2 Anchorage economic leaders announce departures

2 Anchorage economic leaders announce departures
Published: Jun. 15, 2023 at 2:58 PM AKDT|Updated: Jun. 15, 2023 at 6:46 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The heads of two of Anchorage’s biggest economic groups are exiting their positions this year.

Bill Popp, president and CEO of the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation, and Bruce Bustamante, president and CEO of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, both put in letters of resignation this month announcing their departures to staff and members of their respective organizations.

Popp has led the AEDC — a private nonprofit corporation that studies and attempts to grow the city’s economy — since April 2007 and has been a key figure in determining trends and future outlooks for the municipality.

In a letter dated June 14, Popp said his last working day will be Dec. 15, giving the Board of Directors approximately six months to appoint a successor. Popp shared that he will spend the next six months in his position wrapping up ongoing projects and assisting and advising the board during the transition process.

“I have enjoyed every minute of my 16+ years as leader of this important professional economic development organization for both Anchorage and Alaska,” Popp wrote. “My heart will always be with the amazing staff I have had the privilege to lead over the years, and the AEDC Boards of Directors I have served.”

Prior to his time at AEDC, Popp worked and lived on the Kenai Peninsula, serving in the Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor’s office as a special assistant from 2002 to 2007, following stints as president of the borough Assembly and a government official. He also was a project coordinator of the Challenger Learning Center for Alaska from 1996 to 2000, fundraising $2.5 million for program development, design and construction of the popular Kenai facility.

Popp is remaining quite on what his next plans in life entail. However, he does hint that they will include a break before pursing other local opportunities.

“I think its time. I think its the right time for the organization. I think Its the right time for me personally. And I got some things I want to do before I finally decide to retire and enjoy my cabin more. So, and my garden more,” Popp said.

Bustamante announced his intent to leave the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce Sept. 1, 2023, after seven years with the organization. In a letter dated June 5, Bustamante said he plans to “sample retirement since I have heard great things about it.”

“There have been great opportunities placed in front of this organization and I am proud on how we have continued to work in the best interest of our diverse membership,” Bustamante wrote. “I also have the utmost confidence in the staff of the Anchorage Chamber to carry forward the mission of Advancing Business, Advancing Anchorage.”

Bustamante has 28 years of work experience in Anchorage, including seven years as president and CEO of the Anchorage Convention & Visitors Bureau — now known as Visit Anchorage.

He also held executive positions at Princess Cruises and Alaska Airlines, the latter being his workplace for 17 years.

Bustamante shared his next plans in life and still unknown.