Alaska Chamber: ferry system must be reformed

The M/V Aurora crosses Prince William Sound. (Sept. 9, 2019) Photo courtesy of Hamish Laird
The M/V Aurora crosses Prince William Sound. (Sept. 9, 2019) Photo courtesy of Hamish Laird

The Alaska Marine Highway System must be reformed, says the Alaska Chamber. A policy position proposal underscoring the need for reform was introduced Oct. 30 by the Cordova Chamber of Commerce, Southeast Conference and Sealaska Corporation.

The proposal declares support for “a reformed, right-sized and sustainable Alaska Marine Highway System as a critical component of the statewide intermodal transportation system and economy of Alaska.” It was adopted was adopted by the Alaska Chamber at its annual Policy Forum by a vote of 51 to four.

“We’re grateful to the many businesses and communities who are standing with us to acknowledge the importance of providing consistent, reliable marine transportation services to Alaska communities for the benefit of the statewide economy,” said Cordova Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Cathy Renfeldt. “Many of our businesses are built around this piece of statewide infrastructure. When AMHS service disappears for months on end with no time to adjust business plans, those impacts are significant and far-reaching. The entire state will feel it if 75,000 Alaska residents are forced to send their money out of state for basic items which would normally be stocked from Anchorage or the Valley.”

Cordova Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Cathy Renfeldt addresses Alaska Chamber members at an annual policy forum in Girdwood. (Oct. 30, 2019) Photo courtesy of the Cordova Chamber of Commerce
Cordova Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Cathy Renfeldt addresses Alaska Chamber members at an annual policy forum in Girdwood. (Oct. 30, 2019) Photo courtesy of the Cordova Chamber of Commerce

The Alaska Chamber represents over 700 members and works on behalf of the Alaska business community to influence policy and state and federal legislation. Each year at its Policy Forum, members vote on the positions that the chamber will take to develop an advocacy platform reflective of the Alaska business community. Groups that have declared their support for the new policy position on the AMHS include the chambers of commerce for Haines, Homer, Juneau, Kodiak, Petersburg, Prince of Wales, Seward, Seldovia and Whittier, as well as the Valdez Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Prince William Sound Economic Development District.