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Innovation Summit draws southeast industry

JEDC cluster working groups meet in Juneau for second round of collaboration

Posted: February 11, 2013 - 12:01am

The Juneau Economic Development Council is hosting a three-day Innovation Summit in Juneau starting Monday for southeast industries to meet, learn and share ideas.

The summit is part of JEDC’s expansive Southeast Cluster Initiative. The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture-sponsored initiative draws together clusters of businesses in the same region and in like industries such as ocean products, visitor products, renewable energy and mining services and supply among others.

These businesses share similar suppliers and service operators, share regional knowledge on markets and labor.

“They draw productive advantage from their mutual proximity and connections,” according to jedc.org.

“One of our roles at JEDC,” Brian Holst executive director of the Juneau Economic Development Council said in a recent press release, “is to help facilitate the interaction between business leaders, government agencies, educators and the public so that the objectives of industry groups in our region can be met.” This collective effort paves the way for individual businesses to succeed, he said.

JEDC has said that it views Portland, Oregon’s economic development as a model that can translate to Southeast Alaska well. Juneau’s downtown development project has pointed to Portland’s mass transit system as an enviable model. As such the non-profit has invited the Executive Director of the Portland Development Commission Patrick Quinton to discuss his city’s use of regional collaboration and innovation during the introductory keynote.

Also on tap for the three-day event are speakers Dane Smith managing director of FSG and former Washington State Senator Jim Kastama along with presentations from Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell, Anand Vadapalli CEO Alaska Communications, Beth Pendelton Alaska regional forester for the U.S. Forest Service, Chancellor of the University of Alaska Southeast John Pugh, Susan Bell Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Commerce Community and Economic Development, Jim Nordlund Alaska state director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, University of Alaska Fairbanks Vice Chancellor for Research Dan White, Sen. Dennis Egan, Sen. Alan Austerman, Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins and U.S. Senator Mark Begich is schedule to address the summit via videoconference.

Dane Smith is the managing director of the non-profit strategy consulting and research firm. His consultancy helps companies, foundations, non-governmental organizations and governments find solutions to social problems. Smith will speak on FSG’s philosophy of Shared Value.

“Shared Value … has at its core the idea that companies can simultaneously help to solve social problems and increase their competitiveness and profitability,” Smith said in an email interview. “Traditionally companies and their executives have believed that there had to be a trade-off between having social impact and maximizing profit - diminish the size of your environmental footprint, but do so at the cost of tighter profit margins. Shared Value suggests that this tradeoff is not necessary.”

Smith said that the many organizations that attempt to salve the world’s social ills fail because they tackle, in isolation, pieces of the bigger problem.

“That is,” Smith said, “they work very hard by themselves to address problems, but since they can only address distinct elements of these complex problems, rather than the entire problem, they consistently come up short.”

The University of Alaska Southeast mine education program is an example of Shared Value. Local mines, the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the university join forces to deliver the right number of employees trained in the techniques and equipment they will use in the mines and have them on the job when they are needed.

JEDC’s Innovation Summit kicks off at 3:30 p.m. Mon. Feb. 11 at the Centennial Hall and runs through Feb. 13. The event offers full days of speakers, discussion and industry collaboration. Prices range between $25 and $65 per day or $125 for the full event.

For more information visit www.jedc.org

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com.

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