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$4.4 Million in fed support on tap for local fishing workforce and economy

Congresswoman Amata pictured with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross
Funding for “four modern and upgraded traditional-stylized” fishing vessels

Washington, D.C. – Wednesday, Congresswoman Uifaatali Amata welcomed the announcement by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross that the Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $4.4 million grant to American Samoa to support commercial fishing workforce development and economic diversification efforts. The EDA grant, to be located in a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Opportunity Zone, will create 50 jobs and generate $2 million in private investment.

 “Jobs and development is always great news,” said Congresswoman Amata. “Commercial fishing is the backbone of our economy, and fishing has always fed the Samoan people. This creative project is a real credit to the opportunity zone legislation. Thank you to Secretary Ross and Assistant Secretary Gartzke for directing this important investment right where it’s needed most.”

 “The Trump Administration is committed to ensuring underserved communities grow through strategic investment and innovative workforce development,” said Secretary of Commerce Ross. “This project will provide American Samoa with a fleet of commercial fishing vessels to be used for worker training and as business incubators. The project’s location in an Opportunity Zone will drive additional investment to the islands.”

 “The Economic Development Administration is pleased to support this locally-developed strategy to diversify one of American Samoa’s core industries,” said Dana Gartzke, Performing the Delegated Duties of the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “This project will position American Samoa to capitalize on the global increase in demand for fresh fish, and the region’s Opportunity Zone designation will further diversify and grow the local economy.”

This EDA investment supports the American Samoa Government with purchase of a small fleet of four modern and upgraded traditional-stylized commercial fishing vessels to support the growth of the local fishing fleet in American Samoa and an Opportunity Zone. The project will help with recovery efforts from Cyclone Gita by allowing one vessel to function as a training platform while the other three vessels function as business incubators.  Once completed, the project will provide local entrepreneurs and fishmen with an opportunity to create jobs and small businesses in the fresh fish industry, which will support economic diversification, attract private investment, and advance economic resiliency throughout the region.

Created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, these Opportunity Zones are spurring economic development in economically-distressed communities nationwide. In June 2019, EDA added Opportunity Zones as an Investment Priority, which increases the number of catalytic Opportunity Zone-related projects that EDA can fund to fuel greater public investment in these areas.

This project is funded by the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019 (Pub. L. 116-20), which provided EDA with $600 million in additional Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) Program funds for disaster relief and recovery for areas affected by Hurricanes Florence, Michael, and Lane, Typhoons Yutu and Mangkhut, wildfires, volcanic eruptions, and other major natural disasters occurring in calendar year 2018, and tornadoes and floods occurring in calendar year 2019, under the Robert T. Stafford Act.