Juneau, Alaska (KINY) Commissioner of Commerce, Community and Economic Development Julie Anderson spoke about taking advantage of Alaska resources during a speech before the Alaska and the Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce at the annual 2019 legislative fly-in luncheon.
Anderson expressed confidence that the state can improve the economy through a program of less regulation and less government spending.
Anderson comes from a large family in Fairbanks. She has experience in both the private and public sectors. She was a Board member of the Alaska Chamber and a Chamber President in Anchorage.
Her speech played well to the crowd of business and industry leaders.
Curtis Thayer, President and CEO of the Alaska Chamber of Commerce, said it is great to see an administration come forward and say the state is open for business.
“In the past we were told we would be taxed and hopefully have a better economy, now we have an administration asking our opinion on how best to move forward together.”
Anderson said she wants to hear input from businesses on how best to improve the state. She urged business leaders to give their ideas and also leads on prospective businesses that might move here. She listed challenges as heavy state spending and growing budget deficits.
She said there are resources in Alaska to provide opportunities for Alaska. “A healthy economy is essential for healthy people and healthy communities.”
Andrews has experience running her own business. She also worked on the Alyesca Pipeline. She said it provided jobs for four generations of her family. She is the first person in her family to earn a college degree. She wants other Alaskans to have that opportunity.
The Governor wants the state to live within their means, reduce spending, eliminate wasteful spending, and grow the economy.
“We must take a long look at our fiscal house and make sure it is in order.”
Encouragement of new investment, reduction of regulatory burdens, no tax increases, and financial stability are key cogs in the Governor’s plans.
“We are less interested in writing reports than we are in getting things done.”
Investment will generate jobs and jobs generate healthy people and communities, she added.
They will use economic opportunity zones to grow the economy. She wants her staff to ask this question when considering all regulations. Is this contributing to a healthy economy?
Finding common sense solutions, modernizing and streamlining the licensing process, and changing the perspective of Alaska, are on her to do list.
“We have to generate wealth.”
“The true enemy to the environment is poverty.”
Each government department will focus on core services when they budget for the year.
She called Alaska a land of boundless opportunity.“Our unparalleled beauty, our fish, our vast storage of natural resources, our native communities, our airports, the entrance into the arctic, and millions of acres of land.”
Rep. Adam Wool said in the past Alaska has been a bust and boom state. He said natural gas could be a big potential asset for the future.
Anderson said she wants to do everything she can to lower the cost of energy in Alaska.
“What is holding us back, our ability to visualize. We need to focus and build a better future for our kids, and our grand kids.”
She said there is real opportunity in the new marijuana industry.
President of the Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce Mike Satre spoke about a stable fiscal situation. He said stability was the key to growth.
Satre said 30-percent of Juneau's 17,000 jobs are in local or state government. He said they have watched the state fiscal woes with trepidation for the past few years.“We are more than a government town. We have timber, fishing, tourism, and much, much more.”
He listed other industries like transportation, retail and breweries, and a growing arts community.
The timber industry could be another target for the Dunleavy administration as they look to grow the economy.
Anderson was told the roadless rule has prevented a lot of economic growth in our region. She said she is getting up to speed on the rule and the access to timber. “The access is abysmal. I didn’t realize it had come to such a stagnant state. I’ll do everything I can to re-energize that industry.”
Oil and gas interests claim the state’s permit process makes the state non-competitive with the rest of the world. Anderson said the leadership of all departments must realize what is causing delays at lower levels. “This department and leadership team is geared for action.”
Chamber members also wanted licensing regulations reviewed and eliminate things that are no longer relevant.
“Make sure consumers are protected but make sure people can do their business," Anderson added.