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Nov 16 -- The Economic Development Administration, Department of Commerce, invites comments by January 17, 2023 regarding a proposed new data collection from award recipients under the EDA American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Build Back Better Regional Challenge.

The Economic Development Administration (EDA) leads the Federal economic development agenda by promoting innovation and competitiveness, preparing American regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. Guided by the basic principle that sustainable economic development should be driven locally, EDA works directly with communities and regions to help them build the capacity for economic development based on local business conditions and needs. The Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965 (PWEDA) (42 U.S.C. 3121 et seq.) is EDA's organic authority and is the primary legal authority under which EDA awards financial assistance. Under PWEDA, EDA provides financial assistance to both rural and urban distressed communities by fostering entrepreneurship, innovation, and productivity through investments in infrastructure development, workforce development, capacity building, and business development to attract private capital investments and new and better jobs to regions experiencing economic distress. Further information on EDA programs and financial assistance opportunities can be found at https://eda.gov/​www.eda.gov.

To effectively administer and monitor its economic development assistance programs, EDA collects certain information from applications for, and recipients of, EDA investment assistance. The purpose of this notice is to seek comments from the public and other Federal agencies on a request for a new information collection for recipients of awards under the EDA American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Build Back Better Regional Challenge.

The proposed information collection will employ an innovative mixed methods approach to gather traditional metrics in addition to qualitative data on all regions participating in the Build Back Better Regional Challenge program. Secondary data will be gathered and monitored for each of the regions/awardees. A quarterly questionnaire will be sent to each of the BBBRC coalition leads which will gather the relevant data and stories for each of the 21 BBBRC coalitions, resulting in coalition regional impact evaluation, resources, and tools for regional economic development decision-makers.

This collection will explore several thematic areas for the Build Back Better Regional Challenge, where each of the following areas are based on survey scope of work themes:

1. Accelerating innovation in emerging technologies to gain an understanding of the long-term impact on economic and social sectors;
2. Helping workers access information on new job opportunities, job placement, and job training and prepare for and be hired into good jobs;
3. Increasing new business growth and entrepreneurial activity within the industry sectors;
4. Building critical infrastructure such as roads, water and sewer miles, business and industries to allow for economic development and growth; and
5. Helping businesses adopt new technologies so that they may enter new markets, increasing their economic capacity and overall sustainability.

Within each of the categories of questions, organized by thematic area noted above, there will be equity-based questions to support greater understanding of how equity is being implemented throughout regional economic development projects.

Coalition leads will respond to the appropriate thematic area, answering questions related to the following categories:

-- Reflections and updates on the coalition implementation process and progress;
-- The ability to secure additional non-federal investments;
-- Detailing the programs, trainings, and curricula developed/launched for job training/workforce development;
-- Development and growth surrounding infrastructure; and
-- Job creation, wage growth, and existing employee growth and development.

The collection instrument also includes questions related to the overall programmatic experience such Community of Practice support.

EDA Build Back Better Regional Challenge: https://eda.gov/arpa/build-back-better/  
Draft data collection instrument: https://www.dropbox.com/s/ozaezio0lhzsqvj/EDA_-_Regional_Impact%20-%20DRAFT%20Questionnaire.pdf?dl=0
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2022-24977

Brookings Metro Program, The future of place-based economic policy: Early insights from the Build Back Better Regional Challenge (11.17.22)
https://www.brookings.edu/research/the-future-of-place-based-economic-policy-early-insights-from-the-build-back-better-regional-challenge/

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