Meeting of the Minds: States and EDDs Discuss the EDA Statewide Planning Grants

| May 23, 2024 |

The U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Statewide Planning Grants (SPG) offered states, territories, the District of Columbia, and federally recognized areas a unique research opportunity: a one-time $1 million grant to each “state” to fund projects to help these 59 areas recover from the pandemic and prepare for future challenges. CREC hosted a convening of SPG grantees to not only share research findings, but to provide an opportunity for state and Economic Development District (EDD) leaders to discuss project activities, roadblocks, and state-EDD alignment.

The two-day convening brought together state and EDD leaders from 18 states to engage and learn about other SPG projects. The first day was state-focused with states discussing program activities, unique projects, and methods to include EDDs in grant planning and implementation. Two states gave presentations on their industry-related projects, with Washington sharing their industry cluster project and South Carolina discussing their work on AI and EVs. Following those conversations, North Carolina and Missouri presented the benefits of working with EDDs, with North Carolina focusing on economic recovery and resiliency and Missouri on the development of a statewide CEDs.

The first day also included breakouts by EDA Region where states gathered and discussed their project focus areas, key partners, strategies for EDD collaboration, roadblocks, successes, and what they hoped to learn from the convening. Participants used this session to learn from others about combatting roadblocks, knowledge sharing, sustaining these efforts beyond the grant period, benefits of collaborating with EDDs, and how to develop consistent metrics. The discussion facilitated discussion among states to learn from one another and to generate new ideas as they finalize their project research.

The second day brought EDDs into the conversation, with both state and EDD participants discussing the SPG projects. Nancy Gilbert, Acting Networks Program Manager for EDA’s Office of Regional Affairs in Washington, DC, kicked off the session by offering comments on the SPG and other EDA programs and answered questions from leaders. Following Nancy’s comments, Utah attendees gave a presentation that highlighted state-EDD collaboration. The Utah state and EDD officials spoke about their efforts to strengthen local partnerships and how they built trust between state and regions. After the Utah discussion, all attendees participated in a breakout session to discuss ways to improve collaboration and communication, while also providing an opportunity for leaders to connect.

The convening concluded with CREC presenting on the SPG database and website that will launch in the coming months. The website will provide reports and key findings from CREC’s research on the Statewide Planning Grants, providing the capability to learn about other projects.

Leaders left the convening with ideas on how to strengthen their projects by improving alignment and overcoming roadblocks, as well as gaining insight into grant activities from fellow grantees. In a post-meeting survey, participants indicated they valued learning about other projects and developing relationships with fellow grantees. Key takeaways included the diversity of how the grant was used in different states, ideas to leverage economic development and partnerships, and what the role of an EDD is/can be in economic development. As each grantee adopted a distinct approach with the SPG funds, this gathering facilitated invaluable exchanges, particularly as many states near the conclusion of their projects.


The materials included on these State-Local Alignment webpages were prepared by the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness using Federal funds under award ED21HDQ3070060 from the Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Development Administration or the U.S. Department of Commerce.