regions

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.

House committee advances $7 billion regional tech hubs legislation

Earlier this week, the House science committee advanced a series of technology-focused bills, including a $7 billion authorization of regional technology hubs. This legislation completes the committee’s work to produce a companion to the Senate’s U.S. Innovation and Competition Act. The House and Senate legislation are not identical, however, and so the chambers will need to bring their versions into alignment. Among the key differences are that the House authorizes less funding for the program but also creates a new regional clean energy innovation program.

EDA makes $3 billion available for regional economies

Today, the Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced funding opportunities for the $3 billion Congress provided the agency in the American Rescue Plan Act. Funds are available through six distinct challenges, with separate goals and application processes/deadlines for each. The Build Back Better Regional Challenge, funded at $1 billion, may be the most substantial opportunity for tech-based economic development (TBED) organizations, but each of the six can support innovation economies — particularly now that TBED is an explicit component of EDA’s investment priorities.

Useful Stats: Educational Attainment by Metropolitan Area (2007-2017)

For states and metropolitan areas across the country, cultivating a skilled and educated workforce is a critical part of economic development. In 2017, metropolitan areas anchored by major research universities – regions like Boulder, Ann Arbor, and Corvallis – had the highest share of adults 25+ with at least a bachelor’s degree, according to an SSTI analysis of recent census data. In a ten-year comparison of major metro areas, the share of population with at least a bachelor’s degree increased the most in Asheville (growing 6.9 percentage points to 34.1 percent), Pittsburgh (growing 6.3 percentage points to 33.5 percent), and Denver (growing 6.1 percentage points to 42.1 percent).

Report reveals importance of foreign policy to middle class’ economic standing

The state of America’s foreign policy and the livelihoods of its middle-class are inextricably linked, according to a new report from Ohio State’s John Glenn College of Public Affairs and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The report’s authors, using Ohio as a lens for their examination, conduct a thorough quantitative and qualitative analysis on this relationship. They find that the relationship between foreign policy and the middle class is complicated, but that improving outcomes for the middle class will ultimately require a comprehensive foreign policy strategy that is tied to economic development. Notably, unlike the many pieces authored from academics and think-tank researchers on the coasts that focus on “the heartland” or foreign policy more broadly, this report features local perspectives from more than 100 economic development stakeholders across six regions in Ohio. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace plans to release additional state-level case studies throughout 2019.

Commentary: Making the most of federal funds for regional innovation

At the end of this month, applications are due for two of the federal government’s most notable programs for funding clusters and regional innovation initiatives: the SBA’s Regional Innovation Clusters (RIC) program and the EDA’s Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) program. As practitioners develop their proposals for these programs, it is worth considering potential lessons learned from the successes of previous awardees and the major challenges they have faced.

NLC announces ‘Call to Action’ with commitments to innovation, entrepreneurship, and STEM

The National League of Cities is asking local public, private, and civic leaders to make new, measurable, and impactful commitments to increasing the adoption of technology, improving the climate for entrepreneurship, and expanding youth and adult opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) at the local level. By making a commitment, NLC invites cities to take part in its City Innovation Ecosystems program, which seeks to help local leaders achieve their goals by marketing and branding best practices, providing technical assistance, promoting peer learnings, and connecting cities to national private and philanthropic partners. NLC will highlight accepted commitments at its City Summit in Los Angeles from November 7-10.

Regional Innovation Strategies 2017 funding available

The Economic Development Administration is seeking applications through June 23 for the 2017 Regional Innovation Strategies program. Through SSTI’s work with Congress, a record $17 million is available this year. Along with increased funding, the notice of funding availability includes a few changes from previous years. More information will also be available in a webinar SSTI is hosting with EDA on May 22 at 3 p.m. EDT.

Massachusetts Makes $1B Investment in Community Development, Workforce Training, Innovation

On August 10, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed an extensive economic development bill (HB 4569) into law. The new economic development law, An Act Relative to Job Creation and Workforce Development, will provide up to $1 billion with the intent of “building a skilled workforce, connecting residents to economic opportunities, strengthening community and housing development efforts, and investing in the emerging technologies that will drive Massachusetts’ economic prosperity in the future.” Among the items included in the bill are $71 million for the Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative, $15 million for the Scientific and Technology Research Development Matching Grant Fund, $15 million for the Community Innovation Infrastructure Fund, and an angel investor tax credit.

Recent Research: What Happens to High-Growth Firms?

Because they focus on attracting mature firms through relocation incentives, job creation strategies at the state level are often misguided, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Despite this, many metropolitan regions are increasingly focusing their efforts on attracting and retaining the high-growth firms responsible for an oversized share of job growth and economic output.  While considerable research has focused on the important role that startups and high-growth firms play in the national economy, relatively little has been done to apply a regional lens to this phenomenon. New research, tracks high-growth firms over a multiple-year period to assess how their changing operations can inform regional economic development.

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