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South Texas Educational Attainment Study to Increase Workforce Development Opportunities

In 2017, the South Texas Development Council joined EDA’s VISTA Corps program and selected VISTA Member Angela Bonner to address educational attainment and workforce development capacity needs for South Texas. Bonner was assigned to meet and work with community members to identify community needs through data collection and by assisting in the development of a comprehensive plan outlining resources to support local workforce development efforts.

Throughout her service year, Bonner has gathered quantitative and qualitative data to gain better insights on the community. She developed and conducted surveys with community members to identify social and economic barriers prohibiting educational attainment. She has also conducted a number of interviews with educational institutions, local business, city officials, and community stakeholders.

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Spotlight: As One-Year Anniversaries Are Marked, EDA Assists Hurricane Impacted Communities with Disaster Recovery

Angela Bonner speaks with community resident in South Texas This month, we mark the one-year anniversary of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria that devastated parts of Texas, the Southeast U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Over the past year, EDA’s regional offices have been working closely with Economic Development Districts (EDDs), federal, state and local officials and other partners in areas impacted by the hurricanes to assist with economic recovery and growth. Supporting local efforts to boost businesses is a major priority for EDA, and we are proud to assist our nation in building back better and stronger.

As the coordinator of the Economic Recovery Support Function (ERSF) under the National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF), EDA deployed to four hurricane-impacted locations simultaneously.

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Success Story: EDA Investments in Disaster Recovery and Resiliency Programs for Regions Impacted by Hurricane Harvey

EDA  Economic Recovery Workshop Hurricane Harvey hit southeast Texas as a Category 4 storm on August 25, 2017. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has stated that Harvey was “the most significant tropical cyclone rainfall event” in U.S. history with up to 48-60 inches of rain over five days. 300,000 structures were flooded, the storm surge crested at over seven feet, and winds in excess of 130 mph caused significant damage. Current estimates place the total damage from Hurricane Harvey at $125 billion, making it one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history. The Presidential Disaster Declaration included 41 counties for individual assistance and 53 counties for public assistance.

For Hurricane Harvey, EDA’s Austin Regional Office (AURO) recognized that economic recovery activities should be led locally, devoting both staffing and Economic Development Assistance Program (EDAP) resources to this task.

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Highlight: One Year After Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Long-Term Recovery Planning Activity Boosts Puerto Rico’s Economic Development

Debris in the wake of a hurricane One year after Hurricanes Irma and Maria ripped through Puerto Rico, much is still being done to rebuild and revitalize the communities that suffered from the storms. With more resources and unwavering commitment to helping rebuild after these natural disasters, EDA’s focus on the area is as strong as ever.

EDA has contributed by making several recent FY18 Disaster Supplemental investments in Puerto Rico to support technical assistance, entrepreneurial programs, manufacturing, tourism, and research and development. These grants are project to save or create over 1200 jobs.

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EDA AmeriCorps VISTA Supports Economic Development Efforts in East Arkansas

EDA AmeriCorps VISTA Camille Labatut during a meeting with East Arkansas Planning and Development District officials. East Arkansas Planning & Development District (EAPDD) is a regional planning and development agency serving a 12-county area in eastern Arkansas. This district includes Clay, Craighead, Crittenden, Cross, Greene, Lawrence, Lee, Mississippi, Phillips, Poinsett, Randolph, and St. Francis counties. EAPDD develops programming that addresses areas such as unemployment and distressed economic conditions in their region. To carry out such long-term research and planning functions, EAPDD joined the EDA VISTA Corps program to onboard an AmeriCorps VISTA member to cultivate community buy-in in rural communities.

EAPDD’s selected VISTA member, Camille Labatut, has built local capacity through the creation of an economic database. Data collected includes figures related to top regional employers, business inventories, student enrollment trends, total number of police calls, number of residential water hookups, and community center utilization figures.

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Spotlight: Ranken Technical College Breaks Ground on New Manufacturing Building, Offering Modern Manufacturing Skills, New Ideas, Technologies, and Enterprises for Students

EDA DAS-RA Alvord (second from left) and U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (center) at the Randolph County Development Authority grant announcement event Supporting American manufacturing is a major priority for the Trump Administration.

As the President has said, “Made in America is more than a label or a product… It’s a stamp of excellence. It’s a badge of honor and a tribute to the tremendous skill of the working men and women who design and build these incredible masterpieces and different products of all types.”

In St. Louis, Ranken Technical College is working to ensure that the world’s best products will be Made in America by turning out a steady stream of graduates that provide local manufacturers, including those in the automotive, architecture, construction, electrical, and information technology industries, with the skilled workforce they need to succeed.

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Success Story: Excel Boats Rebuilds Manufacturing Center in Mountain View, Arkansas After Tornado Devastation

Excel Boats Excel Boats manufactures a full line of high-end aluminum boats for outdoor recreational enthusiasts. The company is headquartered in Mountain View, Arkansas, approximately 70 miles north of Little Rock.

In 2009, a tornado devastated another Arkansas boat manufacturer: Rivertrail Boat Company of Clinton. All production was closed down and over 30 employees lost their jobs due to the natural disaster.

Glenn Foreman, the American business owner and entrepreneur who owns Excel, bought the company and developed an available space in Mountain View to expand his manufacturing capacity.

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Highlight: EDA Supports U.S. Job Creation Efforts in the Flooring Manufacturing Sector

EDA DAS-RA Alvord (second from left) and U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (center) at the Randolph County Development Authority grant announcement event Last year, EDA invested $2.5 million in Assistance to Coal Communities 2017 (ACC 2017) funds in the Randolph County Development Authority of West Virginia to help expand the Armstrong Flooring manufacturing facility in Beverly.

Armstrong Flooring is American-made, using hardwoods sourced in Appalachia for their consistency and stability. Opened in 1989, the Beverly facility produces oak, hickory, and maple pre-finished hardwood flooring and is the largest pre-finished hardwood flooring plant in the country.

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EDA AmeriCorps VISTA Develops Interactive Map to Promote Regional Assets in Lower Rio Grande Valley

Explore RGV Logo In 2017, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) awarded the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council (LRGVDC)  a grant for “Explore Rio Grande Valley” (Explore RGV), an interactive platform that showcases the history and attractiveness of South Texas. The project’s goal is to boost regional tourism and promote the active engagement of residents. To enhance the capacity of the team spearheading the Explore RGV project, LRGVDC partnered with the EDA VISTA Corps to onboard Carlos Garza as their first term Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA).Garza has spent the first six months of his AmeriCorps VISTA term working with the LRGVDC team to research the surrounding area and develop a comprehensive asset map of the region. Together the team identified about 500 sites throughout Willacy, Hidalgo and Cameron Counties to include in the program.

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Supporting Local Efforts to Create Great Jobs through Entrepreneurship: EDA Launches 2018 Regional Innovation Strategies Program Competition

EDA Logo Guided by the basic principle that sustainable economic development should be locally-driven, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) works directly with communities and regions to help them build capacity for economic development based on local business conditions. EDA’s flexible suite of programs support the implementation of locally-devised economic development strategies to address a continuum of economic development challenges – from planning and technical assistance, to infrastructure construction - that make it easier for businesses to start and grow.

At the heart of these businesses are some of America’s most creative and hardworking dreamers and doers: entrepreneurs! Embodying the American spirit, these intrepid individuals tirelessly push forward every day, breaking barriers with innovative technologies and services to create the high-skill, high-wage jobs that help advance the U.S. economy.

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Spotlight: IEDC’s National Economic Development Week Celebrations

IEDC’s Economic Development Week Logo and Inspiration National Economic Development Week (#EconDevWeek), which took place May 7 to May 12 this year, was created by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) in 2016 in order to increase awareness of local programs that create jobs, advance career development opportunities and increase the quality of life.

Over the span of two years, more than 500 National Economic Development Week campaigns have been created throughout the United States and Canada, creating millions of impressions, hundreds of news stories, blog entries, videos, events and many, many activities. Campaigns occurred in all 50 American states in 2017. More than 40 communities officially proclaimed the celebration week by signing resolutions, and many elected officials vocalized support for the profession and its contribution on their local economies.

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