Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge Grants Offer $33 Million for Regional Economic Development

Yesterday, the Obama Administration announced the creation of the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge program to support "clusters" of economic development in a region. Like the food hubs we've talked about before, industry clusters build off and support each business involved: an energy research firm provides new technology for a solar-panel manufacturer, which provides materials for home installers, which gets their employees from the community college's green jobs training program. And each part of this cluster provides jobs for their communities.

The Challenge program is a competitive grant program, offering $33 million from the Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration, the Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration, and the Small Business Administration, with support ant technical assistance from a variety of other federal agencies. Applicants must utilize public-private partnerships, but can be from state or local government, academia, the private sector, or non-profits.

The program is looking for projects that can demonstrate the following (as indicated in their press release):

  • Achieving sustainable economic growth in the region;
  • Augmenting business formation, especially of small businesses, and leveraging existing businesses assets;
  • Advancing commercialization of federal and private research;
  • Increasing exports;
  • Developing a skilled workforce through outreach, training, and the creation of career pathways, and;
  • Integrating historically underserved businesses and communities into the economic activities of the cluster.

You have to act fast though – the deadline for applications is July 7, 2011. If you're interested in applying or want to learn more, there will be an informational webinar on June 7 from 3:30-4:30pm; click here to register.