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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lessons Learned From the First Year of the "New" Grant Process


The EDA launched its new grant process just about this time last year. As the process matured, EDA decided to wrap up prior years applications during the first quarter and accept only have three quarters of new submissions during fiscal year 2011.

EDA hoped its new application would enable it to rule on grant applications within two weeks. To do so, it scored applications as non-competitive, competitive, or highly competitive. It considered only highly competitive proposals to be eligible for funding. During the first round 175 applications were received December 10th, 2010 of those 135 were dismissed as non-competitive, and only 11 were ranked highly competitive. Of the 11 two were written by AskJill, the only two I wrote!

What do these facts suggest for new applicants?

1. DO Submit only complete applications. That includes Public Works Grants. The environmental narratives MUST have complete environmental clearance from all federal and local agencies. WAIT until the next round or whenever you receive the required sign offs or your application may be ruled technically incomplete.

2. DO call and speak with the local EDA Economic Development Representative (EDR), before you write the grant application.

3. DO NOT write a blind application and submit through www.grants.gov or it is highly likely that your application will be non-competitive.

4. DO use the Public Works program to complement your local budget shortfalls in this tight economy.

5. DO ask if planning money is available to write your first Comprehensive Economic Development Study (CEDS). Repeat grants for updating or renewing CEDS rarely get funded.

6. DO be prepared to wait for the grant to fund. At this point, despite its best efforts EDA still has been unable to reduce the time to actual funding while its Reauthorization is held up in Congress. Hopefully that will change soon and the funding for 2011 FY, which will end in 2 weeks, can be released.

The most important lesson learned? Government change always takes more change than anticipated.

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