Padilla, Aguilar Introduce Legislation to Expand EDA University Center Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla introduced the University Centers for Growth, Development, and Prosperity (GDP) Act. The legislation would codify the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) University Center Economic Development Program, increase the number of University Centers, and bolster funding between $500,000 to $1 million per University Center, up from roughly $125,000. University Centers are federal partnerships that leverage the assets of higher-learning institutions to strengthen regional economic growth by promoting innovation, entrepreneurship, and job creation. The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.-31).

“Our higher education institutions play a critical role in our nation’s economic growth,” said Senator Padilla. “I’m proud to introduce new legislation that will expand the University Center program to leverage more resources for Minority-Serving Institutions and support a greater diversity of innovation and entrepreneurship in their communities. California has thriving institutions, including Cal State Chico and Fresno, that could scale up their impact with new resources. By prioritizing the establishment of new University Centers at colleges and universities that serve significant populations of underserved students, we can strengthen regional economies and help close the racial wealth gap.”

“As a co-chair of the Senate Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) Caucus, I am proud to support this legislation that will help bolster greater collaboration between universities and economic development districts and will spur job creation and economic development in the Latino community. This is just one example of how Congress can strengthen professional development opportunities for Latino and all minority students, and I look forward to continue advancing these commonsense initiatives,” said Senator Menendez.

“The University Center program has proven that our economy is stronger when universities, businesses and the federal government work hand in glove to boost regional economic growth,” Representative Aguilar said. “Our legislation ensures that the economic benefits of regional cooperation reaches communities with the greatest need, including the Inland Empire.”

Despite EDA’s important work, many communities across the country have yet to benefit from the agency’s programs, including smaller communities, communities of color, and rural areas experiencing higher rates of poverty.

The legislation would ensure that University Centers prioritize the participation of Minority-Serving Institutions such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Asian American and Pacific Islander Serving Institutions, and Tribal Colleges and Universities. The expansion will encourage economic development in economically distressed regions that are currently underserved by existing University Centers.

In the U.S. Senate, the bill is cosponsored by Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

For a one pager of the bill, click here.

For full text of the bill, click here.


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