Economic summit promotes growth opportunities

Several dozen business owners came together on April 19 for the Cordova Chamber of Commerce’s economic summit, to hear about emerging opportunities from tourism to the seafood industry.

“Today we are looking forward to productive, collaborative discussion, very informative speakers, a little bit of fun and some good, old fashioned networking,” said Lisa Koker, chamber president, in her opening remarks.

“We hope you come away having shared something, having learned something, feeling inspired and ultimately adding some good action item to your lists.”

Those words, said Cathy Renfeldt, executive director of the chamber, “sum up the day pretty well.”

For those were unable to attend, the chamber will be posting slide decks from presenters online at

The goal of the summit was to bring Cordova businesses together and get them talking about what we can do as a community to leverage local capacity and grow economic opportunity in Cordova,” Renfeldt said. “Total attendance was around 65 people.

“In addition to the productive Business2Business Roundtable sessions, our speakers were also very well received, especially the presenter and panel on emerging opportunities in mariculture and seafood. There was also ample time during the summit for business owners to meet each other and network. Some even took advantage of our ’60 Second Showcase’ offering and gave a quick one-minute spiel about their business’ ‘hidden talents’,” Renfeldt said.

Only 35 businesses had participated in the chamber’s Cordova Business Survey by the time of the summit, so results to date are not statistically significant to the city’s population size and number of businesses. The chamber has asked for more participation in the survey over the next two weeks, to allow for a more accurate picture of the business climate in Cordova. That survey is online at

Renfeldt said she will be putting together a report and presentation based on the outcome of the survey for presentation at a Cordova City Council work session in the next few months.

Conference speakers, including several via teleconference, included Wanetta Ayers, executive director of the Prince William Sound Economic Development District; Neal Fried, Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development; Joel Cladouhos, Alaska Ocean Cluster Initiative; Tanya Carlson, Alaska Travel Industry Association; Julie Decker, Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation; Sam Rabung, Alaska Department of Fish and Game; Tommy Sheridan, Silver Bay Seafoods; John Whissel, Native Village of Eyak; Casey Campbell, Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corp.; Mike Wells, Valdez Fisheries Development Association; and Katrina Hoffman, Prince William Sound Science and Technology Institute.