Business Digest

Posted: Thursday, January 18, 2007

Denny DeWitt named to new advocacy job

JUNEAU - The National Federation of Independent Business named Juneau resident Denny DeWitt as its Alaska state director this week. He first worked as a lobbyist for hospital and dental associations in Sacramento, Calif.

He came to Alaska in 1980 and did lobbying work for the state's hospital and nursing home association. He later served the Reagan administration in the HealthCare Financing Administration and consulted on employee benefits for a national firm.

In Alaska, DeWitt worked in the Division of Pioneer Benefits in Gov. Walter Hickel's administration and as a special assistant on health, education and revenue matters for Gov. Frank Murkowski.

Most recently, he was a special assistant to Gov. Sarah Palin during the gubernatorial transition. He also was a staff member in the Alaska Legislature for eight years, including four years as chief of staff to the House Finance Committee.

The federation is a small business advocacy association, with offices in all state capitals and Washington, D.C. It is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization.

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Chamber luncheons move to new location

JUNEAU - Juneau Chamber of Commerce weekly luncheons have changed locations, starting today. Luncheons will now be held in the Hangar Ballroom at Merchants Wharf.

The topic today is the recent release of a McDowell Group report about the economic impact of early childhood education and child care in Juneau.

The luncheons will be held jointly with the Alaska Chamber of Commerce for the duration of the 25th legislative session, said Cathie Roemmich, the chamber's chief executive officer. For more information, visit the chamber's Web site at, call 463-3488, or e-mail To view a summary of the McDowell report, visit

Report: Southeast economy on the rise

JUNEAU - An economic forecast indicates Southeast Alaska will experience moderate job growth in 2007 and 2008, according to the January report of Alaska Economic Trends by economist Neal Gilbertsen.

Economic growth was somewhat erratic from 1999 until 2005, the report said. Both 2005 and 2006 saw growth, indicating that the next two years will be positive as well.

Since 1999, employment in industries such as seafood processing and logging has either stabilized or declined. It has increased in service industries, such as retail trade and health care.

Here are highlights from the forecast:

• The mining industry looks promising if precious metals continue to command high market prices.

• While construction employment in recent years has been robust, the level of activity will slow in coming years in part because of higher interest rates.

• On the fishing front, there should be an increase in cannery employment in 2007 in anticipation of a forecasted large pink salmon run.

• As Southeast's population ages, health services will be adding new jobs at a rate of approximately 50 per year.

• Retail trade is also anticipated to grow, particularly with Home Depot and Wal-Mart set to open in 2007 and Fred Meyer's expansion project to be complete this spring.

• State government employment will likely show slight increases in 2007 and 2008, boosted by high oil prices.

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