The Future of Regional Economic Development and Implications for U.S. Economic Development Administration Programs

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On November 3, 2021, Brookings Metro Vice President and Director Amy Liu testified to the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, during a hearing titled Examining Programs at the Economic Development Administration.

Framed against the backdrop of EDA’s last reauthorization occurring in 2008, Liu’s testimony reinforced three key points:

  1. Economic development—especially regional economic development—matters. It matters because it is place-based, responsive to geographic inequality, and comprehensive in scope.
  2. Local and regional leaders are trying to achieve meaningful economic development, but they face many obstacles.
  3. The federal government, particularly EDA, has an important role to play to modernize regional economic development and reward what matters.

Noting that the federal government, led by the EDA, ought to be that catalyst, partner, and capacity builder to state and regional leaders, Liu provides five high-level recommendations for EDA’s reauthorization, drawn from conversations with pioneering economic development partners in the field:

  • EDA must be a true partner, not just a grant-maker.
  • EDA must formally adopt the broader, modern vision of economic development.
  • EDA programs ought to codify what works and remove impediments to creative, integrated approaches.
  • EDA should formally serve as point for federal interagency coordination in support of regional economic growth.
  • EDA should build the capacity of local agencies and institutions to meet this broader mandate.

To read Liu’s full testimony, click here. To watch the testimony video, click here.