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A bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce


Press Release

U.S. Government Agencies Deploy Interagency Team To Help Strengthen Economy in Bering Strait Region, Invests $41.3 Million In State Of Alaska

NOME, Alaska — U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams today announced that from December 6-8, 2016, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) will deploy an interagency Economic Development Assessment Team to the Nome Census Area to evaluate new and existing economic strategies to address the Bering Strait Region’s planning, infrastructure and business development opportunities; and economic challenges related to climate change adaptation.

Earlier this year, local stakeholders invited EDA to convene the Economic Development Assessment Team (EDAT) to provide support and guidance, make commitments to help the region diversify and grow its economy, and deal with growing challenges related to climate change and community resilience; marine transportation industries and artic shipping; and tourism.

“EDA and its federal partners are committed to working closely with Alaskan stakeholders today and in the years to come to help the Bering Strait region work toward building a more robust and enduring economy,” said Assistant Secretary Williams. “With the EDAT, we hope to expand workforce development efforts, create jobs, and outline concrete plans to address current and perceived challenges related to climate change and the overall health of the region’s economy.”

The EDAT will assess, outline guidance and gauge opportunities to provide a local nonprofit; tribes; and tribal members in the region with resources to:

  • Gain the skills needed to start and/or expand tourism-related businesses.
  • Acquire the knowledge and skills to prepare for positive and negative impacts of increased shipping, and to start and/or expand businesses in Artic shipping and marine transportation industries.
  • Evaluate and provide formal recommendations on appropriate infrastructure to accommodate increased shipping vessels, oil spill response, emergency response, vessel traffic pollution.
  • Promote a positive vision for the region as it adapts to the effects of climate change to grow the region’s economy.

During the three-day EDAT visit, regional leaders and economic development experts, alongside officials from federal partners — U.S. Departments of Treasury, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Economic Development Administration), Transportation, the Small Business Administration, and the Denali Commission — will participate in a series of economic development sessions, tours, and briefings.

As part of the ongoing EDAT process, after the three-day visit regional and local stakeholders will continue to work with federal partners as they develop a bottom-up strategy designed to foster robust economic growth and recovery for the region.

Earlier this year, EDA invested $70,000 to support the development and implementation of a comprehensive economic development strategy (CEDS) for the region which includes the communities of Brevig Mission, DiomedeElim, Gambell, Golovin, Koyuk, Nome, Shaktoolik, Stebbins, St. Michael, Unlakleet, Teller, Wales and White Mountain. The CEDS process is designed to bring together the public and private sectors in the creation of an economic development roadmap to diversify and strengthen the regional economy.

Since 2008, EDA has invested nearly $44 million to support 152 projects/applicants in the state of Alaska. These projects have helped to create/save an estimated 8,646 jobs and generate about $233 million in private investment.

In addition to EDA’s commitment to Alaska, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing $40 million in electric and water funding for rural Alaskan communities. The investments include:

  • $16.5 million to the Naknek Electric Association to build or improve 12 miles of line, improvements that aim to increase system efficiency while reducing emissions and the cost of electric power.
  • Nearly $11.9 million in water and waste water funding to Alaskan communities which will provide the technical assistance and financing necessary to develop drinking water and waste disposal systems.
  • $10.8 million in Rural Alaskan Native Village grants to help 14 remote Alaskan Villages provide safe, reliable drinking water and waste disposal systems for households and businesses.
  • $1.1 million in water and waste loans and grants for a project in the city of Akutan.

“Investments in rural infrastructure, including electric utilities and projects that provide safe drinking water and sanitary waste water disposal are vital not only to public health, but also to the economic strength of rural America,” said Administrator Brandon McBride of USDA’s Rural Utilities Service.

In addition, Alaska Sea Grant will award more than $1 million in federal funds for competitive research grants which apply cutting-edge science to address challenges facing Alaskan communities. The request for proposals will be issued early this month and will focus on healthy ecosystems, resilient communities and economies, sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, and environmental literacy and workforce development.

About the Economic Development Administration
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. To learn more about EDA, visit www.eda.gov.

About USDA Rural Development
Since 2009, USDA Rural Development (@USDARD) has invested $13.9 billion for 5,825 water and waste infrastructure projects, benefiting 19.5 million rural residents; invested nearly $13 billion to start or expand nearly 112,000 rural businesses; helped 1.1 million rural residents buy homes; funded nearly 9,200 community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care facilities; and helped bring high-speed Internet access to nearly 6 million rural residents and businesses. USDA also has invested $38.2 billion in 1,057 electric projects that have financed more than 198,000 miles of transmission and distribution lines serving 4.6 million rural residents. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/results.