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The State of Federal Economic Development delivered at the 2018 FED Forum
Charlotte Scott   on Thursday, April 5, 2018 at 12:00:00 am

On Monday, March 26, IEDC President and CEO Jeff Finkle, delivered the State of Federal Economic Development speech at the annual FED Forum conference in Washington, D.C. Jeff touched upon a variety of policy issues and highlights that have affected the economic development landscape within the past year. Jeff emphasized administrative barriers that have proved to be operational and structural challenges for certain agencies, noting in particular the significant lack of major political appointees at agencies such as the Economic Development Administration (EDA), Export-Import Bank of the U.S., and the Census Bureau.

Beyond the challenges, Jeff noted several of recent legislative accomplishments for federal economic development, including the $600 million EDA received via the disaster recovery supplemental appropriation under the bipartisan legislation regarding spending caps that passed earlier this February. This was a huge win for the EDA, as this amount represents almost triple their usual annual budget. In addition, Jeff highlighted the success across the board for almost all economic development agencies and programs in the recently passed Omnibus spending bill. Jeff summarized some of these highlights, which included, $1.5 billion for the Department of Transportation’s TIGER grant program (a $1 billion increase from FY 17), $600 million for a new rural broadband grant and loan pilot program, $80 million for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields program, and significant overall budget increases for EDA, Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership, and the Minority Business Development Agency.

Jeff warned that despite these recent wins, federal economic development programs remain under attack, especially with the White House FY 19 Budget Proposal aiming to eliminate or cut funding for many of these agencies and programs. The proposal also includes reorganization plans that would reduce certain agencies’ ability to continue their active, hands-on operations. Therefore, Jeff concluded that it is still important for the economic development community to continue their outreach to politicians on the hill who champion these programs.

The link below can be used to download presentations from the 2018 FED Forum.