Convention adds $6M to Anchorage economy

The annual convention of the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) is expected to add more than $6 million to the local economy in Anchorage, according to a recent article in Alaska Dispatch News, and officials believe that estimate to be on the low side.

The AFN convention will be held over three days, Oct. 23 to 25, at the Dena’ina Center. The article quoted AFN co-chair Tara Sweeney saying the convention will bring 4,000 to 5,000 delegates to the city.

Sweeney said it is the largest convention in Alaska and the largest annual gathering of any Native peoples in the U.S.

Sweeney and Anchorage Chamber of Commerce President Andrew Halcro have reason to believe the economic impact of the AFN convention could be higher than the $6 million estimate. Sweeney said delegates come from hundreds of small villages across the region, where shopping and dining options are few and therefore they tend to spend more during the visit to the city. Halcro said spending impacts much more than hotel and restaurant business.

The first AFN convention was a gathering of 400 Alaska Natives in Fairbanks who came together to discuss land rights in 1966. Fairbanks and Anchorage vie each year to host the annual event where AFN meets to set policy and debate advocacy issues. The 2015 convention will also meet in Anchorage. Fairbanks will be the site in 2016.

Source: Alaska Dispatch News

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