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The SWAMC 2014 Annual Economic Summit will be March 5-7. Once again, held at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage. The agenda will include an entire day focused on energy planning and development, some new enhancements in Alaska education, sustainable fishing practices and other fisheries policy discussions, a new business council, and much, much more. And of course, with 2014 being an election year, there will be some political debating at the Conference Banquet. We are hoping to craft an agenda that will appeal to community and economic development interests alike, so stay tuned for more information!
Click here to see our latest December 2013 newsletter.
You can see our newsletter archive here.
December 2013 - As we've reported before, SWAMC has contracts with the Alaska Energy Authority to develop regional energy plans for each of the three sub-regions in Southwest Alaska: the Aleutians/Pribilofs, Bristol Bay, and Kodiak. Along with our partners and sub-contractors, we're steadily marching towards those goals. Along with AEA and our stable of partners, SWAMC is seeking recommendations for activities and actions to help reduce the long-term cost of power and energy, and improve the current energy systems in the SW region. That is the goal with all of these plans. Find links to the plans and updates on each sub-region after the jump. Read More
November 2013 - Global cod stocks are booming; unfortunately nearly all the increase is coming from the Atlantic Ocean's Barents Sea. The flood of new supply from Russia, Iceland, and Norway (1,197,000 mt vs. 320,000 mt in Alaska) is depressing Alaska prices, and affecting the fall cod season in much of Southwest. John Whiddon, the general manager at Pacific Seafoods in Kodiak, shared his thoughts about global cod stocks earlier this year. "We're (also) seeing a resurgence in the N. Atlantic. So there is cod coming from a wide variety of places around the world, which is creating an oversupply of cod." This oversupply is now having a negative effect on Alaska prices; it is a simple case of supply and demand. High transportation costs from Alaska are also a hit to our competitiveness. Whiddon says, "Right now the cost to get the same cod coming from Russia to China is about half the price of the transportation cost from Kodiak to China." Further compounding the problem is the flood of other whitefish proteins like pollock and tilapia (farmed). Although prices are variable and determined by many individual factors, a general price at Alaska docks for the 2013 fall season is 25 cents per pound - leaving fishermen wondering if it is even possible to run their operations and be able to turn a profit.
In addition to lower prices, biological factors are also a concern... Read More
October 2013 - SWAMC's Board of Directors congregated in Anchorage on October 24-25 to discuss major strategic priorities and issues facing the Southwest region. A good portion of the meeting was spent on energy planning in the region, as SWAMC is working with regional partners to eventually develop energy plans for all three sub-regions. The Board also heard a presentation on a rural/coastal Alaska LNG proposal, discussed the Tustumena ferry situation, got updates on regional fisheries activities, planned some of our 2014 Annual Conference, and outlined an initiative to interact more with our region's business community. Our meeting was capped off by touring Cook Inlet Tribal Council's "Innovation Lab," as well as a visit to the Anchorage Landfill Gas project.
August 2013 - Due to the loss of ferry service the entire summer of 2013 because of maintenance issues with the MV Tustumena, SWAMC sent a letter to Governor Parnell asking for some level of service restored to affected communities by October, as well as construction funds for a replacement vessel. Design funds are being implemented this summer to fund replacement and design studies, but no construction dollars have been identified. This is an issue SWAMC will continue to advocate. See the letter to the Governor here.
SWAMC's 2013 Economic Summit & Annual Membership Meeting took place near the end of February, and by all accounts the meeting was a success! (click here for the agenda) The conference feedback we received has been overwhelmingly positive, with 97% of respondents reporting that content was valuable and every subject matter received strong overall support. A noteworthy finding from attendees' feedback was that the most important or interesting topic was Energy, taking 67% of all votes; followed by New Development Opportunities, Infrastructure and Fisheries. However, on closer analysis, Fisheries may retain the popular vote, after including importance of Interactive Workshops, which focused on fisheries issues.
Attendees reported the most important thing about SWAMC is our ability to speak with a regional voice, and network between stakeholders; these collaborative efforts, and investigation of valuable topics is only made possible with the contribution of engaged SWAMC Members. You can take a look at the membership resolutions passed here.
Membership also elected to the Board of Directors a few new members and re-elected a few familiar faces on Friday. Louise Stutes (Kodiak Island - Municipal), Paul Gronholdt (Aleutians/Pribilofs - Associate), and Joe Sullivan (Associate A - At-large) were all re-elected to their seats. Joining the SWAMC Board for their first term are: Michelle Ravenmoon (Bristol Bay – Municipal), from the village of Pope-Vannoy in the Lake & Peninsula Borough; Dan Clarion (Kodiak Island – Municipal), from the City of Ouzinkie; and Dan O'Hara (Bristol Bay – Municipal), from the Bristol Bay Borough. Rounding out the 2013 Board is Alice Ruby, Layton Lockett, Glen Gardner, Shirley Marquardt and Trevor Brown. Louise Stutes was elected President, Alice Ruby of Dillingham is Vice President, and Layton Lockett was tapped for Treasurer.
December 2012 - 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.