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California governor announces $1.1 billion from SSBCI

Gov. Gavin Newson of California announced that the state is approved for $1.1 billion of funding from the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), which represents the largest funding amount that has been approved in the SSBCI program. The funding will support the launch of a new $200 million venture capital program and and will help fund small business credit support programs. The allocated amount will be equally split between the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank (IBank) and the California Pollution Control Financing Authority.

Job Quality Toolkit aims to move dialogue on quality jobs and retaining workers

The Baldrige Performance Excellence Program at NIST recently released the Job Quality Toolkit which outlines eight “drivers of job quality.” The toolkit aims to enhance the discussion around job quality, becoming an “actionable tool… to improve the quality of every job,” which will improve employee recruitment and retention.

New Office on Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation established to coordinate historic initiative

The White House announced a new Office on Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation to coordinate the policymaking process for the energy and infrastructure provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, legislation that has been called the single biggest climate investment in U.S. history. The executive order also established a National Climate Task Force that will be chaired by the head of the new office and consist of the heads of a number of agencies, offices and departments.

DOE announces $540 million for research in clean energy tech and low-carbon manufacturing

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $540 million in awards for research into clean energy technologies and low-carbon manufacturing at 54 universities and 11 national laboratories. More than $400 million will go to the latest round of Energy Frontier Research Centers, which includes 43 new and continuing centers. Managed by the Office of Science’s Basic Energy Science program, the four-year awards will support research at over 100 institutions and addresses a broad spectrum of scientific challenges. The projects will study everything from energy storage to quantum information science. Since the program launched in 2009, it has funded 88 centers.

Pennsylvania governor awards $246 million for small businesses through SSBCI

Gov. Tom Wolf awarded $246.8 million to Pennsylvania local economic development partners through the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) this week. The money is expected to help small, socially and economically disadvantaged businesses grow. The Pennsylvania Department of community and Economic Development (DCED) will distribute the funds to partners who will administer the funding to qualifying businesses. The funding is divided between the Direct Venture Investment program ($123 million), which provides funding to economic development organizations that disburse it as seed and later-stage capital for companies, and the Revolving Loan fund program ($123.8 million), which provides funding to economic development organizations to create or capitalize loan funds to support small businesses.

New study shows downtown areas lagging behind pre-pandemic levels of activity

Recent findings from a study titled The Death of Downtown? Pandemic Recovery Trajectories across 62 North American Cities, conducted by a group of six researchers at the University of California’s Berkeley campus's Institute of Governmental Studies found that U.S. and Canadian downtowns are recovering from COVID-19 related setbacks at much slower rates than the “rest of the city,” and many downtown areas are still seeing less visits than pre-pandemic levels.

Missouri grows capacity to build entrepreneurial systems in the state

Taking what Gov. Mike Parson called a “bold step to support high-tech entrepreneurship, innovation and growth,” the Missouri Technology Corporation (MTC) released an Implementation Plan built off an earlier strategic plan (Catalyzing Innovation Report) designed to build the state’s innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems. A key element in the implementation plan is the creation of a $17 million grant program to expand entrepreneurial capacity, with $8.5 million of that funded through MTC’s FY 2023 general revenue appropriation and a match of $8.5 million through the IDEA Fund Co-Investment Program’s venture capital activities.

President names first ARPA-H director, announces new bioeconomy initiative

On the 60th anniversary of President Kennedy's Moonshot Address, President Biden traveled to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum to highlight progress toward his administration's Moonshot Program to combat cancer and expand the U.S. bioeconomy. This announcement included Biden's pick for the inaugural director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) and the signing of an executive order to institute a National Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative.

Recent Research: Exploring nationwide distribution of AI-focused Phase II SBIR projects

States with top-ranking university AI research programs garner a greater number of Phase II AI-related SBIR awards, according to a working paper from the Department of Economics at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Researchers there investigated state variations in the distribution of Phase II SBIR research projects focused on artificial intelligence (AI). The authors of the paper hypothesized that the state-by-state variations are related to the presence of a research university with a “Top 10” AI program in each state. Analysis showed that three out of the five states receiving the most funding for AI-related Phase II SBIR projects had a top-ranked AI research university. Although proximity to a top research university may be beneficial to Phase II SBIR applicants with AI-focused projects, it is not the only path to success in capturing SBIR funds.

Efforts underway in the states to capitalize on CHIPS funding

With President Biden’s signing the CHIPS and Science Act on Aug. 9, states and universities are already making plans to build on the funding opportunities present in the legislation. For example, a group of Midwest colleges and universities has formed a new coalition to support the advanced semiconductor and microelectronics industry as Intel begins construction on a microchip plant in Ohio, and multiple states are positioning themselves to compete for semiconductor manufacturing incentives — as encouraged by Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. This article summarizes these early state actions (for recent federal activity, see SSTI’s coverage).

21 Build Back Better Regional Challenge winners announced

In what is being heralded as one of the most impactful regional economic development initiatives in decades, 21 coalition winners — including three SSTI members as coalition leads — of the $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge have been announced. Each of the awardees will receive between $25 million and $65 million to fund 123 projects designed to advance economies across 24 states. This investment, which will be matched by more than $300 million of local investment, is expected to create a regional economic strategy that is “greater than its parts,” according to the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA).

RTI International leading, SSTI supporting Build Back Better Regional Challenge Community of Practice

The nonprofit research institute, RTI International, has been named the grant winner to coordinate and lead a Community of Practice (CoP) for the Build Back Better Regional Challenge’s 60 finalist coalitions. While the 21 awardees of the challenge will go on to build out their proposed programs, the CoP is intended to build long-term connections among all 60 coalition finalists, which were awarded from 529 applications. SSTI is excited to be a sub-awardee on the CoP working with RTI.