Bennet Urges Colorado to Take Up Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge

Competitive Grant Initiative to Bolster Economic Growth Holds Potential to Create Jobs and Foster Economic Prosperity

Washington, DC—Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet is urging Coloradans to take advantage of a new initative that streamlines federal resources to boost local ideas and projects that support development and create jobs. The unprecedented $33 million President’s Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge launched by the Obama administration is a competitive grant program intended to spur economic growth through public-private partnerships in at least 20 regions around the country.

The Challenge would award resources to regions that demonstrate the existence of high-growth industries that support a wide range of economic and workforce development activities.

“Throughout Colorado, in our cities and rural communities, local partners have already begun building coalitions and public-private partnerships to support innovators and entrepreneurs to boost small businesses and create jobs around the state,” Bennet said. “As a result, our state is perfectly poised to meet the President’s challenge. I look forward to supporting strong applications that take advantage of local ideas and expertise and put Colorado’s best on display.”

The deadline to apply to the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge is July 7, 2011. Details on the application process are available here.

The competition offers a total of $33 million in funding from three federal agencies and technical assistance from 13 additional agencies to support the advancement of at least 20 competitively-selected industry clusters. The Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration will invest up to $20 million for technical skills training; the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration will invest up to $10 million in Economic Adjustment Assistance funds; and the Small Business Administration will invest up to $3 million in technical assistance. 

The Challenge targets high-growth clusters from rural, urban and multi-jurisdictional regions across the nation with strengths in various industries. Investments in each winning cluster will aim to drive additional private capital from an array of sources, including foundations, financial institutions, corporations and other private-sector partners. 

Applicants will be considered based on their ability to demonstrate a focus on measurable outcomes, such as:

  • Achieving sustainable economic growth in the region;
  • Augmenting business formation, especially of small businesses, and leveraging existing businesses assets;
  • Advancing commercialization of federal and private research;
  • Increasing exports;
  • Developing a skilled workforce through outreach, training, and the creation of career pathways, and;
  • Integrating historically underserved businesses and communities into the economic activities of the cluster. 

Strong regional clusters grow from dynamic public-private partnerships that bring together business leaders, government officials, universities, non-profits and other strategic partners to help regions capitalize on shared strengths to enhance the local economy, create jobs, and compete globally.

The following federal agencies are collaborating to support this competition: U.S. Department of Agriculture; U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, International Trade Administration, Minority Business Development Agency, and National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership; U.S. Department of Defense; U.S. Department of Education; U.S. Department of Energy; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; U.S. Department of Labor;  U.S. Department of Transportation; U.S. Department of Treasury; Environmental Protection Agency; National Science Foundation; and Small Business Administration.  The Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge is part of the Obama Administration’s Regional Innovation Cluster Initiative, an interagency, place-based effort coordinated by the White House.