If you build it, they will come. But what if you build it better? What if building it better leads to more good jobs, community revitalization, and regional economic growth? That is the goal of the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Build Back Better Regional Challenge.
The Challenge includes two phases. From a pool of 529 applicants, EDA announced the 60 Phase 1 finalists in December 2021, including five manufacturing-focused grantees. Phase 1 finalists will receive $500,000 each to further develop their proposed economic growth projects. Grantees will be investing in infrastructure, equipment, and a modern workforce as they prepare for Phase 2 applications and future business development.
Phase 1 winners with a manufacturing focus include:
1. Detroit Regional Partnership Foundation – Detroit is known for cars. This partnership plans to leverage that history to expand the motor city’s footprint in the advanced mobility industry, which includes both electric vehicles (EV) and connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV). Throughout 11 Michigan counties, investments will focus on recruiting and retaining diverse talent and establishing foundational infrastructure.
2. Empire State Development Corporation – Western New York has become a national hub for advanced manufacturing and research and development. The Corporation will support innovation, fulfill workforce training needs, advance inclusive workforce development, and improve infrastructure for advanced manufacturing.
3. MAGNET: Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network - Ohio is the third largest manufacturing state in the nation in terms of jobs and economic output. The vision of the Network is to grow an equitable and smart manufacturing and advanced materials cluster in northeast Ohio that fortifies supply chain resilience.
4. Osceola County Board of Commissioners – The United States needs access to secure, domestically made semiconductors. The Commissioners are committed to transforming central Florida into an innovation growth cluster anchored in semiconductor research and development. The project includes demonstration and training facilities and vital education programs to train an advanced workforce.
5. The University of Alabama – Electric vehicles (EV) are the future of mobility. They can also drive the future of west Alabama, according to the Driving Regional Innovation through Vehicle Electrification (DRIVE) initiative. The multifaceted initiative includes eight projects that focus on a wide variety of areas including innovation and research, company creation and recruitment, talent development, and sustainability.
EDA plans to award 20-30 grants ranging from $25 million up to $100 million in Phase 2. All Phase 1 finalists are eligible to apply for Phase 2 funding. Phase 2 applications are due March 15, 2022.