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Congresswoman Escobar Announces Coalition Led by UTEP Has Been Selected as a Finalist for Department of Commerce’s $1 Billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge

Congresswoman Veronica Escobar and Dr. Heather Wilson, President of the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), announced that the West Texas Aerospace and Defense Manufacturing Coalition led by UTEP has been selected as one of the 60 finalists for the Department of Commerce’s $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge.

The Build Back Better Regional Challenge is a program developed by the Economic Development Administration (EDA) and funded by the American Rescue Plan, which Congresswoman Escobar voted for and President Joe Biden signed into law in March 2021.

As part of the Build Back Better Regional Challenge, the Coalition will receive a grant of approximately $500,000 to further develop a project that aims to bridge the gap in America's aerospace and defense manufacturing capabilities by developing the El Paso Makes Advanced District and West Texas Advanced Technology Corridor. This transformative investment would boost economic recovery and help develop and strengthen our region’s industry, all while embracing economic equity, creating good-paying jobs, and enhancing U.S. competitiveness globally.

“I am excited to announce that, thanks to the American Rescue Plan, El Paso will have the opportunity to build on our community’s efforts to promote economic diversification, accelerate our economic recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and showcase our talented and diverse workforce,” said Congresswoman Escobar. “I am grateful to UTEP for their partnership in championing economic development investments and I look forward to seeing how this innovative project will help get our aerospace and defense manufacturing industry to the next level.”

“Aerospace and defense manufacturing represents a transformational economic development opportunity for El Paso and West Texas,” said Dr. Wilson. “As a national leader in additive manufacturing, UTEP is grateful for this U.S. Economic Development Administration grant to help develop more high-paying jobs in the region while enhancing U.S. competitiveness. We have a great foundation to build upon and we look forward to working closely with partners to plan next steps.”

UTEP and the other 59 finalists – each a coalition of partnering entities – have proposed projects that will develop or scale industry sectors, develop and train the workforce of today, and build resilient economies. Finalists will now compete for Phase 2 of the Challenge, which will award 20-30 regional coalitions up to $100 million to implement 3-8 projects that support an industry sector. The deadline for Phase 2 is March 15, 2022.

Learn more about the Build Back Better Regional Challenge here

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