The Azachorok Corporation in Mountain Village is working to set up a coalition of communities in order to get a more powerful economic voice for their region.
When complete, the Kusilvak Economic Development & Advocacy Alliance is expected to provide a bigger economic voice for their region. The Kusilvak region has one of the lowest socioeconomic statuses in Alaska. Loren Peterson of Mountain Village is the president of Azachorok Corporation.
“Our community and for the region has an average [household income] about maybe 30 thousand a year, which is pretty low, and our region, as you know, has a lot of social challenges that we could overcome,” Peterson said. “And we think that if we were to elevate our economic status, some of those social challenges could decrease”
Peterson said some of those social challenges include low graduation rates, high death and suicide rates, high incidents of domestic violence, and drug and alcohol abuse.
There are thirteen communities in the Kusilvak region and Peterson says many of those villages have already pledged to join a region wide summit next year to incorporate the Kusilvak Economic Development & Advocacy Alliance. They are just waiting on the rest of the communities to respond.
Peterson said that funding resources have been found for the summit. The current plan is to set up the organization, train delegates from each community to lobby for funding, and advocate for their tribes through one collective voice.
Peterson said that federal funding should be available in the fiscal year that begins this fall.