Seward (AK) Chamber of Commerce – Economic Development Assessment

ChallengeThe City of Seward and the Seward Chamber of Commerce engaged TIP Strategies and the University of Alaska Center for Economic Development (UACED) to perform an assessment of Seward’s economic development capabilities. As part of the assessment, the consulting team evaluated Seward’s economic development assets, processes, coordination, and expertise. In addition, the team conducted a general assessment of the commitment to economic development among the local partners, including the chamber, the city, local businesses, and other community organizations.

ApproachThe assessment utilized three approaches to gathering input and analysis. First, an analysis of various economic and demographic indicators provides a brief snapshot of Seward’s economic strengths and weaknesses, revealing recent trends for indicators such as population, employment, and business creation. Second, the team administered an online survey of Seward residents and business owners/managers. The survey gauged perceptions regarding challenges and opportunities for living, working, and operating a business in Seward. Four groups were targeted and contrasted: 1) business owners, 2) general Seward residents, 3) senior citizens, and 4) high school seniors. Third, team members conducted a site visit and met with various representatives from the Chamber, the City, and the local business community to assess local economic development priorities, responsiveness, opportunities, challenges, and capabilities.

OutcomeTIP and UACED team members presented the results of the assessment to the Seward City Council in May 2009. In addition to the assessment findings, the team presented a set of recommendations designed to help Seward accomplish its economic development goals. One of the team’s central recommendations involved the commitment of both the city and chamber to more aggressively retaining, expanding, and attracting private investment in Seward, including greater resources dedicated to economic development. Toward this end, the City of Seward subsequently engaged UACED to assist in exploring more specific options for expanding and focusing the community’s economic development resources.

TIP Contact Alex Cooke

Courtesy Dan Hershman

Photo credit AlaskaTrekke

Photo credit Evan Summerson