Assistant Secretary Alejandra Castillo Delivers Keynote Address to Southwest Region Economic Development Association 2021 Annual Conference; Star of the Southwest Awardees Recognized
U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo today delivered virtually the keynote address to the Southwest Region Economic Development Association (SWREDA) 2021 annual conference. Held from September 1-3, 2021 in Rogers, Arkansas, the theme of the 2021 annual conference is Collaboration: The Key to Resilience.
In her remarks, presented virtually, Assistant Secretary Castillo thanked attendees, including EDA Economic Development District, University Center, and Revolving Loan Fund grantees and Economic Development Administration (EDA) Austin Regional Office staff, for their hard work and dedication to their communities.
She also outlined the Biden Administration’s Build Back Better agenda and the six transformative programs that EDA has implemented to equitably distribute the $3 billion the bureau received under President Biden’s American Rescue Plan to assist communities nationwide in their efforts to build back better by accelerating the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and building local economies that will be resilient to future economic shocks.
As part of the conference, SWREDA recognized the ‘Star of the Southwest’ awardees for having made a measurable and positive impact on their regions.
The 2021 ‘Star of the Southwest’ awardees are:
- Through a partnership between the Northwest Arkansas Community College and the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce, the Northwest Arkansas Robotics Training Center opened in 2019. A $336,000 EDA investment supported the project, along with state, local, and private investment, which provides robotic skills training and has graduated 134 students.
- The SEED Center was developed by the Imperial Calcasieu Regional Planning and Development Commission through a partnership with Calcasieu Parish Police Jury and McNeese State University. Supported by a $3.9 million EDA investment, the SEED Center houses up to 30 startup businesses, along with providing classroom space. It’s estimated to have created 1,500 jobs.
- Major improvements to the Stilwell (Oklahoma) sewage treatment facility allowed a local company to expand operations, creating 100 new positions and retaining 181 jobs. The Eastern Oklahoma Development District leveraged nearly $4 million from state, tribal, and federal funds for the project.
- New Mexico’s Mid-Region Council of Governments partnered with the Keshet Dance Company to create the Keshet Ideas and Innovation Community (KIIC). The project was supported by a $1 million EDA investment and $280,000 initially leveraged from public and private sources. Since the project launch, an additional $5.6 million has been leveraged. KIIC has created and retained 185 jobs and supported more than 500 artists.
- The Deep East Texas CCOG and EDD along with city and private investment created the DETCOG Regional Headquarters and Emergency Operations Center, allowing the DETCOG to consolidate into one facility. A $1 million EDA investment supported the project, along with $3 million leveraged from state, local, and private resources. The project created and retained 60 jobs.
SWREDA is a voluntary association of executive directors of Councils of Governments and Economic Development Districts working across EDA’s five-state Austin region. The National Association of Development Organizations facilitated the 2021 annual conference.