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USDA Awards Grant to Native Alaskan Business


Goal to Save Energy Costs and Strengthen Small Businesses

Anchorage, Alaska – July 23, 2014 – U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development (USDA-RD) Alaska State Director Jim Nordlund today announced support to Native Alaskan communities by awarding a $200,000 grant to Alaska Village Electric Cooperative. The funding is from USDA-RD’s Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) program, which promotes the development of small and emerging businesses in rural areas.

The Alaska Village Electric Cooperative (AVEC) was awarded the $200,000 Rural Business Enterprise Grant to provide technical assistance to small rural businesses through commercial energy audits.  The energy audits will provide a road map for businesses to reduce their energy costs.  AVEC is a non-profit electric utility owned by the residents they serve in 56 communities throughout Interior and Western Alaska, which is Alaska’s newly designated “StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity” area.

"Rural Alaska’s mostly Native villages face the highest energy costs in the nation.  These commercial energy audits will identify effective means to bring the costs down for local businesses,” stated Nordlund.  "We are pleased to work with AVEC, a proven and innovative electrical utility that serves much of rural Alaska."

"Energy, heat and electricity, is usually the largest expense for a commercial enterprise in rural Alaska, often eclipsing even the cost of personnel. Conducting energy audits with this RBEG grant could identify savings that may make the difference between keeping the doors (and jobs) open and folding the business. We would like to see those businesses succeed and prosper and with the help of USDA, we will continue to make a positive difference to our members," said Meera Kohler, President and CEO, AVEC.

Rural Business Enterprise Grants provide funds for precisely targeted technical assistance, training and other activities that support the development of private, for-profit, small business enterprises in rural areas.

Eligible applicants include local governments, non-profit corporations and federally recognized Indian Tribes.  The funding assistance is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant agreement.

Since the start of the Obama Administration, the RBEG program has helped create or save more than 73,000 rural jobs, expanded or helped establish more than 41,000 rural businesses and community projects and provided more than $170 million in economic development assistance.

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