The Alaska State Chamber of Commerce has a new chief executive, and she plans to hit the ground running with an ambitious agenda to boost businesses across the state. Rachael Petro has just begun her work as its new President and Chief Executive Officer.
“Alaska’s economy is at an important crossroads, and Petro is the perfect leader to ensure that the ‘Voice of Alaska Business’ is heard and that policies are adopted to attract investment and jobs,” Board Chair Kip Knudson stated in a press release.
Petro brings 15 years of public policy advocacy experience to the job. She started in the state legislature and recently served as Deputy Commissioner for the Alaska Department of Administration. She also has a distinguished public service career in Alaska’s Legislature and Executive Branch.
Petro said one of the focuses of her career has been her work toward improving the state’s economy and competitive business climate. Petro started full-on into the job with immediate work on reducing government’s burden on business.
“We want laws that stimulate private sector growth in Alaska,” she said, adding the Chamber has done a good job of this in the past, and she wants to continue on that path.
“I’ll assure Alaska’s businesses are heard in the state capital,” she said.
She said there are three big priorities as part of this mission. One is maintaining concise and predictable permitting in Alaska’s coastal zones.
Another focus is supporting the reform of oil tax policies to encourage new oil production. Petro is also focused on improving and expanding infrastructure.
“This is critical to growing Alaska’s economy,” she said.
Petro is already facing challenges in the Chamber’s mission. CNBC ranked Alaska last in its list of top states for business, a standing that the Chamber challenged during a forum in Anchorage in October.
Petro said the overall business climate must improve, and that entails focusing on the areas that can do so.
“There are a lot of reasons we can’t help some things, and a lot we can, so we’re focusing on what we can,” she said.
She added Alaska has demonstrated overall sound business practices the focused must stay on that course.
“We know that Alaska has many positive aspects, but to attract private investment and jobs to our state we must improve our business environment on many levels. I am excited about working with Alaska businesses and our state’s policy makers to affect such change,” she said in a press release.
Petro will be part of the Chamber’s legislative fly-in to Juneau on Feb. 22 and 23.
• Contact reporter Jonathan Grass at 523-2276 or firstname.lastname@example.org.