NADO Board Officer Steve Etcher Testifies on Federal Economic Development Issues

Posted on: July 28th, 2011 by Deborah Cox

Washington, DC – On July 27, NADO Secretary Steve Etcher, Executive Director of the Boonslick Regional Planning Commission in Warrenton, Missouri, testified before the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management, on the importance of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA). 

The subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), held the oversight hearing, “The Economic Development Administration: How to Improve Effectiveness through Reforms and Consolidations,” to examine ways to improve federal economic development programs, including EDA collaboration and potential consolidation with other federal programs.  This was the first EDA oversight hearing by the subcommittee in the 112th Congress.

In his testimony, Etcher discussed how EDA is unique among the federal portfolio of economic development programs and how EDA is positioned to be the lead federal economic development agency.  “As GAO noted earlier, there are currently more than 80 federal programs related to domestic community and economic development,” he said.  “While many of these line-item programs are housed within larger departments and agencies, EDA is the only federal agency with the sole mission of creating high quality jobs in the United States.”

Etcher also identified opportunities for reforms and improvements across the full spectrum of federal community and economic development programs. “Rather than focus solely on opportunities across the four major departments of Commerce, HUD, USDA and SBA as outlined in GAO’s May 2011 report, we see greater opportunities for agencies and programs within each of the departments to be streamlined, better coordinated and reformed.”  He also stressed the importance of “coordinating and prioritizing federal community and economic development investments based upon regionally-based, locally-driven comprehensive economic development strategies or CEDS.”

Also testifying at the hearing was David Baker, Senior Vice President of FutureFuel Corporation from Independence County, Arkansas.  Baker testified that in order to grow, the company needed to expand its infrastructure, particularly their rail system.  By working with their region’s Economic Development District, the White River Planning and Development District, and with the financial support of a small grant from EDA, FutureFuel was able to leverage other funding sources to make improvements to the rail system.  This company has since created over 100 new jobs and has significantly expanded its capacity to ship biodiesel and other products.

More information on the hearing, including testimony and a recording of the hearing, can be found here (http://transportation NULL.aspx?NewsID=1358).



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