USDA Rural Development State Director Vicki Walker announced the award of a $20,000 grant to assist the start-up of new businesses while ensuring the longevity of existing small enterprises in the marine industries on the Central Oregon Coast. “Oregon’s coastal communities have a unique set of economic development challenges and opportunities,” Walker said at the 2015 Oregon Coast Economic Summit in Grand Ronde. “A diversified coastal economy includes a variety of small businesses that conduct or provide a broad range of support services related to the marine science sector, as well as traditional fishing and tourism operations. This USDA grant will support the specific technical assistance these coastal small businesses need to get started and enhance their operations.”
Lincoln County Commissioner Doug Hunt thanked Walker on behalf of the Lincoln County Economic Development Corporation, familiarly known as the Economic Development Alliance of Lincoln County, which will administer the grant award. “Those in the marine industry sector navigate a complex system of governments and regulatory entities operating at the federal, tribal, state, local and even international levels,” Walker said during a panel discussion on the future of intergovernmental collaboration. “By working across government boundaries, local groups like the Economic Development Alliance and others help small rural businesses and self-employed people to address these complicated issues so they can focus on what they do best.”
The grant is provided through USDA’s Rural Business Development Grant (RBDG) Program. Funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant agreement. The grant will allow the Economic Development Alliance to conduct technical assistance in support of the local marine sciences industry cluster. Specifically, funds will be used to conduct succession planning to keep 10 existing companies in operation after the founders retire; expand the use of information technology; and help two new companies through the start-up phase. In addition, the grant will help with certifications and other activities needed to bring oyster production to the Port of Alsea. In all, the Economic Development Alliance expects to assist 15 to 20 companies and create or save 20 jobs.
Congress established the RBDG Program under the 2014 Farm Bill. The new program combines USDA’s former Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) and Rural Business Opportunity Grant (RBOG) programs. Like its predecessors, the new program is designed to assist with the startup or expansion of small and emerging private businesses in rural communities.