Maui Business

Rural Development Program Receives Extention With $4.3M Federal Grant

June 3, 2011, 3:35 PM HST
* Updated June 3, 3:46 PM
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University of Hawai'i at Maui College Photo by Kristin Hashimoto

By Sonia Isotov

Senator Inouye announced today that University of Hawaii Maui College will receive $4,300,000 to continue a 14-year old program that provides job training and educational opportunities to more than 800 residents each year who live in underserved, rural communities throughout the state.

In a joint announcement today, Senator Daniel K. Inouye and Senator Daniel K. Akaka announced the appropriation was made through an earmark requested by Senator Inouye in the FY2010 federal budget and released to the University of Hawaii by the U.S. Department of Labor following a recent procurement action.

“We have been fortunate that Hawaii’s unemployment rate (5.6% through April) is well below the national average but we must continue to target the segments of our population that were hit hardest by the global recession.  Many of our residents who reside in rural communities do not have access or are unable to enroll in our education system or seek out vocational training.  We must provide these residents with the skills and training needed to enter the workforce so they can succeed and provide for their families,” said Senator Inouye.

The Rural Development program offers training in a variety of disciplines including healthcare, culinary arts, food service, veterinary technicians, automotive repair and others.

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“Employee training and education play a critical role in getting Americans back to work,” said Senator Akaka.  “For those in Hawaii’s rural neighbor island communities, accessing educational resources can sometimes be difficult.  This funding will help these motivated workers develop the skills necessary to find a new job or start a new career.”

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The project has been an ongoing effort funded by the federal government since 1997, when the Labor Health and Human Services committee recognized that limited access to job training and educational resources in rural areas contributed to high rates of poverty, unemployment, school dropouts, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, and mental illness.

At that time, Senator Inouye and Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska initiated a program for rural workforce development in Hawaii and Alaska.

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