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ASRC's Tara Sweeney steps down as head of Arctic Economic Council

FAIRBANKS — The chairmanship of the Arctic Economic Council passed from the United States to Finland on Tuesday, with Tara Sweeney of Arctic Slope Regional Corp., an Alaska Native corporation, passing the chair to Tero Vauraste, who heads Arctia, a Finnish government-owned shipping company that specializes in icebreaking.

The council is a relatively new policy player whose vision is to "make the Arctic a favorable place to do business," and intends to "be a globally recognized stakeholder when decisions regarding Arctic businesses are made."

The chairmanship of the Arctic Council, a broad diplomatic and scientific organization, is set to pass from the United States to Finland on Thursday.

Maritime transport, telecommunications and resource development are among the Arctic Economic Council main priorities. Vauraste said more industries will be represented in the council with the creation of new "working groups" to research and propose policies during his chairmanship.

Tara Sweeney is the senior vice president of external affairs for Arctic Slope Regional Corp. She was elected co-chair of the Alaska Federation of Natives in October 2013. (Photo courtesy of Tara Sweeney)

Under the leadership of Sweeney, who also represents the Inuit Circumpolar Council, the Arctic Economic Council established a secretariat based in Norway. The secretariat has been funded for three years by the Norwegian business community and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She will remain on the economic council as a vice-chair.

Vauraste said under his leadership the council will also work to recruit new members from the business community.

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