Wrangell Sentinel -


Southeast Conference turns 55 this week


The Southeast Conference celebrates its 55th birthday today, marking a milestone for a group that began with a group of leaders from across the region that wished to see a regional transportation system developed in Southeast Alaska. 

According to Shelly Wright, executive director of Southeast Conference, The organization’s first meeting took place in Petersburg in 1958. The result of the group’s initial efforts was the creation of the Alaska Marine Highway System.

After that success, Southeast Conference board and membership stayed together through more than a half-century to promote other projects that were key to the economic development of the region. 

Today Southeast Conference is the Alaska Regional Economic Development Organization, as well as the federal Economic Development District for the region.  As Wright explains, “We operate regionally, forging strategies, solutions, and partnerships that achieve results that can only be obtained by working together to promote Southeast Alaska.”

Since its formation, Southeast Conference members, board members and staff have worked on its mission, which is to undertake and support activities that promote strong economies, healthy communities and a quality environment in Southeast Alaska. 

According to Wright, “We have 168 members, including nearly every community in Southeast Alaska.” 

Areas that the Southeast Conference is working to promote currently includes energy; the fishing, visitor, timber, and mining industries; maritime technology; workforce development; and a continued focus on regional transportation issues.


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