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Building Garibaldi’s Local Seafood Economy

An initiative aimed at improving the livelihoods of small fishing businesses in Oregon’s North Coast region continues to move forward with new partnerships. Through our WealthWorks Northwest initiative, RDI has worked with Columbia Pacific Economic Development District (Col-Pac) to hire a Small Fisheries Value Chain Coordinator to help increase the wealth and well-being of small commercial fishing boat owners, crews, and fish processors/retailers in Garibaldi and the wider region. Through a competitive application process, Ecotrust, a nonprofit organization committed to social equity, economic opportunity, and environmental well-being, was selected for this role, which included engaging and convening stakeholders and supporting development of the seafood value chain to improve the local seafood economy.

Small scale, family-owned fishing operations are a defining aspect of cultural identity for the town of Garibaldi, Oregon, and the surrounding region. But in recent decades, the seafood industry has changed in ways that have served to systemically constrain small fishing enterprises and the communities they have long supported. For the last few years, RDI, Col-Pac, the Port of Garibaldi, the Economic Development Council of Tillamook County & Tillamook Coast Tourism, and locally owned small- and medium-sized seafood businesses have been working in collaboration with a goal of building a stronger local fishing economy in Garibaldi and the larger North Coast region in a manner that generates deep and lasting community wealth.

The opportunity this initiative presents is unique in that it aims the WealthWorks framework of doing economic development differently directly at change within place-based, small-scale fisheries. A partnership with Ecotrust and their fisheries team, which has experience working with local fishermen and community fishing organizations across the country, is helping establish Garibaldi as a vibrant fishing hub that can serve as a model for Oregon’s North Coast and beyond.

RDI is a partner in the growing national community of practice that is using the WealthWorks framework to achieve measurable 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.

Thanks to The Ford Family Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture for their generous support of our WealthWorks Northwest efforts in Oregon’s North Coast region.