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Obama Administration Announces Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge to Promote Regional Growth and Competitiveness


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Unprecedented initiative to bolster economic growth leverages resources of 16 federal agencies to create jobs and foster economic prosperity

To accelerate innovation-fueled job creation and global competitiveness, today the Obama Administration announced a $33 million Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, an unprecedented initiative to spur economic growth through public-private partnerships in at least 20 regions around the country.

The Challenge leverages existing resources from 16 federal agencies and will award funds to regions that demonstrate the existence of high-growth industries that support a wide range of economic and workforce development activities.

The Obama Administration is committed to smarter use of existing federal resources to foster regional innovation in support of sustainable economic prosperity. Strong industry clusters –like the Research Triangle in North Carolina or Silicon Valley in California – promote robust economic ecosystems and the development of a skilled workforce, both of which are critical to long-term regional success.

“Regional innovation clusters bring together the knowledge and financial resources that America needs to compete in the global economy,” said National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling.  “The Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge will help regional innovation clusters produce the next generation of innovative products and drive sustainable economic growth and job creation."

“Strong regional economies are vital to creating jobs and advancing American competitiveness,” said Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes.  “The Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge is one way we are leveraging government resources to support the public-private partnerships that drive economic prosperity in urban and rural communities.” 

The competition offers a total of $33 million in funding from three federal agencies and technical assistance from 13 additional agencies to support the advancement of at least 20 competitively-selected industry clusters. The Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration will invest up to $20 million for technical skills training; the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration will invest up to $10 million in Economic Adjustment Assistance funds; and the Small Business Administration will invest up to $3 million in technical assistance. 

As noted in the federal funding opportunity published today, the Challenge targets high-growth clusters from rural, urban and multi-jurisdictional regions across the nation with strengths in various industries. Investments in each winning cluster will aim to drive additional private capital from an array of sources, including foundations, financial institutions, corporations and other private-sector partners.

Applicants will be considered based on their ability to demonstrate a focus on measurable outcomes, such as:

  • 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.

Strong regional clusters grow from dynamic public-private partnerships that bring together business leaders, government officials, universities, non-profits and other strategic partners to help regions capitalize on shared strengths to enhance the local economy, create jobs, and compete globally.

The deadline to apply to the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge is July 7, 2011. Details on the application process are available here.

The following federal agencies are collaborating to support this competition:
U.S. Department of Agriculture;
U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, International Trade Administration, Minority Business Development Agency, and National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership;
U.S. Department of Defense;
U.S. Department of Education;
U.S. Department of Energy;
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services;
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development;
U.S. Department of Labor; 
U.S. Department of Transportation;
U.S. Department of Treasury;
Environmental Protection Agency;
National Science Foundation; and
Small Business Administration. 

The Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge is part of the Obama Administration’s Regional Innovation Cluster Initiative, an interagency, place-based effort coordinated by the White House.

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