FAIRBANKS - The board of the Alaska Federation of Natives is voting this week on whether to move its convention to Fairbanks in 2005.
A subcommittee of the 37-member board recommended the organization move the state's largest convention from Anchorage.
"Fairbanks is ready," said Trefon Angason, AFN co-chairman and president of Bristol Bay Native Corp. "They have the ability. They have the infrastructure."
Angason told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner that the board's decision should be made in the next few days.
"I feel very comfortable in holding the convention in Fairbanks in 2005," Angason said.
The 2004 AFN convention will be in Anchorage in October. The board, under a 2003 resolution, asked its convention subcommittee, which Angason also chairs, to find out if there were other suitable locations for the convention and the AFN Youth and Elders Conference.
In the last several months, Fairbanks, Anchorage and Juneau have offered bid packages and made presentations to AFN's board. The committee also considered Seattle.
Angason said the organization is looking for other convention venues to bring AFN closer to the people it represents. AFN's convention mostly has been in Anchorage, but in 1988 it was in Fairbanks.
AFN was formed in 1966 and is a cultural and political advocate for the state's approximately 110,000 Alaska Natives.
"AFN needs to be more transparent to communities that don't have it available at their doorsteps," Angason said.
Last year, the AFN convention brought to Anchorage an estimated 4,500 delegates and visitors who had an estimated $4.1 million economic impact.
If 3,500 attendees come to Fairbanks, they could have a potential economic impact of $4.8 million to $5.2 million, according to Fairbanks North Star Borough economic development coordinator Kathryn Dodge.
AFN's board asked that Fairbanks and other bidders come up with a show of financial support. Deb Hickok, FCVB executive director, said that local and statewide businesses have donated $209,000 of in-kind support, including free and reduced airfares, free bus service and reduced hotel rates.
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