Cities pitch projects at funding summit

Communities want civic centers, cold storage facilities, hydroelectric plants, sewer extensions

Posted: Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Representatives from 17 panhandle cities and villages converged on Juneau Tuesday in search of grants and other funding sources for community infrastructure projects.

The Southeast Alaska Regional Funding Summit, held by the state Department of Community and Economic Development, kicked off its first day of presentations on Tuesday and will continue through Thursday.

Southeast cities large and small will give short presentations to economic development organizations such as the Denali Commission, the Rural Alaska Action Program and the U.S. Economic Development Administration, said Tlingit-Haida Central Council's Don Bremner.

Presenters will make pitches for projects such as civic centers, cold storage facilities, hydroelectric plants, sewer extensions, port facilities and waterfront development schemes.

"Some of the communities have been working on the projects for years," Bremner said. "So now they will be able to present them to an audience of potential funders."

Berney Richert, director of the Alaska office of the U.S. Economic Development Administration, advised those seeking funding to go to agencies with a strong plan that benefits the entire region.

"We are an economic development agency, and as part of that we really expect jobs to be created and we expect private sector investment," he said. "When you come to see the various (economic development) agencies and really make your selections locally as to what kinds of projects you need, you need to go through a process to really make sure it's something that can work."

He said projects that have a regional impact are more likely to get funding and advised that community leaders and developers consider that when picking priority projects.

"We really are expected now to have more bang for the buck, in other words much greater impact on a regional basis," he said.

Bremner said those presenting projects need to have a concrete plan.

"We wanted (the communities) to select their priority projects - something that was already partially funded or partially down the road and in the works - so that by the time they came here ... they would have something concrete in hand to present," Bremner said. "We didn't want folks to just come here with a wish list."

Bremner noted that many of the infrastructure projects are so large they will require multiple funding sources.

The summit, dubbed "Building Our Communities," is sponsored and coordinated by the Tlingit-Haida Central Council and Southeast Conference, an organization dedicated to regional economic development.

In addition to the presentations, the summit will hold training sessions Thursday on writing grants and developing and coordinating infrastructure projects to completion.

• Timothy Inklebarger can be reached at timothyi@juneauempire.com.



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