the country.

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Build Back Better Regional Challenge Conference Video Recordings Now Available to Help Broader Economic Development Community

Screenshot of video Building resilient regional economies requires specific strategies to incorporate equity, ensure effective governance, create competitiveness and secure commitments to action. To assist our Build Back Better Regional Challenge finalists as they continue to develop their strategies, EDA brought together world-class experts during a virtual conference that was held February 2-3, 2022.

While the conference provided critical technical assistance to finalists as they prepare their Phase 2 applications, the information that was shared can be helpful to any community that is working to transform their regional economy, create jobs or develop an inclusive economic development strategy for growth.

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Status Update on EDA’s American Rescue Plan Programs

GRAPHIC: American Rescue Plan Due to the high volume of applications and interest EDA has received for its six American Rescue Plan programs, EDA would like to provide a status update on its $3 billion American Rescue Plan Programs. EDA strongly recommends any entities actively working on an application to contact their local Economic Development Representative (EDR) to discuss their region s availability of funds.

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EDA Seeks Additional Applications to Conduct Research on American Rescue Plan Programs

GRAPHIC: American Rescue Plan EDA seeks additional applications for grants to support research of EDA’s American Rescue Plan, which aim to strengthen regional economies nationwide and support economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

EDA is currently reviewing applications for American Rescue Plan funding and has determined that it has received no or limited applications addressing critical areas of research into the following EDA American Rescue Plan programs – Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA); Indigenous Communities; Travel, Tourism & Outdoor Recreation; and Statewide Planning.

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Assistant Secretary Castillo Visits Philadelphia to Announce STEM Talent Challenge Awardees and Meet with EDA Grantees

Assistant Secretary Castillo announces the STEM Talent Challenge grant recipients at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia on January 27, 2022 U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo visited Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on January 27, 2022, to announce the eight grant recipients of the $2 million STEM Talent Challenge.

Castillo made the announcement at The Wistar Institute, one of the grantees and a world leader in early-stage discovery science in the areas of cancer, immunology, and infectious disease. She was joined by U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, who represents Pennsylvania’s 5th congressional district, and Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney.

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