Ketchikan will be all about Southeast relationship building and the regional economy in the upcoming week.
The Southeast Conference will be meeting here Tuesday through Thursday.
The conference is an organization formed in 1958 to advance the region’s economy. At the time, the founders wanted to establish a Southeast transportation system. That system became the Alaska Marine Highway System.
More than 30 Southeast communities participate in the organization, with representatives of many attending the annual fall meeting.
The conference primarily focuses on economic issues related to fisheries, mining, timber, tourism, mariculture, energy, transportation, and health care — the drivers of the region’s economy.
The conference is scheduled to kick off with a Rain Coast Data presentation of the economic numbers for Southeast, typically it shows trends.
It will be followed by a panel discussing natural resources and the future of mining, timber, and oil and gas in Alaska.
Transportation and the visitor industry panels will be on the opening day.
Finances, broadband initiatives, mariculture, fisheries, energy and health care, along with housing challenges, workforce development, and a University of Alaska update are featured on the second day’s schedule.
Agriculture and financing community projects will be featured on the final day.
The conference is meeting during a statewide election year. Of course, the U.S. Senate, U.S. House, gubernatorial and legislative candidates will be expressing their views in separate forums.
Senate candidates have been invited for a Tuesday lunchtime forum, local legislative candidates for a 3:30 p.m. Tuesday forum, gubernatorial candidates for a lunchtime Wednesday discussion, and House candidates follow the conference’s membership meeting on Thursday at 9:30 a.m.
During the membership meeting, Ketchikan Interim City Manager Lacey Simpson will become president of Southeast Conference for the next year.
The conference’s annual meeting is typically informative and productive toward solving challenges and growing the region.
And Ketchikan benefits as its host this year.