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JEDC holds wide-ranging meeting Wednesday

Economic indicators report due out soon

Posted: August 2, 2012 - 12:05am

The Juneau Economic Development Council’s board of directors talked possible replacements for the Alaskan and Proud grocery store downtown, a draft of its annual report on economic indicators, and a potential international business opportunity at its meeting Wednesday.

Brian Holst, executive director of the JEDC, said a cluster group expressed interest in Whitehorse, Yukon, as a potential area for economic expansion.

“One of the initiatives that we’re developing with the Mining Supply and Services cluster is to look at Whitehorse, Canada, as opportunities,” said Holst. “The idea of the Supply and Services industry folks is to make a trade delegation to explore business opportunities for Juneau-based businesses in Whitehorse.”

Whitehorse is, by some distance, the closest Canadian city to Juneau, as well as a sister city. Like Juneau, its economy rests in sizable part on the pillars of mining, tourism and government.

Holst also brought copies of a draft version of the 2012 Juneau and Southeast Alaska Economic Indicators report to the meeting.

“There’s some data that we haven’t quite gotten yet, and we haven’t written the executive summary completely,” Holst said of the report.

While the draft report was not shared with the public, meeting participants discussed ways the final report could be distributed.

JEDC staff have considered having an electronic version take the place of printed copies of the report, Holst said.

“Printing is a pretty major expense,” Holst said. “I’d love to get some feedback on how important you think printing some copies are. It’s one of those things where you really can’t print just a few copies. You don’t really save money unless you print fairly significant amounts,” such as 500 or more, he added.

Mayor Bruce Botelho, a member of the board, suggested the value of being able to distribute copies of the report might outweigh the cost of making those copies.

“I would be inclined to go to paperless, but it occurs to me that this really is … one visible thing that you can put in the hands of the Chamber (of Commerce) board, for example … as a reminder of one of the services we provide,” said Botelho. He added, “I guess another idea might be to, and this may be an alternative to simply going electronic, but handing out thumb drives.”

“I think that’s a really good idea,” said Kurt Fredriksson, chairman of the board. “Make it as easy as possible.”

Holst said that in his experience, thumb drives for giveaway purposes usually cost $9 to $12 apiece – more than the $6 to $7 he estimated it costs to print each copy of the report.

“This is a pretty important product that we produce,” board member Mark Mickelson replied. “I think the access and the use is worth the cost.”

Holst said he would “price out” the option.

Board members were given 10 days to review and provide feedback on the draft. The final version will be published next month, Holst said.

Immediately after the discussion on the report, board member Greg Fisk reported on the Capital City Market Cooperative’s progress in preparing for Alaskan and Proud’s departure from the downtown business scene.

Fisk, who is a member of the co-op’s steering committee, said the Myers Group, a Clinton, Wash.-based chain that has expressed interest in opening a store in the Foodland Center, “might be a really good fit for us.”

“I think if these guys are it, it’d be a very positive thing,” Fisk said.

The co-op was incorporated earlier this year with the aim of opening a grocery cooperative in the Foodland Center if no one else leases the space. Fisk said it is continuing with its work and preparing to conduct a market study.

“Pending an announcement, we’re going to go ahead,” said Fisk. “We advised people that there’s likely to be an announcement soon, and they said, ‘Yeah, but maybe there won’t be.’ ‘Should we proceed?’ ‘Yes. Go for it.’ So, we’re going to do that, and worst comes to worst, we’ll have a market study.”

• Contact reporter Mark D. Miller at 523-2279 or at mark.d.miller@juneauempire.com.

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