Press Release

EIG Awarded Federal Grant to Study Persistently Poor Communities and Inform Future Policy

Jul 19, 2021

Washington, D.C. – The Economic Innovation Group (EIG) has been awarded a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to study areas of persistent poverty across the United States, develop a typology of persistently poor places to inform future policy efforts, and assess the effectiveness of past EDA investments in targeting persistently poor communities. The EDA’s Research and National Technical Assistance program grant will support the launch of an 18-month-long initiative titled “Advancing Economic Development in Persistently Poor Communities,” with a final report expected in late 2022. 

The project will build on EIG’s body of widely recognized research on distressed American communities and persistent neighborhood poverty. EIG has been a leader in bringing geographic inequality into the national conversation and providing solutions to the nation’s most pressing economic challenges. 

“This initiative will carry our work examining geographic inequality into an exciting new and applied stage,” said John Lettieri, President and CEO of EIG. “Crafting the next generation of effective place-based policies is one of the most important policy challenges facing the country today. EIG is committed to translating insights into action and we are excited to see how this project’s findings will inform EDA and other federal agencies in their future programming.”

Persistent poverty is particularly difficult to tackle because it stems from overlapping economic and social forces, yet demand is growing for policies to break poverty cycles. This challenge calls for new tools and programs that are adapted to the needs of persistently poor places.

“EDA’s investment priorities include economic development planning targeting underserved communities within geographies systemically denied a full opportunity to participate in America’s economic prosperity,” explained Dennis Alvord, Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “This partnership with the Economic Innovation Group will provide EDA a critical gap analysis between current practice and future impacts while also offering actionable insights that can be used by other federal agencies involved in economic development.”

The research project is designed to have a transformative impact on the understanding of the landscape of persistent poverty in the United States and serve as the foundation for a new, more inclusive economic development model. The initiative will contribute original work that federal agencies as well as state and local governments can use to advance economic development in the country’s economically lagging regions and communities. 

“Too many American communities have been mired in conditions of chronic poverty for too long, and in some cases, for generations,” said Kenan Fikri, Director of Research of EIG. “This initiative aims to understand why so we can expand and accelerate the work of expanding the country’s map of economic opportunity.”

EIG Media Contact: [email protected]

About the Economic Innovation Group (EIG)

The Economic Innovation Group (EIG) is a bipartisan ideas laboratory and advocacy organization whose mission is to advance solutions that empower entrepreneurs and investors to forge a more dynamic American economy. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., EIG convenes leading experts from the public and private sectors, produces original research, and works to advance creative legislative proposals that will bring new jobs, investment, and economic growth to communities across the nation. For more information, visit eig.org.

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