Anchorage, AK, Jan 29, 2014 -- Max Finberg, U.S. Department of Agriculture StrikeForce National Coordinator today announced on behalf of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, that a second USDA StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity Initiative Area has been designated for Alaska. The new area includes western and interior Alaska. Southeast Alaska was previously designated a StrikeForce area.
"Through StrikeForce, we are able to reach people in rural areas in innovative ways and bring resources to them directly," said Finberg. "We are here to listen. We are learning better ways to help communities leverage their assets and bring opportunity to these communities and their residents."
The primary goal of the StrikeForce initiative is to increase partnership with rural communities and leverage community resources in targeted, persistent poverty areas. Finberg made the announcement while touring the StrikeForce area with Patrice Kunesh, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development. On Tuesday they traveled to Bethel, Quinhagak, and Kwethluk to meet with residents and tour USDA-funded community housing, sewer and water projects, energy facilities, agriculture and rural health facilities.
USDA representatives will also meet this week at the non-profit Rasmuson Foundation with business and industry leaders, Alaska Native leaders, other government agencies, and non-governmental organizations to discuss providing opportunity and alleviating poverty in village Alaska.
Together, USDA agencies in Alaska are working to increase coordination and delivery of federal services, especially important given the logistics of a vast landscape, limited budgets and staff capacity. Key focus areas include renewable energy, local food production, housing and creating jobs through USDA’s farm, conservation and rural development programs.
For more information on USDA's StrikeForce Initiative, please visit: http://www.usda.gov/strikeforce.