Brief Evaluating EDA’s Role in Disaster Recovery and Resilience
Rebecca Marx, Daniel Teles, Brett Theodos, Christopher Davis, Tanay Nunna, Jonathan Schwabish
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The Economic Development Administration (EDA) has a distinct and growing role in disaster recovery and resiliency planning. To better understand EDA's role, we conducted semi-structured interviews with EDA staff, grantees, local collaborators, and staff at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). We also examined disaster funding appropriated to EDA. EDA coordinates federal economic recovery assistance to state local, tribal, and territorial governments and supports communities for extended periods following disasters. Leading the Economic Recovery Support Function under the National Disaster Recovery Framework, EDA helps agencies work in a more integrated and synchronized manner, maintains partnerships at the community level, and helps communities determine which agencies can offer funding that is most appropriate for their needs. At the same time, EDA makes flexible grants to support economic recovery and resilience. These grants support local innovation and allow communities to tailor projects to their specific economic development goals. As disasters intensify and become more frequent, more EDA staff and grants will be needed to support communities.


EDA’s role in disaster recovery has been evolving for decades. The agency fills voids in support for long-term community recovery planning and coordination among agencies, but there are several potential areas for growth. We identify the following actions that could improve EDA’s disaster recovery support:

  • Extend the period of support provided by recovery coordinators beyond two years
  • Expedite funding timelines and provide reimbursement for early recovery planning expenses
  • Create more predictable funding streams that are available for longer periods after disasters
  • Reduce the competitive nature of disaster funding applications
  • Increase the understanding of EDA funding among potential grantees
  • Increase full-time EDA staff
  • Clarify EDA’s value-add to other agencies through demonstrative examples
  • Use EDA’s coordinating role to elevate gaps in disaster response that hinder economic recovery and resilience
Research Areas Neighborhoods, cities, and metros Climate change, disasters, and community resilience
Tags Community and economic development Disaster recovery and mitigation
Policy Centers Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center
Research Methods Data analysis Qualitative data analysis Quantitative data analysis
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