On April 7-8, 2016, Hamm Consulting Group participated in the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) National Conference in Washington, DC. It was the first time in more than a decade that public and private sector economic development leaders from across the nation have convened to discuss best practices, strategies, and seek new partnerships that will help regions and communities create conditions for sustained economic growth that helps create jobs and provide ladders of opportunity for all.
Ron Hamm attended the conference and participated in plenary sessions and panel discussions focused on collaboration, innovation, and job creation, and heard from and met with federal officials, including U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams, and U.S. Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan. Some of the key themes resonating during the conference were 1) effective economic development must be team oriented with strong public-sector and private-sector, education, and community cooperation, 2) diversity and inclusion must be intentional in economic development and entrepreneurship, including encouraging additional investments by government and industry in apprenticeships in healthcare, information technology, and other high growth sectors, and 3) the federal government has a key role in supporting activities to expand opportunities for economic development, entrepreneurship, and innovation.
Because Hamm Consulting Group represents higher education and municipal clients and consults with various partners on entrepreneurship, we attended breakout sessions on the role of universities in economic development and the importance of partnerships and collaboration, revitalizing our cities and creating inclusive economic growth, a discussion on the reality of innovation, education, and integration relative to economic development, economic mobility, and bridging the gap between workforce and economic development with demand driven workforce strategies.
Additionally, a high-level discussion on how to develop an ecosystem that creates a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation provided a different perspective on how to implement economic development in the future. Overall, the conference strongly reinforced that collaboration, partnerships, measuring results, and seeking continuous improvement as these components will be essential to creating a strong and sustainable economic development agenda with a high return on investment. It was especially useful to network with economic development stakeholders and practitioners to learn more about approaches to economic development and to share our respective experiences to build inclusive, vibrant, and prosperous communities.
The conference also brought good news for those seeking funding opportunities to advance innovation and entrepreneurship in their respective regions and communities. On the first day of the conference, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams announced that EDA will release the Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO) and begin accepting applications for the 2016 round of Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) Program funding on April 25, 2016. The application period will be open for 60 days. In the 2016 round, a total of $15 million in Federal funding is available to create and expand cluster-focused proof-of-concept and commercialization programs and early-stage seed capital funds through the i6 Challenge and the Seed Fund Support (SFS) Grant competition, respectively. EDA will hold a series of webinars on April 19- 21, 2016 prior to the release of the Federal Funding Opportunity on April 25, 2016. Webinar times are available on EDA’s RIS page.
I am available to assist with assessing this opportunity for your organization, grant strategy, connecting with EDA staff, and securing congressional support for the grant application. We will provide additional information after the release of the Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO).
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