EDA: $3.3 Million in CARES Act Recovery Assistance Invested to Support Manufacturing and Job Creation on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation

Today, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $3.3 million CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant to the White Mountain Apache Community Development Corporation, Pinetop, Arizona, to improve the White Mountain Apache Timber Company (WMATCO) sawmill in Whiteriver.

This project will support tribal entrepreneurship, diversify the local economy, and create jobs. The grant will allow WMATCO to acquire new forklifts, a large log mechanical stacker, a small log end stacker, and update electronic controls throughout the sawmill. This effort is expected to create 55 jobs, retain 124 jobs, and generate $30 million in private investment.

“President Biden has prioritized economic growth and opportunity on Tribal lands,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “This EDA investment will provide equipment updates needed to spur high-growth, value-added wood products businesses and good-paying jobs on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation.”

“The Economic Development Administration plays an important role in supporting community-led economic development strategies designed to boost coronavirus recovery and response efforts,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo. “The improvements to be made with this EDA investment will accelerate the growth of wood products business on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation, leading to more employment opportunities for the community.”

“Today’s funding from our bipartisan CARES Act invests in White Mountain Apache’s economic recovery by creating jobs and strengthening operations at the Whiteriver sawmill,” said Senator Kyrsten Sinema.

“Arizona’s rural and tribal communities were hit especially hard during the pandemic, and I’ve been working in the Senate since day one to ensure that they have the resources they need to recover,” said Senator Mark Kelly. “This grant will expand the productivity of wood products businesses and strengthen the White Mountain Apache Tribe’s local economy by getting folks back to work.”

“The forest products industry supports thousands of jobs for hardworking Arizonans and generates millions of dollars for our economy,” said Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01). “I’m thrilled to see much-needed CARES Act funding I worked to secure headed to support this important project, spur economic development, and create new jobs for tribal families.”

This project is funded under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (Public Law 116-136 PDF), which provided EDA with $1.5 billion for economic assistance programs to help communities prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus. EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance, which is being administered under the authority of the bureau’s flexible Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) (PDF) program, provides a wide-range of financial assistance to eligible communities and regions as they respond to and recover from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)
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 invests in communities and supports regional collaboration in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

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