Innovate@EDA: EDA Welcomes Assistant Secretary Alejandra Y. Castillo!

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Innovate at EDA


In This Issue

Spotlight: Alejandra Castillo Sworn in as U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

Assistant Secretary Castillo and family following virtual swearing in ceremony

EDA is pleased to welcome our new Assistant Secretary Alejandra Y. Castillo!

On August 13, Ms. Castillo was sworn in as U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development by Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. The action follows the unanimous U.S. Senate vote on August 11 to confirm Castillo as the new administrator of EDA.

An experienced public administrator who previously served as National Director of the Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency and held senior policy positions at the White House and the International Trade Administration, Castillo is also a first-generation American of Dominican descent. As head of EDA, she will be responsible for fulfilling the agency’s mission of leading the federal economic development agenda, including overseeing the implementation of $3 billion in economic development funding appropriated as part of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan.

“I am pleased to welcome Alejandra back to the Department to help build our economy back stronger and more equitably,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “Her experience is an excellent addition to the world-class team we’ve assembled. She brings an important perspective spanning the public and private sectors and has the drive and determination to help America’s communities continue their recovery from the pandemic.”

In a message issued shortly after the oath of office was administered, Assistant Secretary Castillo said, “Many of you are longtime collaborators with EDA, while some of you were first introduced to EDA programs during the early days of the pandemic.

Click here to read more.

Success Story: Hitting the Ground Running: Assistant Secretary Castillo Visits West Virginia and Colorado on First Week in Office

Assistant Secretary Castillo and Senators Manchin and Capito engage with Generation West Virginia NewForce program participants.

Assistant Secretary Alejandra Castillo hit the ground running after being sworn in on August 13, visiting West Virginia and Colorado during her first week in office.

On August 17, Assistant Secretary Castillo joined U.S. Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito in Huntington, West Virginia, where they first visited Generation West Virginia, a statewide organization dedicated to attracting, retaining, and advancing young people in the state.

They participated in a roundtable discussion on the energy transition and its economic impact on the state and heard from participants in Generation West Virginia’s NewForce online learning program about how NewForce is helping diversify the economy by training and placing participants into high-tech software development positions. NewForce is a tuition-free, remote, team-based intensive tech training program that equips graduates with in-demand software development skills and direct access to in-demand jobs.

The group then moved to Marshall University’s Robert C. Byrd Institute, where they announced $2.65 million in EDA grants focused on supporting West Virginia business development and workforce training efforts.

These grants included a $1.3 million grant to Advantage Valley, Inc. to provide technical assistance to manufacturing, engineering, and other businesses in a nine-county region; a $762,350 grant to expand Generation West Virginia’s  NewForce program; and a $592,000 investment in Future of Nursing West Virginia to expand the West Virginia Nursing Entrepreneur Program to give nurses the skills they need to launch health-related businesses.

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Highlight: Americas Competitive Exchange (ACE) Brings Global Leaders to Colorado

ACE Colorado delegates and organizers during the opening ceremony at Denver Botanical Gardens.

America’s Competitiveness Exchange (ACE) Colorado, held  August 1-6, 2021, brought together more than 40 global leaders representing 11 countries and multiple international organizations to share economic development best practices and explore opportunities for partnerships.

The delegation explored more than 30 sites in the City and County of Denver, El Paso County, and Jefferson County, and featured sectors such as entrepreneurship, tourism, sports economy, bioscience, healthcare, cybersecurity, aviation, and defense. The partnerships developed during ACE will increase the prospect of advancing commerce and trade between participating economies and accelerate business opportunities for all stakeholders.  

Here is a recap video of the six-day exchange.

ACE is the premier economic development, innovation, and entrepreneurial network of the Americas and is one of the leading high-level events of the Organization of American States (OAS). The ACE program is one of the core initiatives of the Inter-American Competitiveness Network (RIAC). The exchange is organized by OAS, in partnership with the Economic Development Administration (EDA), the International Trade Administration (ITA), and the U.S. Department of State.

Highlights of the exchange included stops at the Denver International Airport, National Western Center, U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum, UCCS Hybl Sports Medicine and Performance Center, Lockheed Martin, Colorado School of Mines, The Broadmoor, Pilatus Aircraft Ltd, and Terumo BCT.

The delegation also visited three EDA grantees: the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, National Cybersecurity Center (NCC), and Exponential Impact.

Anschutz Medical Campus has received 11 EDA grants—totaling $30 million—over an 8-year period to help transform the former Fitzsimons Army Medical Center into a world-class square mile of life sciences. EDA was the first federal agency to invest in Fitzsimons, and the support was critical to its redevelopment.

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10 EDA American Rescue Plan Webinars Generate Record-Breaking Levels of Engagement from Communities Across the Country

EDA Investing in America’s Communities logo

From July 29 through August 12, 2021, EDA subject matter experts hosted 10 public informational webinars that reached more than 20,000 attendees. This tremendous level of engagement from communities across the country demonstrates the enthusiasm for these new programs. In addition, EDA teams across the country are actively engaging customers, answering questions and helping facilitate the development of high-impact program applications. View a complete list of EDA American Rescue Plan webinar recordings and additional resources on EDA’s American Rescue Plan Program Resources page.

American Rescue Plan Technical Webinars Now Available

Want to take a deeper dive into the technical and programmatic aspects of submitting applications for our American Rescue Plan Build Back Better Regional and Good Jobs Challenges? Check out our new, recorded Build Back Better Regional Challenge applicant webinar and Good Jobs Challenge technical assistance webinar!

STEM Talent Challenge Launched to Fuel Nation’s Growing Innovation

STEM Talent Challenge Logo

On August 12, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo announced the launch of EDA’s STEM Talent Challenge to support programs to train science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) talent and fuel regional innovation economies across the nation.

This $2 million initiative will provide funding for work-and-learn programs to increase America’s STEM-capable workforce in emerging and transformative sectors such as space commerce, aeronautics, digital manufacturing, biotechnology, advanced manufacturing, and cybersecurity. Applicants may request up to $250,000 for implementation of a 24-month workforce program that complements their region’s innovation economy.

The deadline to apply is Oct. 12, 2021.

Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves Visits Waynesburg University

Waynesburg University President Douglas Lee Welcomes Deputy Secretary Graves to Waynesburg University

Coal communities from Pennsylvania to the West Coast were already suffering from a changing economy before further disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. On August 11, Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves visited Waynesburg University in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, to discuss opportunities for economic development and to amplify EDA’s $300 million American Rescue Plan Coal Communities Commitment to support coal communities as they recover and rebuild from the pandemic. 

EDA ARP Coal Communities Commitment Logo

The Deputy Secretary’s visit was followed by the launch of a series of Coal Community workshops hosted by President Biden’s Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization.  The workshops are meant to support regions affected by the downturn in the coal economy and connect them to federal programs, including, EDA’s Coal Communities Commitment which will give these communities the opportunity to diversify their local economies through planning, infrastructure development, workforce training, access to capital, and more.  Learn more about the work of the Interagency working group.

Statement from U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo Following Senate Passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo

On August 12, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo issued a statement following the passage of the bipartisan Infrastructure and Jobs Act. Read Secretary Raimondo’s statement Read Secretary Raimondo’s statement.

Extra Extra graphic

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce visits Huntington to announce grant awards
The Huntington Herald-Dispatch – 8/17/21

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jen Psaki and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, July 22, 2021
The White House – 7/22/21

5 things to know Thursday
USA Today – 7/22/21

New Commerce grants designed so 'everyone’s included' in pandemic recovery: Raimondo
ABC News – 7/22/21

EDA Publishes NOFOs Worth $3 Billion in American Rescue Plan Act Grants
JD Supra – 8/16/21

U.S. Sponsors ACE Colorado 2021
U.S. Mission to the OAS – 8/1/22