Business Investment Awards Boost South Coast Fishing Industry

RDI's Executive Director Heidi Khokhar and Rural Economic Vitality Consultant Amy Hause visited Mach-1 Industries, SeaCoast Compost, and Watson’s Live Seafood on Oregon's south coast this week. The businesses were recently awarded WealthWorks grants to purchase equipment and expand operations, which will also benefit the south coast fishing industry more widely.
 
Mach-1 Industries is a commercial diving company based out of Port Orford, which is currently expanding their business into the production and sales of dulse, a nutrient-rich seafood that tastes like bacon. The grant will enable the company to purchase equipment to increase dulse production.
 
SeaCoast Compost is a business located in Charleston that transforms highly nutritive waste products from local sources, including timber, cow manure, and fish waste, into biodynamic compost. Funding support will allow them to scale up production of their compost product.
 
Watson’s Live Seafood is a seafood market located in Old Town Bandon that provides fresh, locally caught seafood to the local market. This funding will allow them to purchase equipment for a live tank system to keep live fish.
 
The investments will result in increased sales for all three businesses, along with five to six new employees in the short term and potentially double the amount in the long term. The funding would also increase income for at least 12 small boat owners and their crews, as well as contribute to non-financial benefits that include the reduction of fish waste, increased availability of local seafood to local markets, and the establishment of a small industry of dulse which is a new product for the Oregon coast.
 
The WealthWorks grants were awarded by RDI in partnership with NeighborWorks Umpqua and the Southwestern Oregon Food System Collaborative. In 2014, NeighborWorks Umpqua was awarded a grant from RDI to pilot a WealthWorks Northwest project with the goal of connecting community assets to meet market demands while still building livelihoods that last. Food is an enormous asset in Oregon’s southwest region, and the Southwestern Oregon Food System Collaborative was formed, with a focus on seafood, as part of the WealthWorks coaching. The collaborative includes a group of diverse organizations, agencies, and businesses, and the goal of the seafood project is to increase access to fresh, local fish in South Coast communities, and to increase income for local fishermen. Click here to read an article in the World for more information.
 
RDI is a partner in the growing national community of practice that is using the WealthWorks framework, led by Yellow Wood Associates and other national partners, to achieve measureable results on the ground. This integrative economic development approach seeks to leverage existing, or emerging, community assets and economic sectors to connect people, resources, and markets to generate community wealth in rural regions. The model is grounded on the premise that a value chain can generate investments across all eight forms of capital—built, cultural, financial, individual, intellectual, natural, political, and social—and each form of capital is working to reinforce rather than undermine the others to create lasting rural livelihoods and communities.