Tuesday, September 09, 2008

And its south from Alaska, the conference is almost on

The Fairview Port and its potential is the drawing card for the Southeast Conference set for September 16 in Prince Rupert.

With Prince Rupert acting as a hub of transportation for the Northwest, the delegates from points north will be examining its impact on the local community and how it could benefit their communities as well.

Somewhere between 115 and 200 guests will be attending between September 16 and 18, however one potential high profile visitor will probably be scratched off the invite list, it was hoped that Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska would be in attendance, however since those invites went out she seems to have become swamped with some unexpected extra work in the lower 48 states.

The Conference takes place at the Chances Gaming and Convention Centre with a Trade show set to educate the delegates on September 15th at the Civic Centre and the Lester Centre of the Arts.

The Daily News had details on the conference in Friday’s paper.\

Rupertites prepare for Southeast conference
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Friday, September 5, 2008
Pages one and three

Prince Rupert is getting ready to play host to a major Alaskan conference. Beginning on Sept. 16, the Southeast Conference will be held for the second time this decade in Rupert.

For Prince Rupert, hosting the conference gives the city an opportunity to sell itself as a true economic partner with its American neighbour.

“We have been actively involved over the years with the Southeast (Alaska) Conference and a couple of years ago I began the process of bringing the conference and delegates to Prince Rupert particularly so they could understand the port and learn about what new transportation options were opening up,” said Mayor Herb Pond.

The port will be a major feature of the conference, with Prince Rupert Port Authority president and CEO Don Krusel along with Maher Terminals of Canada general manager Mark Schepp giving speeches the day before the conference begins.

It is not known how much dollar value the conference will have for the city immediately but intrinsically there is a possibility for tourism economic impact.

Pond estimated that there could be between 115 – 200 delegates visiting from Alaska alone.

Tourism of Prince Rupert president Bruce Wishart said he has found it difficult to even get friends booked in for the week because many of the local hotels were filling up.

He also added that the southeast conference is part of the larger tourism plan unveiled last week in that the city wanted to encourage more conferences throughout the winter months as a way to boost tourism during the cruise ship off-season.

“The real potential for conference is that we are a May-September tourism destination and we do extremely well during that time period but we have no winter product,” said Wishart.

“If we can bring conferences through September – May obviously we can substantially increase our revenues throughout the year.”

One visitor who will not be attending is Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin. Palin was recently named as the U. S. Republican vice presidential candidate and while it was hoped before her nomination she would be able to attend, the recent announcement has made that impossible.

Instead, the conference does expect a representative from the governor’s office to visit Prince Rupert, according to SEAC executive director Shelly Wright.

“She had not confirmed but we were on her office’s schedule.”

Wright said that the major theme for the conference is going to be resource use, with separate days focused on the separate resource sectors such as timber and renewable sources.

She added that right now the Alaskan forestry sector is struggling to get timber out of the Tongass National Forest, which has similar trees to the North Coast region like western red cedar, sitka spruce and hemlocks.

“What we are trying to do is convince the (US) federal government that forestry is important to southeast Alaska.”

Another topic the conference is to address is the state’s ability to create energy through renewable sources.

To that end, they have invited the Nai’Kun Wind Group’s Dr. Michael Margolick to the conference on the 17th to talk about the proposed project on the northeast coast of Graham Island.

“I think southeast Alaska does not know a lot about it I hope we can cure that at the conference and hear a little about it. There is not a lot of talk about wind.

“We have focused on hydro and biomass projects and I just don’t think we have come around to wind projects yet,” said Wright.

The conference will take place at Chances Gaming Convention Centre from Sept. 16-18.

The Trade Show, meanwhile, takes place Sept. 15 at both the Lester and Jim Cicconne Civic Centres.

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