April 28, 2015

Stacked NDC Academy LogoCongratulations to The Makah Tribe on being selected as a semi-finalist in the Job Creation Category for the NDC Academy Awards 2015. The NDC Academy Awards Semi-Finalists represent some of the most innovative and impactful developments changing the lives for residents in underserved communities across the country, NDC is honored to highlight the achievements of these organizations at the NDC Academy 2015.

Makah Commercial Fishing Dock – Neah Bay, WA

The Makah Indian Tribe used a combination of Tribal funds, an EDA grant and a NMTC allocation to reconstruct a badly damaged commercial fishing dock on tribal land in the Port of Neah Bay at the northwest tip of Washington state.  Originally constructed in 1952 for use by commercial fishing vessels to offload their catch, the concrete and creosote dock had been in a state of significant disrepair and a recent failure had essentially shut it down for all activity. The dock is a major source of income for the Makah tribe, a community numbering fewer than 3,000 located on the remote coast of northwest Washington.   It supports a diverse array of tribal and non-tribal businesses and a regional fish processing industry that includes some 90 different Small Businesses, mostly Minority Business Enterprises.   The $13.7M project involved demolishing and removing approximately 504 reosote-treated timber piles along with the 120 foot long dock and warehouse buildings and replacing them with new concrete and steel pilings, new causeway, several loading cranes and a new dock building with remote controlled ice loading capability.  Construction involved a significant amount of in-water work on this remote coastal site which endures extreme winter weather from the Pacific.  Permitting required the coordination of no fewer than six different federal, state and local agencies to ensure the protection of the fragile marine ecosystem during the process.

The benefits to the tribal economy, the 90 small business enterprises and the more than 400 jobs they employ cannot be overstated.  The Tribe is dependent on the operation of this facility as a key revenue generating activity for its tribal economy. Presently, some 8 million pounds of fish and shellfish valued at $6.5-7 million cross the Neah Bay dock annually.  The structurally upgraded dock and new ice house facility will benefit the tribe with reduced operating and maintenance costs and increased environmental sustainability. It will also benefit the small businesses that use it with greatly increased efficiency, access to secure cold storage and improved wholesale facilities for their catch.  In addition, the 90 different small business enterprises collectively provide more than 400 FTE jobs.  The dock replacement project supplies new capacity and cost effectiveness to help the local area and region expand its fishing industry, create new jobs and increase the economic competitiveness of Pacific Northwest fisheries resources.  The primary advantages that the Neah Bay dock has over other ports in the region are its ideal location, its brand-ability and a more varied market demand. With respect to the location, Neah Bay is in close proximity to the Strait of Juan de Fuca which is an area of high activity for a variety of fish runs. The ability for fishing vessels to launch from here and return with their catch rather than driving boats 90 miles or more out of their way means significant fuel savings for the commercial vessels that harvest in this area. In addition, the Neah Bay caught varieties (in particular, troll caught Halibut and others) have developed a brand identify for their location that commands a premium price over fish off-loaded in other areas.