Susan Bell, a former Haines tourism director who helped launch the Kluane-Chilkat bike ride and recruited regular dockings of large cruise ships, will speak at the Haines Chamber of Commerce banquet Sept. 24.
Bell, who led the tourism department from 1991 to 1994, went on to work as a vice-president at Goldbelt, Inc. and serve as a partner in the consulting firm of McDowell Group. Since Sept. 2009, she has served as commissioner of the state Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development.
Bell, tour operator Arne Olsson, and city councilor Kurt Ramseyer comprised a delegation to Miami in 1993 that secured a commitment from Royal Carribean Cruise Lines to remain in Haines and use an expanded downtown dock that hadn’t yet been built.
Work to expand the dock so it could accommodate large ships was completed in 1995.
Bell said the city was looking for a "signature event" like the Klondike Road Relay when she and bike store owner Thom Ely, along with Canadian supporters, launched the Kluane to Chilkat International Bike Relay.
The first relay was held July 3, 2003, and coincided with an observance of the 50th anniversary of the Haines Highway.
According to her state-posted biography, Bell has "helped many Alaskans enhance their economic status and quality of life through strategic development of diverse projects, including roads and docks, and recreational facilities."
At McDowell, she contributed to numerous analyses of Alaska’s industries and economy.
Bell said this week she was looking forward to speaking here and she was planning to discuss economic development programs in Alaska and the state’s broadband Internet task force.