USDA-Rural Development and U.S. Economic Development Administration Announce Winner of Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge
ANCHORAGE, Alaska, August 1, 2012 – USDA-Rural Development Alaska State Director Jim Nordlund today announced that the Bristol Bay Native Association (BBNA) in Dillingham will receive a combined USDA-RD and U.S. Economic Development Administration grant award of $405,023 to fund the Bristol Bay Jobs Accelerator Project.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “The national initiative seeks to support rural partnerships by identifying and leveraging local assets and strengthening linkages to industry clusters. Strong industry clusters promote robust economic ecosystems and the development of a skilled workforce, both of which are critical to long-term regional success in rural areas. Last year’s 20 challenge winners–both rural and urban public-private partnerships–generated millions in matching funds and their projects are expected to help create hundreds of new businesses and thousands of new jobs.”
“The areas served will include the Bristol Bay Region in Southwestern Alaska. The BBNA will provide technical assistance to the Southwest Alaska Vocational and Education Center (SAVEC) to build training capacity in the Bristol Bay fisheries and seafood processing industry cluster,” said Nordlund. In addition, funds will be used to provide technical assistance services, organization and management of an industry conference event, and development of a regional fisheries business cooperative. The project will accelerate job creation in the fisheries and seafood industry through boosting workforce skills, growing seafood manufacturing and developing effective marketing linkages.”
Ralph Andersen, President and CEO of BBNA said, “We want to thank USDA-Rural Development and the U.S. Economic Development Administration who assisted us in obtaining this grant award. BBNA has the unique distinction of being the first Alaska Native entity to receive this particular type of funding. We are pleased because it reflects President Obama’s pledge to work more closely with Native Americans and Alaska Natives. We look forward to implementing this grant to help grow jobs and business opportunities in the fishing industry. We are hoping to set the highest level of project readiness to help increase Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge funding opportunities to other Alaska Native organizations in the state.”
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“Over the last three and a half years, President Obama has been committed to investing in efforts to strengthen rural economies, create jobs, support business growth, and expand opportunity for rural Americans,” said Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank. Congratulations to the 13 winners of this second round of the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator challenge, which will help promote innovation, advance manufacturing, and accelerate economic and job growth across rural regions.”
This competition, which is being funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Appalachian Regional Commission, and Delta Regional Authority, was designed by the Taskforce for the Advancement of Regional Innovation Clusters and the White House Rural Council. The initiative is also supported by nine other Federal agencies: Commerce’s U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership; Denali Commission; U.S. Department of Education; U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration; U.S. Department of Energy; Environmental Protection Agency; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; and the Small Business Administration.
Details on the USDA Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge are outlined at: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/ruraljobsaccelerator.html.