December 20, 2023

Kilmer Announces Historic Funding to Spur Economic Growth and Create Jobs in Clallam, Jefferson, and Grays Harbor Counties

Communities Across Washington’s Sixth Congressional District to Receive $1 Million from Rep. Kilmer’s Recompete Pilot Program North Olympic Peninsula Recompete Coalition Selected as National Finalist for Phase 2 Grants to be Announced in 2024

PORT ANGELES, WA – Today, U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) announced $1 million in new federal funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) for two economic development initiatives on the Olympic Peninsula. The funding is being awarded through the Recompete Pilot Program, a new law authored by Rep. Kilmer, which aims to alleviate persistent economic distress and support long-term, comprehensive economic development and job creation.

EDA awarded a $500,000 Strategy Development Grant to the North Olympic Peninsula Recompete Coalition (NOPRC) – and named it a national finalist for an Implementation Grant. The NOPRC, a new coalition of members from both Clallam and Jefferson Counties, as well as area Tribes, is crafting an economic initiative that aims to help the legacy timber and maritime industries evolve, while preparing students for living wages and in-demand jobs in those industries.

The Strategy Development Grant awarded by EDA will facilitate the NOPRC’s initiatives to boost job creation, enhance workforce development, and improve access to support services. Through partnerships with key educational institutions such as Peninsula College and the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding, the coalition aims to provide specialized training opportunities that align with the labor needs of the local maritime and timber businesses. The NOPRC is one of 22 national finalists for a Phase 2 Implementation Grant, which could see the coalition awarded between $20 and $50 million to execute the proposal.

EDA also awarded a $500,000 Strategy Development Grant to the Washington State Coastal Counties Initiative – an initiative being led by Greater Grays Harbor for Grays Harbor and Pacific counties. Focused on reducing the prime age employment gap, the Strategy Development Grant will assist the initiative as it aims to undertake a bottom-up, equitable strategy to create jobs, remove economic barriers, and ensure inclusive growth for historically marginalized communities on Washington state’s Pacific Coast.

The Recompete Pilot Program was established by Rep. Kilmer’s Rebuilding Economies and Creating Opportunities for More People Everywhere to Excel Act (RECOMPETE Act), which is a part of the larger CHIPS and Science Act signed by President Biden in July 2022. The Recompete Pilot Program aims to support local economic development, create quality jobs, invest in workers and businesses, and ensure sustainable success and economic growth nationwide.

“I grew up in Port Angeles and was in high school right around the time the timber industry took it on the chin,” said Rep. Kilmer. “I saw a lot of my friends’ parents lose their jobs. It had a big impact on me. My journey in public service has been dedicated to one core mission: ensuring that we do a better job of safeguarding workers and communities. That means building an economy where no one is left behind. Now, seeing the RECOMPETE Act – an idea I’ve championed for years – come to fruition with this inaugural grant gives some real cause for hope. The Recompete Pilot Program is focused on providing economic opportunities for folks on the Olympic Peninsula, the Pacific Coast, and nationwide. It’s about making sure that everyone, no matter their zip code, has access to these opportunities.”

“This funding is great news for the Olympic Peninsula as they move forward with this process,” said U.S. Senator Patty Murray. “Bringing the Recompete funding home to the peninsula would be a game changer for our communities and this initial award is a big step in the right direction. This is about making sure every part of Washington state can count on good paying jobs and see real economic opportunity. I want to commend Congressman Kilmer especially for leading the way to make this grant program a reality.”

“These awards will help people on the Olympic Peninsula develop innovative new ways to tap into their natural resources and modernize their maritime and timber industries to ultimately increase the number of stable and high-paying jobs in the region,” said U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell. “Today’s announcement also means that the Olympic Peninsula is now one of 22 communities eligible to compete for up to $50 million in federal funding to implement their new economic development plan. Washington is an innovation state, but we didn’t become a powerhouse overnight – we built our workforce and grew our collaborative partnerships over decades. Programs like Recompete will help us continue that growth by tapping into the talent, expertise, and innovation throughout the state.”

The Recompete Pilot Program was adopted into the CHIPS and Science Act, a sweeping investment in American innovation and manufacturing led by Sen. Cantwell.

“The Makah Tribal Council is committed to working with our partners in the region to make lasting investments that benefit our communities through shared values, cooperation, and support of our local business resources,” said Timothy J. Greene, Sr., Chairman of the Makah Tribal Council.

The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe is proud to be a part of the RECOMPETE application process and task force with both Clallam and Jefferson counties,” said Joe Allen, Executive Director of the Jamestown S’Klallam Economic Development Authority. “We firmly believe in the strength of our Task Force’s application and the projects we put forth to better the economic climate of our region. We are excited to hear that our application has reached the level of the top 22 finalists and aspire to reach higher. Jamestown would like to thank Congressman Kilmer, the leadership of both Clallam and Jefferson counties, as well as the entire task force for all of their help, support and guidance through this process. We look forward to further success in the application process and hope to bring the RECOMPETE program home to the Olympic Peninsula.”

“It has been a real team effort bringing together a broad coalition of stakeholders to address the barriers that are keeping people out of good jobs on the North Olympic Peninsula,” said Jefferson County Commissioner Greg Brotherton. “I appreciate the scope and vision of the RECOMPETE Act. It is rare that legislation leads to more interjurisdictional collaboration, but it has been the case here. It has been rewarding to work out a multi-jurisdictional table that looks at the many interlocking systems that make up our regional economy. I look forward to developing a strong proposal with our coalition that can create real economic opportunity for some of our most distressed communities.”

“I’ve been lucky to see firsthand how well different governments and agencies can work together when we are focused on serving our communities,” said Clallam County Commissioner Mike French. “At the center of our proposed Recompete Plan is our local workforce – we want to see sizeable investments in education, workforce development, infrastructure, good jobs, and a support system that makes sure people are able to succeed along the way.  We have a lot of work ahead of us but I’m confident that we’ll make a strong proposal that the North Olympic Peninsula is ready for and deserving of those investments.”

“I’m thrilled that the strong collaboration among local governments, economic development agencies, Tribes, education, social services and business has resulted in this incredible opportunity for our region,” said Karen Affeld, Executive Director of the North Olympic Development Council. “This grant is unique in enabling us to address the barriers that keep people out of the workforce while also creating new, living wage jobs and supporting education and training to prepare people for those jobs.”

“This opportunity has the potential to be transformative for Clallam & Jefferson County economies,” said Colleen McAleer, Executive Director of the Clallam County Economic Development Council. “By reaching adults in our communities that have made the decision not to enter the workforce, this grant would allow us to address their barriers. We are ready to knock down those walls to help them and our economies overall.”

“I’m impressed with the two-county collaboration involving public entities, social services, education, and industry especially considering the tight timeline,” said Cindy Brooks, Executive Director of the Economic Development Council of Jefferson County. “Attending to the grant criteria to change the cycle of persistent poverty in our rural counties demands thinking differently together. We are embracing the challenge and will be better for it.”

“Peninsula College is thrilled to be an integral part of this region-wide collaborative project,” said Suzy Ames, President of Peninsula College. “Together we will support local employers to thrive and bring prosperity to our entire community.”

“Washington’s coastal counties are on the brink of significant economic progress,” said Lynnette Buffington, CEO of Greater Grays Harbor, Inc. ”And the Recompete Strategy Grant equips us to address real-world barriers to employment. This investment is a crucial resource, enabling us to build the skills and capacity of our residents, positioning them and our employers to thrive. We couldn’t be more appreciative of the investment and its ability to impact meaningful change to the residents of Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties.”

“We are excited to collaborate with Greater Grays Harbor, Inc. and our fellow stakeholders in building the workforce of the future,” said Dr. Carli Schiffner, President of Grays Harbor College. “For nearly 100 years, Grays Harbor College has provided workforce training to support our region’s economic needs. Our robust industrial technology programs serve as a solid base for future growth, and this historic funding will play a crucial role in equipping our community with essential skillsets for the years ahead."

In October 2022, Rep. Kilmer wrote to U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo in strong support of the NOPRC’s application and the Washington State Coastal Counties Initiative’s application to Phase 1 of the Recompete Pilot Program.

Rep. Kilmer’s RECOMPETE Act, which established the Recompete Pilot Program, was endorsed by a bipartisan group of more than 50 members of Congress and is endorsed by the Economic Innovation Group, Federal Issues Committee of the Washington State Association of Counties, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, National Association of Counties, National League of Cities, New Democrat Coalition, Progressive Policy Institute, Reimagine Appalachia, Rural Community Assistance Partnership, Rural Organizing, Third Way, and U.S. Conference of Mayors.

About the Recompete Pilot Program:

Phase 1 of the Recompete Pilot Program will invest in persistently distressed communities to create and connect people to good jobs. This program will create renewed economic opportunity in communities that have for too long been forgotten. To do so, the program targets areas where prime-age (25-54 years) employment significantly trails the national average to close this gap through large, flexible investments. As part of the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s place-based economic development approach, the Recompete Pilot Program aims to meet communities where they are by offering grant opportunities that ensure sustainable and equitable economic growth across the U.S.

Recompete Finalists will compete in Phase 2 of the competition, with 4-8 Recompete Plans ultimately receiving implementation funding averaging between $20 and $50 million.

# # #