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EDA’s Toolbox Provides Local Planners with the Critical Economic Development Resources they Need to Compete

When economic development practitioners need to learn what’s driving innovation in their region or how their community compares to surrounding areas, they use StatsAmerica’s Innovation Index 2.0. This easy-to-access tool provides planning officials a convenient means of identifying the innovation capacity of their region to help them craft effective development strategies.

StatsAmerica Innovation Index 2.0 is just one of a number of tools and resources developed by partners of EDA’s Research and National Technical Assistance (RNTA) program, which funds research, evaluation, and national technical assistance projects that promote competitiveness and innovation in distressed rural and urban regions throughout the United States and its territories. While most of EDA’s work occurs through collaboration with local agencies and organizations using a ‘bottom-up’ approach, RNTA complements those vital efforts by creating the assets on which local officials depend to ideate, plan, and execute effective development initiatives.

“The Research and National Technical Assistance program is the toolbox of the Economic Development Administration,” explains Dennis Alvord, Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “It supports EDA investments in critical, cutting-edge research and problem-solving resources that empower state, local, and Native American development practitioners to create long-term, sustainable economic development strategies.”

In addition to StatsAmerica, other recent RNTA-supported projects include Smart Growth America’s new Nuclear Closure Communities Technical Assistance program, a network of practitioners assisting areas facing nuclear plant closures; the Rural Innovation Initiative, a collaboration with the Center on Rural Innovation to provide technical assistance to innovation hubs in select communities; and CEDS Central, a comprehensive archive of case studies, webinars, videos, and other materials designed to help both novice and veteran planners develop and implement their own Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies (CEDS).

And, as the United States continues its recovery from COVID-19, RNTA grantees are leading the way in quantifying the success of pandemic relief programs. Working through the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), RNTA is supporting the provision of technical assistance to more than half-a-dozen municipalities and Economic Development Districts (EDDs) to measure the results of their individual recovery initiatives. The important information gleaned through this partnership with IEDC will help identify best practices in recovery and resilience that will be publicly available and inform the nation’s response to future crises.

To learn more about RNTA-supported tools available to economic development planners, or opportunities to fund new projects and initiatives through RNTA, please visit the EDA website.

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