JEDC's Southeast Cluster Initiative is focused on enhancing the competitiveness of businesses in five economic clusters. For more information on each cluster, please select a link below:
Beginning in October 2010, the Juneau Economic Development Council was provided the opportunity to bring a cluster based planning approach to the Southeast Alaska region. Under a contract awarded by the USDA Forest Service, JEDC launched the Southeast Alaska Cluster Initiative, a Cluster Working Group (CWG) process that brought private sector “industry clusters” together with federal, state and local agencies, university faculty, trade association representatives, economic development organizations, community leaders and other stakeholders committed to addressing industry needs, concerns and opportunities on a partnership basis. An “industry cluster” is a set of businesses, in the same or related field and located near one another, which are linked by service or supplier relationships, common customers and supporting institutions or other relationships. They share reliance on regional knowledge and on the regional labor market. They compete with one another but also complement one another. They draw productive advantage from their mutual proximity and connections.
Since its inception, the Southeast Alaska Cluster Initiative has been a successful catalyst for private-public partnerships. In 2012, the focus of activity for all CWGs progressed from initiative development to initiative implementation, leading to the creation of initiative implementation teams, each team led by a volunteer Champion. Team membership is composed of the private sector, federal, state and local agencies, university faculty, and others active in the industry. This year, Southeast Cluster Initiative outreach took JEDC to the communities of Ketchikan, Wrangell and Sitka for cluster meetings or information sessions for Visitor Products, Ocean Products and Mining Services and Supply. In 2012, JEDC began facilitating cluster communication and information sharing through monthly teleconference meetings for each of the clusters. To date, over 300 individuals have attended one or more Southeast Cluster Initiative meetings or participated in a teleconference.
In 2012, some initiatives gained traction with industry, saw activity and success; others became inactive. Currently, 19 are actively championed by industry with the expectation that these initiatives will lead to increased business development, jobs and regional prosperity. These initiatives call for resource deployment based on industry priorities in areas that include regional workforce education through new programs at the University of Alaska, increased guided access to Forest Service lands with corresponding enhancement projects, and coordinated industry marketing. The process also highlighted promising new areas of economic development for Southeast Alaska, such as woody biomass, mariculture, and marine technology.
In December 2011, JEDC convened the Southeast Alaska Economic Summit which brought all four Cluster Working Groups together for the first time to advance the work of the clusters, share best practices and connect cluster participants with local community, government and business leaders. In 2012 planning began for a second regional Summit. The February 2013 Innovation Summit brought together over 180 leaders in business, government and education to cultivate ideas and collaborate for economic success in our region. The two-day summit included an agenda packed with professional development and networking opportunities, as well as sessions focused on key industries and challenges specific in Southeast Alaska. More information on the 2013 Innovation Summit as well as videos of many of the sessions are at www.jedc.org/innovation.
One of the central tenets of the cluster-based model of economic development is that the most economically successful regions have managed to knit together companies, teaching and research
institutions, and government at multiple levels to create a uniquely competitive industry. The success of the Southeast Cluster Initiative has been the forging of new relationships and partnerships in our region between industry, government, the university and other agencies or non-profit entities.