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DOE Leads Federal Funding for a Regional Innovation Cluster

The Department of Energy today drew upon the recommendations of an Obama administration-wide effort to boost regional economic development, announcing that DOE would team up with six other federal agencies to create an energy-related regional innovation cluster dedicated to developing and commercializing new building efficiency technologies. The other agencies joining the effort are the Small Business Administration, the National Science Foundation, the Departments of Labor and Education, and the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration and Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

The key feature of the proposal unveiled today is that these seven federal agencies will seek bids from regional economies around the country, requiring a “bottom up” self-organizing effort by states and localities, universities and federal research labs, workforce development agencies and the private sector. This was one of the key recommendations in our paper, “The Geography of Innovation,” and is widely regarded among economic development experts and innovation gurus as the best way to build regional innovation clusters in the United States. Capitalizing on our country’s unique regional science and technology strengths, entrepreneurial flair and strong work ethic, targeted federal funds will help these regional clusters self organize and compete on a global scale.

The Center for American Progress is at the forefront of the push to create more energy-efficient buildings and the new green jobs to do the retrofitting and weatherization work, presenting a variety of policy initiatives to the administration and Congress. These efforts, in tandem with a soon-to-be-recognized-and-funded regional innovation cluster dedicated to the same technologies and workforce development objectives, are an important way for the U.S. economy to grow and thrive on the back of 21st century innovation technologies.


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