EDA board approves up to $400K to support state-based coalitions competing in Build Back Better Regional Challenge

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority board announced Wednesday that it has approved the use of up to $400,000 in Economic Recovery Fund money to be used as matching funds for each of four New Jersey-based groups that are participating in the Build Back Better Regional Challenge.

The EDA will provide up to $100,000 to support each coalition that is selected by the U.S. Economic Development Administration as a Phase 1 finalist in the BBBRC to assist with the development of the coalition’s Phase 2 application.

The BBBRC is a federal program that will fund projects that create high-quality jobs, increase wages and revitalize communities in places that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Applicants for the challenge act as a regional coalition, with one lead entity per application.

Applications for Phase 1 are due Oct. 19.

During this phase, the U.S. EDA will select 50 to 60 winners to receive planning grants of up to $500,000. Winners will use these planning grants to support the preparation of the coalition’s Phase 2 application, which is due March 15, 2022.

During Phase 2, the U.S. EDA will choose 20 to 30 winners to receive implementation grants of $25 million to $100 million.

The NJEDA previously announced that it is participating in four applicant coalitions focused on aviation innovation, biomanufacturing, clean energy and smart ports:

  • The Aviation Innovation Coalition: This coalition, led by Atlantic County and the Atlantic County Economic Alliance, is focused on smart aviation and aerospace in South Jersey, including advanced air mobility, advanced air cargo and uncrewed aerial systems. The coalition is considering infrastructure construction projects, including a vertiport and droneport; airspace planning; workforce training programs; microgrants for underrepresented youth to develop aviation innovations and businesses; and curricula for regional high schools and colleges focused on UAS and AAM.
  • The Biomanufacturing Coalition: This coalition, led by Rutgers University, is focused on advanced manufacturing of pharmaceuticals and developing new, more efficient ways to produce medicines to reduce reliance on foreign drug manufacturing and shorten supply chains to help patients. The coalition is also working on training an expanded workforce on new and unique manufacturing processes, enabling digital design of products and processes, accelerating pharmaceutical product and manufacturing process development, and developing real time quality assurance processes. This coalition leverages existing physical, educational and talent assets in the Northeast corridor, including the NJ BioScience Center, the New Brunswick Innovation HUB, BioCentriq at New Jersey Institute of Technology, major research institutions, community colleges and major biopharma companies with headquarters in New Jersey.
  • The Clean Energy Coalition: This coalition, led by Rowan University, includes multiple other higher education partners and thought leaders in the clean energy space. It aims to build on Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration’s investments in decarbonizing the state’s economy by expanding New Jersey’s clean energy sector — specifically offshore wind, clean transport, energy storage and smart grid technologies. The coalition is considering infrastructure projects, workforce training and business acceleration efforts to support the manufacturing supply chain for clean energy.
  • The Smart Ports Regional Coalition: This coalition is led by the city of Newark in partnership with NJIT and additional partners, including Port Newark Container Terminal, Invest Newark and the North Jersey Transportation Authority. It is focused on optimizing ports in the greater Newark area to expand regional economic impact and spur large-scale job creation. The coalition will focus on innovative transportation systems, including industry projects of advanced technologies for freight movement, clean energy, data analytics and secured IT systems, supply chain improvements, workforce development, facility design and an online property marketplace for off-port related businesses.

The coalitions were selected due to the leadership of, or the participation by, another government entity (including state universities) and for their alignment with New Jersey’s targeted industries identified in Murphy’s economic plan.

EDA CEO Tim Sullivan said the challenge has the potential to have significant impact.

“Gov. Murphy and President (Joe) Biden have made tackling the COVID-19 pandemic and supporting a strong, equitable recovery a top priority,” he said. “The Build Back Better Regional Challenge is a unique opportunity for New Jersey to bolster our industry clusters to better address the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 and identify a slate of transformational economic development initiatives.

“The NJEDA is proud to support applicant coalitions in key sectors with potential to drive transformative economic growth and job creation. The funding approved today will help ensure these applicants have the best chance of success if they are selected as finalists.”