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Native Village of Napaimute Sets Sail to Greater Prosperity with EDA Grant

Cajun Crate Logo
The Nukalpiaq delivering wood products along the Kuskokwim River to support the economy of the Native Village of Napaimute in Alaska.

For members of the Native Village of Napaimute — an Alaska Native tribe in Western Alaska — the forests of the Yukon–Kuskokwim Delta are not only the heart and hearth of their ancestral home, they are also an important contemporary fixture of the village’s economy. In fact, Napaimute, in the Yup’ik language, literally means “forest people.”

In 2017, the village purchased and built a sawmill to expand its wood products business to process locally harvested timber for sale as firewood to communities along the Kuskokwim River. However, due to the primitive state of transportation infrastructure along the Kuskokwim, movement of lumber had to occur on ice roads which had become increasingly difficult to travel. Alternatives, such as commercial barge service, were also limited or sporadic, leaving the village with no economically viable way to move its product to market.

On April 24, 2019, the Economic Development Administration (EDA), awarded the Napaimute a $580,000 Economic Adjustment Assistance grant to purchase a Landing Craft Mechanized (LCM). Christened by the village as the Nukalpiaq, a word that means “good provider,” the 75-foot LCM, also know as a Mike Boat, now enables the village to safely and efficiently deliver its product to customers. The village put the Nukalpiaq, which is equipped with a hydraulic telescoping deck crane to load and unload cargo, into service earlier this year. The boat has been busy ever since.

“This boat has been a real blessing for us,” explained Mark Leary, Project Manager for the Native Village of Napaimut. “It’s the final piece of the puzzle that we’ve been building all these years. Getting control of the transportation of our product has been critical.”

Thanks to this EDA investment, the Native Village of Napaimute has not only been able to stabilize market accessibility for its wood products, it has also been able to expand it to include the production of log home packages, helping provide affordable housing to residents of an economically disadvantaged area of Alaska’s vast Unorganized Borough.

The EDA’s Economic Adjustment Assistance program (PDF) provides a wide range of technical, planning, and public works and infrastructure assistance to regions experiencing adverse economic changes due to changing trade patterns or other factors. To learn more, and to see how others are using EDA grants to support local economic development, please visit the EDA website.

Tags: Infrastructure

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