It’s the federal agency most Americans know little to nothing about. But it’s one agency that impacts almost every American in one way or another. And never more so than in the last year.
The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) may be tucked within the bureaucracy of the U.S. Commerce Department, but it has been at the forefront of the federal economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The agency has been tasked with Congress to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars in recovery funds to municipal governments and federally designated regional economic development districts, such Lewis & Clark Regional Development Council.
The American Rescue Plan, passed in March, provided an additional $1.9 trillion in economic stimulus. As a result, EDA was allocated $3 billion in supplemental funding to further assist communities. The targeted programs created through this funding are designed with the long-term goal of creating local economies that will be resilient to future economic shocks.
Lewis & Clark Development Group has been working closely with EDA throughout the pandemic, providing direct financial and technical assistance to businesses and communities. LCD Group wants to share information on two specific programs which are of benefit to several North Dakota communities.
Coal Communities Commitment
Through the American Rescue Plan, EDA has been authorized to allocate $300 million to support coal communities throughout the United States recover from the pandemic. Specifically, EDA is dedicating $100 million of its Build Back Better Regional Challenge funds and $200 million of its Economic Adjustment Assistance funds to directly support coal communities. Coal Communities Commitment funds are to be used to help create new jobs and opportunities.
These programs are in addition to the agency’s Assistance to Coal Communities (ACC) initiative, which awards funds on a competitive basis to communities impacted by the declining use of coal. The ACC initiative provides communities with support for economic diversification, job creation, workforce development, re-employment opportunities, and capital investment.
Lignite coal communities in central North Dakota are eligible to apply for funds through this program. More information is available here.
Programs to Support Native American Communities
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted Native American communities especially hard. EDA is responding by providing $100 million of American Rescue Plan dollars to help Indigenous communities with recovery-related economic development projects.
The tribal governments for North Dakota’s five federally recognized Native American tribes – Three Affiliated Tribes, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, Spirit Lake Nation, and Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate – are eligible to apply for the federal Indigenous Communities Program. A wide range of technical, planning, workforce development, entrepreneurship, public works, and infrastructure projects are eligible for funding through this special initiative.
Qualifying North Dakota Communities Encouraged to Apply
Lewis & Clark Commercial Lending Director Matt Burthold encourages municipal and tribal governments to explore options through these programs.
“These programs were created for to help communities recover and many of these programs address critical and unique needs for many North Dakota communities,” says Matt Burthold, LCD Group commercial lending director. “Local and tribal government leaders should not be shy about exploring their options under these programs as this is about helping their residents and businesses.”
LCD Group Executive Director Brent Ekstrom seconds Burthold by inviting local and tribal government leaders to directly contact LCD Group for advice and assistance.
“Economic and community development is what we do. We exist to help communities overcome and address their challenges. Our team has the expertise and familiarity with federal programs to provide the advice and assistance local leaders need. We’re here to help,” adds Ekstrom.
A full listing of funding opportunities may be found here on the EDA website.
Inquiries on these programs may be directed to Matt Burthold at (701) 667-7601 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.