Southeast Alaska 2020 Economic Plan Released
May 31, 2016
The Economic Plan is the result of a year-long collaborative process in which Southeast Conference reported they engaged more than 400 regional leaders from small businesses, municipalities, state government, university, Alaska Native organizations, and nonprofits.
The membership of Southeast Conference came up with 47 regionally based economic initiatives that will bring jobs and commerce to Southeast Alaska. Eight initiatives with the most momentum and local champions were prioritized as part of this process - including Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) support, energy promotion, maritime workforce creation, seafood product development, mariculture, visitor industry marketing, and securing an adequate timber supply.
These priority objectives will dictate the organizational focus of Southeast Conference itself moving forward, but Southeast Conference president Garry White stresses that the economic plan is for all Southeast Alaska organizations to use: “This is a really useful tool. If you have a housing project, a harbor improvement, or are building a tribal enterprise business, you can use the regional economic plan as a supporting document to show how your project fits into the greater Southeast Alaska economic planning process. Especially if you are going after federal funding, this document will help you secure funding for your projects.”
The plan, developed by Rain Coast Data on behalf of Southeast Conference, is much more than a list of economic initiatives. It includes an in-depth analysis of the region’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats – for the region as a whole, as well as for specific economic sectors.
The plan contains the results of an economic resiliency mapping exercise to understand how the Southeast region is responding to the looming state fiscal crisis. It presents the results of the regional business climate survey. It contains an economic summary of the region. Finally, it includes a blueprint of who will enact the elements of the plan, along with steps, timelines, costs, and evaluation measures.
Southeast Conference executive director Shelly Wright explains that the document and its process might be more familiar under another name. “This economic plan is a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy – a CEDS developed using Economic Development Administration requirements, but for this planning process we didn’t want to just call it by its generic title, it’s Southeast Alaska’s plan after all. The state of our State requires all of us to search for economic opportunities in our region and this tool can be used for that.”
Southeast Conference president Garry White notes that the intention of this plan is not to have it sit on a shelf. “This is a living document, as we make economic progress in the region we can reprioritize and make changes and improvements to this plan. We had great participation in putting it together, and our focus will now turn to implementation. We will continue to work with our members to review and revise to make sure we are capturing the activities and looking forward for other opportunities to grow our economy.”
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