coronavirus

Workforce, industry clusters listed as top priorities under EDA’s Statewide Planning Grants

As the Economic Development Administration (EDA) continues to award its $3 billion allotment of pandemic relief funding made available by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), many states are taking aim at several specific areas of economic concern — while others are maintaining a broad perspective. Under the Statewide Planning, Research & Networks program (“planning grants”), EDA provides $1 million grants to states to use in forming coordinated state-wide plans for economic development as well as developing the data, tools, and capacity to evaluate and scale evidence-based economic development efforts. SSTI’s analysis of the funded projects’ brief descriptions shows that states were split between those focusing on broadly-scoped planning projects and those focusing on a few specific areas of interest.

FCC commits additional $421 million in off-campus learning support to bridge the pandemic “homework gap”

A $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) was established by the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act to help ease the educational impact on students of school closures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. While much instruction transitioned to an online environment, many students were inadequately equipped to properly participate. To address issues with access to technology, the program provides funding to schools and libraries across the nation to purchase connected devices and equipment needed for students to use off-campus. The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) latest commitment of $421 million brings the program’s total funding to more than $3 billion.

Some universities canceling student debt

In an unexpected turn of events, some college students around the country have been logging into their accounts to check on account balances and finding them canceled. Many institutions of higher education across the country have been taking advantage of federal assistance provided through the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief funds (HEERF) to cancel student debt. HEERF I, II and III represent three programs that Congress appropriated to higher education to help prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, including emergency financial grants to students.

TBED efforts to combat the pandemic creating a better future

As vaccination rates increase across the country and infections fall, the role of science in combatting the COVID-19 virus is front and center. Last week, we brought you stories about SSTI members’ efforts to help small businesses. In today’s story, we share additional feedback from our members that worked to find ways to fight the virus and others who pivoted to help their students continue to learn in a challenging environment.

TBED response to the pandemic helped pave way to recovery, save businesses

When the full impact of the COVID-19 virus was just beginning to be realized in spring of 2020, small businesses across the country were faced with nearly insurmountable challenges and emergency orders, shutting down operations in many instances and choking off funding sources. Many in the technology-based economic development (TBED) community stepped in and pivoted their own organizations and plans to help others. We reached out to our SSTI members to hear about how they responded.

COVID’s unique economic impact evident in employment data

Last week not only marked the anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also the release of updated employment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The monthly data shows that the pandemic had a very unusual effect on workers, experienced both as a uniquely-chaotic period of labor force participation, but also as an unprecedented immediate drop in employment. The graphic captures just how chaotic the last year has been.

$1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act boosts help for innovation

The American Rescue Plan Act, a $1.9 trillion spending package to address the ongoing health and economic impacts of COVID-19, was signed into law today. The legislation includes several initiatives that could strengthen regional innovation economies. Most notable among these is the $10 billion State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), $3 billion for the Economic Development Administration (EDA), and $350 billion for state and local government relief.

SSBCI Reauthorization

Congress reveals COVID bill with $10 billion SSBCI

The U.S. House of Representatives is working through the coronavirus relief package in committee markups this week, and there are several provisions that could have a significant impact for regional innovation economies. The highest-profile of these is $10 billion for a new State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) program. Reauthorizing this program has been a top priority for SSTI's Innovation Advocacy Council, as SSBCI was one of the federal government’s only sources of funding for equity investments in the past two decades.

Innovation proposals in Biden's COVID plan would provide emergency, long-term assistance

Last week, the incoming Biden administration announced an “American Rescue Plan” to address immediate health and economic threats from COVID-19. On the economic side, the plan goes further than immediate relief and begins to address some longer-term strength and resilience concerns. Among other provisions, it would provide $35 billion for a new business finance program that support venture capital, $350 billion for state and local governments to help address budget shortfalls, $35 billion for higher education and $3 billion for the Economic Development Administration.

Newest COVID relief package provides some aid; short on true relief for states

The relief bill passed last night falls short of assisting states that face strains on their budgets and increasing demand for assistance from their constituents. However, the bill does provide $900 billion for the first broad COVID-19 relief package to pass since the CARES Act was signed into law on March 27th. The major items in this legislation are the extension of unemployment insurance benefits, direct payments to individuals, and a new round of loans through a modified Paycheck Protection Program.

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