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Recent reports highlight new findings on educational attainment

Three recent news items shed important light on educational attainment and economic well-being and one promising approach to increasing educational attainment among lower income people. While the Pew Research Center finds the share of college-educated young adults in the U.S. workforce is higher than ever before, the Economist reports that the “return on investment” in getting a college degree is leveling off.

Tax update: Many economic development grants are now taxable income

The tax law signed at the end of last year introduced a provision that will significantly affect many economic development offices and related nonprofits across the country: “contributions to capital” will now typically be included in a corporate taxpayer’s gross income. Previously, grants, free land and certain types of tax credits from governmental units or civic groups to support capital expenses were tax-free awards for the beneficiary. Since the signing of the bill, many of these awards are now taxable.

Policymakers leverage public libraries to promote innovation

For hundreds of years, libraries have helped drive American innovation by serving as a trusted resource and providing information to a wide range of individuals. As libraries continue to implement their own initiatives in this space, policymakers across the country have recently turned to them as a way to level the playing field around workforce development and entrepreneurial support.

Growing strain on global systems heightens risks

The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) latest survey of more than 1,000 experts and decision makers on the likelihood and impact of 30 global risks over a 10-year period found four areas of concern: environmental degradation; cybersecurity breaches; economic strains; and geopolitical tensions. Despite experiencing a year-long global economic recovery, the survey revealed that respondents are pessimistic about the year ahead (59 percent say they expect an increase in risk for the year, compared to 7 percent who expect declining risks).

SBIR hits the road with funding opportunities for entrepreneurs

The U.S. Small Business Administration has announced its 2018 road tour connecting entrepreneurs with next generation R&D ideas to early stage funding led by the SBA’s Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs. Each stop in the 18-state road tour will be hosted by a local organization, and program managers from the 11 participating federal agencies will conduct one-on-one meetings with attendees, take part in targeted panels, and share insights into how their agencies make funding decisions.

Five takeaways from the administration’s FY 2019 budget

The White House released a budget this week that would substantially reduce federal spending for innovation and entrepreneurship. Regional Innovation Strategies and the entire Economic Development Administration, Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, Innovative Technology and Advanced Vehicles loan programs, Growth Accelerator Program and Regional Innovation Clusters would all be eliminated. Only in an addendum related to last week’s budget deal does the administration suggest funding workforce and several agencies’ R&D at or near FY 2017 levels. Still, whereas the previous two budgets featured nearly-universal cuts to non-defense initiatives, the FY 2019 budget provides better insights into the administration’s priorities.

Keeping pace with the needs of a skilled workforce

If the U.S. is going to continue to compete globally and win on innovation, more workers will have to attain credentials allowing them to keep pace with the demands of the shifting workforce, say several recent reports. However, only a quarter of the states have more than 50 percent of their prime working age population attaining some kind of credential beyond high school according to a new study from the Lumina Foundation. A new Brookings analysis finds that 15 percent of young people are “disconnected,” meaning they do not have a job and are not in school. To meet the demands that the work of the future will entail, Lumina advocates that 60 percent of those aged 25 to 64 have some credential beyond high school by 2025 (the current national average is 46.9 percent).