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May 24, 2011

Federal "Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge" Announced

On Friday, May 20, the Economic Development Administration (EDA, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce), the Employment Training Administration (ETA, part of the U.S. Department of Labor), and the Small Business Administration (SBA) formally announced a coordinated federal initiative—the "Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge"— that will direct three separate federal funding sources (EDA, ETA, and SBA) toward addressing gaps and opportunities specific to regional industry clusters. This initiative echoes GO TO 2040's focus on economic innovation, which calls for nurturing our region's industry clusters. The plan specifically recommends that the region "form coalitions around the region's vital industry clusters to organize regional strategies and obtain public and/or private funding."

The participating agencies and bureaus in the Jobs Accelerator intend to offer a combination of funding and technical assistance to approximately 20 clusters in a variety of industries across the nation. Total proposed funding for the Jobs Accelerator is approximately $33 million in direct federal dollars. The combined grant total from the three funding agencies is expected to range from approximately $1.5 million to $2.2 million per awarded project, and matching funds are required for a portion of the funding.

Generally speaking, applicants must propose a suite of planning, technical assistance, and direct workforce and small business training for accelerating the competitiveness of a single industry cluster. Applicants have flexibility to suggest a geographic focus based on where and how the cluster operates. Applications can be submitted by an organization or a team of organizations. As EDA, ETA, and SBA are all contributing funds to this effort, applicants must heed these agencies' different eligibility criteria and restrictions. It is quite likely that the most competitive proposals will be ones that are led by a team of different entities (each with specific expertise) and that leverage other existing resources.

An information teleconference call will be held by the three funding agencies on June 7. Letters of intent are due June 10. Applications are due July 7. Applicants will receive grant awards approximately 60 days from the application closing date. Please refer to the detailed announcement at