ILWACO - Fishing communities along the Washington and Oregon coast will have expanded access to an innovative fisheries effort thanks to a $691,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Mich.
Shorebank Enterprise Pacific of Ilwaco has teamed up with the Oregon State University Seafood Research Laboratory of Astoria, the Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station in Newport, and the Duncan Law Seafood Consumer Center in Astoria to expand their efforts at linking university-level research with local economic development opportunities.
The project is entitled "Bridging the Divide-Collaborative Integration of Research and Community Development" and will run for four years. The project was initially funded through a grant to Oregon State University from the USDA Fund for Rural America in the fall of 2001. These new funds will enable the project partners to expand their efforts.
The goal of the project is to work with the fishing community to establish a value-added distribution system which incorporates on-going, innovative research in new technologies and product diversification. The project is designed to maximize the economic impact of existing and future value-added product research on rural coastal communities in Oregon and Washington. Researchers will be primarily looking at product development with albacore tuna and oysters.
Dr. Michael Morrissey, director of the OSU Seafood Laboratory, said that that these types of grants are very competitive "There were approximately 150 applicants nationwide and less than ten were selected for funding.
"What appealed to the Kellogg Foundation was the joining of the research lab with a development institution," he said. "This is not traditionally done in university circles, but makes a lot of sense for value-added product research." Morrissey said this partnership will speed-up the process of getting research knowledge and product development information out of the laboratory and into the private sector where it will create living wage jobs and maximize local economic impact.
Dr. Gil Sylvia, superintendent of the Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station, echoed Dr. Morrissey"s comments, and added, "Given the current changes occurring in our Pacific fisheries, focusing effort on product and market diversification will become increasingly important to our locally based businesses."
"We are very excited about the grant," said Diane Moody, program director for Shorebank Enterprise, "as it helps us weave together the research and development work of OSU with the fishing industry and with our services and resources. This is a collaborative approach to economic development in a specific sector that is designed to create long-term partnerships focused on innovation. I don't know of another program like it in the U.S."
John Berdes, president of Shorebank Enterprise Pacific, said "The Kellogg grant includes some money for direct investment in promising new products and for reaching new markets. This early stage capital is the hardest to find for innovative entrepreneurs and we hope to leverage it many times over."