NSEDC comes to aid of Nome health center

Board members of the Norton Sound Economic Development Corp. have approved a $2 million donation for construction of Norton Sound Health Corp.’s Wellness and Training Center in Nome, noting that the facility will benefit every community within its region.

“Not only will it bring the region a desperately needed substance abuse treatment center, it will also house the corporation’s health aide training center, it will also house the corporation’s Health Aide Training Center,” said NSEDC board chair Dan Harrelson.

“We all know that well-trained health aides in our communities are essential to the well-being of our residents,” he said. “With support from each of our member communities, the NSEDC board is proud to support the construction of this much-needed facility.”

The decision came at the NSEDC’s meeting in late November, where the board also approved an additional $2.5 million in grants and funding to be shared by NSEDC’s 15 member communities.

NSHC had requested the financial help from the community development quota entity, whose budget comes from participation in Bering Sea fisheries. NSEDC officials said the request was funded although it falls outside of the CDQ’s established funding programs because of the acute need for these services.

Healthy commercial crab, salmon and halibut fisheries in which NSEDC participates resulted in a record $6.05 million payout in 2017 to 172 harvesters who delivered to its subsidiary Norton Sound Seafood Products. Another $2.5 million was paid to 258 seasonal NSSP employees working in processing plants, at buying stations and on fishing tenders.

NSSP manager William “Middy” Johnson said that to allow for maximum capacity during the fishing season that processors worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week for 10 weeks straight.

“The processors stepped up and met the demand, allowing for a record setting harvest this season” he said.

Since 1999, some 8,700 people in 15 member communities have shared in nearly $26 million in allocations, with each community receiving, more than $1.7 million over the years to use toward programs and/or priority purchases. With approval of the 2017 community benefit share, the program will have allocated a total of $28.2 million to the Norton Sound region over its history.