Kyle Murdock, founder of Sea Hag Seafood, a lobster processing facility in St. George, is among five recipients of the 2013 Yoshiyama Young Entrepreneurs award.

The prize, awarded by the Hitachi Foundation, comes with a $40,000 grant and access to the nonprofit philanthropic foundation’s peer advisory network and its investors’ circle.

“I commend Mr. Murdock for bringing much-needed jobs to a community in need, especially since he has done so in a way that promotes sustainability of the fishery,” Gov. Paul LePage said in a statement announcing the award. “I congratulate him for receiving this tremendous recognition and thank him and his employees for the outstanding contributions they make each day to Maine and its economy.”

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King also praised Murdock in a joint statement.

“We are incredibly proud of Kyle and all he has accomplished with his company,” the senators said. “He is a bright young man whose leadership has not only brought him success in business, but has also helped strengthen his local community and the entire seafood products industry in Maine. We could not be happier that he was selected for this prestigious award.”

Last year, Murdock dropped out of Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts to return home to Maine to start a business. The timing was not an accident; his family is filled with lobstermen and he saw first-hand how the industry was shifting. More lobsters were being shipped to Canada for processing, but lobstermen were getting less for their catch. He wanted to do something about it.

In an interview last year with the Portland Press Herald, Murdock said Maine’s lobster industry has relied too much on its neighbor to the north.

“Canada always has a lot of drama. The lobstermen always strike before the season starts,” he said. “The buying stations and fishermen are desperate for a place to sell.”

Murdock purchased the old Great Eastern Mussel Farms property and launched his processing facility last fall. He said he paid $455,000 for the property and spent another $350,000 renovating the long-vacant facility and installing equipment. He assembled financing from private investors, a bank loan and Community Development Block Grant funds, got a grant from Efficiency Maine to install energy-efficient equipment, and got tax credits through the state’s Seed Capital Tax Credit program.

A year later, he has 50 full-time employees and projects annual revenues of nearly $25 million.

“There is no way I would’ve left college and a career if it was just for me,” Murdock told the foundation. “I grew up in a real community – everyone’s in it together.”

For more information about the award and the other recipients, visit the Hitachi Foundation website.

Staff Writer Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

‘erussell@pressherald.com

Twitter: @PPHEricRussell