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Agencies Announce 2012 Accelerator Challenge

Mark Marich

Faced with another disappointing jobs report—the unemployment rate rose to 8.2 percent in May—the Obama Administration is looking to a new multi-agency competition to develop regional clusters and create jobs while strengthening advanced manufacturing.

The $26 million Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge is expected to fund up to 12 projects at $2.3 million each. The dollar amount is down considerably from last year, when 20 “high-growth, regional industry clusters” shared $37 million.

The competition is a partnership of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration and National Institute of Standards and Technology, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, the Small Business Administration, and the National Science Foundation.

“Advanced manufacturing is critical to the health of the national economy and provides essential goods and equipment directly to consumers as well as to a wide range of industries,” said Acting Assistant Secretary Erskine. “This competition will help foster innovation-fueled job creation through public-private partnerships that catalyze and leverage private capital, build entrepreneurial ecosystems, and promote cluster-based development in regions across the United States.”

The deadline for applications is July 9, 2012.

2011 Accelerator Challenge winners included:

  • Rockford, Ill.: Rockford Area Aerospace Cluster
  • Southeast Michigan: Southeast Michigan-Advanced Energy Storage Systems Initiative
  • Pittsburgh, Pa.: Southwestern Pennsylvania Revitalization
  • Northeast Ohio: Northeast Ohio Speed-to-Market Accelerator
  • Florida: Space Coast Clean Energy Jobs Accelerator
  • Knoxville and Oak Ridge, Tenn.: Advanced Composites Employment Accelerator
  • Milwaukee, Wis.: Milwaukee Regional Water Accelerator Project
  • Missouri and Kansas: KC Regional Jobs Accelerator
  • Atlanta, Ga: Atlanta Health Information Technology Cluster
  • Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma: The ARK: Acceleration, Resources, Knowledge
  • St. Louis, Mo.: St. Louis Bioscience Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Project
  • Oregon and Washington: Portland Regional Clean Tech Advance Initiative
  • San Diego, Calif.: San Diego-Imperial Valley Renewable Energy Generation Training and Demonstration Center
  • Puget Sound, Wash.: Washington Interactive Media Accelerator
  • Hudson Valley, N.Y.: New York Renewable Energy Cluster
  • Finger Lakes, N.Y.: Finger Lakes Food Processing Cluster Initiative
  • Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota: Upper Missouri Tribal Environmental Risk Mitigation
  • South Central Kansas: Center for Innovation and Enterprise Engagement
  • Northeast, Minn.: Minnesota's Mining Cluster
  • Northern Maine: GreenME

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