On July 22, the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced the availability of $3 billion in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding in the form of six programs, collectively referred to as ‘Investing in America’s Communities.’ This $3 billion investment represents EDA’s commitment to equitably investing ARPA funding to help communities across the country recover economically from the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for the future. As part of the announcement, EDA also released the notice of funding opportunities (NOFOs) for the six ‘Investing in America’s Communities’ programs, five of which counties are eligible to apply for directly.
The ARPA-funded ‘Investing in America’s Communities programs most relevant to counties include the following:
- The Build Back Better Regional Challenge: This $1 billion program will invest in communities across the country to revitalize their economies by providing them with the resources to grow new regional industry clusters or scale existing ones through planning, infrastructure, innovation and entrepreneurship, workforce development and access to capital. At least $100 million of the funding will be directed towards coal communities. Counties are eligible to apply for the program, and the NOFO is available here.
- The Good Jobs Challenge: This $500 million program invests in collaborative skills training systems and programs, emphasizing historically underserved populations and areas. These systems will create and implement industry-led training programs designed to provide skills for and connect unemployed or underemployed workers to existing and emerging job opportunities. Counties are eligible to apply for the program, and the NOFO is available here.
- The Economic Adjustment Assistance Challenge: The Economic Adjustment Assistance program is a pre-existing EDA program that awards funding for a wide array of projects, including technical, planning, workforce development, entrepreneurship and public works and infrastructure projects. EDA is allocating $500 million in ARPA funding for the Economic Adjustment Assistance program, including $200 million to support coal communities. Counties are eligible to apply for the program, and the NOFO is available here.
- The Travel, Tourism & Outdoor Recreation program: This program provides $510 million for non-competitive state tourism grants and $240 million for competitive grants to help communities impacted by challenges in the travel, tourism and outdoor recreation sectors. The competitive grants can be used to invest in infrastructure, workforce or other projects to support the industry's recovery and economic resilience. Counties are eligible to apply for the competitive tourism grants, and the NOFO is available here.
- The Statewide Planning, Research & Networks program: This program provides $59 million for statewide planning grants and $31 million for Research and Network Grants to invest in research that assesses the effectiveness of EDA’s programs and provides support for stakeholder communities around key EDA initiatives. Counties are eligible to apply for the Research and Network Grants, and the NOFO is available here.
Counties applaud EDA’s announcement of funding through the Investing in America’s Communities programs. These programs will help support communities as they work to ensure their local economies recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and can resiliently weather future economic crises.
- NACo Policy Brief: U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA): Support Essential Seed Capital/Gap Financing for Local Job Creation
- Video: Counties testify on the reauthorization of the Economic Development Administration