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  • 2017 ADVOCACY AGENDA


    It is important to note that this agenda does not represent all issues pertinent to the business community rather, the Advocacy Agenda is a “rolling agenda” and serves as a base document that will be monitored for purposes of updating or adding issues important to the Fairbanks business community. 

  • ECONOMIC & COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT ECONOMIC & COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

    Alaska’s Interior will only thrive if the business and economic climate is healthy. The local economy is heavily dependent on a few key industries: healthcare, government, natural resource development and tourism. Diversification is important to the long-term sustainability of the Greater Fairbanks area.

    Points of focus include:

    • Balanced Budget
      • Government leaders need to pass a responsible budget, balancing state revenue against expenses. Alaskans need a comprehensive, long-term sustainable fiscal plan promising state funds to essential programs while looking ahead to strategic investing that will promote long-term economic growth.
    • Support the University of Alaska
      • The Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce urges the Alaska State Legislature and the Governor to maintain strong support for the University of Alaska as they undergo a comprehensive review of programs and services via the UA Strategic Pathways framework. A vibrant university is vital for the education of our citizenry, the development of a highly trained workforce, and the research and development endeavors necessary to address the state’s critical challenges.
    • Business Retention and Expansion
      • Identify opportunities for local businesses to expand operations, create jobs and diversify.
    • Arctic Opportunities
      • Promote economic development, improve health, safety and emergency response in Alaska’s Arctic.
    • Criminal Justice Reform
      • Continue to support the development and implementation of legislation that will result in a more efficient and effective criminal justice system aimed at reducing recidivism through substance abuse treatment programs, prevention, and supervision programs, while continuing to enhance public safety.
    • Community Development and Revitalization
      • Support the demolition plan for the Polaris Building in downtown Fairbanks. Enhance the economy through Explore Fairbanks’ efforts to develop a convention/performing arts center.
    • Arts Engagement
      • Promote the efforts of the arts community that make the greater Fairbanks area a more attractive place to live, work and visit by strengthening the partnership between business and the arts and cultural communities.

    EDUCATION AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT EDUCATION AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

    Access to a well-educated, well-trained and readily available workforce is a challenge and is vital to the success of business.  Evolving needs from the Interior business community, along with insufficient supply of skilled trades employees, are an ongoing challenge.

    Points of focus include:

    • Promote workforce development through career and technical education opportunities and support programs that provide both secondary and post-secondary training in high-growth occupations to effectively bridge the skills gap.
    • Strong schools
      • Promote high-quality public, private and higher education school systems.
    • Research and Development
      • Support research and development endeavors through the university and public/private sectors.
    • Internship opportunities
      • Encourage and support member businesses as they endeavor to provide work and educational training opportunities at the secondary and post-secondary levels to local students in the spirit of both community development and motivational awareness.

    ENERGY, NATURAL RESOURCES, AND ENVIRONMENT ENERGY, NATURAL RESOURCES, AND ENVIRONMENT

    High energy costs are a barrier to economic opportunity in Interior Alaska. Affordable energy will encourage capital and infrastructure improvements and lower costs for residents and businesses. 

    Responsible development and management of Alaska’s natural resources is critical to supporting a growing economy and improved quality of life for Alaskans. Environmental legislation and regulations should not increase the administrative burden resulting in unnecessary rules, regulations or project delays that become cost prohibitive to business and development.

    Points of focus include:

    • Promote home and business energy audits and weatherization programs.
    • Support the community’s efforts to get natural gas to as many Interior Alaska customers as possible, at the lowest cost possible, as soon as possible through the Interior Energy Project.
    • Support development of a North Slope natural gas project that will provide competitive gas for both in-state consumption and export to foreign markets.
    • Support reasonable and prudent efforts to meet the federally imposed PM 2.5 regulations.
    • Support self-sustaining recycling efforts promoting wise stewardship.
    • Support long-term and stable state and federal fiscal, regulatory and tax policies that increase investment leading to more production.
    • Pursue the development and balanced management of Alaska’s natural resources including minerals, energy, agriculture, forestry and wildlife, while protecting Alaska for future generations.
    • State and federal regulatory and permitting laws should support exploration, site development, employment, infrastructure, research and production.
    • Support Legislation Prohibiting Severance Taxes on Metal Mines
      • Support legislation that prohibits specific mineral taxes at the local level, maintaining that authority at the state level and implements revenue sharing of a portion of the Alaska Mining License Tax to municipalities or boroughs that host a metal mine.

    HEALTHCARE HEALTHCARE

    The Chamber supports health care reform that expands affordable access to meaningful coverage and improves quality of health care. The Chamber is focused on promoting education and awareness opportunities that will help businesses address health care costs as well as promoting effective private sector solutions to address these challenges. The Chamber encourages reforms to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that provide relief to employers and employees. The health care system in its current form is unsustainable, absent significant reform. 

    Points of Focus:

    • Support ongoing healthcare and Medicaid reform and implementation in order to lower the cost of healthcare and support a long term solution to sustain the individual marketplace in Alaska, both for the state and business owners
    • Education and Awareness
      • Facilitate educational opportunities to assist small and medium sized businesses address health care costs and premiums.
    • Workers’ Compensation Reform
      • Improve the balance between providing timely, efficient and fair compensation to injured workers at a reasonable costs to employers.
    • Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act
      • Support reforms that provide relief to employers and employees by: reducing premiums, restoring the 40-hour work week, repealing taxes that increase premiums (such as the excise tax, medical device tax, and health insurance tax), and improve flexibility for tax-preferred accounts.

    MILITARY AFFAIRS MILITARY AFFAIRS

    Cooperative and sustainable partnerships between the military and Interior Alaska businesses are vital to support activities that accommodate and promote growth and to maintain the regional economic sustainability associated with Interior military installations including Fort Wainwright Army Post, Eielson Air Force Base, Clear Air Force Station and Fort Greely Missile Defense.

    Points of focus include:

     

    • Support Alaska’s tax exemption program for properties in a military facility zone that create/support development, education and training opportunities related to defense activities.
    • Continue to support efforts to advance military operations on all interior military installations, including: Eielson Air Force Base, Clear Air Force Base, Ft. Wainwright, and Ft. Greely.
    • Support military community-compatible land-use proposals to assist the military’s mission of local military installations.
    • Assist veterans, retirees, transitioning service members and military spouses in finding employment opportunities.
    • Strengthen relationships with military personnel and federal organizations in the area while fostering partnerships with local companies. Promote Military Community Partnership programs with private businesses and the use of local contractors for federal military projects.
    • Collaborate with Interior military installations and contractors to prepare the community for construction of the Long Range Discrimination Radar at Clear AFS; stationing of the next generation fighter jet, the F-35, at Eielson AFB; upgrades to Ft. Greely missile defense and organizational growth at Ft. Wainwright.

    TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE

    The ability to meet the current and growing demands of transportation and infrastructure needs is critical to the long-term economic development and job growth potential for Interior Alaska. Without the ability to effectively and efficiently move goods and services and people throughout the state, businesses cannot compete and succeed.

    Points of focus include:

    • Reinstate funding for the Fairbanks Metropolitan Area Transportation System (FMATS).
    • Support revenue for maintenance, enhancements and  within Alaska’s transportation infrastructure. Support the creation of an Alaska Transportation Infrastructure Funding program.
    • Enhance Fairbanks as the transportation hub for Interior and Northern Alaska.
    • Monitor state and federal budgeting to ensure priority infrastructure projects receive adequate attention.
    • The Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce urges the US congress to secure a viable, long term solution for the Highway Trust Fund’s structural revenue deficit and recurrent insolvency by 2020.