Report & Projects
SWAMC is engaged in a variety of ongoing and special projects designed to accomplish its mission and provide service to its members and other constituents. Some of SWAMC's notable accomplishments include:
Regional Applications for a Digital Economy (RADE)
Regional Applications for a Digital Economy (RADE) is the product of an effort over the latter half of 2012 to explore new opportunities made available by broadband, while also seeking ways to boost access in underserved markets of SW Alaska. The report is full of findings and recommendations for policy and strategy to promote broadband deployment and application development in Southwest Alaska. The document was grounded in research and analysis, but also drew on the experiences and guidance of a Broadband Focus Group made up of a cross-section of folks working in various sectors of SW Alaska, from education to business to government services. Their perspectives on broadband needs, challenges, and opportunities in Rural Alaska informed much of the project work. The report will be used as a guiding document by SWAMC as we continuously seek ways to broaden broadband access and adoption in the region.
Southwest Alaska Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS)
The CEDS has been endorsed by municipalities, the State of Alaska, and the U.S. Government. It has been acknowledged as a definitive analysis of the region and is frequently cited in community and comprehensive plans, feasibility studies, grant applications and similar reports and documents.
This 2011 booklet contains helpful low-cost suggestions for utilizing energy efficiency and conservation around the home or business. Based on a national project, this version was developed to explore "Alaskan" scenarios and conditions, with solutions to saving money. In addition, there is a comprehensive list of EE programs and funding opportunities available at the state and federal levels. This booklet was an update of the original version, first released in 2009.
This document was completed in 2011 as a product of conversations with residents in the region concerned about food security, health issues, and lack of economic opportunities. While controlled environment agriculture (CEA) is not a new topic worldwide or even in Alaska (Chena Hot Springs uses this growing technology near Fairbanks), the idea of a commercial venture has not been tested very thoroughly for rural Alaskan applications. Canada has a billion dollar industry growing tomatoes using CEA greenhouses, and those products fill the local markets and get exported outside their regions to bring in new dollars. With the right inputs (energy) and circumstances (workforce, political will), could a community in Rural Alaska see some of this same "growth" potential? This project was an attempt to answer some of these questions.
This draft document was completed in 2010 with assistance from the Southwest Alaska Broadband Consortium, a group of users that spanned the education, non-profit, government, and health sectors of the region. With high-speed broadband access becoming a reality across the area, SWAMC wanted to explore the economic and social implications that this infrastructure can have for the residents of Southwest Alaska. The goal of this document was to be a "think piece" and hopefully lead to enhanced planning activities. SWAMC was awarded a USDA Rural Business Opportunities Grant in the Fall of 2011 to build on this project.
Fisheries Labor Data Project
SWAMC continues to seek partners to resolve deficiencies in the collection and reporting of fisheries labor data. These deficiencies hamper the region's ability to fully illustrate the character and challenges of a fisheries-dependent economy. Lack of comprehensive, reliable data has also proven to be a handicap to recovering from fisheries disasters or disruptions.
The Economic Geography of Southwest Alaska
This study defines the regional interdependencies and describes how the regional economy of Southwest Alaska functions in relation to Southcentral and the rest of the State. SWAMC is exploring opportunities to refine and update the research and analysis done on this report, which uses figures from 2002.
Southwest Alaska Quality of Life Index
A comparative assessment of the standard of living in Southwest Alaska using six indicators: health and safety, the situation for children, education, community and economic resources, the environment, and infrastructure.
Steller Sea Lion Mitigation Program
SWAMC administered a $30 million dollar fund to partially compensate communities, businesses and residents for economic losses sustained during the closure of federal fisheries in 2000. Payouts were made within one year with less than one percent administrative cost. (NOTE: There are over 380 pages of Attachments for the Final Report to Congress [at right]. To request specific attachments, please contact SWAMC.)
In addition, SWAMC released a 10 Year Review of the Steller Sea Lion Mitigation Program in 2011. This report was commissioned to identify the effects the funding had on communities and businesses in the region, and to revisit the processes employed in disbursing the benefits.
Southwest Alaska Transportation Plan
SWAMC convened a work group of regional stakeholders to work with the Alaska Department of Transportation and its contractors to provide input and advice on the regional transportation planning process. SWAMC continues to advocate for the full funding and implementation of the plan.
Southwest Alaska Workforce Development Council
The Alaska Workforce Investment Board selected SWAMC as the convener and facilitator of a regional workforce development council to provide advice to the Board and help align workforce and economic development in the region.
Share Your Heritage Workshop
The National Trust for Historic Preservation selected Alaska's Southwest as one of five regions to conduct cultural heritage tourism workshops around the nation. Thirty stakeholders from the region convened to develop a plan to further advance the regionís cultural tourism resources.
Current & Future Projects
The CEDS Action Plan provides a blueprint for SWAMCís annual program of work. New projects and opportunities for collaboration are implemented based on available funding, resources and partners. A few of the projects that are currently underway or that the Staff is exploring include:
- Southwest Alaska Rural Energy Project With the assistance of the AmeriCorps*VISTA Program, SWAMC initiated an assessment of ways to reduce regional energy costs through a fuel consortium, renewable/alternative energy advocacy, and end-user efficiency strategies. The energy project began in November of 2005 and will continue as one of our core services and priorities.
- Trans-Arctic Shipping In late 2011, SWAMC began investigating potential opportunities for the Aleutians to act as a trans-Arctic shipping hub and staging area for cargo and assorted goods to be repackaged and assembled while traversing the Great Circle Route. SWAMC put in a Legislative funding request during the 2012 session to investigate these economic opportunities, port requirements, potential partners, and benefits to the State and region. This is a project we will continue to explore as long as the Arctic creates new opportunities for the Southwest Alaska region.
- Southwest Alaska Broadband Consortium SWAMC is seeking partners to form a Broadband Consortium in order to form a Regional Broadband Strategy. With a range of broadband development projects taking place in and around the region, we hope to identify and take advantage of the economic, social, educational, and health-related activities that are associated with the development.
- Food Production SWAMC is seeking out grant funding to research greenhouse and hydroponic gardening projects beginning in 2010. We hope to have more and more communities producing their own food for local consumption and export. SWAMC is also part of the Alaska Food Policy Council, a group of agencies, NGOs, producers and supply chain providers looking to boost Alaska's food prodcution potential. (See greenhouse study above).
- Aquaculture SWAMC is interested in exploring the benefits (and drawbacks) of appropriate fish farming in targeted areas of the region. This would include aquaculture assessments, identification of key markets, and environmental inventories. A priority of the analysis would be that no aquaculture program competes with existing commercial fisheries that are lucrative to Southwest Alaska communities.
- Youth Workforce Development SWAMC has sought funding through the Alaska Department of Labor's Division of Business Partnerships to develop a program wherein students in Kodiak, Unalaska, and Dillingham will have the opportunity to participate in the Southwest Alaska Vocational Education Development Program (SAVED). As part of SAVED, Career Guides will work with students to inventory career/life skills, identify a long-term career goal, and develop a step-by-step plan within that career cluster. SAVED Career guides will conduct workshops where students will learn job search and employability soft skills. The SAVED program of study culminates with each student going through a mock hiring process for their chosen career cluster during which an employer reviews resumes, conducts interviews, and provides individualized feedback on performance, appearance, and application materials. After the process, employers will have the option to hire program graduates for part-time jobs or internships.
- MET Towers for Student Scientists SWAMC has aranged for two of our communities to receive Meteorological Evaluation Towers to measure and record wind speed data. This data is a key precursor to approval and funding of wind turbine construction in remote Alaska. The unique twist is that two of the towers will be monitored and tracked by high school students under SWAMC's STEM education program. The students will be gaining valuable knowledge of and experience with science and technology while simultaneously helping their communities harness the renewable energy capabilities of wind power.