On November 18, 2010, the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) and ICLEI—Local Governments for Sustainability USA held the second webinar in a series about the role of energy efficiency, renewable energy, and sustainability in developing successful local economic development strategies. Practitioners and leading experts discussed key concepts and practical examples of how energy and sustainability issues factor into fundamental economic development goals to save money for businesses and households, create new markets and business opportunities, and develop a talented workforce, as well as spur job creation and retain dollars in the local economy. Webinar panelists provided guidance on how to develop a local economic development strategy oriented toward clean energy and sustainability and how to leverage local, state, and federal resources to support implementation of a local strategy.
Part 2: Leveraging Public Resources and Federal Funding
- There are numerous federal resources and funding opportunities that can be applied for sustainable economic development. Successful programs can be found within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Economic Development Administration (EDA), Small Business Administration (SBA), U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), and Department of Energy (DOE). Some are programs intended for energy and sustainability purposes that can be targeted on economic development activities, while others are economic development programs that can be integrated with local energy and sustainability objectives.
- EPA's E3 Program (Economy, Energy, Environment) is a partnership program that engages businesses, utilities, and local governments, and federal agencies. It helps businesses reduce costs and increase competitiveness, while providing businesses, economic developers, and local communities with technical and financial resources.
- Assistance provided or coordinated by the E3 Program includes: coordinated technical assessments (e.g. manufacturing extension partnership, industrial assessment centers, EPA climate leaders program, and EPA pollution prevention network), post-assessment recommendations, implementation support (such as through SBA's Small Business Development Centers), training, and continuous improvement programs.
- The E3 strives for long-term engagement with manufacturers. The E3 team will arrange meetings four times per year to provide additional assistance to E3 companies. They will also respond immediately to implementation roadblocks and highlight new information and resources.
- EDA provides grant-based investments to state and local governments and non-profits in areas suffering from economic distress. EDA targets its investments to promote the attraction of private capital investment and the creation and retention of long-term jobs—fostering vibrant economic ecosystems to help regions thrive in the global economy.
- Within EDA is the Global Climate Change Mitigation Incentive Fund (GCCMIF), which functions like a “green” version of EDA's most flexible program, the Economic Adjustment program. Proposed GCCMIF projects must advance EDA’s economic development mission and fulfill the objectives of the fund for renewable energy, energy efficiency, material reuse and recycling, green products and process, and green buildings.
- DOL's green jobs and workforce development resources include models for different industry clusters including: advanced manufacturing, aerospace, automation, bioscience, heavy construction, residential construction, energy, and entrepreneurship.
- Applying “regional innovation clusters” as a key organizing principle of federal economic policy, the Obama administration has used regional approaches to bridge the disjuncture between political jurisdictions and economic regions, used science and technology as drivers of innovation, and worked to identify industry clusters that offer the greatest competitive advantages.
- SBA's Innovative Economies Initiative aims to support development and growth of small businesses, create jobs, compete on a national and global scale, and attract further business investment. It has focused on development of regional innovation clusters.
- Many of DOE's and EPA's grant awards have focused on economic development, including:
- $400 million to states, local governments, and metropolitan transportation authorities for qualified electric transportation projects that reduce emissions, including truck stop electrification, airport ground support equipment, and cargo-handling equipment.
- $300 million through the Clean Cities program to state and local governments, metropolitan transportation authorities, and others for encouraging the use of plug-in electric-drive vehicles or other emerging electric vehicle technologies.
- $2 billion for manufacturing of advanced batteries and components, including advanced lithium-ion batteries, hybrid electrical systems, component manufacturers and software designers.
- $4.5 billion to modernize the electric grid including demand-response equipment, security and reliability enhancements, energy storage research, development, demonstration and deployment, and to facilitate recovery from disruptions from the energy supply.