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Chair Maegan Bosak, Co-chiars Rorie Watt, Cindi Lagoudakis

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Priority Objectives

Housing Objective: Support development of housing.

Throughout Southeast Alaska there is evidence of concern about the lack of affordability and choice in housing. Lack of housing and the high cost is a deterrent to economic growth in several communities - most notably Skagway, Sitka, Juneau, and Yakutat - which have difficulty finding housing to attract or retain employees. Access to housing touches almost every aspect of a community’s well-being and affects all of its members. Communities with housing choices that meet the full range of their needs - including the needs of low and moderate income citizens - are more liveable, more economically competitive and resilient. Southeast Conference supports the development of new housing stock, targeted housing for an aging population, and an increase in the diversity of housing choices in the region. This includes fair market housing options for homeownership and private market rental, subsidized rentals through rental assistance or vouchers, public housing, and housing for seniors, veterans, the homeless, and other special needs populations.

Food Security Objective: Increase supply, accessibility, and demand of local foods.

Highlight economic importance and opportunities for localizing the Southeast food system. Conduct assessment that illustrates economic opportunity in local production, processing, and distribution of foods, including cultivated (vegetables, fruits) and wild (berries, fish, etc.) foods for household, community and commercial market outlets. Create infrastructure to support local food producers and processors. Build local capacity to harvest wild foods. Increase number and variety of market outlets for local food producers. Identify regional agricultural land and steps to make it available for use. Provide regional and local opportunities for networking, education, and skill development related to local food production, processing, and entrepreneurship.

Communications Objective: Improved access to telemedicine in Southeast Alaska.

Enhance the existing system of physical and mental health telemedicine services by providing broader coverage to include small and rural communities in Southeast. Provide for expanded training opportunities for first responder/EMS staff and volunteers. The system will result in improved first responder/EMS care provided, improved triage, and improved outcomes for patients. There is a need for installation and improvement of internet services to rural communities that meet the standards for telemedicine and distance education.

Marketing Objective: Market Southeast Alaska as a region for product development.

Developing marketing material to market Southeast Alaska as a whole. The goals will be to attract residents to the region as an incredible place to live and work; promote our regionally-manufactured local products (art, seafood, beer, wood, ships, etc.); promote our region as a visitor destination; and promote our culture and history.

Solid Waste Objective: Regional solid waste disposal.

The Southeast Alaska Solid Waste Authority (SEASWA) was developed through the joint efforts of Southeast Conference and Southeast Alaskan legislators. Cooperative solid waste benefits our regional communities. Continue reducing the municipal solid waste stream in Southeast Alaska by enhanced recycling, scrap metal collection, waste reutilization and shared facilities and services. Continue to reach out to more communities in Southeast Alaska. For many years, members of Southeast Conference and others in Southeast Alaska studied the issue of consolidating solid waste disposal, recycling and scrap metal efforts across the region. Economies of scale and regional benefits are achieved by cooperation between communities, consolidation of waste streams, and standardized contractual agreement.

Education Objective: Partner with University of Alaska Southeast and K-12 school districts to build career pathways and meet employer needs for a skilled workforce.

Quality education and workforce training is critical to the development of a strong economy. The business climate survey identified that the insufficient pool of skilled employees with professional and technical degrees and credentials is a top barrier to economic development in the region. This barrier is expected to grow as the region’s population ages. Workforce development and support of career and technical education are included throughout this plan in the fisheries/maritime, mining, seafood, timber, and research sections. The healthcare industry is also growing and needs skilled local-trained employees. Support continued development of K-12 and post-secondary education opportunities and pathways in the region.

Arts Objective: Increase the recognition of Southeast Alaska’s thriving arts economy.

The arts have played a meaningful role in the economy of our region for thousands of years. The totems, canoes, masks, regalia, and architecture of Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian are as much a reflection of our area’s culture, ancestry, and collective histories as they are works of art. It is this rich art heritage that sets Southeast Alaska art and artists apart from other art communities. Altogether artist, arts organization, and audience spending in Southeast Alaska total approximately $60 million annually. In the Southeast Alaska Business Climate Survey, 49% of all business leaders said that arts in the region acts as a a benefit or significant benefits to their businesses. Support efforts by community arts organizations to make Southeast Alaska the Northwest Coast Native Arts Capitol of the world.

Mining Objective: Minerals and mining workforce development.

Promote mineral and other resource development activities that increase regional wealth, are responsibly managed, and account for the greatest long-term benefit to the region. Mining has been a part of the regional economy since the 1860s. In 2015, there were 800 annual average mining jobs in Southeast Alaska. With an average annual wage of $103,000, mining jobs pay the highest wages in the region of any sector. Southeast Conference will help insure that upcoming Initiatives and Designations do not impact or impede regional mining projects.

Research Objective: Attract science and research jobs to Southeast Alaska.

Science and innovation create critical commerce that can contribute to the economic health of our region. Southeast Alaska has a robust array of research facilities relative to its population including the federal research labs (NOAA/NMFS, USFS RD) state labs (UAF SFOS, UAS, ADFG) and nonprofit/private labs. Bring more fisheries science and management jobs to the region. Move the NOAA “Alaska Fisheries Science Center” jobs from Seattle to Alaska. Bring the UAF fisheries jobs to Southeast Alaska.

Cultural Wellness Objective: Support development of activities and infrastructure that promote cultural wellness.

“Cultural opportunities” was recognized as a top benefit for regional business operators in the business climate survey - 54% of business leader respondents said that Southeast’s cultural opportunities are beneficial to their business. Support efforts to construct buildings that will house and promote Southeast Alaska culture and provide opportunities for education, economic development, social services, or cultural gatherings. Support efforts to expand cultural growth and wellness.

Healthcare Objective:  Meet the medical needs of the region.

Southeast Alaska’s healthcare industry is one of our largest sectors. Yet the regional healthcare industry is shrinking in spite of the fact that the health care needs in our region have been growing as our population ages. Healthcare industry officials responding to the business climate survey were among the most pessimistic about the future. Work with medical providers to maintain and expand regional health care workforce and services.