Grant from Economic Development Agency to Partnership of National League of Cites, America Achieves, Drexel University and the Federation of American Scientists Will Enhance Comprehensive, Actionable Economic Plans for 60 Build Back Better Regional Challenge Finalists

In December 2021, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo announced the 60 finalists of the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Build Back Better Regional Challenge. The transformative, $1 billion investment in American innovation aims to develop and strengthen regional industry clusters across the country, all while embracing economic equity, creating good-paying jobs, and enhancing U.S. competitiveness globally.

Each of the finalists will have the opportunity to tap up to $100 million in federal funding during Phase 2. It’s also a chance for them to access technical assistance to build capacity and improve their Phase 2 proposals, as well as to connect, communicate and collaborate with like-minded coalitions, growing a shared body of knowledge to drive the future of American economic development.

To manifest this spirit of collaboration, EDA has launched a Build Back Better Regional Challenge Community of Practice, supported through a $3 million grant to the National League of Cities, with sub awardees America Achieves, the Federation of American Scientists and the Nowak Metro Finance Lab at Drexel University. It will run January-September 2022, bringing together all 60 finalists with the goal of supporting the development of strong Phase 2 applications while creating a sense of community and the sharing of best practices.

“The Build Back Better Regional Challenge Community of Practice will break down regional and organizational silos to advance a shared vision of American economic development,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo. “We’re excited to engage with a variety of talented and diverse organizations to curate a network of knowledge that draws on the unique insights and perspectives of all Build Back Better Regional Challenge finalists.”

In partnership with EDA headquarters and its six regional offices, the Community of Practice will work with the finalists to translate their concept proposals into comprehensive, actionable plans that leverage regional assets, build new local partnerships and accelerate their economic vision within their Phase 2 applications. Community of Practice members will each receive a variety of individualized and group technical assistance that includes regular group-wide convenings and peer-to-peer learning opportunities with other finalists.

This coalition, consisting of the National League of Cities, America Achieves, Drexel University’s Nowak Metro Finance Lab, and the Federation of American Scientists, will bring a wealth of knowledge to the 60 finalists. Among these four partners, areas of expertise include workforce development, equitable economic growth, governance, coalition building, project formulation and planning, and technology-based economic development.

“The last two years have been a trying time for cities, towns and villages across the country,” said Clarence E. Anthony, CEO and Executive Director of the National League of Cities. “We are thrilled to help Build Back Better Regional Challenge finalists develop their plans to rebuild their economies in ways that support all of their residents into the future.”

“America’s global competitiveness depends on the strength of our cities and regions to catalyze innovation and inclusive growth by starting and scaling enterprises, growing quality jobs, and attracting and leveraging private capital,” said Nowak Lab Director Bruce Katz. “The team at Drexel University’s Nowak Metro Finance Lab is grateful to EDA and eager to support the selected regions in building on their unique assets for economic growth, which we hope will provide valuable models to all U.S. regions in shaping tailored industrial and commercial strategies.”

“Each of the 60 regions winning grants in Phase 1 of this important nationwide competition have strong potential to win large-scale funding and create a bright and fair economic future,” said Jon Schnur, CEO of America Achieves. “America Achieves is inspired by the potential of each Build Back Better Regional Challenge finalist to make major, sustainable, and equitable impact on local and regional economies. We are grateful to have been selected by EDA to help support all 60 as they further develop their applications and plans.”

“The Federation of American Scientists looks forward to working with EDA and Build Back Better Regional Challenge finalists as they hone their vision for lasting and inclusive regional growth,” said CEO Daniel Correa. “This is a historic opportunity for regions to undertake the predevelopment planning and coalition building that is required for a shared vision, and our team is eager to help these regions access the technical expertise to make these visions a reality.”

This is the first award in a planned series of grants under the American Rescue Plan Act designed to fund communities of practice. EDA anticipates awarding a second, long-term Community of Practice for Build Back Better Regional Challenge Phase 2 awardees. Details on this initiative will be announced in the near future.

For more information on the Build Back Better Regional Challenge, visit the Challenge’s dedicated section of the EDA website.