The challenge is a marquee component of the federal government’s American Rescue Plan programs
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — RTI International, a nonprofit research institute, has been awarded a $4 million grant to support the Build Back Better Regional Challenge, a marquee component of the American Rescue Plan programs led by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA).
The Build Back Better Regional Challenge aims to boost economic recovery from the pandemic and rebuild American communities by seeding or scaling regional growth clusters led by 60 coalitions of public, private, nonprofit and higher education stakeholders across the country. In its role, RTI will partner with the State Science and Technology Institute to coordinate and lead a Community of Practice (CoP) that will build long-term connections between the challenge’s 60 finalist coalitions.
“Communities of practice can be highly effective vehicles that spur innovation and accelerate impacts because they create the context for shared learning and collaborative action toward common objectives,” said RTI president and CEO Tim J. Gabel. “We look forward to supporting the Build Back Better Regional Challenge coalitions in leveraging the power of a greater network to advance the growth of their regions.”
RTI’s work will include organizing quarterly workshops, producing policy briefs, coordinating cross-coalition site visits and learning exchanges, and preserving and disseminating knowledge created through the CoP.
“We are thrilled to work with the EDA, finalist coalitions and the other partner organizations involved in this important effort,” said Sara Lawrence, director of economic development at RTI. “Connecting communities to each other and fostering collaboration will make the transformational investments provided through this challenge even more impactful for our national competitiveness and broad-based growth.”
Lawrence, a seasoned economic development practitioner with more than 20 years of experience collaborating with a range of partners in the field, will lead a team of subject-matter experts in organizing the CoP.
“From day one, the Build Back Better Regional Challenge was envisioned as more than just a grants program,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo. “It seeks to deploy the resources which Congress has entrusted to us in a way that harnesses and amplifies the expertise of the world’s leading economic development practitioners towards strengthening regional economic development and building a better America. The Community of Practice is the linchpin of that effort.”
RTI’s work began in July with EDA grant funding supporting a five-year period of performance.
To learn more, visit www.eda.gov/communities.