On Sept. 2, 2022, President Joe Biden announced the St. Louis Tech Triangle as one of 21 winners of the $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge, the most impactful regional economic development competition in decades.
Funded by President Biden’s American Rescue Plan and administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), the Regional Challenge is awarding approximately $25 million in grants to the St. Louis Tech Triangle, led by Greater St. Louis, Inc., to boost biosciences, geospatial, and advanced manufacturing industries.
With $25 million in funding from EDA, the St. Louis Tech Triangle will strengthen the global competitiveness of the region’s three leading industry clusters and build a national model for inclusive economic growth. Coalition projects include expanding a workforce intermediary focused on women in advanced manufacturing careers, supporting startup business development, supplying equipment for workforce training, and investing in cutting-edge active pharmaceutical ingredient research.
“The Build Back Better Regional Challenge will help revitalize underserved communities within the St. Louis metro area and uplift workers that have been historically excluded in the manufacturing sector – namely women and women of color,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “The St. Louis Tech Triangle coalition will build a national model for inclusive economic growth, building upon the region’s industrial foundation to create a strong, resilient economy for the future.”
“The Economic Development Administration is proud to support the bold vision of Greater St. Louis, Inc.,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo. “This EDA investment will connect the region’s three leading industry clusters to advance innovation and strengthen competitiveness, while equitably distributing the benefits of the region’s economic growth.”
“This investment will accelerate the St. Louis region’s path toward becoming a national hub for many of the nation’s most innovative and fastest growing industries, from advanced manufacturing, artificial intelligence, and geospatial intelligence to biosciences and agricultural technology,” said Missouri Senator Roy Blunt. “I have been proud to work with Greater St. Louis, Inc. over the past several years to secure federal support for the St. Louis Regional Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Center. This project will bring exciting new opportunities to the area and I look forward to seeing it move forward.”
“The Build Back Better Regional Challenge is an exciting investment by the Biden Administration into our regional economy to stimulate workforce and business development. The St. Louis Tech Triangle, which serves the Metro East, is a worthy recipient of this federal funding,” said Illinois Senator Dick Durbin. “I’m looking forward to seeing Illinoisans at St. Louis Tech Triangle contribute to cutting-edge industries like bioscience, geospatial, and advanced manufacturing. As a result, our region will boost workforce opportunities and build a more resilient economy for the future.”
“Thanks to the Democrats’ American Rescue Plan, local manufacturing, scientific and workforce development projects like this one are receiving the resources they need to create jobs and help communities prosper,” said Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth. “The more we provide Americans with opportunities to expand their careers and develop their businesses, the more we can support a strong and diverse workforce.”
“This groundbreaking funding for the St. Louis Tech Triangle will serve as a national model for inclusive economic growth built on innovative, next-generation technologies,” said Congresswoman Cori Bush (MO-01). “We know that this funding is more than just an investment in the technological sphere – it is an investment in people that will serve as an economic catalyst for the entire St. Louis Region.”
The St. Louis Tech Triangle is one of 21 winners – each a regional coalition of partnering entities – that will receive awards between $25 million and $65 million to implement an average of six integrative projects that will enable each region’s economic transformation and competitiveness.
Greater St. Louis Inc. Chief Communications Officer Tony Wyche further shared that Southwestern Illinois College is one of the grantees that will benefit from the St. Louis Tech Triangle project and this announced funding.
The Build Back Better Regional Challenge (BBBRC) is an unprecedented competitive federal grant program that provides each regional coalition with significant investments to tackle a wide variety of projects – including entrepreneurial support, workforce development, infrastructure, and innovation – to drive inclusive economic growth. Each coalition’s collection of projects aims to develop and strengthen regional industry clusters – all while embracing economic equity, creating good-paying jobs, and enhancing U.S. competitiveness globally. Projects span 24 states and include $87 million to two primarily Tribal coalitions and over $150 million for projects serving communities impacted by the declining use of coal.
The 21 BBBRC awardees were chosen from 60 EDA-designated finalists that each received approximately $500,000 in funding and technical assistance to continue developing their cluster strategies. The funding for each coalition is approximate, with awards to be signed later in September. Those 60 finalists were chosen from a Phase 1 applicant pool of 529 applications, which exemplifies the tremendous demand for transformational economic development approaches. EDA will continue to support all 60 finalists with the creation of a Community of Practice that will provide technical support, foster connectedness with peer regions and build capacity.
The Build Back Better Regional Challenge is one of EDA’s many programs aimed at building strong regional economies and supporting community-led economic development. EDA was allocated $3 billion in supplemental funding under the American Rescue Plan to assist communities nationwide in their efforts to build back better by accelerating economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and building local economies that will be resilient to future economic shocks.
As a part of this funding, EDA allocated $300 million through a Coal Communities Commitment to support coal communities in pandemic recovery and help them create new jobs and opportunities, including through the creation or expansion of a new industry sector. Specifically, EDA has dedicated $100 million of its Build Back Better Regional Challenge funds and $200 million of its Economic Adjustment Assistance funds to directly support coal communities. Grantees for EDA’s full suite of American Rescue Plan programs will be awarded on a rolling basis through Sept. 30, 2022. For more information, visit https://www.eda.gov/ARPA/.