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Make it in America Challenge Announced

26 Sep, 2012


The Obama administration has announced a $40 million multi-agency competition, the Make it in America Challenge, to accelerate the trend of insourcing, where companies are bringing jobs back and making additional investments here in America. The competition, which is being funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) and National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST-MEP) and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA), will build upon the administration’s bottom-up approach to strengthening the economy and creating jobs by partnering with state, regional, and local economies.

The Obama administration’s top priority is strengthening the economy and creating American jobs. In order to lay a foundation for an economy built to last, the administration has encouraged businesses to bring production back to the United States or expand their operations here. The United States offers significant competitive advantages—from a strong business climate to a highly-skilled and productive workforce—that make it a profitable place for businesses to invest. By investing in expanding in America, businesses can help put more Americans back to work.

“More and more businesses are choosing to invest, create jobs, and make things here in America, and this new initiative represents the latest effort by the Obama Administration to build on that trend,” said Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank. “This administration’s top priority is creating American jobs, and through the Make it in America Challenge, we will be supporting business’ efforts to expand here at home. By making competitive investments, the Challenge will help communities across the U.S. accelerate economic growth, attract business investment, and create jobs.”

“The modern global manufacturing landscape has changed the way companies do business, but it has also changed the way companies do training,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “This initiative will provide comprehensive assistance to those companies and those communities committed to make it in America through innovative training programs that lead to industry recognized credentials and arm our workforce with the skills employers want to see from day one.”

The announcement builds on the administration’s efforts to encourage companies—large and small, foreign and domestic, manufacturers and services firms—to increase investment in the United States. The president’s plan includes eliminating tax incentives for companies that ship jobs overseas and providing tax credits for companies that bring jobs back, investing in American workers to ensure they have the skills they need, modernizing our infrastructure, and taking action to ensure that American businesses and workers are competing on a level playing field.

The administration is working to help American workers and businesses thrive and restore middle class security by creating incentives, securing access to markets for U.S. exports, providing financial and technical support for companies to grow and expand, improving education and training opportunities to develop a skilled workforce, and enforcing global trade rules to ensure that American businesses and workers are competing on a level playing field. The administration is also working with communities across the country to help them meet the needs of businesses that want to build or expand their operations on American soil.

To advance these efforts even further and help ensure that we continue to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the world, the Department of Commerce and the Department of Labor are partnering on a new initiative—the Make it in America Challenge—that will provide the critical infrastructure, strategic planning, capacity building, technical assistance, and workforce development resources that will help American communities to be the desired home for more businesses.

In addition to preparing communities for business development, the Make it in America Challenge will help workers develop the skills they need to do the jobs of a 21st century global economy. By investing in high-growth industries, spurring small business development, and encouraging job creation, this Challenge helps support businesses that are committed to making it in America.

The Make it in America Challenge
The Make it in America Challenge will provide $40 million in competitive grant funding through the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) and and the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA).

Competitive applicants will propose projects that accelerate job creation by encouraging insourcing of productive activity by U.S. firms, fostering increased foreign direct investment, incentivizing U.S. companies to keep or expand their businesses—and jobs—here at home, and training local workers to meet the needs of those businesses.

Make it in America will build upon the administration’s bottom-up approach to strengthening the economy by partnering with state, regional and local economies. Successful projects will leverage funding from both funding agencies to include:
• public works projects that revitalize, expand and upgrade physical infrastructure that will attract new industry or encourage business retention or expansion;
• technical assistance in developing new strategies and tools to make their economies more attractive to insourcing or retention and expansion;
• technical assistance to companies looking to invest in innovative technologies, new products or services, or enhanced processes that will grow sales and jobs;
• targeted training and employment activities that support the local workforce needs of employers, move new and current workers up and along a career pathway, and strengthen America’s highly-skilled and diverse workforce.

The challenge is expected to give out approximately 15 awards, depending on the number of eligible applications.

Evaluation Criteria
Funding for the Make it in America Challenge will be made available through a Federal Funding Opportunity that will be announced by the start of 2013. Winning applicants will be selected by an interagency panel, which will evaluate applications based on the proposed project’s ability to satisfy the following core evaluation criteria:
1. The project’s ability to promote at least one of the following, including:
a. Insourcing of productive activity by U.S. firms;
b. Increased foreign direct investment;
c. Retention and growth of U.S. businesses and jobs;

2. Development of a highly skilled and diverse American workforce that moves new and current workers up and along career pathways with measurable outcomes, especially skills training completed and entered employment;

3. The project’s sustainability/durability;

4. Soundness of approach and applicant’s organizational capacity in terms of building regional public-private partnerships and attracting necessary resources;

5. The project’s alignment with a relevant strategic economic or business growth plan; and

6. The project’s anticipated economic and workforce development impacts, with measurable outcomes; especially jobs created/retained and private-sector investment leveraged.
 

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