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News Release

New Obama administration initiative to spur job creation and accelerate economic growth in 20 regions across the country

16 federal agencies come together to support development of high-growth industry clusters in 21 states

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration today announced the winners of the $37 million Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, a multi-agency competition launched in May to support the advancement of 20 high-growth regional industry clusters. Investments from three federal agencies and technical assistance from 13 additional agencies will promote development in areas such as advanced manufacturing, information technology, aerospace and clean technology in rural and urban regions spanning 21 states. Projects are being driven by local communities that identified the economic strengths of their areas, with funding awarded to the best proposals.

These public-private partnerships are expected to create more than 4,800 jobs and 300 new businesses, as well as retain another 2,400 jobs and train approximately 4,000 workers for careers in high-growth industries, according to grantee estimates. The awards average $1.8 million per project, with an additional $13 million in matching funds contributed by the winning clusters.

"The winning projects of the challenge are innovative and impressive. The grants announced today demonstrate the administration's commitment to accelerating the development of strong industry clusters that promote robust economic environments and help develop a skilled workforce," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "These are the types of investments the president is calling for as part of his continued commitment to job creation."

Strong regional clusters grow from dynamic public-private partnerships that bring together business leaders, universities, nonprofit organizations, government officials and other strategic partners to help regions capitalize on shared strengths to enhance the local economy, create jobs and compete globally.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration is investing $19.5 million for technical skills training. The U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration is investing $14.5 million in Economic Adjustment Assistance funds. The U.S. Small Business Administration is investing $3 million in technical assistance.

"The Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge brings the public and private sectors together to build on America's regional strengths and create local jobs in key industries of the future," said acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank. "This initiative is a shining example of how the federal government is working collaboratively and leveraging existing resources to enhance local efforts to build public-private partnerships that support economic growth and job creation."

"SBA has a long history of support for regional clusters, and the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge is an important next step," said SBA Administrator Karen Mills. "I am pleased that SBA is contributing funding to bring underserved small businesses into regional clusters across the country. By working with other federal agencies, we can link, leverage and align our resources to give small businesses the tools they need to work together, grow and create jobs."

The Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge is just one example of how the Obama administration is collaborating to ensure a smarter use of federal resources to foster regional innovation in support of sustainable economic prosperity. Strong industry clusters – such as the Research Triangle in North Carolina and Silicon Valley in California – promote robust economic ecosystems and the development of a skilled workforce, both of which are critical to long-term regional success.

The winning projects of the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge announced today are:

  • Rockford, Ill.: Rockford Area Aerospace Cluster
  • Southeast Michigan: Southeast Michigan-Advanced Energy Storage Systems Initiative
  • Pittsburgh, Pa.: Southwestern Pennsylvania Revitalization
  • Northeast Ohio: Northeast Ohio Speed-to-Market Accelerator
  • Florida: Space Coast Clean Energy Jobs Accelerator
  • Knoxville and Oak Ridge, Tenn.: Advanced Composites Employment Accelerator
  • Milwaukee, Wis.: Milwaukee Regional Water Accelerator Project
  • Missouri and Kansas: KC Regional Jobs Accelerator
  • Atlanta, Ga: Atlanta Health Information Technology Cluster
  • Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma: The ARK: Acceleration, Resources, Knowledge
  • St. Louis, Mo.: St. Louis Bioscience Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Project
  • Oregon and Washington: Portland Regional Clean Tech Advance Initiative
  • San Diego, Calif.: San Diego-Imperial Valley Renewable Energy Generation Training and Demonstration Center
  • Puget Sound, Wash.: Washington Interactive Media Accelerator
  • Hudson Valley, N.Y.: New York Renewable Energy Cluster
  • Finger Lakes, N.Y.: Finger Lakes Food Processing Cluster Initiative
  • Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota: Upper Missouri Tribal Environmental Risk Mitigation
  • South Central Kansas: Center for Innovation and Enterprise Engagement
  • Northeast, Minn.: Minnesota's Mining Cluster
  • Northern Maine: GreenME

The Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge is part of the Obama administration's Regional Innovation Cluster Initiative, an interagency, place-based effort coordinated by the White House. The following federal agencies are collaborating to support this initiative: the U.S. Department of Agriculture; the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration, International Trade Administration, Minority Business Development Agency, and National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership; the U.S. Department of Defense; the U.S. Department of Education; the U.S. Department of Energy; the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; the U.S. Department of Labor; the U.S. Department of Transportation; the U.S. Department of the Treasury; the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; the National Science Foundation; and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

For more information on the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, visit

Employment and Training Administration
September 22, 2011
Release Number