Aleut Community Receives Grant for Aeronautics Training from Economic Development Administration

The internship and mentorship opportunities provided will immediately prepare residents for existing jobs, while building the capacity for automated commercial aircraft manufacturing in the region.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross today announced the seven grant recipients of the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) STEM Talent Challenge to boost local science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) talent.

The Aleut Community of St. Paul Island Tribal Government this afternoon was named as one of seven nationwide winners of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s STEM Talent Challenge. The Aleut Community of St. Paul Island (ACSPI), which has a population of about 500, will be awarded $258,535 to design and implement training for community members in the emerging aeronautics industry on the island. Internship and mentorship opportunities provided by the grant will prepare residents for existing jobs, while increasing the capacity for drone manufacturing. In 2019, the St. Paul Experimental Test Range – the largest drone test range in the Bering Sea – was established on St. Paul Island. The STEM Talent Challenge was launched by the U.S. Department of Commerce in August of last year to boost local science, technology, engineering, and math talent; it received 80 applications.

In 2018, ACSPI signed a landmark agreement with Sabrewing, Inc. which created a business partnership between the company and the tribal government. This partnership is focused on the development of a new, world-leading class of automated commercial (CLASS V) aircraft, the Rhaegal. The partnership, which includes testing and operation of the aircraft in St. Paul Island, has created an immediate need for STEM field employees in a high-paying, high-demand emerging STEM industry through the establishment of the St. Paul Experimental Test Range (SPxTR) and through the FAA certification process for this aircraft.

This project will train and provide mentoring from industry professionals for students to ensure that members of the community, who are 89 percent Alaska Native and in a severely economically disadvantaged region, can immediately seek and fill the jobs created. As the project progresses, the capacity for manufacturing in the State created from the ACSPI and Sabrewing partnership will create hundreds of additional jobs in the emerging semi-autonomous aeronautic industry.

For more information, visit EDA’s STEM Talent Challenge webpage at

EDA’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE) administers the STEM Talent Challenge, which is authorized under Section 28 of the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Act of 1980.

This challenge builds on the momentum of EDA’s Build to Scale Program, which builds regional economies through scalable startups.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (
The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation’s regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

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Native Business Magazine

Carmen Davis - Founder, Publisher and Executive Editor

Mrs. Davis is the founder, publisher and executive editor of the only Native American wholly owned and operated national tribal business publication, Native Business Magazine, and the producer of the annual and nationally attended Native Business Summit.

Mrs. Davis is also president of Davis Strategy Group has over 23 years of service to Indian Country and as an entrepreneur she has successfully established, operated, managed and grown several businesses in multiple sectors. She is equal parts a strategic visionary and behind-the-scenes implementor, essential in guiding and overseeing every process of brand development, business expansion, nation-to-nation relationship building and more.

She was named in 2009 as one of the first recipients of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development’s, “40 Under 40” award which recognizes up and coming community and business leaders from across Indian Country.