- By Chez Oxendine
- Real Estate
The Yurok Tribe of northern California has been awarded a $6 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to build a new market development in the town of Orick.
The new Shoreline Market development will include a laundromat, a gas station, convenience store and tribal government offices within a 6,000 square foot, two-story building meant to resemble a “traditional Yurok home,” per a statement from the tribe. The development will also feature electric vehicle charging stations.
The facility was designed specifically to welcome visitors to Orick, offering gas and food for passersby on US Highway 101 on their way to nearby state parks or natural attractions, according to Yurok Economic Development Corporation’s Executive Director Raymond Bacon, who called the project “phase one” of its long-term plan to revitalize Orick.
The grant, awarded under the EDA’s Public Works and Economic Development Facilities Program, was matched by $300,000 in local funding and should create roughly 16 jobs. The award was part of a wider, $16.1 million disbursement by the EDA aimed at creating jobs across the state, according to Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo.
“Tribal communities were disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic,” Castillo said in a statement. “The Economic Development Administration is pleased to partner with the Yurok Tribe to further its efforts to maximize use and management of its natural resources.”
The new market development will replace the existing Shoreline Market, which includes the only gas station in Orick. In addition to the new development, the Yurok Tribe has begun restoration projects in the area, including the environmental rehabilitation of Prairie Creek and improving trail access and preservation into the Redwood National and State Parks. Bacon said those projects should alleviate some of the damage done by past logging operations - and bring more jobs back to Orick’s burgeoning community.
The town has been through multiple busts and booms over the years as different industries took root in the area. First, it developed as a gold-mining camp during California’s Gold Rush, then turned into logging, then commercial fishing, and finally tourism after state and national parks were established nearby.
“It’s always been a hidden gem,” Bacon told Tribal Business News. “It’s one of the most picturesque places in the world - so revitalizing is really important for us.”
Construction on the new Shoreline Market building is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2025. Yurok Chairman Joseph L. James estimated the new businesses would create “more than a dozen new jobs” for Orick residents.
Representative Jared Huffman (D-CA) also praised the build out, calling it the beginning of more opportunity in Orick.
“These Economic Development funds for the Yurok Tribe will help provide the small town of Orick on the edge of Redwood National and State Parks a real boost,” Huffman said in a provided statement. “This new facility will be a welcome gateway for travelers, whether they are using conventional vehicles or new electric models. This is a great match for the area and will help tourists orient themselves in Yurok Country and one of the most beautiful parks in the world.”
This is the second EDA grant awarded to the Yurok tribe in as many years. In May 2022, the tribe received a $5 million grant from the EDA’s allocation under the American Rescue Plan to help kickstart Condor Aviation, a data gathering and mapping service under the Yurok Economic Development Corporation.
Bacon said the EDA’s continued support has spurred regional growth for the tribe, resulting in projects like the Shoreline Market development.
“They’re very supportive - we discussed this project with them initially and they encouraged us to apply,” Bacon said. “Through their support and guidance, we’re seeing the benefits of the grant application process, and we can’t give them enough recognition for the opportunities that they’ve given us.”
That’s the idea, said EDA Regional Director Sheba Person-Whitley in a provided statement.
“One of EDA's investment priorities is supporting projects that advance equity across America through investments that directly benefit traditionally underserved populations,” Person-Whitley said via email. “This includes, for instance, planning and implementation grants on Tribal lands.”