We Are Not Alone
Writing about business in Alaska is much easier than many might think because we are not as isolated as we seem. This state is home to the world’s most important and dynamic industries, as well as innovative thinkers who continue to advance Alaska’s technological capabilities, connecting us with the rest of the world in a way never before possible. Depending on where you are in the state you can communicate with anyone, anywhere, anytime—and more and more even your location becomes irrelevant as companies like Quintillion push forward projects like the subsea fiber optic cable system completed by the company earlier this year.
The entire state of Alaska may have the population of a large city in the Lower 48, but its global connections and relationships with partner industries provide the team at Alaska Business nearly endless industry topics to expound upon.
Take ocean shipping, truck, rail, and logistics company Matson, for example. Matson for the first time linked its northern Pacific network with its South Pacific operations in 2016 with the introduction of its South Pacific Express service between Honolulu, Samoa, and American Samoa, creating a contiguous network spanning the Pacific Ocean. The company continued its expansion plans by investing in Alaska through the acquisition of Span Alaska, a provider of LCL freight consolidation and forwarding services. And that’s just the beginning of the company’s investments here over the past few years (even as the economy was crashing, Matson continued to invest millions of dollars into infrastructure projects, expansion efforts, and philanthropic work).
While Matson is busily connecting Alaska with Hawaii and the Pacific Northwest, the Port of Alaska is also connecting the state to essential hubs throughout the rest of the country, accepting cargo deliveries that keep the our stores stocked, fuel in our cars and homes, and the raw materials needed to further develop Alaska’s infrastructure moving. But for how long?
The Port of Alaska is in need of repairs that cannot be ignored, says Jim Jager, external affairs manager for the Port of Alaska. Marine vessels account for 90 percent of all fuel and freight shipped to this state and half of the cargo that comes in is moved out of Anchorage by truck, plane, or barge. But the Port of Alaska is literally falling apart at the seams and, according to Jager, won’t last much more than another decade, and that’s if we don’t get hit by a big earthquake or some other natural disaster. By nearly every account, it’s time to revitalize the Port of Alaska.
Alaskans have the best of both worlds. We are easily able to find solace and solitude even in the middle of the state’s largest city, but we’re also deeply connected to the rest of the country and world.
Even the healthcare industry links us with the Outside as many patients travel to the Pacific Northwest to find specialty care that is not available here. And many of us are only able to afford such trips thanks to organizations such as Airlift Northwest, established by a consortium of Seattle hospitals with a mission of providing high-quality medical transportation for underserved areas in Alaska. Also Alaska Airlines, which provides Alaska Airlines Club 49 members with two tickets at a 30 percent discount annually to use any time with a four-day notice.
More often than not, when people describe Alaska, the words they use are beautiful, remote; pristine, wilderness; isolation; and rural living. And while Alaska is all of that and much more, it’s also not an island. In this issue we explore our connections with the Outside and how we make the most of our relationships with businesses and organizations in the Pacific Northwest, Hawaii, and the rest of the world.
—Kathryn Mackenzie, Managing Editor, Alaska Business