Assembly leaders hope new jobs plan will bolster Anchorage economy

A yellow flag
The Anchorage flag flying at the Loussac Library in Anchorage. (Victoria Petersen/Alaska Public Media)

Anchorage Assembly officials are rolling out a new jobs plan for the state’s largest city. 

At a news conference Thursday, Anchorage Assembly member Forrest Dunbar said the plan, titled A New Day for Anchorage, focuses on four key areas. 

“Build our workforce and assist local businesses, support our families, invest in our infrastructure and make government work for you,” Dunbar said.

Parts of the plan highlighted by Dunbar and other Assembly members include investments to housing, tourism, and childcare and pre-K programs. Assembly leaders say they’re encouraged by a recent forecast from the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation that predicts continued job growth and a potential record tourism season this year. 

Part of the Assembly’s proposed jobs plan has already started.

The mayor’s office and the Assembly have been advocating for funds to modernize the city’s aging Port of Alaska. The Assembly also passed a bond package that will be put to voters in April. While Mayor Dave Bronson vetoed some of the bonds package, and the Assembly had to override him, Dunbar says the Assembly plans on working with his office on implementing the jobs plan. 

“We hope that he will join us in supporting the bonds because they provide critical infrastructure and jobs for our community,” Dunbar said.   

Dunbar said some of the changes, like removing some planning and permitting fees, will come at no cost. The Assembly anticipates getting roughly $50 million in federal funding, which would help pay for the proposals. 

West Anchorage Assembly member Austin Quinn-Davidson said over the next few weeks, the Assembly will meet with industries that had received federal funding over the course of the pandemic to see how the funding helped them. 

“Organizations that literally would’ve fallen apart had we not invested in our community and invested in those organizations,” Quinn-Davidson said.

They range from tourism company Visit Anchorage and the Food Bank to the University of Alaska Anchorage and Alaska Native Heritage Center.  

The jobs plan was put together by Assembly members Dunbar and Quinn-Davidson as well as Assembly chair Suzanne LaFrance. The plan’s architects say they will bring it before the full Assembly next week to get more input. 

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