Friday, May 17, 2013

Commerce Department: $3.4M "Disaster Recovery" Grant to School for Chefs

    The Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration announced on Monday the awarding of $7.8 million in grants to "Support Disaster Recovery" in several states and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank said the money was for:
...economic recovery in Connecticut, Illinois, Missouri, New York, and the U.S. Virgin Islands following natural disasters in 2011.
“The Obama administration is committed to helping communities impacted by natural disasters rebound and rebuild stronger than ever,” said Acting Secretary Blank. “The EDA grants announced today will strengthen local capacities in Connecticut, Illinois, Missouri, New York, and the U.S. Virgin Islands by rebuilding their infrastructure, supporting local industry, creating jobs, and enhancing their ability to respond to future disasters.”
    Some of the projects included the rehabilitation of a pumping station in Stamford, CT; a new wastewater treatment plant in Savannah, IL; and a $2 million revolving loan fund for small to medium enterprises in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  However, more than one-third of the money is being directed to a school for chefs in Hyde Park, NY.  The press release explains:
In New York, a $3.4 million EDA grant to the Culinary Institute of America in  Hyde Park, New York, will support the Hudson Valley Food and Beverage Alliance, which will operate a new training facility for agribusinesses located in the Hudson Valley. The region’s agriculture-based economy suffered severe damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in 2011. According to grantee estimates, the new facility will generate up to $5.1 million in new revenue in the Hudson Valley and will support 32 full-time jobs.
    The grant is reminiscent of the projects funded by the 2009 stimulus bill from the president's first term, but the Commerce Department notes that funds are "part of a $200 million appropriation made by Congress to EDA to help communities that received a major disaster designation in fiscal year 2011 with long-term economic recovery and infrastructure support."  The press release did not indicate if the $5.1 million in revenue is an annual estimate, nor did it indicate how long those 32 full-time jobs would be supported.  However, for the northeast region of the country still reeling from monster storm Sandy's hit in October 2012, a $3.4 million grant to a culinary school (tuition is about $27,000/year) might seem better directed towards more concrete infrastructure restoration.

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