The Institute has been designated as an U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration University Center (EDA University Center) since 1996.
With that designation the Institute supports the efforts of the southwest region EDA office in Austin, Texas and the eight EDA planning and economic development districts individually and through their statewide association, the Arkansas association of development organizations.
Additionally, the Institute coordinates and partners with EDA, the districts, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, and the Arkansas Governor’s Office on statewide projects of significance such as the development of a statewide disaster preparedness and recovery plan focused on getting business and industry up and running again following natural disasters that often find their way to Arkansas; and, a statewide regional innovation clusters initiative that is one of the first attempts in the United States to identify and develop strategies for innovative clusters particularly in rural areas.
The Institute also partners with the EDA Austin office and those districts across the five-state southwest region that have EDA Revolving Loan Funds in the maintaining of an administrative and tracking report system for those loans and funds that support industry, create and save jobs.
EDA University Center Funded Projects
- Disaster Response and Preparedness Plan (DRPP)
- Arkansas-Louisiana Multimodal Economic Corridor Initiative
Scope: The Institute has been involved in a multi-year collaborative funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration. The Institute along with the Innovation Center at Louisiana Tech University, the Southeast Arkansas Economic Development District, and the North Delta Regional Planning & Development District is working with transportation providers…highway, rail, river ports, and air in a 90 mile corridor in five southeast Arkansas counties; and, four northeast Louisiana parishes. The focus is on marketing the transportation network in the region to enhance the agribusiness and other interests in the region to national and international markets and the creation of value add jobs in the region. Additionally, The Institute will be will be working with its collaborators to create a public-private leaders coordinating council whose purpose will be to market the corridor and to use the council as a convening point for the leaders to discuss opportunities and challenges in enhancing the region’s economy and job creation.
- Northwest Arkansas Economic Development District Strategic Assessment
Scope: The Institute has designed and is facilitating a strategic assessment of the Northwest Arkansas Economic Development District (NWAEDD). The focus of the assessment is to reengage the local governments (owners) to their regional organization (NWAEDD) and to maximize its relevancy to enhancing the community economic development of the region.
- Vilonia/Mayflower Disaster Recovery – DR-4174 Presidential Disaster Declaration
Scope: IEA worked in partnership with the U.S. Economic Development Administration within the Economic Recovery Support Function (under the National Disaster Recovery Framework) to assist the communities of Vilonia and Mayflower recover economically from the April 2014 storm. IEA will facilitate meetings, and provide data aggregation, business surveys, and economic reports. IEA aided in the development of the Short-Term Action agenda and the Long Term Recovery Support Strategy. IEA also is currently hosting the coordination recovery council, which is a group of municipal, state, federal, private, and NGO partners.
- Community Economic Development Infrastructure, Recovery and Future Preparedness Initiative: Vilonia-Mayflower-Faulkner County and Metropolitan Little Rock
Scope: IEA worked with the Central Arkansas Planning and Development District to develop a “Joplin style” disaster recovery plan for central Arkansas. The work will be the projects identified through focus group sessions conducted by FEMA. Working in partnership with the Community Design Center at the U of A, sketches and project rendering will be developed and displayed along with the storyboard at town hall meetings. The final phase of the plan will be the development of a future preparedness initiative for metropolitan Little Rock.
- Regional Leaders Information and Learning Trip to Kansas City
Scope: IEA designed and led a collaborative with the Little Rock Regional Chamber, METROPLAN, and the Central Arkansas Planning & Development District to take public and private sector leaders from the Metro Little Rock Region for an information and learning trip to the Kansas City Region. Through the leadership of the Mid-America Regional Council and the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, Metro Little Rock leaders learn how KC public and private sector leaders have put have come together as one to focus on the regional community with great success and best practices that could be replicated in the Metro Little Rock region.
- Arkansas Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy
Scope: IEA led the collaborative of the eight EDA Development Districts (PDD/EDD), the Arkansas Municipal League (AML) and the Association of Arkansas Counties (AAC) in a two-year comprehensive process to develop a web-based “Arkansas Local Government” economic development plan – the first ever of its kind. Nearly 1000 Arkansans participated in the effort that enabled all cities and counties in the state to be eligible for U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration infrastructure and other capital improvements funds.
- Fayetteville-Fort Smith Regional Economic Strategies Initiative
Scope: IEA provided design, research, and facilitation of regional economic strategies initiative focused on various aspects of transportation undertaken jointly by the mayors of Fayetteville and Fort Smith. The major focus chosen by the mayors was the Arkansas River and its importance to economic development and job creation. The focus on IEA’s work was conducting an economic impact analysis on the various modes of transportation and costs related to those modes as opposed to river barge, and what the impact would be in advocating for the deepening of the river from its current certified depth of a 9 foot channel to a 12 foot channel in anticipation of the expansion of the Panama Canal and new barges that require the 12 foot depth.
- State of the Region: The 2nd Annual Metro Little Rock Region Report Card – FY14
Scope: As part of IEA’s efforts in “Building a Better Regional Community” in the Metro Little Rock Region, IEA joined with the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce to develop an annual benchmarking process to measure its strengths and its challenges through an initiative called State of the Region: Annual Metro Little Rock Region Report Card. The 2nd report was expanded to included data and analysis of aspirational metro regions in addition to competitive and comparable regions that were used in the 1st report. It was also determined that FY 15 would be spent addressing the challenges, that have been identified in the first two report cards, in the Metro Little Rock region.
- Identification of Innovation Clusters in Arkansas
Scope: Defined and identified the key industry clusters in Arkansas and identified innovation components of each cluster. Additionally, identified the innovation clusters present in the state. Identified community attributes that encourage innovation in the business and scientific communities. Assessed current innovation practices of existing businesses and identified strategies useful in growing innovation clusters in Arkansas. The U.S. Economic Development Administration funded the three-year study.
- EDA Revolving Loan Funds
Scope: The Austin Regional Office (AURO) of the EDA’s Southwest Region approached IEA in 2006 to do an upgrade to their Microsoft Access based reporting system for their Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) program. We also provide AURO with user support to the RLF grantees and assist AURO staff as needed during each reporting period.