Legislature(1993 - 1994)
04/06/1993 08:35 AM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE BILL NO. 198 "An Act relating to the Alaska regional economic assistance program; and providing for an effective date." Co-Chair Larson noted that HB 198 changes the Alaska Regional Development Organizations (ARDOR) Program by rasing the state grant funding cap to regional development organizations from $50.0 thousand dollars to $100.0 thousand dollars a year. The legislation will provide flexibility in assessing organizations' ability to raise matching funds. There is a $750.0 thousand dollar fiscal note from the Department of Commerce and Economic Development. CHRISTOPHER GATES, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT spoke in support of HB 198. He asserted that the ARDOR program is a jobs and economic development enhnacement. He stressed that rural areas have difficulty in providing a one 2 to one match. Representative Martin expressed concern with the grant increase. He asked why the grant should be raised. Mr. Gates emphasized that the programs are successful. He stressed that rural tourism is needed to put local residents to work. He observed that the Matanuska-Sustina Borough has proposed the creation of an ARDOR. Representative Martin asked for examples of ARDOR's accomplishments. Mr. Gates gave examples of accomplishments of the Kenai ARDOR (see testimony by Mr. Steadman.) Co-Chair Larson asked the definition or purpose of ARDORs. Mr. Gates stated that ARDORs assist local economies to create jobs and economic activity. Co-Chair Larson asked which projects would not have been developed without the help of an ARDOR. Mr. Gates mentioned the Forest Task Force Project in Kenai. He noted that the Seward sawmill was developed with ARDOR assistance. He added that Seward was developed as a cruise ship destination with the assistance of the area ARDOR. Co-Chair Larson asked if private grants are solicited. Mr. Gates replied that grants are solicited from private organization. STAN STEADMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, KENAI ARDOR reviewed some of the accomplishments of the Kenai ARDOR. He concluded that the Kenai ARDOR: * Played a key role in obtaining close to $10 million in U.S. EDA assisted public works projects, to create 900 jobs; * Managed a nationally acclaimed media campaign to mitigate impact of the Exxon-Valdez oil spill; * Facilitated contacts between Ssangyong Oil of Korea and Stewart Petroleum leading to successful oil drilling in Cook Inlet; * Trained 475 persons through the Small Business Development Center; * Obtained federal funding for investigations of options for utilization of timber lost to the spruce bark beetle infestation; * Obtained federal funding for Shellfish mariculture; 3 * Obtained federal funding for development of health care programs. Mr. Steadman noted the difficulty ARDORs have in supporting their administrative costs. Representative Hanley observed that the first $50.0 thousand dollar grant does not require a match. Mr. Gates stated that the second $50.0 thousand dollars requires a 1 to 1 match by railbelt ARDORs and a 3 to 1 match by rural ARDORs. He clarified that matching requirements are specified in regulations of the Department of Commerce and Economic Development. Representative Hanley expressed concern that the first $50.0 thousand dollars is a grant. He felt that there should be a match for the entire amount. He suggested that ARDOR grants be discontinued after a period of time if no benefits or match is forthcoming. Mr. Gates emphasized that rural ARDORs cannot provide the match when no commercial base exists. Mr. Steadman stressed that ARDORs help residents to access state and local programs. Representative Brown noted that she is a board member of the Anchorage ARDOR. She observed that the Anchorage ARDOR instituted the proposal to consolidate procurement by the United States military in Anchorage. She noted that the Anchorage ARDOR has proposed amendments to HB 198. Co-Chair Larson HB 198 was HELD in a subcommittee consisting of Chair Hanley with Representatives Parnell and Brown.