Amata Hails $4.4 Million Federal Support for Fishing Workforce and Economy

November 25, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Wednesday, Congresswoman Uifaatali Amata welcomed the announcement by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross that the Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $4.4 million grant to American Samoa to support commercial fishing workforce development and economic diversification efforts. The EDA grant, to be located in a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Opportunity Zone, will create 50 jobs and generate $2 million in private investment.

“Jobs and development is always great news,” said Congresswoman Amata. “Commercial fishing is the backbone of our economy, and fishing has always fed the Samoan people. This creative project is a real credit to the opportunity zone legislation. Thank you to Secretary Ross and Assistant Secretary Gartzke for directing this important investment right where it’s needed most.”

“The Trump Administration is committed to ensuring underserved communities grow through strategic investment and innovative workforce development,” said Secretary of Commerce Ross. “This project will provide American Samoa with a fleet of commercial fishing vessels to be used for worker training and as business incubators. The project’s location in an Opportunity Zone will drive additional investment to the islands.”


Congresswoman Amata and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross
Congresswoman Amata and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross (file photo)


“The Economic Development Administration is pleased to support this locally-developed strategy to diversify one of American Samoa’s core industries,” said Dana Gartzke, Performing the Delegated Duties of the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “This project will position American Samoa to capitalize on the global increase in demand for fresh fish, and the region’s Opportunity Zone designation will further diversify and grow the local economy.”

This EDA investment supports the American Samoa Government of Commerce with purchasing a small fleet of four modern and upgraded traditional-stylized commercial fishing vessels to support the growth of the local fishing fleet in American Samoa and an Opportunity Zone. The project will help with recovery efforts from Cyclone Gita by allowing one vessel to function as a training platform while the other three vessels function as business incubators.  Once completed, the project will provide local entrepreneurs and fishmen with an opportunity to create jobs and small businesses in the fresh fish industry, which will support economic diversification, attract private investment, and advance economic resiliency throughout the region.

Created by President Donald J. Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, these Opportunity Zones are spurring economic development in economically-distressed communities nationwide. In June 2019, EDA added Opportunity Zones as an Investment Priority, which increases the number of catalytic Opportunity Zone-related projects that EDA can fund to fuel greater public investment in these areas. To learn more about the Commerce Department’s work in Opportunity Zones, please visit EDA’s Opportunity Zones webpage. To learn more about the Opportunity Zone program, see the Opportunity Now resources webpage. To learn more about Opportunity Zone best practices, see the recently released White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council Report to President Trump.

This project is funded by the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019 (Pub. L. 116-20), which provided EDA with $600 million in additional Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) Program funds for disaster relief and recovery for areas affected by Hurricanes Florence, Michael, and Lane, Typhoons Yutu and Mangkhut, wildfires, volcanic eruptions, and other major natural disasters occurring in calendar year 2018, and tornadoes and floods occurring in calendar year 2019, under the Robert T. Stafford Act. Please visit EDA’s Disaster Supplemental webpage for more information.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (
The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation's regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.