E-RIC Is Everything We’ve Ever Dreamed Of

Sure, this blog has in the past been used for some shameless self-promotion. But don’t let the title of this blog post fool you; it’s not me that I’m excited about, it’s the new support of an “Energy Regional Innovation Cluster” that the Obama Administration just announced as part of its $130 million Energy Efficient Building Systems Regional Innovation Cluster Initiative:

Anchored around a DOE-funded Energy Innovation Hub that will focus on developing systems-based approaches to designing, building, and operating commercial and residential buildings, the E-RIC will integrate this Hub into a broader regional economic development initiative by linking the Hub with complementary federal and non-federal investments in business development and support, public infrastructure, workforce development, and education.

Sound familiar?

It should. This is exactly the kind of effort that we’ve been working on for the Metropolitan Business Plan! Energy efficiency…improving the ecosystem between R&D, workforce, public infrastructure and the business community…multiple federal departments coming together to fund one initiative. In the words of Bob Drewel, it’s a bingo!

A little more from the feds:

This effort will leverage the collective resources and expertise of seven federal agencies.

The Department of Energy is providing up to $22 million for this project in the first year, with up to $100 million over the next four years.  To encourage regional cooperation, the Department of Commerce’s (DOC) Economic Development Administration will make available up to $3 million in Public Works and Economic Development funds and up to $2 million in Economic Adjustment Assistance funds for the winning Proposal.  The DOC Manufacturing Extension Partnership will make available up to $500,000 for a one-year award, with the possibility of renewal for up to two additional years, to support the services of an existing DOC-funded MEP Center.  The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will make up to $300,000 in the first year, with three one-year options for renewal grants up to $300,000 per year, available to provide the services of an existing SBA-funded Small Business Development Center to the Regional Innovation Cluster.

Current National Science Foundation (NSF) award recipients who are also co-applicants or ERIC partners of the winning consortium will be able to apply for supplemental funding from NSF through existing programs, particularly those designed for the training of students who will be the future leaders in sustainable energy.  The Department of Labor (DOL) will support linkages between E-RIC funding and existing Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and grant-funded programs to help develop the skilled workforce needed for the cluster to grow and prosper.  The Department of Education will provide technical assistance as appropriate to help E-RIC partners determine how to facilitate the Consortium’s objectives through the allowable use of funds under the E-RIC partners’ existing formula grants or subgrants.

I mean, just look at all the logos at the top of this press release!  If you thought the DoT, EPA, HUD Sustainable Communities Initiative was an exciting breaking-down-0f-silos, meet ERIC.  He’s the man here to make the Metro Business Plan into a “yes we can.”

In a related note, I think maybe our region should consider applying for this grant.

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