More than 40 speakers will take a look at the future of the region’s economy at the Southeast Conference’s Mid-Session Summit this week.
The conference, titled “Navigating the Southeast Economy,” is taking place Tuesday and Wednesday at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall in Juneau. Gov. Bill Walker will start the event with an address at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Other speakers include Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott, U.S. Forest Service Associate Deputy Chief Chris French (from Washington, D.C.), Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) President John Binkley and University of Alaska Southeast Chancellor Richard Caulfield.
Key issues on the agenda include Alaska Marine Highway System reform, fisheries closures, mariculture, the Northwest Coast Arts initiative, shipbuilding, renewable energy, mining and more.
Jobs, earnings and population all declined in Southeast Alaska in 2016, according to Rain Coast Data, and Juneau’s population has decreased by nearly 400 people since 2014. From 2014 to 2017, according to the Rain Coast Data/Southeast Conference numbers, Southeast Alaska has lost 720 government jobs, a decrease of 14 percent. Three-quarters of those jobs came out of Juneau, according to the data.
At a presentation to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce in November, Rain Coast Data Director Meilani Schijvens said those job decreases are likely to continue. Facing a bleak picture in the region, Southeast Conference Board President and Haines Mayor Jan Hill said in a release that communities need to work together.
“In our current climate,” Hill said in the release, “we need all hands on deck to keep Southeast on track.”
As of Friday, registration was still open for the conference. Fees range from $150 day passes to $367.50 for nonmembers to attend the whole conference. Registration rates and details are on www.seconference.org.
Southeast Conference was founded in 1958 as an advocate for the AMHS, but has grown since then into a nonprofit corporation that works to advance all aspects of the Southeast Alaska economy.