Washington (AFP) – The government will send $1 billion in federal grants for manufacturing, clean energy, agriculture, biotechnology and more to 21 regional partnerships across the country, President Joe Biden and Minister of Commerce Gina Raimondo announced Friday.
21 were selected out of 529 initial applicants Competing for grants that were part of last year’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. The Biden administration has repeatedly laid out a vision of an economy that is more self-sufficient and driven by high-tech manufacturing and renewable energy development..
“We designed this program by thinking about people and places,” Biden said at a White House event. “It’s about the jobs in their communities for them, not having to leave or not having to be unemployed.”
Unlike much of the pandemic aid that was meant to meet immediate needs, the grants are part of a long-term effort to revitalize parts of the country that needed an economic jolt. The funds will include funds for existing industries and capital for new projects. Raimondo said the grants are the largest ever for local economic development offered by the Ministry of Commerce.
She said the effort is personal to her. Her father lost his job in a watch factory in Rhode Island
“The whole point of this is that we are not going to let you be left behind as we transition to a more digital economy, to a more tech economy, to a green economy,” Raimondo said in an interview.
Grants include $65.1 million for the state of California to improve agricultural production and $25 million for a robotics group in Nebraska. Georgia gets $65 million for artificial intelligence. There is $63.7 million to develop lithium batteries in New York. Coal counties in West Virginia will get $62.8 million to help switch to solar power and find new uses for abandoned mines.
“I can’t tell you how much this means for our tireless people in West Virginia,” said Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who nearly attended the announcement.
Raimondo estimated that the investments, which would be saved over five years as compensation, would result in at least 100,000 jobs.
Strong Republican states such as Oklahoma and South Dakota have received funding, and money is heading ahead of the November midterm elections to political battlegrounds that may decide congressional control. There is $44 million for regenerative medicine in New Hampshire, where Democrat Maggie Hassan is defending her seat in the US Senate. Pennsylvania, which has an open seat in the Senateset to receive $62.7 million for robotics and artificial intelligence.
Raimondo said the winners were chosen on merit, not politics
“Let me ask you: How will this appear on the political scene?” Biden asked the Penn State team that attends Friday’s event virtually.
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, a Democrat, quickly replied with a campaign-ready line: “President Biden continues to invest in people, jobs, and our future.”
The massive amount of coronavirus-related aid at the start of Biden’s tenure helped accelerate job growth as the United States recovered from the pandemic. But the employer was a wave of inflation that peaked in 40 years This summer, it crushed consumer sentiment and put management on the defensive to show how its policies are helping the economy.
Even with so much coronavirus money spent, the administration said it still needs more to contain the disease and its variants. On Friday, the White House said it would seek $7.1 billion in additional vaccines and personal protective equipment in addition to $2 billion for free home coronavirus tests as part of a broader emergency funding request.
Biden earlier sought $22.5 billion from Congress to address and prevent the outbreak, a number that lawmakers have cut to $10 billion in negotiations. But this additional funding was never passed by Congress despite confirmed cases, which now average about 90,000 per day.
White House Press Secretary Karen-Jean-Pierre tried to reduce the funding shortfall after the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved modified booster doses of vaccines. Jean-Pierre said the booster shots would be available after the Labor Day holiday as the department worked with local partners.
Economic development grants suggest the relief package could have a multi-decade impact beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. The New Orleans region will get $50 million to use zero-carbon wind energy, a significant change in Louisiana, a state that has long relied on fossil fuels.
Michael Hecht, President and CEO of Greater New Orleans Inc. , an economic development nonprofit: “With clean hydrogen, we can remain an energy state — but become an energy state of the future that has less impact on the environment.” “When money and morals meet, things get done.”