Guest Blog Post By Angela Belden Martinez, Director of External Affairs , U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration
It was my pleasure today to be joined by Aaron Trujillo, the Commerce Department’s Acting Senior Advisor on Native American Affairs - who serves as the primary liaison between the Department of Commerce and tribal leaders of federally-recognized tribes and regional tribal organizations – in welcoming some very special guests from the Association of Village Council Presidents  (AVCP) of Bethel, Alaska.
During the meeting with AVCP Vice President Michael Hoffman and AVCP General Counsel Carol Brown, we informed them that AVCP is receiving a U.S. Economic Development Administration  (EDA) investment to support workforce development in rural Alaska.
Specifically, the $697,991 EDA grant will help the AVCP purchase equipment that will be used to train workers in several mechanical disciplines to help the delta of the Yukon and Kuskokwin rivers region rebound from the impact of the commercial failures of area fisheries and tributaries.
Providing these new training opportunities for displaced workers is an important step to getting this rural, regional economy back on track.
The Obama administration fervently believes that ensuring that America has a strong and skilled workforce is essential to our economic competitiveness, and that is why Secretary Pritzker has made workforce development a key pillar of the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda .”
EDA’s critical investment will enable the region to purchase training equipment for the Aviation Mechanics Program at the EDA-funded AVCP Hanger Facility in the Bethel Municipal Airport.
It will also enable the AVCP to implement the Aviation Mechanics Program at the Airframe and Power Plant Mechanical Training School.
These training programs will help the people of the delta region get jobs in the in-demand aviation mechanics field.
According to the AVCP, this program will allow small planes to be maintained locally, instead of other areas around the state. This local maintenance facility will build the workforce and strengthen tourism and related businesses in Yukon and Kuskokwin rivers delta region.
We look forward to hearing of the successes of this EDA-funded project in the months and years ahead. We hope to point to it as a shining example of the type of partnership that will serve as a model for communities across the country.