Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo and Assistant Secretary Alejandra Y. Castillo Visit Atlanta to Announce Finalists of $1 Billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge; Castillo Tours EDA Grantee
On December 13, Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo visited the Russell Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Atlanta, Georgia. There, she announced the 60 finalists for the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge, which provides up to $100 million per grantee to boost economic pandemic recovery and rebuild American communities.
Secretary Raimondo was joined for the announcement by Alejandra Y. Castillo, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. Federal and local officials were also on hand for the event, including U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock, U.S. Representative Nikema Williams, and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. They were joined by representatives from the local economic development community.
“We are thrilled to help communities work together—in coalitions of government, nonprofits, academia, the private sector, and others—to craft ambitious and regionally unique plans to rebuild their communities,” said Assistant Secretary Castillo. “These projects will help revitalize local economies and tackle our biggest challenges related to climate change, manufacturing, supply chains and more. EDA is proud to ignite these plans and help communities nationwide build back better.”
Following the event, Castillo visited Pittsburgh Yards, an Atlanta-area co-working space. In 2018, the project received a $1.5 million EDA grant to fund infrastructure improvements at the facility, which provides office space, storage, and retail store fronts to small businesses and entrepreneurs.
She toured the facility, visiting with many of the local businesses that have recently set up shop. Included on the tour was a visit to the Jayida Che Herbal Tea Spot, a name that means “good tea.” Since 2016, this family-owned and operated business has served a variety of organic and loose-leaf teas, along with a sense of community and self-development. Ms. Castillo also met with owners of Tarchitects, a black-owned and operated architecture firm that offers design services for commercial, residential, and public-sector buildings while maintaining a responsible role in the communities they serve.
At the conclusion of the tour, Ms. Castillo conducted a roundtable discussion with business owners, including Gangstas to Growers, a program that teaches formerly incarcerated youth urban agriculture, and Kultured Misfits, an urban streetwear line, as well as local leaders. This discussion highlighted the ability for black and minority-owned businesses to thrive as a result of EDA funding to improve the facility’s infrastructure. It also demonstrated the impact of EDA’s mission to provide funding to support the economic ecosystem necessary to put communities on the path to success, promoting job creation, addressing inequity, and spurring inclusive economic development.
Also, included in this session was an overview of several new EDA funding opportunities made available through the American Rescue Plan, including the Good Jobs Challenge. This program is allocating $500 million to help Americans return to the workforce, training workers with in-demand skills that will lead to good-paying jobs.
For more information on the American Rescue Plan programs, please visit EDA.gov.