This week my staff attended the Prince of Wales Community Advisory Council (POWCAC) meeting in Coffman Cove. POWCAC is an association of communities and tribes on Prince of Wales Island dedicated to improving the area’s quality of life.  The group advises state and federal agencies on issues affecting Prince of Wales communities.  The meeting was productive and included updates on various topics.

Jobs and economic growth are the main issues facing Prince of Wales Island.  Since the decline of the timber in industry in the 1990s, the area has seen a 20% decline in population.  The communities are working together to expand their resource base and develop new industries such as mining.  POWCAC passed a resolution supporting federal legislation to establish a road corridor to the Niblack mineral deposit on the east side of Prince of Wales Island. The road would improve access and expedite development of the deposit, as well as provide hundreds of jobs for Alaskans.

To train Alaskans for Alaskan jobs, the communities have expanded vocational education on the island.  The Prince of Wales Vocational & Technical Education Center project is moving forward. The legislature has appropriated $4.1 million for the center and stakeholders are identifying future employment and training needs for the island. This will help them design a curriculum that will put Alaskans to work and help keep families in Southeast.

In addition to these projects, POWCAC has also begun evaluating forming a borough to bring the Island’s communities together and better secure their resource base.  The council also discussed the recent Southeast Conference meeting in Craig, and received updates from Sealaska and the Inter Island Ferry Authority.

I look forward to continue working with POWCAC and local leaders on these important issues in the future.


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