SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Job Creation and Southeast Revitalization Opportunities Discussed


August 24, 2011

(SitNews) – Agriculture Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Harris Sherman, joined by USDA's Rural Utilities Service Administrator Jonathon Adelstein and other officials, recently met with business owners, including timber, tourism, and fishing industries, to discuss ways federal, state and local officials can work together to improve economic conditions and create jobs. The meetings were part of a series of rural roundtables that are being held across the country this summer with senior Obama Administration officials on behalf of the White House Rural Council.

On Saturday Sherman met with the Juneau Economic Development Council, and then traveled to Sitka on Sunday to hear from business and community leaders about the future of the Tongass National Forest.

"The vitality of rural America is critical to the well being of this country," said Sherman. "Alaska's economy is a critical element in the economic health of this nation. Sustaining rural communities and helping the economy grow is vital not only here in Alaska, but across the country."

Sherman and Adelstein were accompanied by USDA's Forest Service, Farm Service Agency and USDA Rural Development officials, who noted that rural Alaska communities are facing challenges that require the private sector and the public sector to work together.

"This has led to the development of a strategic investment plan for the Department, said Sherman. "This plan will be a critical element in the Tongass Transition Framework policy that will help guide all USDA agencies in their efforts to support and help maintain Southeast Alaska's economic vitality."

"President Obama and Secretary Vilsack are committed to improving the economy of rural America and helping to create the opportunity for businesses to provide new jobs," said Adelstein. "USDA has funded broadband projects, clinics and facilities including the Wrangell Medical Center. We want to do more. This roundtable gives us an opportunity to hear directly from Alaskan residents concerning their ideas on ways we can expand the economic base here."

In June, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing the first White House Rural Council, chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The Council will work throughout government to create policies to promote economic prosperity and a high quality of life in our rural communities.

In June, the USDA and Department of Commerce agencies released a report that lists job creation initiatives for Southeast Alaska. The initiatives were categorized in four economic sectors: ocean products, forest products, visitor products and renewable energy. The report was developed by four economic cluster working groups made up of Southeast Alaska leaders in business, academia, nongovernmental organizations and State, local and Tribal governments.


On the Web:

Phase I: The Southeast Alaska Economic Asset Map
The first phase of the Southeast Cluster Initiative was completed in December 2010 and identified key regional assets, linkages, business attitudes, and the overall business climate.

Phase II: Southeast Alaska Action Initiatives for Key Economic Clusters
The second phase of the project was completed in May 2011


Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews

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