The Economic Development Administration has opened up the funding opportunity for the Tech Hubs program. This is an opportunity for the cooperative development community to help to shape tech and manufacturing business development strategies across the country and access federal funding to do so. This post contains background information on the Tech Hubs program, the
Last year the Chips and Science Act was passed, which spotlights the importance of worker ownership and solidifies its role in developing technology and manufacturing businesses in the United States.
One of the flagship programs of this Act is the Regional Technology and Innovation Hub Program – now known as the Tech Hubs program. Because of the USFWC’s advocacy for worker co-ops in Congress, worker ownership development centers and associations are named as allowable partners in the creation of regional technology and innovation strategies. $500 million has been appropriated to launch this program.
Key goals for the program:
- Expanding Regional Economic Opportunity and Democratizing Technology Innovation
- Driving Economic Opportunity and Inclusive Economic Growth
- Building a Skilled, Diverse Workforce and Supply Chain
The Tech Hubs program is an important opportunity to infuse worker ownership and democratic workplace practices into a central program of the federal government. The USFWC believes that worker cooperatives are a tool that should be in the toolbelt of economic development strategies. The EDA expects Tech Hubs projects to advance equity to underserved and underrepresented populations, to provide for inclusive community engagement, and for economic benefits of the project will be shared by all communities in the project area, including any underserved communities. As a movement that serves as a driver for habitually underserved and underrepresented communities, the USFWC encourages its members and community to engage with these consortia so that we may lead these projects with our values.
Watch our webinar with the office of Rep. Jamaal Bowman, champion of worker ownership in the CHIPS and Science Act, to understand this program and how to become a part of these regional tech and innovation strategies.
Who is this for?
Only consortia are eligible, and each consortium has certain required and optional entity types. Regional consortia could include various combinations that include academia, private sector, government, federal labs, and unions, among others.
- Employee ownership membership associations
- State or local employee ownerships and cooperative development centers and
- financial institutions and investment funds
are among the optional entity types. The eligible organizations listed above should reach out the USFWC and look to collaborate with the regional anchor institution in their region. If you are interested in becoming a part of a consortia in your region, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to get more information and learn if your area is organizing a consortia.
Funding opportunity now open
On May 12, 2023, EDA published the Tech Hubs Phase 1 Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) (PDF)—the first of two phases.
PHASE 1 – Strategy Development Grants (Deadline: August 15, 2023)
EDA will designate at least 20 Tech Hubs across the country and will separately award approximately $15 million in strategy development grants to accelerate the development of future Tech Hubs. The Tech Hubs designation will be a widely recognized indicator of a region’s potential for rapid technology-led economic growth. Strategy Development Grants may fund the following types of activities:
- Developing a comprehensive regional technology strategy;
- Identification of regional partnerships;
- Assessments to determine regional needs and capabilities;
- Development or updating of goals and strategies to implement an existing comprehensive regional plan;
- Identification or implementation of planning, local zoning, and other changes to code, law, or policy necessary;
- Development of plans for promoting broad-based economic growth, creating good paying jobs, assessing job quality, and helping students and workers gain the skills for, secure, and advance in good jobs and careers;
- Hiring of the coalition’s Regional Innovation Officer to lead the overall effort.
The EDA is particularly interested in proposals that focus on the following areas:
- Supporting small and rural businesses
- Promoting diversity and inclusion in the tech sector
- Addressing workforce development needs
EDA will host an informational webinar on May 18 about the Tech Hubs Program Phase 1 NOFO. Click here to register for the webinar.
PHASE 2 (EDA expects to release the Phase 2 NOFO in Fall 2023.)
In Phase 2, EDA will make at least 5 implementation awards to designated EDA Tech Hubs. Only Tech Hubs that EDA designates during Phase 1 are eligible to apply for Phase 2.
Steps to engagement in the Tech Hubs program:
- Read the fact sheet about the program and the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO).
- Watch our info webinar above and review resources from that session.
- Register for the EDA’s informational webinar on May 18 about the Tech Hubs Program.
- If you are interested in becoming a part of a consortia in your region, reach out to email@example.com to get more information and learn if your area is organizing a consortia.
If you value the USFWC’s work to advocate for and elevate these opportunities, please consider donating to support our efforts.