Project Will Diversify the Region’s Economy and Help Aquatic Farmers Meet Market Demand
ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Jan. 13, 2021 – United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Rural Development Xochitl Torres Small today announced a $500,000 investment to help a regional economic development organization, the Southeast Conference, create a blueprint for a mariculture (seaweed and other sea products) processing facility on Prince of Wales Island. This investment supports the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to support economic, cultural, and natural resources sustainability in the Southeast Alaska region.
“Southeast Alaska’s vast resources and hardworking people create opportunity for economic growth and diversification,” Torres Small said. “USDA is investing in this effort by engaging with local Tribes, governments and community leaders to encourage economic growth that reflects the region’s rich diversity, cultural heritage and natural resources. Mariculture is a critical and growing income and job creator in Southeast Alaska. Farmers in the region have requested dedicated infrastructure to scale up their operations to meet market demands. This investment is the first step in standing up a shared processing space that will save on costs and create new market opportunities.”
USDA’s investment is part of an ongoing effort to help create jobs and diversify the economy in Southeast Alaska. The proposed maritime processing center will support aquatic farming of kelp, seaweed and shellfish. Co-op members will be able to handle, store, freeze, pack, process, label and load their harvest safely and cost-effectively.
The project is the result of USDA’s continued engagement with people and organizations in the region, exemplified by the Southeast Alaska Sustainability Strategy. Through this strategy, USDA is collaborating with Tribes, Alaska Native corporations, partners and communities to identify additional investments that will support economic growth, natural resources and community well-being in the region. The Department is committed to strengthening small businesses, expanding broadband reliability, increasing renewable energy production, and supporting local foods and agriculture production, water and sewer infrastructure, health care, housing and outdoor tourism in southeast Alaska.
Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov/ak.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.