Fairbanks, Anchorage pitch AFN for 2006 convention

Posted: Thursday, May 19, 2005

FAIRBANKS - Fairbanks and Anchorage officials are dueling to attract the Alaska Federation of Natives annual convention to their cities in 2006.

At stake is the financial boon of the state's largest gathering, with an estimated $5 million impact.

AFN's board of directors likely will not pick a suitor until the convention in October. AFN will meet in Fairbanks for the first time in 17 years.

"The board was impressed with both pitches," said Tim Towarak, AFN board co-chairman and president of Bering Straits Regional Corp. "Both sides are offering good points to drawing the convention."

AFN's board wants to see how well-attended the Fairbanks convention will be, Towarak said.

When Fairbanks won the bid last year to host AFN's meeting this October, it caught Anchorage representatives by surprise. Detractors said the city was too small and not as centrally located as Anchorage. They also said it lacked shopping opportunities.

During their pitch last week to AFN's board, Fairbanks representatives asked the board to look at what they have accomplished.

The Golden Heart Greeter program was inspired by AFN's anticipated presence, said Deb Hickok, Fairbanks Convention & Visitor Bureau's president and chief executive officer. The program will consist of volunteer greeters who will help delegates navigate Fairbanks, she said. It will be a permanent program after the convention.

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