Commentary: Governor’s ‘open for business’ formula contributes to positive economic outlook

By Tamika L. Ledbetter

For The Cordova Times

The Bureau of Economic Analysis in part defines gross domestic product, or GDP, as a “comprehensive measure of the economies of each state. GDP estimates the value of the goods and services produced in a state including breakdowns of industry contributions to each state economy.”

The U.S. Department of Commerce reports Alaska’s first-quarter GDP at 3.9 percent, which is the sixth-fastest among states across the nation. The determining factors for a strong state economy require consideration of several indicators. A factor that is often overlooked is how the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development contributes to our strong economy. I believe that the value of Alaska’s goods and services rests upon a quality workforce.

When analyzing the state’s economic growth, it is important to understand how the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, OR DOLWD, plays a critical role in Alaska’s economy. The department’s mission, recent reform efforts, deregulation and alignment with Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy’s “open for business” formula indeed contribute to economic growth and an increasingly positive economic outlook.

The department’s primary mission is to provide safe and legal working conditions, as well as to advance opportunities for employment. To achieve our mission, state training and employment program grants are awarded for the purpose of strengthening the local workforce in preparation for good-paying jobs in high-growth, high-demand industries, As the state’s lead workforce development agency, programs and services are coordinated and rendered in a manner that demonstrates a commitment to meeting the needs of businesses and employers looking for qualified workers.

The department’s comprehensive approach to training and development includes the Workforce Investment Opportunity Act, or WIOA. Job training funds and support services are directed to targeted populations to ensure skills-building opportunities for job seekers who are low-income, youth ages 14-24, veterans, dislocated workers, re-entrants, people living with disabilities, adult basic education deficient and Native Alaskan/Native Americans.

The strength of the DOLWD is its comprehensive and unified approach when providing seamless services to both employers and job seekers. Every Alaska resident who desires employment can confidently reach out to the department for assistance focused on career pathways and industry related partnerships, plus job search assistance that leads to viable employment opportunities.

Our future is bright. Through the alignment of services, policy reform and core REACH values – respect, excellence, accountability, competent, honesty – the department has created efficiencies, increased outcomes and redefined how we do business, enhancing our ability to support Alaska’s economy and proudly declare “we are Alaska strong.”

Tamika Ledbetter is the Alaska Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development