In 2017, Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced the EDA would administer the ACC program as a stand-alone fund. Although the applications now go directly to the EDA – and the 2017 funding level of $30 million was double the $15 million awarded the previous year – the evaluation process and selection priorities are largely the same as when the grants were administered by the ARC through the Power Initiative.
The EDA awards ACC grants to local communities to support economic diversification, job creation, capital investment, workforce development, and re-employment opportunities. To date, ACC grants have focused on efforts to:
- Support the creation of new businesses and jobs in a variety of industry sectors, including, but not limited to, advanced manufacturing, agriculture, energy, information technology, health care, telecommunications, tourism and recreation, transportation, and culture.
- Implement local and regional job creation and growth and economic diversification strategies targeted toward affected workers and businesses.
- Strengthen or develop existing or emerging industry clusters.
- Develop business incubator programs.
- Enhance access to and use of broadband services to support job growth through business creation and expansion.
- Develop economic development diversification strategies.
- Provide access to private capital investment and related capacity building, such as business development.
- Promote market access for goods and services created and manufactured by businesses in the impacted community or region.
Just Transition Fund’s Take
With POWER grants restricted to Appalachian communities, a major benefit of the ACC is that, as closures are happening throughout the country at increasingly high rates, it is available to all communities. However, one major flaw in the ACC is that communities are not able to access funding until after formal closure plans and layoffs are announced. Communities need support for transition planning so they are ready when the closure happens — not just getting started.