The U.S. Commerce Department announced today that economic development assessment teams will deploy next month to conduct a two-day analysis of six Northeast fishing communities. The teams will visit Portland, Maine, Seabrook, N.H., New Bedford, Mass., Gloucester, Mass., Point Judith, R.I., and Montauk, N.Y. The assessment teams will conduct meetings with local leaders to help identify economic development challenges and opportunities facing local industries and communities.
“The Department of Commerce is committed to supporting a vibrant and profitable fishing industry in the United States. The assessment teams will help communities identify and begin to address the economic difficulties they are facing,” Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. “We know that by rebuilding stocks, we will improve economic conditions for fishermen and coastal communities, but we recognize that transition is difficult. We are committed to help identify proactive solutions during these challenging economic times.”
“Supporting fishermen and fishing communities with economic assessment and planning assistance is a top priority for the Department of Commerce and the administration,” said Brian McGowan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “The Northeast economic development assessment teams will play an important role in providing technical expertise to local leaders as they develop strategies to increase economic and job opportunities.”
The goal of the visits is to provide customized technical assistance for fishing communities that experienced reductions in groundfish fishing revenues in recent years. The Economic Development Administration (EDA), in partnership with other federal agencies, will meet with local leaders to assess current and emerging economic issues. EDA, with the assistance of the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), evaluated economic and fisheries industry data, including groundfish landing revenues and the percentage of groundfish landed at a port relative to the state totals, in order to select ports for the interagency assessments.
“Fishing is one of our nation’s oldest and proudest professions. While we are turning a corner toward a more sustainable fishing industry, we recognize the hardship many fishing families and communities are facing today,” NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco said. “NOAA is eager to work with our colleagues in EDA to keep fishing communities prosperous.”
The teams will work with local government, community, and business leaders, regional planning organizations, and economic development organizations to explore issues ranging from infrastructure challenges to development and financing needs, attempting to look at the total economic picture for each community. After the assessment, EDA will present to each community, a report that captures economic development best practices and customized strategies for the community’s long-term strategic planning. The teams are modeled after the Economic Development Assessment and Evaluation Teams deployed to Gulf Coast communities following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The team approach proved an effective way to further local economic planning efforts by kick-starting a collaborative process among participants from the local community as well as outside experts.
About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov):
The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation’s regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.