Guest blog post by Acting Assistant Secretary for Economic Development Matt Erskine
When a natural disaster hits a community—whether it is a flood, a tornado, or any other kind of disaster—it does more than wreak havoc on homes and personal lives. It also has devastating, long-term effects on the economic life of those communities, destroying vital infrastructure, such as public utilities, transportation links, and communications systems on which businesses depend.
I’m happy to announce today that the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is making available $200 million in funds for communities affected by disasters in fiscal year 2011. These funds are designed to mitigate those long-term effects on business infrastructure and allow communities to bring their economies, and the jobs that come with them, back to life.
It’s no secret that the funding EDA provides is vital to ensuring the long-term economic health of communities affected by a disaster. In Joplin, Missouri, for example, EDA provided $341,000 after that community was devastated by tornadoes in 2010. Those funds allowed the state to hire economic recovery coordinators who were instrumental in building strong public-private partnerships that have been critical to restoring the economic vitality of that region.
Also in that year, severe storms and floods devastated many parts of Tennessee and Kentucky. Millions of dollars in EDA disaster grants to these two states have helped fund the rebuilding of critical infrastructure that employers need. In Somerset, Kentucky, EDA provided $1.8 million to upgrade critical wastewater infrastructure and mitigate flooding in an industrial area. This investment helped to create 330 new jobs and attracted more than $14.2 million in private investment. In Tennessee, the city of Nashville received $1 million to implement a regional marketing strategy that will support the city’s economic recovery by promoting the hospitality industry, which lost hundreds of millions of dollars in the wake of the flooding.
As these examples show, EDA disaster funds are a critical element in rebuilding efforts. Not only does this money help retain and add jobs to the economy, but—just as important—it catalyzes millions of dollars in private investment.
The Department of Commerce continues to play a significant role in economic recovery efforts post disaster as the coordinating agency under the National Disaster Recovery Framework for Economic Recovery Support Function. The National Disaster Recovery Framework provides guidance that enables effective federal recovery support to disaster-impacted states and other jurisdictions, and focuses on how best to restore, redevelop and revitalize the health, social, economic, natural, and environmental fabric of the region.
Get more information on how to apply for the disaster relief funds.
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