WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today participated in a hearing examining the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA)’s programs. She questioned EDA Administrator Alejandra Castillo, as well as a panel of local economic development professionals, including West Virginia’s Region VII Planning and Development Council Executive Director, Shane Whitehair.
COMPETITIVE GRANT PROGRAMS: “I want to ask about the $3 billion that was released through the American Rescue Plan. As you said, it was divided into six programs. One is the Build Back Better. You said it had 529 applications? I know ten of them are really good because they’re from West Virginia…You’re taking a regional approach there which is different from the way the $1.5 [billion] was distributed in the CARES Act. Why did you decide to deviate from a traditional approach to a more regional for these Build Back Better [programs], and also what is the timeline to have those?”
DEFINITION OF DISTRESSED COMMUNITIES: “You mentioned in your testimony that you would want to have in a reauthorization an update of ‘distressed’ priorities—new, updated priorities. You mentioned communities of color and equity and other disadvantaged communities. I would imagine these would be enhancements to what would be the traditional way EDA would assess a ‘distressed’ community. Distressed is distressed.”
HELPING COMMUNITIES APPLY FOR EDA GRANTS: “I know in working with projects throughout the state of West Virginia with the regional economic development councils has been really, really good. But I also know there’s frustration. There’s frustration you can’t get awarded, it doesn’t fit the criteria. People get discouraged because they get rejected by EDA. Can you get into that a little bit and how we can improve that?...What’s the hang-up on these kinds of things?”
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