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A bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce


Press Release

U.S. EDA Invests to Promote Long-Term Economic Prosperity in Coastal Communities

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration (EDA) today announced a $297,643 grant to the Island Institute of Rockland, Maine, to develop strategies to preserve our nation's Working Waterfronts.

"For many coastal communities, there is a strong need to maximize the potential of the waterfront as a driver of economic vitality," said U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez. "This EDA investment will provide coastal communities with strategies compiled from a growing body of knowledge and community-level competencies on how to maintain working, job-creating waterfronts."

"Just 20 miles of Maine's 5,300 miles of coastline are 'working waterfronts' supporting more than 35,000 jobs in the state. In addition to the $1.4 billion dollar fishing industry, working waterfronts are critical to the success of growth industries such as composite boatbuilding and offshore wind energy," said U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe. "Maine has led the nation once again by developing creative solutions to the development pressures faced by coastal communities. I am proud that this coalition of organizations will share their expertise and empower decision makers at the federal, state, and local levels to make informed decisions about how to best maintain and enhance these critical access points. This compilation of key economic, legal, policy, and historic data will serve as a lasting reference to guide sustainable coastal development for the benefit of marine industries and the coastal communities that depend on them."

"I live on an island and I know how important working waterfronts are to coastal communities," said U.S. Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. "Every year it gets harder and harder for fishermen, lobstermen and boat builders to get access to waterfront, which is why this grant and the work the Island Institute will do with it is so important. For the sake of coastal communities in Maine and throughout the country we need to do a better job of providing tools for businesses and communities to protect their working waterfronts."

Shifting demographics, market forces, environmental changes and regulations, along with other factors, can cause economic challenges in coastal communities, such as a transition of waterfront properties toward residential or recreational uses or a loss of water-dependent industries and working waterfronts. Many coastal communities are facing these economic and cultural changes that can limit economic diversification opportunities and fundamentally alter the nature of the communities themselves.

This EDA-funded research will outline strategies, practical methods, and finance mechanisms for addressing current economic challenges and maintaining the resilience and diversity of coastal communities. Among the factors to be considered include the desire to preserve water-dependent uses, opportunities to leverage the skills and abilities of the existing labor force, and preservation of community cultural norms. The project is a collaborative effort among the Island Institute; the Maine, Virginia and Florida Sea Grant College Programs; the National Sea Grant Law Center; the Urban Harbors Institute; and Coastal Enterprises, Inc.

The grant is being awarded through EDA's Research and National Technical Assistance program, which funds research and technical assistance projects that promote competitiveness and innovation in distressed rural and urban regions throughout the United States and its territories. EDA is collaborating with the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to ensure the study leverages its expertise in this area.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov):

The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation's regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.