U.S. Department of Commerce Invests Approximately $39 Million to Advance Aerial Mobility Technology in Northeast Oklahoma Through American Rescue Plan Regional Challenge
WASHINGTON – Today, President Biden will announce the Tulsa Regional Advanced Mobility (TRAM) Corridor as one of 21 winners of the $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge, the most impactful regional economic development competition in decades. Funded by President Biden’s American Rescue Plan and administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), the Regional Challenge is awarding approximately $39 million in grants to the TRAM Corridor, led by the Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG), to advance aerial mobility technology in northeast Oklahoma.
With $39 million in EDA funding, the TRAM Corridor will transition the region from its legacy of oil, gas, and traditional manufacturing to advanced mobility, automation, and unmanned aerial systems. EDA funding will invest in key assets, enabling the region to compete in a rapidly growing industry. Coalition projects include a 114-mile flight test range for aerial mobility technologies and increased research capacity for established firms and potential entrepreneurs.
“The Build Back Better Regional Challenge is making transformational investments that place equity and the needs of the community at the core of the program's design and ensure the inclusion of underrepresented workers, especially those in the Indigenous and Black communities,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “This funding will shift Tulsa’s economy to compete in the fast-growing advanced aerial mobility industry, catalyzing new technologies, creating jobs, and building a strong economic ecosystem across the region.”
“The Economic Development Administration is proud to support the bold vision of the TRAM Corridor,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo. “This EDA investment diversifies the Tulsa regional economy to create new opportunities for innovation, leading to good-paying jobs and a resilient economy.”
“Oklahoma has a proud and longstanding history in aviation, aerial mobility technology, and manufacturing, which has allowed northeast Oklahoma to harness the region’s innovative capabilities and lead in the development of next-generation unmanned aerial systems,” said Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-03). “The Economic Development Administration’s $39 million award is a welcome and exciting investment that will cement Oklahoma as a hub of transformational aerial mobility research and development. I commend the work of INCOG, Oklahoma State University, the Osage Nation, the City of Tulsa, and all other regional stakeholders who have forged a pioneering vision for the future of unmanned aerial technologies and manufacturing in Oklahoma. By investing in this critical industry, and our local and state economies, we will continue to increase America’s technological competitiveness across the globe.”
The TRAM Corridor is one of 21 winners – each a regional coalition of partnering entities – that will receive awards between $25 million and $65 million to implement an average of six integrative projects that will enable each region's economic transformation and competitiveness.
The Build Back Better Regional Challenge (BBBRC) is an unprecedented competitive federal grant program that provides each regional coalition with significant investments to tackle a wide variety of projects – including entrepreneurial support, workforce development, infrastructure, and innovation – to drive inclusive economic growth. Each coalition’s collection of projects aims to develop and strengthen regional industry clusters – all while embracing economic equity, creating good-paying jobs, and enhancing U.S. competitiveness globally. Projects span 24 states and include $87 million to two primarily Tribal coalitions and over $150 million for projects serving communities impacted by the declining use of coal.
The 21 BBBRC awardees were chosen from 60 EDA-designated finalists that each received approximately $500,000 in funding and technical assistance to continue developing their cluster strategies. The funding for each coalition is approximate, with awards to be signed later in September. Those 60 finalists were chosen from a Phase 1 applicant pool of 529 applications, which exemplifies the tremendous demand for transformational economic development approaches. EDA will continue to support all 60 finalists with the creation of a Community of Practice that will provide technical support, foster connectedness with peer regions and build capacity.
The Build Back Better Regional Challenge is one of EDA’s many programs aimed at building strong regional economies and supporting community-led economic development. EDA was allocated $3 billion in supplemental funding under the American Rescue Plan to assist communities nationwide in their efforts to build back better by accelerating economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and building local economies that will be resilient to future economic shocks. As a part of this funding, EDA allocated $300 million through a Coal Communities Commitment to support coal communities in pandemic recovery and help them create new jobs and opportunities, including through the creation or expansion of a new industry sector. Specifically, EDA has dedicated $100 million of its Build Back Better Regional Challenge funds and $200 million of its Economic Adjustment Assistance funds to directly support coal communities. Grantees for EDA’s full suite of American Rescue Plan programs will be awarded on a rolling basis through September 30, 2022. For more information, visit https://www.eda.gov/ARPA/.
About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)
The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation's regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA invests in communities and supports regional collaboration in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.