Established in 1965, the US Economic Development Administration (EDA) supports regional economic development through investments in areas such as planning, infrastructure, small-business lending, and technical assistance to state and local governments and nonprofit organizations. This brief describes the history of EDA and contextualizes its approach to economic development. We first describe EDA’s origins and objectives and examine changes in its funding. We then describe EDA’s programs and their evolution. The brief is informed, in part, by interviews with current or former designers, implementers, or administrators of EDA programs and the agency’s partners. The brief concludes with a discussion of future and emerging economic development needs that EDA hopes to address through its programming.
This brief was revised on October 29, 2021, to correct the titles of three authors. Daniel Teles is a senior research associate, Christina Stacy is a principal research associate, and Christopher Davis is a data scientist.