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Building the Next Silicon Valley: Tech Hubs Program Now Soliciting Bids

By Ryan Alcorn // May 16, 2023

When you think of America's technological heartlands, places like Silicon Valley, New York City, Boston, and Austin, Texas, are likely the first that come to mind. However, the U.S. Economic Development Administration is now looking beyond these established hubs with an ambitious $10 billion program that could revolutionize the nation's technological landscape.

The Tech Hubs Program Phase 1 is an economic development initiative set to spark regional technology and innovation growth by bolstering a region's capacity to manufacture, commercialize, and deploy pivotal technologies. By harnessing the potential of regions across the U.S., the program aims to foster a new generation of globally competitive innovation centers within a decade, creating quality jobs for American workers at all skill levels.

Shifting the Paradigm Toward Regional Innovation

The Tech Hubs program, administered by the U.S. Economic Development Administration, was authorized by the CHIPS and Science Act and is part of the Biden administration's push to enhance the American tech industry's manufacturing capacity and to create high-paying jobs nationwide. It seeks to ensure that the industries of the future – and the employment opportunities they create – originate, grow, and remain within U.S. borders.

This initiative aims to redistribute technological advancement across the country, driving growth to cities outside of traditional tech hubs. The Department of Commerce officially began accepting applications for this program on Friday, May 12. Regional coalitions are expected to submit proposals for grants and the federal designation as a Tech Hub.

Collaborative Efforts: Public-Private Partnerships Driving Success

The Tech Hubs initiative places a strong emphasis on collaboration. Each applicant is required to develop a partnership with at least one company, state development agency, worker training program, university, and state and local government leaders. The EDA believes this consortium of diverse stakeholders will lay the groundwork for the envisioned transformation.

Approximately 20 cities across the country are expected to be designated as Tech Hubs in the program's initial phase. These selected regions will subsequently compete for funding to implement specific projects that could potentially catapult them into the global technology scene.

The Road Ahead: New Opportunities for Equitable Growth

The Tech Hubs program signifies a shift in the narrative surrounding America's technological advancements, emphasizing the importance of technological growth in a diverse range of regions. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo articulated the goal during the 2023 SelectUSA Investment Summit: "We want you to start thinking about places like Columbus, Ohio. Different places in the heartland of America, all of whom have leading-edge technology in their own particular areas like medical devices, biotechnology, AI, quantum, robotics."

The Tech Hubs Program is a substantial commitment from the U.S. government to foster technological growth and innovation beyond traditional tech centers. As the initiative takes root, it has the potential to redefine the American technological landscape, enabling regions to leverage their unique strengths and resources. With careful planning and execution, this program may well catalyze the emergence of new innovation centers across the country. And while the future is uncertain, one thing is clear - the tech map of America could soon look very different.

Phase 1 applications are due August 15, 2023.


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