Wrangell has been named the Southeast Alaska Community of the Year by the Southeast Conference. According to a conference news release, the award recognizes communities that work to create a “positive economic impact.”

The release praised Wrangell community leaders for developing opportunities in the maritime trades and tourism after the town lost the Alaska Pulp Company sawmill, along with 20 percent of the community’s jobs in 1994.

Since then, the release said half of the town’s private economy has become rooted in the maritime sector and Wrangell is one of Southeast Alaska’s fastest growing communities.

Robert Venables, executive director of Southeast Conference, said Wrangell transformed itself after facing economic calamity. He called Wrangell an inspiring example for other communities to follow.

Wrangell Borough Assembly Member Julie Decker accepted the award and gave credit to Economic Development Director Carol Rushmore and “many other residents and local leaders.”

“It’s nice recognition and then also kind of a reminder, for us moving forward, what we can do as a community when we pull together.”

Decker said today Wrangell is in a relatively good position. She sees tough times ahead, but says Wrangell is growing.

“But I think we need to continue to make good decisions as we move forward as a community — both with our money and what we focus on for development (projects) in the future.”

The Southeast Conference is a regional development organization made up of municipal, business and tribal leaders.