IR Convening Highlight - Meet the Federal Partners

By: Brendan Buff, Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness

On Friday, May 10, representatives from several Federal agencies gathered the breakout session “Meet the Federal Partners”. The session included representatives from the Employment and Training Administration (ETA), National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP), Small Business Administration (SBA), Economic Development Administration (EDA), and the Department of Agriculture (USDA). Each representative provided an overview of their organization’s current programs and priorities that are relevant to defense manufacturers.

Kevin Thompson of ETA provided updates on various workforce development programs at his agency. Notably, the Department of Labor recently announced $73 million in funding for states to support apprenticeships. Due to cuts to community colleges, ETA is adding material to Creative Commons to provide access to ensure access to courses that may be lost otherwise, Skills Commons: ETA has also created a website to unite Federal and state LMI products, LMI Central:

Jose Colucci of NIST MEP discussed their collaboration with OEA dating back to 2013, when NIST MEP provided guidance on diversification support for businesses. Current “hot topics” for NIST include market penetration, tech transfer, and helping businesses “survive, thrive, and grow”.

Brittany Sickler at the SBA Office of Innovation and Technology highlighted SBA’s support of entrepreneurs working with local ecosystems to grow. SBA has programs funding training partners for entrepreneurs, and for entrepreneurs themselves. For example, the Federal and State Techology (FAST) Partnership Program gives support for organizations to increase the number of SBIR and STTR proposals. SBA also has a prize competition known as the Growth Accelerator Fund to provide prizes of up to $50,000 to up to 60 high tech, small tech focused accelerators in 2019.

Doug Lynott of EDA discussed his agency’s primary objectives and how EDA is position to put regions in contact with a variety of economic development resources and points of contact. Currently, EDA is focused on increasing community access to methods, policies, and programs; enhancing collaboration among Federal agencies; and reducing administrative burden in managing Federal grant programs. EDA also provides regional diversification summits that are targeted to regions that meet specific criteria and a Federal interagency resource exchange to help local and regional stake to understand the variety of Federal resources available to them.

Gil Gonzales of USDA Rural Development relayed to attendees the priorities of the Secretary of Agriculture and the Trump Administration. USDA is part of an interagency task force including 21 Federal members, which created an agricultural rural prosperity report: The agency is interested in innovation and entrepreneurship, especially related to building new technology for the tech industry. Rural workforce support, technology implementation, economic development, and rural manufacturing are other key priorities for USDA.