USDA-Rural Development (USDA-RD) Alaska State Director Jim Nordlund and Beth Pendleton, Forest Service Alaska Regional Forester, today announced that the two agencies have collaborated to co-fund a total of $200,000 in support of the Juneau Economic Development Council’s (JEDC) Southeast Alaska Cluster Initiative.
Since its inception, the Southeast Alaska Cluster Initiative has been a successful catalyst for private-public partnerships. This initiative created a process to bring private sector “industry clusters” together with federal, state and local agencies, university faculty, trade association representatives, economic development organizations, community leaders and other stakeholders committed to addressing industry needs, concerns and opportunities on a partnership basis.
Referring to the annual meeting of the industry clusters in Juneau, Pendleton said, "The foremost accomplishment of JEDC’s Innovation Summit is bringing business and other leaders together to reinvigorate, share best practices for and support innovation, as a driver of community, trade and industry development in the region."
The Cluster Working Groups comprise Ocean Products, Visitor Products, Renewable Energy (including biomass), Mining Services and Supply, and Research and Development. The proven effectiveness of establishing such unique partnerships is manifest in continual industry development and economic growth, which benefits the USDA StrikeForce area of Southeast Alaska.
"Rural Development and the Forest Service recognize the paramount importance in contributing this funding to ensure a continuum of JEDC’s efforts to bolster economic opportunities for the residents of Southeast Alaska," said Nordlund.