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Feb 6 -- The Economic Development Administration (EDA), Commerce invites public comments to OMB by March 10, 2023 regarding a new information collection for recipients of awards under the EDA American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Build Back Better Regional Challenge.

To effectively administer and monitor its economic development assistance programs, EDA collects certain information from applications for, and recipients of, EDA investment assistance. Under the EDA American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act Build Back Better Regional Challenge, award recipients are required to submit identified program metrics and information to ensure that EDA regional development investments are evidence-based and data-driven, and accountable to participants and the public.  

EDA will require information from the 21 Build Back Better Regional Challenge award recipients also known as the coalition leads. This collection instrument will provide more granular information on the progress, obstacles, and lessons learned from the ongoing projects.  

Build Back Better Regional Challenge award recipients will submit data quarterly throughout the period of performance Furthermore, the data collected, and the tools created will help inform economic development practices at EDA, paving the way for future programming.
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.

The 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 of 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 activities within 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.

With each of these categories of questions, organized by thematic area and noted above, there will be an 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 process and progress:

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

The collection instrument also includes questions related to the overall programmatic experience such as Community of Practice support.
EDA Build Back Better Regional Challenge: https://www.eda.gov/funding/programs/american-rescue-plan/build-back-better
EDA submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202302-0610-001 Click IC List for information collection instrument, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation. Submit comments through this webpage.
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-02387

For AEA members wishing to submit comments, "A Primer on How to Respond to Calls for Comment on Federal Data Collections" is available at https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=5806

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