The Haines Borough Assembly’s Commerce Committee will meet 6 p.m. on Monday, March 6 to consider a request for $95,000 from a newly formed Haines Economic Development Corporation.

Creation of the private nonprofit was spearheaded by Haines Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Debra Schnabel, a former assembly member.

In a recent interview, Schnabel said she saw the purpose of the corporation as reaching out and developing new business opportunities in the borough, with the Chamber serving existing businesses.

Local bank manager Kyle Gray, corporation president, explained the purpose further at the Feb. 14 assembly meeting.

The corporation has a goal of “realizing economic development through research, community engagement and strategic planning.” Gray said the group would “ease the burden of the borough’s efforts to develop the economy.”

The borough currently budgets about $150,000 per year on economic development, money that comes from a 1 percent sales tax that also supports tourism promotion.

The borough has intermittently employed economic development directors since the 1 percent tax for tourism was expanded in 2004 to include economic development. Money from the economic development fund in recent years also has been spent on items including the harbor’s new boat ramp and fuel dock improvements.

Gray said the corporation was conceived with the intent of receiving its primary funding from the borough. The group’s goals will be developed on the basis of the borough’s comprehensive plan and corporation staff would answer to its board of directors and to the borough.

Gray said the group would “achieve measurable economic development outcomes” through business recruitment, retention and expansion, incentive funding, workforce inventory and training, research and publication of economic data, development and reuse of real estate, and area improvement and redevelopment.

The corporation would meet its goals by looking at other economic development corporations, identifying gaps in the existing economy, attracting location-neutral workers, attracting workers from area mines as residents, adding value to fisheries, advancing the borough’s downtown revitalization plan, seeking opportunities in cargo transshipment, and pushing for sustained yield timber harvest from the Haines State Forest.

The corporation would have a close working relationship with the Chamber, but would have a different federal tax classification, meaning that it would focus on the technical but not the political aspects of economic development, Gray said.

The $95,000 from the borough would be used for staffing and planning, he said. “We want to make an attractive offer to a highly talented individual,” Gray said.

Skagway, Wrangell, Petersburg and Sitka have development corporations funded by municipalities, Gray said.

“This private-public model has been shown to work extremely well and we believe it will work very well in Haines,” Gray said.

He said the group is aware of the current budget climate and said, “We’re also very confident we can show a very good return on your investment in the first year.”

Tour operator Sean Gaffney, a member of the corporation board, said the group could prove its worth quickly by providing grant-writing.

Doug Olerud is vice-president of the group. Heather Shade is secretary and Jessica Edwards is treasurer.