Sept. 28 Deadline to Submit Ideas for U.S. EDA Build Back Better Regional Challenge

Gov. Phil Murphy and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) announced the NJEDA’s participation in the preparation of applications for the Build Back Better Regional Challenge, under the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA).

The Challenge is a federal grant program that helps communities adopt and implement industry-based economic-development strategies to strengthen economic diversity and resiliency in the wake of COVID-19. The program does this by funding projects that will create high-quality jobs, increase wages and revitalize communities that have been especially hard hit by the pandemic.

In a release, Gov. Murphy said, “The Build Back Better Regional Challenge is a fantastic opportunity to engage New Jersey’s innovative thinkers and industry leaders to craft projects that will not only help us bounce back from the impacts of COVID-19, but also lay the foundation for long-term success.”

Applicants for the Challenge have to join a regional coalition, with each coalition having one member serving as the lead entity. A coalition submits a single application that’s centered around three to eight projects aimed at spurring the development or growth of a regional industry cluster; the application must also include a long-term transformational vision and a plan for execution.

Eligible applicants include state or local government entities, nonprofits, and higher education institutions. For-profit entities cannot be coalition members, but they can function as “coalition partners,” offering industry expertise. They can also commit themselves to investment or job-creation initiatives related to the industry cluster, or they can formally express their support for the coalition’s application.

The application process for the Challenge takes place in two phases. Applications for Phase 1 are due on October 19, 2021. During this phase, the EDA will select 50 to 60 winners to receive planning grants of up to $500,000. The winners will use these planning grants to support the preparation of their Phase 2 application, which is due on March 15, 2022. During Phase 2, the EDA will choose 20 to 30 winners to receive implementation grants of $25 million to $100 million.

More information about the Challenge is available here.

The NJEDA is supporting four regional coalitions in New Jersey, each one focused on a different industry: aviation innovation, biomanufacturing, clean energy and smart ports.

Aviation Innovation Coalition

The aviation innovation coalition, based in South Jersey, specializes in smart aviation and aerospace, and includes advanced air mobility (AAM), advanced air cargo and uncrewed aerial systems (UAS). The coalition is considering infrastructure construction projects (including a “vertiport” and a “droneport”), air-space planning, workforce training programs, microgrants for underrepresented youth to develop aviation innovations and businesses, and curricula for regional high schools and colleges focused on AAM and UAS. This coalition is led by Atlantic County and the Atlantic County Economic Alliance. Individuals and organizations interested in sharing project ideas or in joining the aviation innovation coalition should reach out to AviationBBBRC@njeda.com by noon on September 28.

Biomanufacturing Coalition

The biomanufacturing coalition is focused on the advanced manufacturing of pharmaceuticals and on new, more efficient ways to produce medicines. The goal is to reduce our reliance on foreign drug manufacturing and to shorten supply chains to help patients. The coalition is also working on training an expanded workforce in new and unique manufacturing processes, enabling the digital design of products and processes, accelerating pharmaceutical-product and manufacturing-process development, and devising real-time quality-assurance processes.

This coalition is led by Rutgers, and it will leverage existing physical, educational and talent assets in the Northeast Corridor, including the New Jersey Bioscience Center (North Brunswick); the New Brunswick Innovation Hub; and BioCentriq, at NJIT; as well as major research institutions, community colleges, and biopharma companies with headquarters in New Jersey. Individuals and organizations interested in sharing project ideas or in joining the biomanufacturing coalition should reach out to BiomanufacturingBBBRC@njeda.com by noon on September 28.

Clean Energy Coalition

The clean energy coalition is building on the Murphy administration’s investments in the decarbonization of New Jersey’s economy. Specifically, the coalition seeks to expand the state’s clean energy sector through projects on offshore wind energy, clean transport, energy storage and smart-grid technologies. The coalition is also considering infrastructure projects, workforce trainings and business-acceleration efforts — to support the manufacturing supply chain for clean energy.

The coalition is led by Rowan University and includes multiple other higher education partners and thought leaders in the clean energy space. Individuals and organizations interested in sharing project ideas or in joining the clean energy coalition should reach out to CleanEnergyBBBRC@njeda.com by noon on September 28.

Smart Ports Regional Coalition

The smart ports regional coalition is focused on optimizing the ports in the greater Newark area in order to expand the city’s regional economic impact and spur large-scale job creation. The coalition is focusing on innovative transportation systems, with projects that apply advanced technologies to freight movement, clean energy, data analytics and secured IT systems, supply chain improvements, workforce development, facility design, and to an online property marketplace for off-port businesses. This coalition is led by the City of Newark in partnership with NJIT. Additional coalition partners include the Port Newark Container Terminal, Invest Newark, and the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority. Individuals and organizations interested in sharing project ideas or in joining the smart ports coalition should reach out to SmartPortsBBBRC@njeda.com b

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