Evaluation of the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge Grants: Interim Findings on Multiagency Collaboration and Cluster Progress

Evaluation of the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge Grants: Interim Findings on Multiagency Collaboration and Cluster Progress

Published: Aug 25, 2015
Publisher: Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research

The Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge (JIAC) and Advanced Manufacturing JIAC grants include two rounds of grants and are funded by a total of five Federal agencies: ETA; the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration (EDA); the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA); the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP); and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Multi-agency grants were awarded to 20 JIAC clusters in 2011 and 10 AM-JIAC clusters in 2012. In August 2013, the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) contracted with Mathematica Policy Research and the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research to conduct a process evaluation on the implementation of the JIAC and Advanced Manufacturing JIAC grants. The early implementation findings of the JIAC and AM-JIAC study account for the innovative, multiagency approach to accelerate job creation and economic growth through both public and private section partnerships.

This interim report presents early findings on the implementation of the JIAC and AM-JIAC grants through summer 2014. It identifies the extent and nature of the Federal partner collaboration; provides an overview of the clusters and proposed activities; discusses the Federal perspective on progress; and summarizes preliminary participant data using data from quarterly progress reports. The report also describes the selection criteria used to identify the clusters for the evaluation site visits proposed in 2015 and the data sources used to select the sites. It draws on two of the study’s four data sources: two rounds of phone interviews with Federal staff and the review of grant documents. The report delves into: grant management activities, goals and some outcomes; Federal partner perspectives and technical assistance activities; JIAC and AM-JIAC cluster goals and proposed activities; and grantee performance and progress reports. The interim report analysis allows the reader to gain an understanding of cluster outcomes. Early findings from the report include 1) Multiagency collaboration roles were viewed as distinctive among the number of Federal partners involved. While the Federal funding opportunities (FFO) were unique and challenging, Federal staff respondents viewed the FFO development as successful collaborative efforts; 2) Regional industry clusters included a range of multiple county initiatives across urban, suburban and rural areas. While the AM-JIAC grants exclusively focused on advanced manufacturing, the JIAC grants supported common industry sectors, such as renewable energy and information technology; 3) Federal agency perceptions indicated that many of the regional clusters were making progress toward both ETA and non-ETA goals. Given the staggered length of grant performance, many EDA, SBA, NIST MEP, and DOE activities were completed or in the final phases by the summer of 2014. ETA-funded grants are expected to continue through the fall of 2015 and 4) ETA-funded education and training activities including supportive services were available for eligible jobseekers. As of June 30, 2014, both the JIAC and AM-JIAC grant projects had served slightly more than 3,500 participants.

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