Economic diversification

Assembly Issues

Economic diversification

Candidate Responses

With the downturn in state government, Juneau’s economy is likely contracting. How would you encourage diversification or growth in the local economy?

Norton Gregory

Norton Gregory

Candidate for Areawide Assembly

Well a big part of what I do is housing. I’m the housing services manager for Tlingit-Haida Regional Housing Authority and I also serve on the Juneau Affordable Housing Commission and I also serve on the Juneau Senior Assisted Living Task Force. When it comes down to our economy, when we look at the Juneau Economic Plan, it states that one of the primary restrictions on our economy growing is housing. So we need to make sure that we have a plentiful supply of housing, especially workforce housing for those young families and individuals who are looking to get established in the community and are looking to start building some equity. And so we need to make sure we have housing available for those folks to live in. We want to make sure that we draw young folks back to Juneau and make sure that they can afford to live here. And so at the core — what goes on with our economy — it all comes down to housing.

Kate Troll is running against Bill Peters for the areawide assembly seat, the only contested race in the October 1st municipal election. (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)

Kate Troll

Candidate for Areawide Assembly

Well, first off I think it’s important to point out that if it wasn’t for the loss of government jobs, our economy would be growing. We actually had an increase in the number of private sector jobs and an increase in wages, maybe about 1 percent. Not much, but in my mind that shows that Juneau still has a relatively strong economy. We’ve got to get through these times of these government job losses. One of the things we did was to have the Juneau economic plan. One of my priorities is to turn that economic plan into jobs. We have eight different initiatives on that, that are focused on building on our strengths, and I can list those initiatives if you’d like. I have taken some personal interest in trying to promote Juneau as a premier research facility, and trying to get the NOAA fisheries jobs transferred here, and there have been five additional fisheries jobs created. These are small but significant steps. The University of Alaska is now having a fisheries bachelor’s degree program, so we’re doing things on that particular initiative. We’re making progress on the housing front, we’re making progress on growing the senior economy. The Juneau economic plan is a community blueprint if you will, for us to build on our strengths and diversify our economy. And I’m very committed to making sure that plan gets implemented and it turns into jobs for this community.


Mary Becker

Candidate for District 1 Assembly

Well, I think that we should look at all the ways that we can encourage building, make sure our codes are reasonable, and a builder is able to build working under our codes. We need to look at some of the ways that we can diversify. One thing we haven’t finished studying is the AJ Mine, and we were going to finish studying that when Lemon Creek water supply was increased, and so it’s probably time maybe to look at that. I think that we need to look at ways to help parents with babysitting, child care, because that keeps them working and when they’re working they can afford to live here. I think that’s something we can work on. I think there are jobs that we can encourage, and we should do that. I want to encourage young people to stay in Juneau because I have young people in my family and I have young grandchildren and I want them to stay. So, I believe we should look at all aspects and we should ask the public to help us on this one.


Arnold Liebelt

Candidate for District 1 Assembly

Unfortunately, having the state capital here in Juneau can be a double-edged sword. We’ve had it very, very good with high state employment. We have the federal government here. We have the Coast Guard here. We have CBJ workers here. So it’s been very good, but every once in awhile in time, the other side of this double-edged sword is when there’s a downturn in state government, it’s the working class that’s working for the state that are going to be losing their employment, and the bulk of those employees are going to be right here in Juneau and there’s very little that the city can do about it. The city is actually in very good shape right now, financially with the $15 million savings account that we have. Not everyone realizes it but we have an airport, an international airport, which is owned by the City and Borough of Juneau. Bartlett Hospital is owned by the City and Borough of Juneau. These are tremendous assets. We have a very strong tourism industry in Juneau.

So I think what we have to do is to continue to diversify in these regions. I think housing can … play a part of that in diversification. One program or project that I can think about is that there’s a plan on building an 88-bed assisted living home in the valley – a $25 million project. We need to be looking at projects like this, and those are win-win projects because it’s addressing part of the demographic change that is taking place here in Juneau. It is also creating jobs and construction jobs. I think diversification of our economy is something that we always have to be aware of. I think in this situation it’s going to be a little tougher because it’s a little bit more sudden. But Juneau has done the right steps and we just need to continue to do the right things.

William Quayle poses for a photo outside KTOO, Sept. 2, 2016. Quayle is a candidate for Juneau Assembly. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

William Quayle Jr.

Candidate for District 1 Assembly

I’m for a 12-month economy rather than just for the tourists. Or rather, that’s the reason why I want the vendors because I want to get it so when you go to the corners, you can always see a vendor. And I’m for our mall having lower rents and get it so the landlords can charge lower rents. And that’s dependent if I can get that water situation fixed. If I can do that, give them landlords some incentives to lower their rents.

Beth Wedlon poses for a photo in a KTOO studio, Sept. 1, 2016. Weldon is a candidate for Juneau Assembly. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

Beth Weldon

Candidate for District 2 Assembly

So, Juneau always does best when its economy is diversified through mining, tourist industry, seafood industry and the fishing industry. So we just need to remain diversified. What the city can do itself for the private business owners isn’t a lot, other than to streamline regulations and to keep the city infrastructure sound — so we have roads that are well-maintained and paved, so we can get to and from our businesses, and the public and get to and from our businesses and that we have a good sewer and water system to back up our businesses. … So mainly just streamline regulations and keep the taxes low is probably the best way we can help the local economy right now.

Site notifications
Update notification options
Subscribe to notifications