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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE SEPTEMBER 19, 2018
Contact: Robert Venables, Robert@seconference.org, 907.586.4360    

Ketchikan laid out the red carpet for over 300 members of Southeast Conference participating in the organization’s 60th Annual Meeting, held last week. During the event Southeast Conference announced the 2018 winners for the Southeast Alaska business and community of the year. These awards celebrate outstanding achievements by companies and municipalities making positive economic impacts in the region.

Business of the Year Award: Aspen Hotels


Accepting Southeast Alaska’s Business of the Year Award: Carol Fraser Regional Director of Sales and Marketing at Aspen Hotels of Alaska. Awarded by Jan Hill, Southeast Conference President, and KC Hostetler, Chair of the Southeast Conference Visitor Industry Committee.

The Southeast Alaska Business of the Year for 2018 is Aspen Hotels. Aspen provides top-tier lodging in the region, and their stellar customer service embodies Southeast Alaskan hospitality. Since 2012, Aspen Hotels have added almost 200 rooms to the region, with locations in Juneau, Haines and most recently, Sitka. These accommodations create positive economic benefits in each community as they market themselves to conferences, meetings, and other revenue generating events. Through their investment, Aspen has also contributed to the regional health of the construction industry, with 80-90% of each building projects being locally sourced.

Jan Hill, President of Southeast Conference lauded the Aspen Hotels saying, “Aspen was the winner this year because they seen exceptional growth including additional creation of jobs and have been providing exemplary customer service in the hospitality industry. Aspen Hotels is a shining example of what business in Southeast Alaska should be: active, community minded, and driven for growth. Through their work they support several local pillars in the communities they serve. Aspen Hotels consistently chooses to play an active role in the development and economic sustainability of the region.”

Carol Fraser, accepted the award on behalf of Aspen. Carol is the Regional Director of Sales and Marketing at Aspen Hotels of Alaska. “We are so honored to accept this award from Southeast Conference.  We love being a part of the economy of Southeast Alaska through partnering with school groups, working closely with the Chambers and Visitors Bureaus to increase convention business and promoting our tourism industry to people around the world.  We really appreciate this wonderful recognition.”

Community of the Year Award: Kake Alaska


City of Kake Vice Mayor Paulette Jackson (right), accepted the award on behalf of the community. The award was presented by Jan Hill – Past President of Southeast Conference, and Robert Venables, Executive Director Photo courtesy Southeast Conference

The Southeast Alaska Community of the Year for 2018 is Kake. Robert Venables, Executive Direct of Southeast Conference explained why Kake received the award. “Kake is one of those communities that does so much with what they have. It takes all elements of a community working together to make things happen. Plaques were given to both the Organized Village of Kake (OVK) and the City of Kake to recognize the accomplishments of both local governments in Kake. Many years of hard work paid off in the last year or so with so many incredible things coming together making Kake our 2018 Southeast Alaska Community of the year.” Multiple significant community efforts culminated in the last year, including the following:

  • Cannery: The Organized Village of Kake is working to turn its historic cannery into a tourist destination. The tribal government has already worked to save the buildings in the complex. Now, the community is adding plumbing, electricity, public bathrooms, and a commercial kitchen. It will have performances and vendor space, enabling Kake to earn income from tourism and raise the community’s profile among tour groups.
  • Gunnuk Creek: Energy costs are high in Kake. Gunnuk Creek is a hydroelectric plant for Kake that is ready to be built and has been included in the governors capital budget. Gunnuk Creek will convert a dam built last decade to provide water to Kake into a hydroelectric provider. It will provide more than half of Kake’s electricity once completed.
  • Hatchery: The penstock from Gunnuk Creek will also provide water for the local hatchery. A regional aquaculture association bought Kake’s fish hatchery last year and is planning to have salmon in the building this fall. The new program will supply chum and king salmon to two different areas near the town.
  • New Diesel Power Plant and Tank Farm: The rest of Kake’s electricity will come from its new diesel power plant, which was recently upgraded to be more efficient and completed in October 2017. Next to it stand a new fuel tank farm that was completed in October 2017. The new structure replaces a tank farm that was there for over 100 years. These projects could not have been completed without the great work of IPEC.
  • Ferry Terminal: Kake received new ferry terminal building finished in Spring 2017, including a new ramp. Prior to this there was no terminal building in the community.
  • Boat Harbor and Launch: Kake’s new Boat harbor was also completed in 2018. The original harbor was built more than 40 years ago, but it fell into a state of immediate disrepair, as there was not a breakwater. While Kake eventually received funding for a breakwater, the original damaged floats had never been replaced. The project provided brand new floats and a new boat launch for the community.
  • Additional Projects: Also in the past year or so, Kake received $4 million in funding for sewer and water to replace old infrastructure; roads were completed with blacktop; OVK is in design for a biomass district heating that will use locally sourced biomass that will create jobs and displace imported diesel; Kake received $1,00,000 for picnic area at Seal Point; Kake received state and federal to funds to widen a road; they completed a remodel on their community hall; and in 2019, the community will receive funds to repair the airport.

City of Kake Vice Mayor, Paulette Jackson was on-hand to receive the award. “This was an amazing accomplishment for the City of Kake, the Organized Village of Kake, and Kake Tribal Corporation. Together we have accomplished amazing things. On behalf of our community I accept this award.”

In this honor Southeast Conference also recognizes Southeast Conference Board Member Henrich Kadake, who has been on the Kake City Council for more than 45 years. He served as Mayor for 15 years the community, as well as serving as the President of the Organized Village of Kake, and Kake Tribal’s chairman of the board. While he could not attend the awards ceremony due to a family emergency, upon hearing of the award Henrich said: “This is one of the best thing that has happened to our little community in a long time. It’s a thrill to have one of our villages be recognized in this way. I’m glad that it happened, and I hope this will make us all work a little harder on behalf of our community.”

City of Kake Vice Mayor Paulette Jackson (right), accepted the award on behalf of the community. The award was presented by Jan Hill – Past President of Southeast Conference, and Robert Venables, Executive Director
Photo courtesy Southeast Conference

Accepting Southeast Alaska’s Business of the Year Award: Carol Fraser Regional Director of Sales and Marketing at Aspen Hotels of Alaska. Awarded by Jan Hill, Southeast Conference President, and KC Hostetler, Chair of the Southeast Conference Visitor Industry Committee.

-end-

The mission of Southeast Conference is to undertake and support activities that promote strong economies, healthy communities and a quality environment in Southeast Alaska. Southeast Conference began more than 50 years ago with a group of people supporting the establishment of a regional transportation system in Southeast Alaska.  After that success Southeast Conference stayed together through more than a half-century to focus on transportation issues as well as many other concerns unique to the region. Its membership now includes nearly every community in Southeast Alaska.