With billions of federal dollars at stake, state helps communities secure funding for infrastructure, innovation, jobs

Commerce Director Fong announces first round of grants to assist Washington state applications for millions in federal funds

OLYMPIA, WA – The Washington Department of Commerce today announced the first two rounds of grants from a new program designed to assist communities in capturing opportunities to receive a share of billions in federal funding currently available to states. The Securing Federal Funding Initiative, funded by the Washington State Legislature, supports public-private partnerships and consortia seeking grants through federal programs such as the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), CHIPS and Science Act, and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).

“We are in the midst of a unique opportunity to leverage a historic level of federal funding to help communities – including those in rural and underserved areas – realize visions for economic growth and vitality,” said Commerce Director Mike Fong.

Fong announced the initial $3 million in grants while visiting Gonzaga University in Spokane this afternoon. He also noted potentially significant funding allocated to Commerce in the new Washington State budget – pending the Governor’s signature – for a range of other efforts to leverage federal funding to support infrastructure, innovation and economic development.

“Billions of dollars are available for state and local investments in essential infrastructure, innovation proposals, and programs that strengthen communities and create good jobs for Washingtonians. I want to thank Governor Inslee and the State Legislature for recognizing this important moment to leverage federal funding, and giving Commerce new resources to help business and industry groups be successful in their proposals.”

Grant recipient Gonzaga University is the lead applicant of a higher education consortium seeking federal funding to develop the American Aerospace Materials Manufacturing Center (AAMMC) on the former Triumph Composite Systems plant, near Spokane International Airport. The AAMMC was named a regional tech hub last fall – one of 31 hubs designated nationwide vying for up to $70 million from the US Economic Development Administration. The hub submitted its phase two application to EDA last month and will use the Commerce grant as a portion of required matching funds.

“The support of the Washington Department of Commerce is a critical component of this initiative to create the future of aerospace innovation and advance the economic vitality of our region,” said Thayne McCulloh, president of Gonzaga University. “The AAMMC consortium represents industry, research, education, government and workforce, all collaborating to achieve high-rate production goals for the next generation of advanced aerospace manufacturing. With Commerce support, this partnership is poised to meet the demands of industry and increase economic prosperity in a region well-positioned to support future growth and development.”

Commerce has received 89 applications to date, detailing projects seeking more than $600 million in federal funding.  The following awards were announced today:

  • Clallam County$500,000 to assist the North Olympic Peninsula Recompete Coalition (NOPRC) in preparing a Phase II application to the federal $50-million Distressed Area Recompete Pilot Program through the federal Economic Development Administration.
  • The Kalispel Indian Community of the Kalispel Reservation – $500,000 for technical assistance/grant writing support related to essential public safety projects.
  • Gonzaga University – $500,000 in matching funds to support the phase 2 application of the American Aerospace Materials Manufacturing Center application for US EDA regional tech hub funding.
  • Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority – $500,000 in matching funds to support the group’s application for Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) funding through the FAA.
  • Emissol – $200,000 for grant writing, technical support and matching funds to garner funding from Department of Energy (DOE) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program for a project aimed at high-efficiency, low-cost, low-energy air capture of CO2 and conversion to methane.
  • Pure Blue Tech – $200,000 for technical assistance/grant writing, economic analysis and matching funds to seek DOE SBIR funding for a pilot desalination and water purification pilot project.
  • VertueLab – $399,908 for technical support/grant writing and economic analysis supporting a bid for a DOE Community Energy Innovation Prize through the American-Made Challenge to support incubators developing new programs that assist energy entrepreneurs and startups.
  • Aquagga – $200,000 for technical support and grant writing to pursue up to $15 million for a project they are working on to develop a real-time sensor to detect dangerous per- and polyfluorooalkl (PFAS) contaminants found in places like airports, landfills, and Department of Defense and industrial manufacturing facilities.

“Applying for large federal grants is a huge lift for small communities, even when they work together.  Our coalition has spent countless hours crafting strategic investment opportunities, and having the support of the Washington State Department of Commerce allows us to attain critical research, technical assistance and grant-writing resources to hopefully make those investments a reality,” said Clallam County Commissioner Mike French.

Recipients can use Commerce’s Securing Federal Funding Initiative grants to:

  • Provide technical support for application and grant writing
  • Conduct economic analysis of various sectors
  • Match funding for federal awards for successful applicants
  • Other activities necessary for the state and its partners to compete for federal funds

The grants are awarded on a rolling basis, with approximately $2 million remaining in the program budget. At least two additional awards will be announced before June 30, 2024, and applications remain open. Eligible applicants include Economic Development Councils, Associate Development Organizations, non-profit organizations, local municipalities, businesses, and other organizations seeking federal funding through legislation including, but not limited to, the IRA, Chips and Science Act, and IIJA. The lead applicant must be licensed to do business in Washington state.
Learn more on the Commerce website.


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