May 23, 2013
The Economic Development Administration recently launched the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) program, an initiative designed to accelerate the resurgence of manufacturing and help cultivate an environment for businesses to create well-paying manufacturing jobs in regions across the country.
President Obama’s fiscal year 2014 budget includes funds for the Department of Commerce to award five to six IMCP “Challenge” grants, expected to be up to $25 million each. In a preliminary phase, the government will award at least 25 grants of up to $200,000 each to help regions develop Implementation Strategies that will compete for the much larger Challenge Grants.
This approach, in which regional groups are provided with direct support to articulate the vision and strategy that would define their use of the larger grant awards will level the playing field, allowing the best opportunities to rise to the top.
Grant funding programs are extremely popular, although in our experience consulting to businesses and communities that are eligible for these funds, submitters have an excellent opportunity to compete if they are careful about the content of their proposal and are mindful of what agencies are asking for. Too many grant proposals are undermined and doomed to failure because proposers aren’t prepared to invest scarce resources (especially staff time) on opportunities that are not a sure thing. Often this means that grant proposals are little more than a repackaging of existing documentation that was created for another purpose, rather than being a customized submission against the program criteria, in the hope that the people evaluating the submissions will be able to interpret and read between the lines.
The reality is, review staff in government agencies are necessarily conservative and careful, and usually have a very strict methodology that they must follow to assess any given proposal. They are not in a position to interpret, fill in the blanks or join the dots. They evaluate against set criteria, and if your submission doesn’t spoon feed them a response, it will get poor marks regardless of the true value of the proposal.
Finally, evaluators are usually running through a batch of submissions sequentially, and will therefore be faced with one after another in quick succession. Submissions need to be well written, clear and concise and free of errors and contradictions. And while, theoretically, the writing style used to create a submission shouldn’t be a determining factor, evaluation procedures involve humans who easily form subconscious opinions about the quality of a project based, to some extent, on the quality of the documentation describing it.
Silverlode Consulting has supported many grant submissions, helping communities and businesses receive millions of dollars in funding to retain workforce, invest in infrastructure, expand technology and more. Our goal is to provide evaluators with a compelling narrative, an accurate and clear submission and many good reasons to fund.
This experience is available to you today to help your community get the edge to compete for significant funding for the development of ICMP Strategy Grants, and ultimately put your community in the running for up to $25M in grant funding to support major investments in infrastructure and programs that will support the growth and sustainability of major regional manufacturing clusters.
We will review your IMCP submission confidentially and at no cost, providing straightforward and frank feedback and actionable recommendations to make your submission as competitive as possible. Contact us by phone at 216-263-9000 or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) before Monday, June 10 (submission deadline is Thursday, June 13) to get started.