EDA and NADO Research Foundation Establish Economic Development District Community of Practice
Since designating the first Economic Development District (EDD) in 1969, the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) network of EDDs has grown to more than 390. These locally governed, multi-jurisdictional entities are both critical drivers of regional planning efforts, and important interlocutors between the federal government and local communities.
This month, EDA’s Networks program announced the award of a $5.4 million grant to the National Association of Development Organizations Research Foundation (NADO RF) to establish and manage an EDD Community of Practice (CoP). The new EDD CoP will promote information sharing, training, and peer-to-peer learning among the nation’s EDDs.
“Economic Development Districts are vital partners in EDA’s efforts to build durable regional economies throughout the United States,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo. “The new EDD Community of Practice represents a unique initiative to develop a more unified vision of regional development built around a formal network of shared learning and growth.”
In delivering the EDD CoP, NADO RF will work with three subawardees — the National Association of Regional Councils, the First Nations Development Institute, and the University Economic Development Association — to create five distinct program tracks through which tools, resources, and networking opportunities will be made available to the nation’s EDDs.
- EDD Essentials will provide training and mentoring to EDDs in the form of in-person workshops, webinars, and how-to guides focused on the development of effective Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies (CEDS), the central strategic blueprint that drives EDD planning for regional economic development. Organizational and professional development training will also be offered as part of this program area.
- Resilient and Equitable Regions will build EDD capacity by providing resources and training to support districts in achieving resilient and equitable outcomes with their planning initiatives. Instruction in best practices and emerging approaches will be delivered at the annual NADO Training Conference and through case studies and webinars developed for district stakeholders.
- Wealth Creation Strategies will coordinate peer exchanges between EDDs as well as other programs to help district stakeholders identify ways to build diverse types of capital in their regions by supporting local ownership of business.
- Research Partnerships and Technical Assistance will provide holistic support to EDDs through the development and dissemination of timely reports on critical topics and current issues in regional economic development. NADO RF and its partners will also provide one-on-one consulting to EDDs through an in-take process, calibrated in scale and scope to the needs of requesting districts.
- The Virtual Community of Practice Portal will be created as a central, online platform to facilitate inter-district dialog and contact. Through the Virtual Community of Practice Portal, EDD staff and stakeholders will have the ability to participate in virtual learning cohorts organized by theme or geography.
“The establishment of the EDD Community of Practice will create the infrastructure needed to strengthen the knowledge base of Economic Development District leaders, staff, and board members, resulting in a stronger national network of EDDs,” said Joe McKinney, Executive Director of the of the National Association of Development Organizations. “The EDD Community of Practice will help build the economic development skills and expertise of EDD leaders who are managing programs designed to stimulate the economies of distressed areas across the United States.”
NADO RF, the nonprofit affiliate of the National Association of Development Organizations, brings more than 30 years of experience working with EDDs throughout the United States. It provides professional development training, research, and peer networking services, focused on bridging the communications gaps between policy makers, practitioners, and the public.
Work on the EDD Community of Practice will begin immediately with EDA grant funding supporting a five-year period of performance. For more information on EDA’s Communities of Practice, visit eda.gov/communities.