Garrett Evridge has been named director of Research at Alaska Ocean Cluster, a group focused on enhancing Alaska’s maritime industry, the group announced Wednesday.

Evridge has worked as an economist with the McDowell Group, now known as McKinley Research, since 2013, focusing on the economics of Alaska’s seafood sector.

McKinley Research is owned by McKinley Capital Management, which recently teamed with Rodger May, the former owner of Washington State salmon farms now owned by Cooke Aquaculture, to purchase Maruha Nichiro-owned Peter Pan Seafoods, one of Alaska's oldest salmon processing companies.

Evridge holds a master’s degree in Natural Resource and Applied Economics from the University of Fairbanks and commercially fished from 2003 through 2008.

“I am excited to work for an organization dedicated to realizing our state’s full potential. Alaska’s economic, social, and political challenges have been further amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is an opportunity to define the future of our state, and I look forward to doing my part,” he said.

The Alaska Ocean Cluster also hired Taylor Drew Holshouser as its director of Business Development. He has worked for the federal government and the Wilson Center’s Polar Institute, where he remains a Research Fellow covering the socioeconomic implications of a warming Arctic and supports the Institute’s Arctic Infrastructure Inventory. Holshouser studied the history of Arctic exploration and economic development at Yale University, completing a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities in 2018

The Alaska Ocean Custer, a program of the Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association (BSFA), is modeled after similar groups in Iceland, Ireland, Norway, and Canada, The cluster concept involves a coalition of private, public, and academic stakeholders forming around a base industry and, in the process, supporting both the industry and each other through economic transactions and shared assets.

In October 2020, the Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association received a $600,000 (€492,000) grant from the US Economic Development Administration’s Build to Scale – Industry Challenge in partnership with the US Department of Energy. Grant partners include the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Arctic Domain Awareness Center at the University of Alaska Anchorage, Moonbeam Exchange, AKWA-DC, and the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region. Together with an additional $600,000 in match funding, the grant will infuse $1.2 million (€980,000) into Alaska’s ocean economy.

This funding allows development of the Blue Pipeline Venture Studio, a maritime-focused program dedicated to connecting entrepreneurs and early-stage companies with the technology, human capital, and financial resources needed to develop and scale Alaska’s ocean industries. By working with in-state entrepreneurs, as well as outside companies, the studio will build a platform capable of delivering jobs, investment, and opportunities across Alaska.