Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 124

02/08/2005 08:00 AM COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIRS


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07:56:26 AM Start
08:04:32 AM Overview: Municipal Entitlements
08:27:52 AM HB119
08:53:29 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Overview of Municipal Entitlements TELECONFERENCED
*+ HB 119 AK REGIONAL ECONOMIC ASSISTANCE PROGRAM TELECONFERENCED
Moved Out of Committee
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
HB 119-AK REGIONAL ECONOMIC ASSISTANCE PROGRAM                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR OLSON  announced that the  next order of  business would                                                               
be HOUSE BILL NO. 119, "An  Act extending the termination date of                                                               
the Alaska  regional economic  assistance program;  and providing                                                               
for an effective date."                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:27:52 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KACI  SCHROEDER, Staff  to  Representative  Thomas, Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature;  House  Community   and  Regional  Affairs  Standing                                                               
Committee,  paraphrased   from  the  following   written  sponsor                                                               
statement [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     The    Alaska   Regional    Development   Organizations                                                                    
     (ARDOR's)   were  created   in  1988   by  the   Alaska                                                                    
     Legislature.   ARDOR's  are   non-profit  organizations                                                                    
     comprised  of  local  volunteers  working  together  to                                                                    
     promote  economic development  in their  regions.   The                                                                    
     advantages  of having  a program  like this  working on                                                                    
     the regional  level are  that the  ARDOR's are  able to                                                                    
     coordinate with  other economic  development activities                                                                    
     and collect and  distribute economic information within                                                                    
     their  regions.    In  addition,  ARDOR's  serve  as  a                                                                    
     liaison between  the region and  the state  and federal                                                                    
     governments.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     Today,  there are  11 ARDOR's  assisting 11  regions in                                                                    
     the state.   Each ARDOR  has a board whose  members are                                                                    
     appointed by  various organizations within  the region.                                                                    
     It is  the responsibility of  the board to  ensure that                                                                    
     an annual work plan is executed.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     Each  ARDOR's grant  is  approximately  $50,000.   This                                                                    
     money is  not earmarked  for a  specific use.   Rather,                                                                    
     the ARDOR's are  free to use the money  where they need                                                                    
     it  most.   This allows  them to  be more  flexible and                                                                    
     efficient  in achieving  their goals.    To date,  this                                                                    
     funding   formula   has   been   especially   effective                                                                    
     resulting  in  substantial economic  growth  throughout                                                                    
     the state.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     The ARDOR's program has  repeatedly presented itself to                                                                    
     the Alaska State Legislature  and has repeatedly proven                                                                    
     itself a  worthy investment  of the  state's resources.                                                                    
     Further, in  order to continue the  achievements of the                                                                    
     ARDOR's program,  it is necessary  that the  program be                                                                    
     able  to count  on a  certain level  of funding  in the                                                                    
     future.    It is for these reasons that  HB 119 extends                                                                    
     the sunset  date for the  program to 2013  allowing for                                                                    
     eight more  years of growth  of this  valuable program.                                                                    
     I strongly urge your support of HB 119.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
8:29:32 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ROLLO POOL,  Executive Director,  Southeast Conference,  began by                                                               
explaining that  the Southeast  Conference is  the ARDOR  for the                                                               
Southeast region.   He related  that the Southeast  Conference is                                                               
in support  of HB  119, which  is one  of the  organization's top                                                               
legislative priorities  for 2005.   Mr. Pool acknowledged  that a                                                               
couple  of years  ago there  were some  issues regarding  how the                                                               
Southeast Conference accounted  for the work it  did.  Therefore,                                                               
[the  Southeast   Conference]  developed  a  tiered   system  for                                                               
obtaining funding.   Also, some competitive  grants were created.                                                               
Mr. Pool informed the committee  that the Southeast Conference is                                                               
50  years old  and deals  with  various industries.   This  money                                                               
would  allow  [the Southeast  Conference]  to  pay for  meetings,                                                               
staff, and  associated costs that  grants don't allow.   In fact,                                                               
the  amount of  money leveraged  outside of  this grant  is about                                                               
18:1, while  he recalled that the  ratio for the other  ARDORs is                                                               
about  8:1 and  thus for  every dollar  of the  ARDOR grant,  the                                                               
ARDOR was able to  bring in $8 more in terms  of other grants and                                                               
funding sources.   Mr. Pool said that he views  [the ARDORs] as a                                                               
partner   with  the   state,  a   partner  that   he  viewed   as                                                               
underutilized.  He said,  "We would like to be a  link ... in the                                                               
stream   of   issues  that   connect   our   state  on   economic                                                               
development."                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
8:31:52 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN asked  if [the ARDORs] are  taking steps to                                                               
include the public.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. POOL  suggested that a  better organization within  the ARDOR                                                               
group would be appropriate.   He informed the committee that last                                                               
week  the  ARDORs  met  in  Juneau  and  discussed  collaboration                                                               
efforts in which the stronger ARDORs  can help the others rise to                                                               
a higher  performance level.  He  said that the ARDORs  must also                                                               
work  on  educating  state  agencies and  the  legislature.    He                                                               
related  that the  ARDORs should  lead by  example and  work with                                                               
state and federal agencies in order to become a partner.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
8:33:25 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SALMON  inquired as  to why  [the ARDORs]  seem to                                                               
only be located in population centers and not in central Alaska.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. POOL explained that [ARDORs]  are formed by groups within the                                                               
area.   If a  group of  communities wants to  form an  ARDOR, the                                                               
state will  work with  it to do  so.  The  group forms  first and                                                               
then approaches the state.  Mr.  Pool related that some groups in                                                               
the Interior communities have discussed forming an ARDOR.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:34:51 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN asked  if there is a mechanism  in place to                                                               
help expand  the boundaries of  the current [ARDORs] in  order to                                                               
include other nearby areas.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. POOL  pointed out  that the  Southeast Conference  area abuts                                                               
the Prince William  Sound group.  He acknowledged  that there are                                                               
issues, such as the ferry  system, that transcend boundaries.  He                                                               
opined that  there might  be some resentment  if one  group takes                                                               
over  another regional  group's  area.   He  indicated that  [the                                                               
Southeast Conference] would help  any group interested in forming                                                               
[an ARDOR].                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
8:36:24 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN  commented that  it might be  difficult for                                                               
one  community  to  organize, and  therefore  he  indicated  that                                                               
perhaps [existing ARDORs] could  expand and include one community                                                               
at a time.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. POOL  said that  he isn't  aware of  how the  boundaries were                                                               
formed  in  other   areas.    The  boundary   for  the  Southeast                                                               
Conference is  a natural boundary between  Yakutat and Ketchikan.                                                               
The  Southeast  Conference doesn't  have  the  ability to  expand                                                               
without  moving into  the boundary  of others.   Mr.  Pool agreed                                                               
that  perhaps the  Fairbanks  borough could  take  on some  other                                                               
communities,  if there  was support  in those  other communities.                                                               
He highlighted that most of  the staff for ARDORs are volunteers.                                                               
There has  to be  some momentum  and energy  in the  community in                                                               
order for the [group to form/expand].                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
8:37:29 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. POOL,  in response to  Representative Salmon,  confirmed that                                                               
each  ARDOR has  a  Board of  Directors.   He  specified that  he                                                               
didn't  know how  others select  their board,  but the  Southeast                                                               
Conference has  13 directors in  Southeast Alaska.   According to                                                               
Southeast Conference's  bylaws a  majority of the  directors must                                                               
be city/borough employees or elected officials.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
8:38:12 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SALMON surmised then that  would be the reason why                                                               
[there aren't ARDORs] in the Interior.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR.  POOL said  he  didn't  know.   He  specified that  Southeast                                                               
Conference's board  of directors  is selected by  its membership.                                                               
The board  membership attempts to  be a representative  sample of                                                               
the region.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
8:39:46 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WAYNE  STEVENS,  President,  Alaska State  Chamber  of  Commerce,                                                               
stated:                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     The  Alaska  State  Chamber of  Commerce  supports  the                                                                    
     reauthorization  and  funding  of the  Alaska  Regional                                                                    
     Development Organization Program  to engage in economic                                                                    
     development  planning, strategizing  and implementation                                                                    
     through   effective    public   and    private   sector                                                                    
     collaboration on local, regional, and state levels.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. STEVENS related  that he has been involved for  16 years with                                                               
Southwest Alaskan  Municipal Conference,  and even served  as the                                                               
chair  of  that [ARDOR]  from  2001-2003  when U.S.  Senator  Ted                                                               
Stevens  provided $30  million for  stellar sea  lion mitigation.                                                               
The ARDOR has had tremendous  impact in bringing together diverse                                                               
sections of  the Southwest  region.  He  opined that  the [ARDOR]                                                               
process works  and is  collaborative.   Mr. Stevens  concluded by                                                               
urging passage of HB 119.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:41:31 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SALLY SADDLER,  Legislative Liaison, Office of  the Commissioner,                                                               
Department  of  Commerce,   Community,  &  Economic  Development,                                                               
related  that  the department  views  economic  development as  a                                                               
partnership.    She further  related  that  the department  looks                                                               
forward to working with ARDORs,  which are uniquely positioned to                                                               
represent  local  communities  and regional  ideas  for  economic                                                               
development.    Ms.  Saddler highlighted  that  the  ARDORs  have                                                               
created  a performance-based  measurement  system  that seems  to                                                               
identify  a  unique  system  by  which the  ARDOR  takes  on  the                                                               
identity of  the services and  opportunities in the region.   Ms.                                                               
Saddler concluded by urging passage of HB 119.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
8:42:53 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JEFF  COOK, Director,  External Affairs,  Flint Hills  Resources;                                                               
Member,  Fairbanks   North  Star  Borough   Economic  Development                                                               
Commission; urged  the committee to  reauthorize the ARDORs.   He                                                               
specified  that   the  Fairbanks  North  Star   Borough  Economic                                                               
Development Commission is the ARDOR  in Fairbanks.  Mr. Cook said                                                               
he is impressed  with the dedication to  economic development the                                                               
local  governments  involved with  this  ARDOR  have.   Mr.  Cook                                                               
informed the committee  that the areas of  accomplishment for the                                                               
North Star  Borough Economic Development Commission  have been in                                                               
the area  of cold  climate housing  research, hosting  the Alaska                                                               
Federation  of   Natives  convention,  and  working   with  VISTA                                                               
volunteers.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
8:45:01 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DEB  HICKOK,  President/CEO,  Fairbanks Convention  and  Visitors                                                               
Bureau, had her comments read by Catherine Dodge, as follows:                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     I have  been in  the business of  economic development,                                                                    
     specifically  destination marketing,  for  a number  of                                                                    
     years ....  In order  for organizations like ours to be                                                                    
     successful,  it  is critical  to  have  the support  of                                                                    
     local government.   The ARDOR  facilitates are  an even                                                                    
     better  scenario, programs  that  augment (indisc.)  or                                                                    
     give  impetus  to  our  success  as  well  as  economic                                                                    
     development   throughout   our   community.     It   is                                                                    
     imperative that  the state invest  economic development                                                                    
     monies  on the  local level,  where we  can partner  to                                                                    
     focus our  efforts on successes that  are identified as                                                                    
     needed by the local  community.  This morning Fairbanks                                                                    
     is welcoming  325 Japanese guests  on a  charter direct                                                                    
     from Narida(ph) airport.  That  event was made possible                                                                    
     by the cooperative  partnerships with local government.                                                                    
     I urge  you to reauthorize  the ARDORs for  eight years                                                                    
     and continue the $650,000 bonding.  Thank you for your                                                                     
     hard work in Juneau on our behalf.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:46:42 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WANETTA AYERS,  Southwest Alaska Municipal  Conference, explained                                                               
that  the Southwest  Alaska Municipal  Conference represents  the                                                               
Alaska   Peninsula,  Aleutian   Islands,   Bristol  Bay,   Kodiak                                                               
archipelago, and  the Pribilof Islands.   She mentioned  that the                                                               
members should've  received a  copy of  the ARDOR  annual report,                                                               
which  details accomplishments  of  the ARDORs  in  the areas  of                                                               
business retention and expansion,  work force development, market                                                               
development,    infrastructure    development,    and    economic                                                               
development   planning   and   research.       Since   the   last                                                               
reauthorization,  the  ARDORs  have developed  a  tiered  funding                                                               
formula, which  provides the  department a tool  by which  it can                                                               
access  and monitor  the  progress  of each  ARDOR.   The  tiered                                                               
formula  provides  a  70:20:10  split  of  ARDOR  funding.    She                                                               
explained that all of the  certified ARDORs participate in the 70                                                               
percent  funding  while  those   meeting  the  Tier  II  criteria                                                               
participate at  an additional 20  percent, and those  meeting the                                                               
Tier III  criteria participate  in the 10  percent.   This tiered                                                               
formula  was  a  direct  response to  the  legislative  inquiries                                                               
received  during the  last reauthorization  process.   She opined                                                               
that  the  tiered formula  provides  the  flexibility to  develop                                                               
organizational structure to  meet the needs of  the community the                                                               
ARDOR  serves.    "The  report,  as  you've  heard,  details  the                                                               
leveraging of every  state dollar by generating  an additional $8                                                               
from other sources," she stated.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. AYERS related that the  Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference                                                               
works across  many state  and federal  agencies to  implement and                                                               
pursue the  economic development  priorities of  the region.   In                                                               
addition to the Southwest Alaska  Municipal Conference's board of                                                               
directors,   there  are   numerous   volunteers   who  serve   on                                                               
committees.     Furthermore,   the  Southwest   Alaska  Municipal                                                               
Conference  is in  the  process of  establishing  a new  regional                                                               
workforce development  council that will work  collaboratively to                                                               
address some of  the region's work force development  issues.  In                                                               
regard to  comments about some  areas not being  represented with                                                               
an  ARDOR, Ms.  Ayers informed  the  committee that  in the  past                                                               
there  were 14  ARDORs, of  which 3  weren't recertified  because                                                               
they couldn't  maintain the  criteria state  regulations require.                                                               
Of  the  three  areas  that   didn't  recertify,  one  group  has                                                               
expressed  interest in  re-forming an  ARDOR.   In  terms of  the                                                               
Interior, Ms. Ayers related that  the Tanana Chiefs Conference is                                                               
interested in  establishing an ARDOR.   In conclusion,  Ms. Ayers                                                               
urged the committee to reauthorize the ARDOR program.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
8:51:20 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR OLSON closed public testimony.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:51:24 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  NEUMAN recalled  his own  experience in  which it                                                               
was difficult  to obtain  contact with an  ARDOR.   Therefore, he                                                               
suggested  that the  ARDORs look  into ways  to reach  the public                                                               
regarding what ARDORs  are working on and how  to contact ARDORs.                                                               
He recommended passage of HB 119.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
8:52:20 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SALMON  opined that  the [existing  ARDORs] should                                                               
try to include more of the rural  areas.  He opined that it seems                                                               
that  the  [existing  ARDORs]  are  bypassing  the  rural  areas,                                                               
although the rural areas need help as well.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
8:53:02 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR OLSON requested that  Ms. Saddler discuss Representative                                                               
Salmon's concerns after the meeting.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
8:53:14 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  THOMAS moved  to report  HB 119  out of  committee with                                                               
individual  recommendations and  the  accompanying fiscal  notes.                                                               
There being  no objection, HB 119  was reported out of  the House                                                               
Community and Regional Affairs Standing Committee.                                                                              

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