Bell: Data critical for local decisions
It’s important for local business leaders to consider the foundation of the local economy, including energy, transportation and recreation infrastructure, Susan Bell, commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development, said at the Haines Chamber of Commerce banquet Saturday.
Bell, who served as tourism director here from 1991-94, spoke to a full house at the annual event at the Elks Lodge.
Bell said that while working as a partner at Juneau’s McDowell Group consultanting firm, she learned about resources available to communities for making local government decisions.
"There’s a lot of information out there. You need to know how to get it, how to process it, and how to use it in your marketing."
Department programs that might be helpful to residents include the Alaska Visitors Statistics Program, financing programs for commercial fishermen, small business "micro-loans" up to $35,000, and the state’s Rural Development Initiative Fund.
In Southeast, the state is funding feasibility studies on potential hydroelectric sources.
Bell said Alaska ranks near the bottom of a list of states for business climate and that she joined Gov. Sean Parnell’s administration in July 2010 because Parnell wanted to make economic development a "pillar" of his administration. Bell oversees six agencies and 500 employees.
A top priority for Parnell is boosting oil volume through the trans-Alaska pipeline by lowering taxes on the oil industry and working with the federal government to open new areas to drilling. There are currently 600,000 gallons pumped through the pipeline daily and Parnell wants that to be 1 million barrels in 10 years, she said.