A Statewide Voice
The Alaska Chamber advocates for businesses,
big and small
By Kati Capozzi

he Alaska Chamber is a statewide organization that represents the business community’s interests throughout Alaska. While many Alaskans can likely imagine what their local chamber of commerce works on and advocates for, clear differences exist between these valuable organizations and ours. Local community chambers focus almost solely on businesses located within their geographical location or those with potential to impact their local business community. At the Alaska Chamber, we advocate for businesses throughout the state, providing a unified voice on issues affecting the statewide business community. We also offer resources and networking opportunities to our members, helping them to grow and succeed in the 49th State.

Based in Anchorage, we represent the business community as a whole, not just specific industries or sectors. No matter how small or large the business, each Chamber member has an equal opportunity to submit, weigh in on, and advance our policy agenda. This “one member, one vote” parity not only ensures that our policy positions do, in fact, represent the entire business community, but it also lends the Chamber credibility when we meet with elected officials and policy makers; they know that, to pass, a priority or policy position must survive scrutiny by a diverse membership.

Decades of experience have taught us there is no substitute for old-fashioned relationship building and constant communication on important issues. We maintain a strong presence in Juneau during the legislative session, regularly meeting with policymakers and members of the administration, providing testimony and sending letters to elected officials on legislation and regulations that impact our members. In addition, we remain engaged in discussions with key elected leaders by actively participating on task forces relevant to the business community, such as Governor Dunleavy’s Office of Broadband or his new childcare task force.

Steering the Discussion
By far, the core of what the Chamber does is strategic development of our policy positions and priorities. By discussing, debating, and analyzing the big public policy issues of the day, we provide a “one-stop-shop” to elected and community leaders seeking guidance on where the business community stands, both at the state and federal level. Our annual policy forum takes place every fall and is exclusive to members. Its purpose is to revise and add relevant positions to our advocacy platform for the upcoming year. During the forum, members hear from position sponsors and vote on proposed positions, which are then approved by our board of directors.

The positions aim to address core issues impacting the business community across the state and provide direction for advocacy efforts. It is the crown jewel of our process; members make their voices heard and drive the agenda for how and where to focus our efforts in the year ahead. We advocate for what our members demand, not the other way around.

Lastly, the Chamber is well equipped to efficiently act as the tip of the spear on business issues affecting a broad spectrum of industries. Most recently, the business, natural resource, labor, and political community came together and scored a huge victory by advocating successfully for ConocoPhillips’ Willow Project. This win was made possible only because so many different organizations and companies coalesced around a single policy goal and leaned in hard to make the final push for the project’s approval. The effort should be used as a blueprint for how to win policy battles, particularly when dealing with Outside interests, for decades to come.

The Business Community’s Go-To
For the last several statewide ballot measures involving resource management, the Alaska Chamber has stepped up in unique ways, offering differing perspectives and outreach reach that often a formal campaign cannot. Because ballot measures are almost always drafted in a way that would impede so many industries’ ability to operate in Alaska, key stakeholders regularly tap the Chamber to help guide the broader business messaging, informing our members on the negative implications of the measures beyond the bumper sticker rhetoric. Our statewide presence and access positions us to get these campaigns off to a fast and formidable start. We are proud to work with our members, small and large, in defeating these bad-for-business ballot measures, and we will be ready for the next one.

Recently we’ve stepped up our work on advocating for a meaningful statewide spending cap. This position is driven by the fact that, to attract and sustain investment in Alaska, a stable state fiscal environment must first be in place. Without assurances that the state government will not overspend during times of high commodity prices, only to turn around impose higher business taxes when those same commodities’ prices fall, the state will never fully realize its investment potential. It really boils down to our members’ deeply held belief that a sustainable spending limitation on a statewide level will strengthen our economy by reducing uncertainty and promoting private-sector investment.

At the Alaska Chamber, we know that we are so much more powerful and effective when we speak with one voice. For more than seventy years, our members have placed a great amount of trust in us to pound the table on their behalf, and we work every day to retain and grow that trust.

We are grateful for the opportunity to represent their interests and advocate for Alaska’s business community. As the state heads to a critical crossroads where many big decisions impacting business must be made, we remain committed to our mission of advancing Alaska business and creating a thriving, healthy investment climate in our great state.

headshot of Kati Capozzi
Kati Capozzi is president and CEO of the Alaska Chamber, an organization that has promoted commerce since before statehood. Capozzi moved to Alaska in 1996 and joined the Alaska Chamber in 2011 as communications and events director. She has led the organization since 2019.