ANCHORAGE –To ensure Anchorage’s economy remains strong, Mayor Ethan Berkowitz announced a new working group of local economic and military experts to respond to the proposed cut of 2,600 soldiers from the 4-25th airborne brigade at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER).
Berkowitz is asking the new BEAR group to analyze the impacts of the cut on Anchorage’s economy, infrastructure, schools and housing. In addition, the group also will look for ways to strengthen and expand JBER’s mission and develop new ones.
“While planning to protect our economy, community, and security, we will continue to work with the Congressional delegation and Governor to reverse these cuts,” stated Mayor Berkowitz.
According to the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation, the troops and their dependents account for about $140 million in payroll and the proposed cut of 80 civilians is another $5 million in payroll.
The BEAR group includes local experts to help guide the Municipality’s response to the cuts. It includes:
- Bruce Bustamante, President of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce
- Bill Popp, President and CEO of the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation
- Susie Gorski, Director of the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce
- Ric Davidge, Alaska President of the Vietnam Veterans Association
- Chuck Foster, Brigadier General, USAF, retired
- George Vakalis, former Anchorage Municipal Manager
- Governor Walker has appointed Bob Doehl, Deputy Commissioner of Military and Veterans Affairs to serve as a liaison for the State of Alaska with the working group