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Competitive Grants Process for Regional Clusters

A competitive process has the advantage of creating a flexible, effective system that rewards local innovation clusters and incentivizes further growth.

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EDA should dispense federal funds for the support of regional clusters through a competitive grants process that puts a premium on local strategies built to create long-term economic success. A competitive process has the advantage of creating a flexible, effective system that rewards local innovation clusters and incentivizes further growth that would not otherwise occur, while maximizing the likelihood of success.

The competitive grants should be funded, of course, from the $50 million that the president’s budget expressly denotes for regional innovation clusters. Added to that should be the additional $50 million that the president’s budget calls to be used for business incubators. Born of the same campaign pledge as the support for regional innovation clusters, the best use of all of these funds would be to support regional strategies. The two initiatives will be most effective when they work in conjunction with each other to promote regional economic development.

In the future, focused funds specifically for the purpose of developing regional innovation clusters and business incubators should be allocated to EDA. In addition, it will be important for the White House to take a leadership role in ensuring that the separate appropriations for the various other federal innovation programs besides EDA are channeled through the pertinent congressional committees with a clear strategic eye on overall national innovation goals.

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