The Alaska Mariculture Cluster is one of 21 winners of the Build Back Better Regional Challenge. Funded by the American Rescue Plan and administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), the Regional Challenge is awarding approximately $49 million in grants to the Alaska Mariculture Cluster, led by the Southeast Conference, to catalyze a sustainable mariculture industry in Alaska.

With the EDA funding, the Alaska Mariculture Cluster will support the region’s growing mariculture industry and ensure that it provides shellfish and seaweed for the long-term benefit of Alaska’s economy, environment and communities. Projects include:

  • The creation of a Revolving Loan Fund to provide funding for local businesses to grow;
  • Development of mariculture-focused workforce training programs; and
  • Research support to grow innovative seaweed and shellfish products.

The coalition will operate in partnership with Sealaska, an Alaska Native Corporation owned by more than 23,000 Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian shareholders, ensuring the cluster’s approach centers the priorities of tribal, rural and underserved communities."

“This EDA investment will create new opportunities across Alaska that are directly aligned with the needs of tribal and rural communities and can provide long-term benefit to the state’s economy and environment,” says U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo.

The EDA “plays an important role in supporting community-led economic development strategies designed to boost economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic,” says Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo. “This EDA investment will provide the tools Alaska needs to develop a strong and resilient mariculture sector, supporting the nation’s growth of its blue economy.”

The Southeast Conference Alaska Mariculture Cluster is one of 21 winners – each a regional coalition of partnering entities – that will receive awards between $25 million and $65 million to implement an average of six integrative projects that enable each region's economic transformation and competitiveness. The 21 Build Back Better Regional Challenge awardees were chosen from 60 EDA-designated finalists that each received approximately $500,000 in funding and technical assistance to continue developing their cluster strategies. The funding for each coalition is approximate, with awards to be signed in September.

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