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November 04, 2021 | Tom Ballard

Nine submissions from Tennessee among 529 submitted under EDA’s “Build Back Better Regional Challenge”

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

Nine Tennessee-based organizations were among 529 from across the country that submitted proposals under the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) recent “Build Back Better Regional Challenge,” and five of the nine are East Tennessee-based.

They and their ideas are:

  • Chattanooga Area Regional Council of Governments – “DRIVE 2.0: Building a Stronger Region through Electrified Mobility”;
  • East Tennessee Development District – “East Tennessee Transformation Network”;
  • FoundersForge in Johnson City – “Northeast Tennessee Entrepreneurial Initiative for Rural Economic and Workforce Development”;
  • TRV Stewardship Council, headquartered in Knoxville – “Crossing Boundaries: Sustaining Economic Growth through Outdoor Recreation in the Tennessee River Valley;” and
  • The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga – “Southeast Quantum Coalition.”

The remaining four are equally divided between Memphis and Nashville and are as follows:

  • Memphis-based AgLaunch – “Sustainable, Equitable, and Regional Innovation and Entrepreneurship System for AgriFood” (SERIES-Ag);
  • University of Memphis – “The Digital Delta: An Applied Technology Cluster Advancing Opportunity for the Memphis Region”;
  • Vanderbilt University – “Middle Tennessee Lifeworks Facilities”; and
  • Vision Heirs Inc. of Nashville (Project lead agency) – “TURH (The Ultimate Resource HUB).”

The complete list of all applicants can be found here.

As conceived, the “Build Back Better” program will next select 50 to 60 Phase 1 awardees to receive $500,000 each to be used for the planning of “bottom-up, middle-out” economic development projects designed to advance and accelerate an equitable economic recovery, create good-paying jobs, and build resilient regions across the country. Winners of the Phase 1 awards will go on to develop a full proposal for Phase 2, and in March between 20 and 30 of the projects will receive up to $100 million each to implement their projects.

In acknowledging receipt of the proposals, Alejandra Y. Castillo, EDA’s Assistant Secretary for Economic Development, wrote: “Applications were submitted from every corner of the country, from rural communities to university towns, major metros, and everything in between. They reflect the local economies that propel our nation. Beyond the quantity of applications, they are of extraordinary caliber. We are thrilled with the thoughtfulness of the applicants and look forward to reviewing and learning from the experience and creativity of communities across the country. EDA is already working through a comprehensive, merit-based review of all 529 applications submitted. Throughout these next few months, we ask for your patience as the team moves through this effort as expeditiously and diligently as possible.”

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