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Port of Alaska

Assembly overwhelmingly votes for name change


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The Port of Anchorage is no longer. The port—through which an estimated 90 percent of the merchandise goods for 85 percent of Alaska’s populated areas pass—is now called Port of Alaska.

The Anchorage Assembly voted nearly unanimously to change the port’s name as part of a larger effort to bring attention to the port’s need for a massive overhaul and to communicate to the state that the Port (formerly known as Port of Anchorage) is a statewide asset, not just an Anchorage asset.

Dick Traini, the measure’s sponsor and Assembly chair, says his motivation for proposing the name change is to secure funding to make vital port repairs by sending a message to lawmakers that the Port of Alaska is critical to keeping goods coming in and out of the state. The estimated $700 million price tag would fund upgrades to port docks threatened by corrosion and unstable ground.

“The Port of Anchorage is essential to the thriving of Alaska’s residents, not just residents of Anchorage. Many residents and cities of Alaska outside of Anchorage depend solely on goods delivered through the Port of Anchorage for their well-being and economic vitality,” wrote Traini in a Municipality of Anchorage Assembly Memorandum.

The name change also helps city officials make their case that the port is a statewide asset, since the majority of Alaska's dry goods are coming in to Alaska through the docks, Traini said. “Can you imagine if this port ever shut down, the problems we’d have?”

The ordinance does not require the port to change its signs, letterheads, or other marketing materials right away. Such changes can happen "in the due course of its business operations," Traini wrote in the memo, noting that the ordinance is not expected to incur any significant costs, putting to rest one commenter’s concern over funding the name change. Another called the change “silly”, yet the large majority seemed to agree that calling the port by the name Port of Alaska, is both politically advantageous as well as true.

The one dissenting vote was from Assemblyman Fred Dyson, also a former state legislator, who pointed out that there are several key ports in Alaska and “there is a good bit of paranoia about the state being known by one city. I think Anchorage Port or Anchorage Statewide Port reflects the reality of what goes on there.”

Assemblywoman Amy Demboski said in the October 24 meeting and subsequent vote that she’s for the name change, “If you look at fundamentally how it's used and what it's used for, it really is the Port of Alaska."

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