U.S. Secretary of Commerce Announces Finalists for $1B ‘BBB Regional Challenge’


WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S.A. — U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo today announced the 60 finalists for the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) $1 billion “Build Back Better Regional Challenge” – the marquee of EDA’s American Rescue Plan programs – that aims to boost economic pandemic recovery and rebuild American communities, including some that have been grappling with decades of disinvestment. The Build Back Better Regional Challenge provides transformative investments – up to $100 million per grantee – to develop and strengthen regional industry clusters across the country, all while embracing economic equity, creating good-paying jobs, and enhancing U.S. competitiveness globally.

The 60 finalists – each a coalition of partnering entities – have proposed projects that will develop or scale industry sectors, develop and train the workforce of today, and build resilient economies. Finalists will now compete for Phase 2 of the Challenge, which will award 20-30 regional coalitions up to $100 million to implement 3-8 projects that support an industry sector. The deadline for Phase 2 is March 15, 2022.

Today’s finalists, chosen from a pool of 529 applicants, will each receive a grant of approximately $500,000 to further develop their proposed projects. These grants will help the finalists take their projects to the next level and position those who ultimately do not receive Phase 2 implementation awards to find new partners and sources of funding. The program has already catalyzed new partnerships and creative approaches to regional economic development.

“The Build Back Better Regional Challenge aims to supercharge local economies and increase American competitiveness around the globe,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “The outpouring of interest in this program shows the demand for the Build Back Better agenda and the desire to not only create good-paying jobs, but also strengthen our country’s economic resiliency for years down the road.”

“We are thrilled to help communities work together—in coalitions of government, nonprofits, academia, the private sector, and others—to craft ambitious and regionally unique plans to rebuild their communities,” said Alejandra Y. Castillo, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “These projects will help revitalize local economies and tackle our biggest challenges related to climate change, manufacturing, supply chains and more. EDA is proud to ignite these plans and help communities nationwide build back better.”

Finalists’ projects span 45 states and Puerto Rico. Twelve finalists are in coal communities, to which EDA has dedicated $100 million of the Build Back Better Regional Challenge funds as part of its Coal Communities Commitment. Overall, EDA will allocate $300 million of its $3 billion American Rescue Plan appropriation to support coal communities as they recover from the pandemic to help create new jobs and opportunities, including through the creation or expansion of a new industry sector.

Projects represent industry sectors that are unique to each region, including advanced manufacturing; aerospace and defense; agriculture and natural resources; biotechnology and biomanufacturing; energy and resilience; health care and digital health; information technology; transportation; construction and logistics; and water and blue economy.

For more information, please visit our fact sheet (PDF).

The coalition lead for each finalist is listed below. (Project summaries available via hyperlinks.)

About the EDA’s “BBB Regional Challenge”

The “Build Back Better Regional Challenge” is one of EDA’s many programs aimed at building strong regional economies and supporting community-led economic development. EDA was allocated $3 billion in supplemental funding under the American Rescue Plan to assist communities nationwide in their efforts to build back better by accelerating economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and building local economies that will be resilient to future economic shocks. For more information about EDA’s American Rescue Plan programs, visit

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration

The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation’s regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA invests in communities and supports regional collaboration in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth. Visit the EDA’s website, at:

About VGR’s Advanced Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Campaign

Virginia’s Gateway Region is well on its way to becoming a transformational Advanced Pharmaceutical Manufacturing cluster. Living in a post-COVID-19 world has shown the importance of drugs being made here in the U.S. has never been more relevant. Thanks to a unique public–private partnership between industry, academia and government, advanced manufacturing of essential pharmaceutical ingredients in the region will help ensure reliable access to affordable and quality medicines that will benefit for years to come. To learn more, visit VGR’s campaign landing page, at:

About Virginia’s Gateway Region

Virginia’s Gateway Region Economic Development Organization is the regional economic development organization that markets the tri-cities of Colonial Heights, Hopewell and Petersburg, and the surrounding counties of Dinwiddie, Prince George, Surry and Sussex. VGR focuses its efforts on new and existing business investment and job creation with the goal of uniting the region for economic prosperity 

Press Contacts:  

Jill Vaughan
+1 (804) 363‑7175

EDA Public Affairs Department
+1 (202) 482‑4085

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