On April 28, Lenny Eliason, President of the Athens County, Ohio Board of Commissioners and NACo Past President, testified on behalf of NACo before the U.S House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Recovery at a hearing titled, “Investing in America: Reauthorization of the Economic Development Administration.” Commissioner Eliason noted the importance of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), which NACo strongly supports. The hearing can be viewed here.
During the hearing, Commissioner Eliason emphasized to Subcommittee Chairwoman Dina Titus (D-Nev.), Ranking Member Daniel Webster (R-FL) and other subcommittee members that EDA is essential to helping communities rebuild and transition economies after disasters and economic upheaval, including those brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. “EDA’s engagement, financing and support have been integral to our economic revitalization in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and its negative economic impacts, as well other, pre-existing challenges to economic development in the county including issues related to broadband infrastructure and accessibility, workforce and affordable housing and site development and infrastructure,” he said. Commissioner Eliason serves on the NACo Board of Directors in his capacity as Past President.
In her opening remarks, Chairwoman Titus indicated plans to work on a comprehensive EDA reauthorization that will build on the agency’s successes and promote sustainable and equitable economic development in communities of all sizes. EDA was last reauthorized in 2008 and expired in 2011 but has been funded annually by Congress. EDA received emergency COVID-19 funding, including $1.5 billion in the CARES Act and $3 billion in the American Rescue Plan Act, to assist local communities, regions and states with economic recovery and development. NACo supports congressional efforts to reauthorize and increase funding and flexibility for EDA and recognizes the agency’s unique role in promoting job growth and economic development in distressed areas, and in rural areas in particular.
Currently, EDA is funded at $346 million for FY 2021. As Congress begins the FY 2022 appropriations process, NACo will continue to engage with key legislators to ensure counties have the economic development resources needed to provide workforce and economic development opportunities in counties across the nation.
- Video: NACo testifies on the role of EDA in economic development and recovery
- Commissioner Lenny Eliason’s EDA Written Testimony for the EDA Hearing
- NACo Policy Brief on the Economic Development Administration