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What does it mean to be an Economic Development District?  

Barnstable County’s EDD designation expands federal funding access in the region

Cape Cod’s designation as an Economic Development District (EDD) by the US Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Agency (EDA) makes Barnstable County municipalities eligible for EDA funding for infrastructure and planning. EDDs are regional geographic designations and establish an entity to lead locally-based, regionally-driven economic development planning.

The Cape Cod Commission requested the EDD designation from EDA in 2013. The region was eligible due to having an EDA-approved Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS), and census tracts in Barnstable County the US EDA considers “distressed.” Distressed census tracts are defined as having an unemployment rate that is 1% greater than the national average, or per capita income that is 80% or less than the national average, looking back over 24-months of data.

According to the most recent CEDS Annual Report, there are 14 distressed census tracts in Barnstable County, which are home to nearly 47,300 residents, or 22.1% of our population. Most of Cape Cod’s distressed census tracts are eligible because the seasonality of employment opportunities leads to an unemployment rate at least 1% higher than the national average.

Without the regional EDD designation, only projects in those distressed tracts would be eligible for some forms of EDA funding; with the EDD in place, all of Cape Cod is now eligible for funding from EDA.

EDA offers many types of funding opportunities and programs, including Public Works grants, Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) Grants, and Build-to-Scale programs.

Eligible projects range from business accelerators to large-scale infrastructure investments, such as wastewater. The EAA program, in particular, may be relevant for a diverse array of projects, as it provides “a wide range of technical, planning, and public works and infrastructure assistance” to areas experiencing economic distress. EAA Implementation grants could provide significant regional benefits, as they support activities such as infrastructure improvements, including site acquisition, site preparation, construction, rehabilitation, and equipping facilities. These projects should be identified in the regional CEDS Action Plan.

The Commission has also been awarded a planning grant that supports the agency’s capacity to provide local technical assistance, collect data, and facilitate outreach around economic development.

Towns and other entities who may be eligible for EDA funding should reach out to the Cape Cod Commission about potential projects. As the EDD, the Commission serves as the point of contact between grant applicants and federal EDA staff and can provide guidance on project coordination and the grant application.

More information is available at

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