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Press Release

U.S. Department of Commerce Invests to Expand Digital Literacy Services for Job Seekers near Machias, Maine, Opportunity Zone

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $1.53 million grant to the Axiom Education & Training Center in Machias, Maine, to provide computer and online skills training for unemployed and underemployed job seekers. The project, to be located near a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act designated Opportunity Zone, will be matched with $1.67 million in local funds.

“From day one, President Trump has stressed the importance of increasing opportunities for American workers through training opportunities,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “This project will help transform Maine’s workforce by providing un- and semi-skilled workers with basic computer literacy and online training, providing access to employment opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable.”

“This project will support a cadre of 16 volunteers and 16 employed instructors to expand digital literacy services throughout Maine,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Dr. John Fleming. “The training, to take place in public libraries and six University of Maine campuses, will help to develop the highly skilled, job-ready workforce that Maine businesses need to grow and thrive and the project’s location near a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Opportunity Zone will provide additional tax incentives for business development.”

“The Axiom Education & Training Center provides Mainers in Washington County with the resources they need to reach their educational and career goals,” said Senator Collins. “By supporting computer and online skills training for unemployed and underemployed job seekers, this funding will allow AETC to continue to increase opportunities for the people it serves.”

The funding announced today goes to a designated Opportunity Zone, created by President Donald J. Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 to spur economic development by giving tax incentives to investors in economically-distressed communities nationwide. In June 2019, EDA added Opportunity Zones as an Investment Priority, which increases the number of catalytic Opportunity Zone-related projects that EDA can fund to fuel greater public investment in these areas. To learn more about the Opportunity Zone program, see the Treasury Department resources page here. To learn more about the Commerce Department’s work in Opportunity Zones, please visit EDA’s Opportunity Zones webpage.

About the U.S. 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.

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