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EDA Enlists RTI International to Launch Build Back Better Regional Challenge Community of Practice

President Lyndon Johnson signs the Economic Development Bill, August 26, 1965

In June, EDA announced the award of a $4 million grant to RTI International to coordinate and lead a Community of Practice (CoP) dedicated to building long-term connections between the Build Back Better Regional Challenge’s 60 finalist coalitions.

The Build Back Better Regional Challenge is the marquee program of EDA’s American Rescue Plan initiatives. It aims to boost economic recovery from the pandemic and rebuild American communities through the creation or upscaling of regional growth clusters led by coalitions of public and private sector stakeholders.

The Build Back Better Regional Challenge CoP will forge deep, inter-regional ties between coalitions and foster collaborative, professional relationships among coalition leaders. In managing the CoP, RTI International will:

  • organize quarterly workshops;
  • develop policy briefs describing emerging best practices gleaned from the implementation of coalition projects;
  • facilitate cross-coalition site visits and learning exchanges; and
  • foster communication with coalitions’ stakeholders via newsletters, data dashboards, and webinars.

RTI International will also work to ensure the preservation and dissemination of the knowledge created through the CoP by collaborating with sub-awardee SSTI to archive and maintain community outputs in a permanent and accessible form.

“From day one, the Build Back Better Regional Challenge was envisioned as more than just a grants program,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo. “It seeks to deploy the resources which Congress has entrusted to us in a way that harnesses and amplifies the expertise of the world’s leading economic development practitioners towards strengthening regional economic development and building a better America. The Community of Practice is the linchpin of that effort.”

RTI International is an independent, nonprofit institute that provides research, development, and technical services to government and commercial clients worldwide. Established in 1958 and based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, RTI works to address the world's most critical problems with science-based solutions.

“Communities of practice can be highly effective vehicles that spur innovation and accelerate impacts because they create the context for shared learning and collaborative action toward common objectives,” said Tim Gabel, President and CEO of RTI International. “We look forward to supporting the 60 Build Back Better Regional Challenge finalist coalitions in leveraging the power of a greater network to advance the growth of their regions.”

RTI’s Sara Lawrence, a seasoned economic development practitioner with more than 20 years of experience collaborating with a range of partners in the field, will lead a team of subject-matter experts in organizing the CoP.

For more information on EDA's Communities of Practice program, visit www.eda.gov/communities.

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