April 22, 2021

NDC Members, Chair Introduce Legislation to Jump Start Job Creation in Post-COVID Economy

New Democrat Coalition (NDC) Reps. Joe Morelle (NY-25), Terri Sewell (AL-07), Chair Suzan DelBene (WA-01), and Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) announced joint legislation to invest in innovation, strengthen economic resiliency, and create new job opportunities to help America recover from the impacts of COVID-19. The NDC endorsed The Innovation Centers Acceleration Act and a similar proposal was recently included in President Biden’s American Jobs Plan.

“The next step in our road to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is revitalizing our economy—and our legislation would provide the boost communities across America need,” said Congressman Joe Morelle (NY-25). “Not only will this help assert our position as global leaders in high-tech innovation, it marks an important step towards building diverse, inclusive growth that benefits the entire country rather than a few individual cities. I’m proud of the growing support the Innovation Centers Acceleration Act continues to receive, and I look forward to working alongside my partners toward its swift passage.”

“The Innovation Centers Acceleration Act takes a crucial step to establish the United States as a global leader in industries that will shape the 21st century. We have faced unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07). “As we work to rebuild our economy, we must tap the talent and potential of cities like Birmingham and unleash innovation in growing sectors like advanced manufacturing and biomedical technology. The Innovation Centers Acceleration Act will make critical investments in communities across the country and expand our ability to compete in these critical industries.”

“The Innovation Centers Acceleration Act will help drive American innovation while prioritizing racial equity and inclusive growth,” said New Democrat Coalition Chair Suzan DelBene (WA-01). “The New Democrat Coalition is committed to growing our economy and ensuring every American, regardless of their zip code, has the opportunity to succeed. We will continue working with the Biden-Harris administration to move this and other New Dem priorities forward to help us build back better.”

“As Congress works to carry out President Biden’s vision for the American Jobs Plan and secure our position as a global economic leader, we have to sharpen our innovative capacity in key technologies and ensure that innovation sector growth benefits all regions and socioeconomic groups,” said Senator Chris Coons (D-DE). “I’m proud to work with Representatives Morelle, Sewell, and DelBene and the House New Dems to ensure American Jobs Plan legislation includes our Innovation Centers Acceleration Act, which will not only fund new R&D so that we stay ahead of China and strategic competitors, but will also ensure that growth does not concentrate in a handful of large cities. We must give new regions and diverse populations a chance to equitably share in our economic recovery.”

From 2005 to 2017, only five innovation hubs—Boston, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, and San Diego—accounted for more than 90% of the nation’s innovation sector growth. In the same period of time, 191 of 382 U.S. metro areas around the country have lost vital innovation jobs. These regions are losing out on productivity growth that play a significant role in creating jobs and raising living standards, which are critically important to post-pandemic economic recovery. 

The Innovation Centers Acceleration Act creates a national race-to-the-top for new American Innovation Centers. Details of the legislation are as follows:

  • A national Selection Committee representing federal agencies and advised by labor unions, research institutions, and private industry will oversee a national competition among U.S. metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) to become an established Innovation Center.
  • Eligible MSAs will apply for one of nine Innovation Center designations, in which the federal government will invest $80 billion over 9 years. 
  • Applicants will present a plan to devote state, local, and private sector resources in pursuing the takeoff of one or more innovation-based sectors, based on existing technical advantages, local research institutions, and industry core competencies. 
  • MSAs must include plans to foster racial equity and inclusive growth, ensure affordable housing, and scale up education and workforce development. 

The primary federal support for this legislation runs through the National Science Foundation (NSF), which will award grants rising to nearly $1 billion per year for each Innovation Center. 

“This is a great idea – boost local economies, strengthen research and development across the country, and create more good jobs,” said Simon Johnson, economist and co-author of ‘Jump-Starting America: How Breakthrough Science Can Revive Economic Growth and the American Dream. “This is exactly the kind of infrastructure that we need to be competitive in the 21st century. This proposed legislation forms the basis for genuine shared prosperity.”

“We need serious action to create new innovation hubs because the nation’s innovation sector has been concentrating into just a few places, not spreading out into new ones as we might have hoped,” said Mark Muro, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a co-author of the report, ‘The Case for Growth Centers: How to Spread Tech Innovation Across America.”

Watch the press conference announcing the legislation. Full details on the legislation can be found here. The bill is also co-led by Senator Dick Durbin.