On July 19, the Little Rock Workforce Development Board (LRWDB) Executive Director, W.J. Monagle, attended the Tech Hubs Regional Consortium In-Person Meeting. The meeting was hosted by the City of Little Rock at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR). The in-person meeting followed a Tech Hubs Regional Consortium Virtual Meeting on July 12.
Christopher Harvey and Amanda Jones with the City of Little Rock provided an update on the Regional Tech Hubs Consortium’s activities, deliverables, and next steps. Arthur Orduna with the Venture Center reviewed a proposal idea and rationale for the Arkansas AMETHYST initiative, a Phase 1 Regional Tech Hub program. Applicants that are Designated as Technology Hubs in Phase 1 will be permitted to apply to Phase 2 later in 2023.
Regional Technology and Innovation Hub Programs are funded by the Economic Development Administration (EDA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC). The EDA recently invited regional consortia across the U.S. to apply for federal funding awards to accelerate the scale-up of advanced industries. This announcement launches a $500 million competition as an initial step in an authorized, but not yet fully funded, $10 billion initiative to build global economic leadership by unlocking development in new places.
Tech Hub programs are intended to strengthen U.S. economic and national security through place-based investments in regions with the assets, resources, capacity, and potential to become globally competitive within approximately ten years. The programs focus on technologies and industries of the future with the goal that those industries, companies, and the good jobs they create can start, grow, and remain in the United States.
Based on research from Brookings Metro and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation in 2019, the CHIPS and Science Act paved the way for the Tech Hubs program as a vehicle for economic development and job growth for “heartland” metro areas than can serve as “growth centers” in less developed geographies.