One of Kodiak’s smaller fish processors won a $375,000 grant from the Rasmuson Foundation to expand facilities to double its fish processing capacity.
Kodiak Island Wildsource, established in 2004 and purchased by the Sun’aq Tribe of Kodiak in 2009, will use the grant to add a cold storage unit in a prefabricated building. According to the company, Wildsource has one year to complete the project.
“We are very happy that we got the $375,000 and that’s going to really help Wildsource and also the community of Kodiak for economic development,” said David Kaplan, the company’s tribal transportation and property projects manager.
The grant was a tier 2 grant and very competitive, said Kaplan, who wrote the grant. According to the foundation, tier 2 grants are more than $25,000 for large building projects, or projects that address issues of broad community or statewide significance.
Wildsource is one of the 24 statewide grants and initiatives approved in November.
The foundation approved more than $6 million in grants to Alaska nonprofits, tribal organizations and local governments and $4.6 million to support investments in arts and other initiatives, according to a Rasmuson Foundation news release.
“There is a lot of work ahead of us,” Kaplan said.
Wildsource is deciding where to build the new facility.
In addition to the cold storage unit, where fish are kept after they are smoked or fileted, the company wants to build an ice house, if the funds permit.
“Some of the small fishermen don’t have RSW (refrigerated sea water) to ice their catch. Wildsource can provide that service,” Kaplan said.
Wildsource mainly serves the small boat fleet and gives fishermen a competitive price for delivery of their fish, Kaplan said.
In addition to grants and revenue made from processing fish, mostly custom processing, Wildsource is also funded by money the company received after its building was destroyed in a fire in 2016, Kaplan said.
The company moved from its old location on Marine Way to 419 Shelikof St., and reopened its doors in January.
Although Wildsource can be sustained with fish processing, the company will need more money from grants to complete the renovation of its dock — a $3 million to $4-million project, Kaplan said.
“Docks aren’t easy,” Kaplan said. “We need the funding to complete it, then we need to go through all the government inspections.”
With Wildsource’s expansion, Kaplan said the company will help with Kodiak’s economic development.
According to data from the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, the seafood industry is the second-largest overall job creator in Alaska. The state exports more than 1 million metric tons of seafood every year. In 2016, Alaska processors harvested 5.6 billion pounds of seafood, making $1.7 billion
In 2017, Kodiak hired 2,790 workers, 43% of whom were nonresidents, according to data from the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.