Ketchikan, AK, Sep 14, 2011 -- USDA-Rural Development Alaska State Director Jim Nordlund announced today, “OceansAlaska” has been awarded a Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) in the amount of $99,000. The funding will serve to develop the mariculture industry in Southeast Alaska, help business development and advance further job creation.
“The Obama Administration and USDA are committed to helping small businesses grow and create jobs. The USDA Rural Development funds provided today will ultimately provide incentive and encourage the launch of similar small businesses to expand and cultivate the nascent shellfish industry in Southeast Alaska,” Nordlund said.
The Ketchikan-based OceansAlaska Mariculture Research and Training Facility site is located at mile 9 South Tongass Highway. OceansAlaska is a nonprofit organization focused on assisting the developing mariculture industry. The organization is well supported by the community and has been working well with the Southeast Alaska region’s interests in Mariculture. The intent of OceansAlaska is to provide research, development, demonstration, and training that will support this emerging industry. The organization has an existing award from the federal Economic Development Administration that is helping develop their operations infrastructure.
OceansAlaska general manager David Mitchel said, “The RBEG award we received will greatly enhance our ability to train new entrants throughout coastal Alaska, and spur more private investment to join and grow this industry. There are other ongoing and successful models for training prospective farmers in the mariculture industry, and we hope to coordinate and expand those programs. This funding will provide best practices for species care, industry-specific business and biological training, and permitting process assistance that will allow people to expand or begin new successful businesses.”
Last year, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack directed Rural Development, Farm Service Agency, and the Forest Service to work with the Department of Commerce and partners from Southeast Alaska to chart a new path forward in the region designed to enhance economic opportunities.
The strategy was initiated to assist Southeast Alaska communities’ transition to more diversified economies through a renewed effort to provide jobs around renewable energy, forest restoration, fisheries and mariculture, tourism and recreation, and subsistence.
For more information on OceansAlaska, call David Mitchel at (907) 254-3006, or visit http://www.oceansalaska.org/index.html.