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Blog Category: Louisiana

Obama Administration Holds Rural Swing in North Carolina and Louisiana to Promote Jobs and Innovation

EDA Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge Logo

Guest blog post by Matt Erskine, Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

Over the next two days, I will join several colleagues for a rural swing in North Carolina and Louisiana to promote jobs and innovation. Along with Deputy Under Secretary for USDA Rural Development Doug O’Brien, Appalachian Regional Commission Federal Co-Chair Earl F. Gohl, and Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Christopher Masingill, I will attend events in rural America and tour two projects that were among the 13 winners of this year’s Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge.

The Rural Jobs Accelerator—designed by the Taskforce for the Advancement of Regional Innovation Clusters and the White House Rural Council—is a joint effort of 13 federal agencies, working together to help accelerate economic and job growth across rural regions. It is a great example of collaboration across federal agencies to pool resources and identify new, innovative ways to create an economy built to last.

Since taking office three and one-half years ago, President Obama has been deeply committed to strengthening rural economies all across America—helping to create jobs, support business growth, and expand opportunity for rural Americans. The administration has advanced new policies and initiatives and made significant investments in rural communities. The Rural Jobs Accelerator builds on those goals, seeking to foster job creation and business innovation in these communities.

$102 Million in Wetlands and Barrier Island Restoration Awards for Louisiana

Acting Secretary Blank Announces $102 Million in Wetlands and Barrier Island Restoration Awards for Louisiana Photo Credit: Tracie Morris Schaefer

Earlier today, Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank announced $102 million for three Louisiana projects in the Barataria and Terrebone basins, to restore deteriorated wetlands and barrier island habitats along the state’s coast. These awards are funded by the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) program.  U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Director Garret Graves and Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Project Director Bobby Guichet also participated in the announcement.

Great Lakes Dredge & Dock and Weeks Marine have been contracted to restore beach, dune and marsh on Pelican Island in Plaquemines Parish, and West Belle Pass barrier headland in Lafourche Parish, respectively. The state of Louisiana will receive the third award to rebuild marsh and construct an 11,000-foot long protective ridge in the Bayou Dupont area in Jefferson Parish. The three projects will employ local citizens and generate further economic benefits for local businesses and coastal communities.

At the event, Blank also outlined help the American Jobs Act would provide Louisiana – putting people to work and boosting businesses. The plan would provide a significant new tax cut for small businesses, make major reforms to unemployment insurance to help get more Americans back on the job, and it would put more money in the pockets of Americans by reducing payroll taxes paid by workers.

The Jobs Act would complement the coastal restoration work funded by the awards announced by Blank today.

Secretary Locke Announces Fishery Failure Determination in Gulf of Mexico

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today determined there has been a fishery disaster in the Gulf of Mexico due to the economic impact on commercial and recreational fisheries from the ongoing Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The affected area includes the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

“We are taking this action today because of the potentially significant economic hardship this spill may cause fishermen and the businesses and communities that depend on those fisheries,” Locke said. “The disaster determination will help ensure that the Federal government is in a position to mobilize the full range of assistance that fishermen and fishing communities may need.”

Locke made the determination under Section 312(a) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.  The declaration was made in response to requests from Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour based on the loss of access to many commercial fisheries and the existing and anticipated environmental damage from this unprecedented event.

Since May 2, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has closed a portion of federal waters affected by the spill to commercial and recreational fishing. This closure area, which is based on the scientific trajectory of the spill, now includes nearly 20 percent of federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico, largely between Louisiana state waters at the mouth of the Mississippi and the waters off Florida’s Pensacola Bay.

Full release
Related NOAA release

Latest NOAA status release on oil spill

Secretary Locke, Senator Landrieu Announce ARRA Investment in Louisiana

NTIA logo. Click to go to Web site.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today, joined by Senator Mary Landrieu, announced an $80 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) investment to help bridge the technological divide, boost economic growth, create jobs, and improve education and healthcare in Louisiana. The grant will bring high-speed Internet access to more than 80 community anchor institutions—including universities, K-12 schools, libraries, healthcare facilities—and lay the groundwork for bringing affordable broadband service to thousands of homes and businesses in the region. (More)

Secretary Locke Announces ARRA Grants to Expand Broadband Internet Access and Expand Economic Growth

Recovery Act logo. Click to go to Commerce Department Recovery Web site.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced 23 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) investments to help bridge the technological divide, boost economic growth, create jobs and improve education and healthcare cross the country. The grants will increase broadband access and adoption in California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, North Carolina, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin and West Virginia. (More)

Secretary Locke Announces ARRA Grants to Expand Broadband Internet Access and Expand Economic Growth

Recovery Act logo. Click to go to Commerce Department Recovery Web site.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced 10 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) investments to help bridge the technological divide, boost economic growth, create jobs and improve education and health care cross the country. The grants will increase broadband access and adoption in California, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. (More) (Remarks)

NOAA: Smaller Than Expected, But Severe, Dead Zone in Gulf of Mexico

Image of mouth of Mississippi River showing nutrient run-off. Click for animated vizualization.

Commerce’s NOAA-supported scientists, led by Nancy Rabalais, Ph.D. from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, found the size of this year’s Gulf of Mexico dead zone to be smaller than forecasted, measuring 3,000 square miles. However, the dead zone, which is usually limited to water just above the sea floor, was severe where it did occur, extending closer to the water surface than in most years. Earlier this summer, NOAA-sponsored forecast models predicted a larger than normal dead zone area of between 7,450–8,456 square miles. (More) (Graphic of Dead Zone)(NOAA Visualization)

NOAA Forecasts Predicts large "Dead Zone" for Gulf of Mexico this Summer

Image of mouth of Mississippi River showing nutrient run-off. Click for data visualization.

A team of NOAA-supported scientists from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, Louisiana State University, and the University of Michigan is forecasting that the “dead zone” off the coast of Louisiana and Texas in the Gulf of Mexico this summer could be one of the largest on record. The dead zone is an area in the Gulf of Mexico where seasonal oxygen levels drop too low to support most life in bottom and near-bottom waters. The mouth of the Mississippi River (imaged here) is an example of how nutrient run-off creates plankton blooms. (More) (NOAA Visualization)