SWAMC Newsletter
April 2017
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Promoting Vibrant & Livable Communities in Southwest Alaska

2017 SWAMC Conference Recap

Thanks for everyone who participated in our 2017 Conference! Your feedback is important to us. The responses and comments help guide us as we develop Conference ideas for next year! 

To recap the conference survey feedback:
1. The opportunity to network with Southwest Alaskans, as well as the value of learning and discussing important regional issues, remains the top reason our members attend our conference.
2. Energy, Infrastructure, and Fisheries are the top issues participants want to hear about during the event.
3. We were encouraged to hear that in general this year's conference was better than previous ones in the past.
4. The main comments that were communicated in our survey were:
  • To include longer breaks to provide more networking opportunities for conference participants
  • More time designated to interact with or spotlight sponsors and exhibitors
  • More interactive panels and activities to break up conference presentations
  • Higher participation of young people from our region
New SWAMC Board Members Elected:
During the Annual Membership Meeting, there were three new SWAMC Board members elected: Mayor Frank Kelty (City of Unalaska), Assemblywoman Mary Swain (Bristol Bay Borough), and Mayor Candace Nielsen (City of Cold Bay). We will be highlighting the new Board Members and their communities in the upcoming months.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the Silent Auction this year! We raised $1,370 to help bring young adults from the Southwest Region to next year's conference!

Are you interested in sponsoring a student or young adult  for next year's conference? The SWAMC Conference, including the Energy Workshop, has been approved as a 1 credit course through UAF Bristol Bay Campus. Contact Hope Broecker for details:

It's not too late to submit feedback about the conference!
Submit Here.

SWAMC Member Spotlight

This month's Member Spotlight is:
Alaska Salmon Alliance

The Alaska Salmon Alliance is an organization focused on public education, promoting the value of scientifically-based salmon management to preserve habitats, and creating predictable harvests for all salmon users in the Cook Inlet region.  

A Collaborative Role for SWAMC between Southwest & Southcentral Alaska Coastal Communities

By Arni Thompson, Alaska Fisheries Consulting
I always enjoy the Annual SWAMC Economic Summit and Membership Meeting and I have been attending it for over ten years in one capacity or another involving Alaska’s commercial fishing and seafood industry. SWAMC  represents 57 coastal communities in Southwest Alaska, most of which are heavily dependent on commercial fishing and related waterborne commerce (cargo shipments), air travel, and a growing tourism industry. The annual combined wholesale values of the shore-based and the at-sea processed seafood exceeded $3 billion annually from 2010 to 2014. (Economic Contributions of Southwest Alaska, Northern Economics, available at SWAMC).

As a contractor involved in Bering Sea crab fisheries for over twenty five years, I learned to appreciate the SWAMC voice and the friendly interaction with community  and  business representatives who belong to SWAMC’s Associate Membership program. For the last four years I have represented Southcentral commercial fishing processors and fishermen and I quickly discovered the overlap amongst seafood companies, fishermen, and service and supply companies that operate in both regions. Anchorage is recognized as an inter-regional hub for commercial interaction of the seafood and maritime transportation industries, in addition to oil, gas, construction, and tourism.

The Southcentral commercial fishing and seafood industry generated $1.2 billion in total economic output in Southcentral Alaska in 2013. This figure includes $685 million in first wholesale value of seafood products. Secondary impacts to finance, transportation and logistics, fuel, and equipment added an estimated $501 million. The industry also accounted for 8,130 “full-time equivalent" jobs (FTEs), and over $400 million in labor income in Southcentral Alaska in 2013.  A McDowell study contracted by the Alaska Salmon Alliance in 2015 ( explains the critical role that seafood plays in Cordova, Kenai, Homer, Seward, and Valdez, and provides new information on the significance of the seafood industry to Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley. A McDowell companion report entitled “The Ties That Bind, the Economic Impact of Alaska on the Puget Sound Region” (2015) shows that Puget Sound exports $5.4 billion in goods and products to Alaska. Both the Southwest and Southcentral regions play a major role in the interstate commerce between Alaska and Washington State.
In a very direct keynote address on March 2nd, Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz applauded SWAMC for its work as a regional economic organization. He noted that the only problem with SWAMC is that it is too small, and he encouraged SWAMC to reach out and grow the organization in other regions. The Mayor noted that an inter-regional economic organization is needed more than ever with the anticipated long-term shrinkage of State budget expenditures and the need for coastal communities in Alaska to be adequately represented in the Legislature.

Having traveled extensively to Southcentral and Southwestern fishing ports, I see common ground between the regions. SWAMC could test the water on inter-regional cooperation by reaching out to local Southcentral Chambers of Commerce in the identified seafood and maritime industry ports in an effort to start the conversation.

SWAMC Stories

Board Member Highlight: Candace Nielsen

Hello, my name is Candace Nielsen. In Cold Bay, I play various roles. I absolutely love my community and am so fortunate to be able to raise my daughter here. I am currently taking college courses through the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Distance Education Program to earn a Bachelor’s of Arts in Rural Development with an emphasis on community health and wellness. My favorite activities in Cold Bay include subsistence hunting and fishing with my family, spending time visiting countless family and friends traveling through on their way to our outlying villages, and hosting community events for both our children and adults. Serving my community as Mayor is a privilege and an opportunity that I would not have ever imagined undertaking at the ripe age of 25. I hope that I can inspire other youth to step up and take on roles in their own communities that might seem intimidating or challenging.

I am truly looking forward to my time on the SWAMC Board to expand my experience as well as learn more about successes and challenges within our region. I firmly believe that each community within the Southwest region is remarkable and has a tremendous amount to offer to the state, country, and world. The communities that make up this area are situated on some of the harshest, unusual, and bountiful lands in the world. I feel that our region and the people that reside within it are being overlooked due to decreasing populations and other development roadblocks. All of our towns and villages have unique characteristics, from huge fisheries to extreme remoteness. They are also packed full of potential for growth and development. If we continue to make it a priority to work together, I believe we will be able to create secure, sustainable communities for our future generations.  

Cold Bay Upgrades their Airport

The Department of Transportation is working on a $13 million project to upgrade the Cold Bay Runway. The projects are being done by Knik Construction and Northern Management. The upgrade is focused on the main runway along with the replacement of edge lighting and construction of a new taxiway and apron adjacent to the Main Runway. St. Louis Road and associated utilities will also be relocated. The Crosswind Runway will be reconfigured to enhance safety and allow greater use of the airport property which will address the Runway Visibility Zone (RVZ). This work will include moving the runway edge lights, add 40 feet of additional paving, and new runway markings.
"We will finally be utilizing the terminal building that was built by the Aleutians East Borough a few years ago. It is exciting to know that we are only a few months away from having a much more pleasant facility for all of our passing through travelers from Nelson Lagoon, King Cove, Port Moller, False Pass, Unalaska, and Sand Point," says Cold Bay Mayor Candace Nielsen.

Knik Construction has mobilized to the site and is attempting to get back to work in the current inclement weather conditions. Work is scheduled to be completed by July 31, 2017.  

Promoting Alaska Seafood in New England

Staff joined a contingent of Alaskans at Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation booth at the Seafood Expo North America in Boston this past month, promoting innovative winners of the Alaska Symphony of Seafood, including candied salmon ice cream, seafood chowder, baby food, smoked salmon, and new roe products. Many of Alaska's all-star fish companies were also prominently displaying retail-ready seafood. Alaskans tend to think of ourselves as the center of the seafood world, but after participating in the largest seafood show in America, SWAMC is reminded that we are just a component of a large global market. Alaska companies are very visible in the value-added sphere, selling into the retail markets. This provides an ambitious opportunity for all Alaskans to innovate new products that reach a large consumer market that is excited for new seafood varieties, and to reap the rewards of success.

Following the Seafood Expo, SWAMC drove a quick two hours to the frigid Northeast - average temperatures were colder than Alaska's that week - to assess what two decades of mariculture development looks like. We were encouraged by the focus on quality and the consumer interest they have developed; likewise we were surprised by the quaint scale of operations. Even the largest operators, harvesting millions of pounds of shellfish and thousands of pounds of kelp, worked to contain costs with a focus on profit margin. Alaskans would have to do this differently given our long and expensive supply chains, but our ability to tie into existing commercial infrastructure and vast expanse of productive waters provides insight into how we might compliment the huge demand for environmentally friendly, sustainable mariculture products. In order to focus on our strengths, we may need to realize that while New England capitalizes on high profit margins, Alaska may have to capitalize on efficiency provided by economies of scale and the utilization of existing commercial fisheries infrastructure. The challenge may be in developing consumer demand for shelf-stable products that we are able to move to consumer markets. Opportunity awaits creative Alaskan entrepreneurs!

SWAMC Hosts Energy Workshop

SWAMC held our first Energy Workshop as part of the Department of Energy-funded Energy Providers Network grant two days prior to the SWAMC Conference. This Workshop was put on by Energy Coordinator and Project Manager Laura Vaught with assistance from Information Insights and the project’s three Regional Energy Coordinators. The team started off the Workshop by introducing the new SWAMC energy website: Check it out for everything related to the SWAMC energy project. One of its best features: current funding and technical assistance resources!

Neil McMahon from AEA gave a great presentation about the Alaska Affordable Energy Strategy and the AkAES model, which is a valuable tool that can be used to evaluate community energy projects, compare their ability to reduce energy costs, and estimate the resulting energy savings. Following Neil’s presentation was the Technical Advisor “Mixer”, an event that brought in technical experts and program managers from State, Federal, and private organizations to discuss all things energy-related with attendees and answer any questions about new technologies or current system challenges. We loved hearing feedback from those who attended this session saying it was a great opportunity for reconnecting with colleagues and friends as well as forging new connections with others working on similar energy projects.

In the afternoon, we held the Southwest AK Energy Committee Meeting, which brought together the Aleutian and Bristol Bay region attendees in order to share ideas widely and begin the process of developing a SWAMC region-wide energy network. We enjoyed hearing updates from community representatives about the energy projects they are working on, and were encouraged to see idea sharing and brainstorming in response to common struggles across the region. One of the most exciting developments to come out of the meeting will be launched next month – a private Facebook group to connect energy champions across the region! This will provide a platform to keep the energy discussions from the annual meeting going year-round. To stay in the loop on this development, head to our website to sign up for the energy newsletter.

MAKE Advisory Committee

Industry Leaders meet to discuss SWAMC's new MAKE Program focused on manufacturing in Alaska
The first official meeting of SWAMC's MAKE Advisory Committee (MAC) was held in coordination with the SWAMC Conference in March. The MAC is composed of 10 industry leaders and led by a Chairperson selected by the SWAMC Board, Assemblywoman Rebecca Skinner from Kodiak. The MAC is a statewide body, with the majority representing marine interests which are important to SWAMC and nearly every other Alaska community. The MAC assesses program themes, providing staff direction to identify partnerships and projects that leverage federal funds to improve Alaska's manufacturing competitiveness. All partnerships are approved by the SWAMC Board.

MAKE is an amazing opportunity to directly support value-added activities that create well-paying jobs. With the MAC meeting regularly, the pace of activity will gain steam, and we will be focusing on more projects that will create tangible economic activity. With a list of potential projects queued up for discussion at the May MAC meeting, be on the lookout for exciting news from the MAKE Program. Better yet, if you are conducting manufacturing or value-added processes, tell SWAMC! We may have resources to help you grow your business.

Regional Announcements!

Position Available:
Workforce Development Coordinator

Americorps VISTA

SWAMC is partnering with the Alaska Process Industry Careers Consortium (APICC) to develop a workforce development coordinator position. APICC houses the Maritime Works Program and SWAMC hopes to expand capacity for activities in both the Maritime Works Program and the MAKE Program, which has a strong focus in seafood processing. This is an AmeriCorps VISTA position and remains unfilled at the moment. The year-long position will start on July 30, 2017.

Goal of the Project: This VISTA project will build capacity by assisting APICC’s statewide Workforce Initiatives, with a strong focus in the Maritime Works Program and SWAMC’s Manufacturing Alaska Extension Program (MAKE). The main activities of the VISTA will be two-part: 1. Surveying the needs and gaps for the Alaskan workforce to have the skill sets and training to keep Alaska’s economy diverse and competitive, and 2. Connecting needs with specific resources, activities, and persons involved in the manufacturing and maritime sector. These activities will include outreach, connecting workforce programs to job seekers and youth, organizing community outreach programs, and developing and sustaining vital community partnerships

To share or to apply, check out the site below:

Help Shape Alaska’s Economic Future 
Business owner input wanted for DCCED Economic Development Strategy

The Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development is completing a state-wide economic development strategy. This effort combines the input from community and business leaders around the state to inform the economic direction of Alaska moving forward. The more feedback we get for this process, the more successful it will be. Please take time as a business leader to complete the survey, found at


Export Compliance Training Event
by the Export Council of Alaska

DATE:  April 7, 2017 

TIME:  Doors open at 8:00 am, Program 8:30 am - 5:00 pm
LOCATION:  NANA, NANAtkut Conference Room
909 W. 9th Avenue, Anchorage, AK

WHO SHOULD ATTEND:  Business Owners, Traffic Managers, Plant Managers, ISO Managers, Sales Managers, Purchasing Managers, Shipping/Receiving Personnel, Customer Service Managers, Compliance Officers. Anyone Involved with Exports!
Click here for more info!

Seafood Science Internships
Kodiak Fish Tech Center
2 Positions

Dates: June 1 - September 1

Click here for more information

Contact Beverly Bradley (

Let's get Southwest Students and Young Adults engaged in the conversation in our region!
Are you interested in submitting a candidate or sponsoring a student or young adult for the 2018 SWAMC Conference? Next year's conference has been approved as a 1 credit college course through the UAF Bristol Bay Campus. We would like to see young adults (18-25) representing each of our sub-regions at our SWAMC Conference next year. Let's make it happen!
Sea Grant provides Quality Control Courses to Seafood Processors
Check out the article KMXT wrote about Sea Grant's quality control activities here. Many of the quality control services at the Kodiak Fish Tech Center are funded by federal dollars under the MAKE Program at SWAMC. We are proud of the partnership and excited for things to come in 2017!

Anchorage MakerSpace
Spring Prototyping Series

(Thursdays 6:30PM - 8:30PM)

LAS3: Laser Cutter Workshop - April 6th 
 CAD1: Intro. to Manufacturing CAD Tools - April 20th
CAD2: CAD 101- April 27th 
CNC1: Intro. to CnC Techniques - May 11th 
CNC2: CnC 101 - May 18th

Upcoming Events!

April 1-2: Great Alaska Sportsman Show -Anchorage
April 1-2: Comfish Tradeshow - Kodiak
April 3-11: North Pacific Fishery Management Council - Anchorage
April 7: Export Compliance Conference - Anchorage
April 7: BBNC HE/VE Scholarship Applications Due
April 11: Salmon Policy Forum - Juneau
April 16: Alaska State Legislature Adjourns
April 18-21: Kodiak Area Marine Science Symposium - Kodiak

April 25-26: APICDA Community Outreach Conference
April 26-29: 10th Western Alaska Interdisciplinary Science Conference & Forum - Unalaska
April 27-29: Senior Native Youth Olympics - Anchorage
May 1: Aleutians East Borough School District Scholarship Deadline
May 6: Kodiak King Salmon Shotgun Derby - Kodiak
May 25: Kodiak Crab Festival Begins - Kodiak

SWAMC Board Members & Staff

SWAMC Board Members

Rebecca Skinner - President
Layton Lockett - Vice President 
Myra Olsen - Treasurer
Mayor Glen Gardner, Jr. 
John Whiddon
Cynthia Berns
Mayor Alice Ruby
Paul Gronholdt
Mary Swain
Mayor Frank Kelty
Mayor Candace Nielsen


Doug Griffin - Executive Director
Erik Obrien - MAKE Director
Laura Vaught - Energy Coordinator
Hope Broecker -  MAKE Services Coordinator
Theresa Dayton - Office Administrator

Southwest Region

Bristol Bay

Kodiak Island

Alaska Peninsula

Aleutian Chain

Pribilof Islands

Become a SWAMC Member!
Copyright © 2017 SWAMC, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
3300 Arctic Blvd. Suite 203
Anchorage, AK 99503

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Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference (SWAMC) · 3300 Arctic Blvd. · Suite 203 · Anchorage, AK 99503 · USA

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