REGIONAL EXPORT CHALLENGE GRANTS
WHEREAS, The United States Conference of Mayors has long-standing policy endorsing the importance of increasing exports to drive sustainable economic growth in cities and metropolitan areas, which generate nearly 85% of all national exports; and
WHEREAS, export assistance typically is fragmented, reactive, and not integrated into local economic development strategies; and
WHEREAS, coalitions of regional business, government, and civic leaders are addressing that problem through the creation of Metropolitan Export Plans that apply local market knowledge and connections to target promising industry clusters and firms; coordinate disparate assistance providers; and refocus limited resources for maximum returns; and
WHEREAS, former United States Conference of Mayors President Antonio Villaraigosa issued an “Export-Ready Metro Challenge” for at least 25 mayors to catalyze export plans in their regions by the end of 2013; and
WHEREAS, The United States Conference of Mayors passed a resolution in 2011 to “urge federal agencies to invest in helping localities create and implement Metropolitan Export Plans, customized to the economic characteristics of each region, detailing export goals, strategies, and implementation programs and products”; and
WHEREAS, the President’s Export Council, comprised primarily of national business leaders, issued a policy recommendation in June 2012 that encouraged the Obama Administration “to create a sustainable program for individual metropolitan areas to develop export strategies that fully take advantage of their individualized assets and optimize communication and interaction between state, local, and federal authorities”; and
WHEREAS, the Administration’s National Export Strategy for 2011 and 2012 both highlighted federal agency support for Metropolitan Export Plans as a priority initiative; and
WHEREAS, at least 13 metropolitan areas of diverse size, economic profiles, and geographies have initiated or completed regional export planning efforts, with dozens more expressing interest in doing so; and
WHEREAS, undertaking regional export strategies is a new and non-traditional activity for local economic developers, so securing funds for planning and to begin implementation has proven difficult, given competition for limited resources and lack of familiarity; and
WHEREAS, to address this seed funding problem, the Brookings Institution released a detailed policy paper recommending the U.S. Department of Commerce establish a temporary competitive grant program to seed the creation of a start-up of metro export plans, totaling $25 million over two years; and
WHEREAS, the President’s FY2014 Budget for the Economic Development Administration then proposed a new “Regional Export Challenge (REC) grant program of $12 million per year (offset) to “support regions…that develop and implement sustainable export action plans to proactively identify and support firms and sectors with the greatest export potential,
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that The United States Conference of Mayors urges the Congress to fully fund the proposed Regional Export Challenge grant program in FY2014.
Projected Cost: $12 million in FY2014, but offset by reductions across other EDA program accounts as proposed in the President’s Budget.