Economic development grant opportunities in American Rescue Plan

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) provides local governments with an unprecedented opportunity to access federal funding to support community priorities. The ARP includes direct funding (known as Fiscal Recovery Funds) to state and local governments as well as additional competitive grant programs flowing through various federal agencies. 

One component of the ARP is $3 billion allocated to the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA). This funding will be released through competitive grants to communities for economic development projects and infrastructure needs. EDA expects to publish grant guidelines within the next several weeks that will provide more information on eligibility and how to apply. This funding opportunity will likely be open to all communities nationwide. The types of eligible projects will likely include:

  • Preparation of economic development recovery and resiliency plans
  • Construction of infrastructure that supports economic development
  • Entrepreneurial programs and facilities
  • Projects for communities to address pandemic-related economic losses in the tourism sector (25% of the funding will be directed for this purpose)

Competitive advantage

All communities may be eligible to apply for this competitive funding. Set the stage for success now with the following proactive steps to support community growth and recovery.

  1. Identify potential projects – Review your economic development strategy, capital improvements program and other plans. Identify high priority projects that are focused on economic development and resiliency. Create a list of three to five projects that have the potential to contribute to economic recovery.   
  2. Connect with your regional partners – EDA gives preference to projects with regional support and that are identified in regional economic development plans. Reach out your regional economic development organization to collaborate and let them know you intend to apply for an EDA grant.
  3. Contact your EDA representative – Reach out to your region’s EDA office and connect with the staff person assigned to your state. They can be a resource to review your project ideas and guide you during the grant process.
  4. Update federal grant eligibility information – Submitting an EDA grant will require log-in credentials on and registration on the federal System Award Management (SAM) directory. Update this information now to be ready to apply for EDA and other federal grants.
  5. Start analysis and narrative – The EDA application will likely require a narrative describing the project and an analysis of its intended economic impacts. If you have a project in mind, start developing these materials now.
  6. Prepare budgets and preliminary engineering report – For infrastructure projects, the application will require preliminary engineering information, including project costs, initial designs, project timeline, etc. 

When the EDA grant application is released, communities that have already identified potential projects and taken these initial steps to be prepared for this opportunity will have a competitive advantage and can position themselves to move quickly and apply.

Lean on us as Value Architects

Baker Tilly’s economic development specialists can guide your community through the EDA process.  We are actively monitoring federal guidance on all aspects of the ARP and can advise communities on accessing funds, eligible uses and compliance requirements.  This includes assisting in pursuing the EDA grant opportunity.

There are steps you can take now to be ready to apply for an EDA grant. Our EDA grant checklist outlines pre-application preparation guidance and the steps the application process will likely include.

For more information, or to learn more about how we can help your community, contact our team.

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