CSAC Bulletin Article

CERF Catalyst Program Publishes Final Framework

August 31, 2023

Earlier this week, the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research published the final programmatic framework for the Community Economic Resilience Fund (CERF) Catalyst Program, which included a few changes to the structure we previously reported. Through the Catalyst Program, each specified region can apply for up to $14 million ($182 million statewide) to support the early development of projects that could become eligible for future CERF implementation funding. CSAC previously reported on the Catalyst Program in early August and submitted comments to EDD in July 2023 in support of the program.

Notably, the final programmatic framework decreases the allocation per CERF region from the previously published amount of $26.5 million to $14 million. The reduction is due in part to removal of certain requirements included in the initial framework, including:

  • Removal of up to $5 million for a revolving loan fund to support industries prioritized for CERF;
  • Removal of up to $1 million to identify parcels that can be developed to support key industries;
  • Removal of up to $1 million to support “anchor institutions” at risk of fiscal insolvency;
  • Establishing up to $1.5 million to support compliance and grant administration; and
  • Reduction in the amount of funds available to support pre-development activities from up to $15 million to up to $9 million.

The changes mean that up to $268 million will be available for implementation of CERF projects in 2024, up from $100 million that would have been available for implementation of CERF projects in the first draft of the CERF Catalyst framework.

Background: The CERF Program

The 2021 State Budget Act established the CERF, and appropriated $600 million to support economic development projects aimed at establishing high-quality jobs, improving equity, and supporting economic diversification for a climate-resilient economy. To administer the CERF Program’s funds, California’s counties were divided into 13 economic regions. These 13 regions are eligible to receive planning grants and implementation funds on a competitive basis.

 CSAC previously reported on the availability of up to $50 million of CERF Program funds for projects that have emerged from existing regional processes or plans and are ready for implementation. Those grant awards were announced in May, including a list of the projects receiving CERF funds.

The Catalyst Program

Catalyst Program funds can be awarded to invest in pre-development of projects to become ready for implementation funding. Examples of the pre-development activities that can be supported through the Catalyst Program include feasibility studies, market analyses, environmental assessments, permitting, basic environmental infrastructure pre-development, or other activities that will support early project development and prepare them for implementation funds.

Key Dates and Deadlines:



Friday, September 1, 2023

Release of Catalyst Program solicitation by EDD

November 30, 2023

Catalyst Program applications due

On a rolling basis

Scoring and announcement of grant awards

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Release of grant funds

Sunday, June 30, 2024

Regional Plan Part 2 is due to EDD

Additional Resources for Counties:

For more information about CERF, including project timelines, enacting legislation, and fact sheets, visit the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research’s CERF resource website or contact the CERF administrators via email at WSBCERF@edd.ca.gov.

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