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From the Editor: Alaska Economy Looking Up


“We have built a solid foundation of opportunity here in Alaska,” Governor Sean Parnell wrote for Alaska Business Monthly’s annual Mid-Year Economic Outlook (Page 25). I can’t help but agree that the opportunity is here and it’s time to capitalize on it. There are kernels of wisdom in all the comments proffered for this special section and I’d like to share a few.

Engineer of the Year Colin Maynard, a Principal with BBFM Engineers Inc., shared that “the engineering industry outlook is for a pretty flat year.” That may change, though. Institute of the North Executive Director Nils Andreason reminds us that “there is a significant amount of work being done to assess Alaska’s strategic role as an Arctic state; infrastructure needs as they relate to safe, secure, and reliable operations; and approach to issues such as research, resource management, and response capacity.”

AGC of Alaska Executive Director John MacKinnon tells us that “in spite of reductions in defense spending, the building construction side of the market continues strong, though still below capacity.” We always have room to grow the economy.

AEDC President and CEO Bill Popp wrote, “Business and professional services, health care, oil and gas, and construction are the industry leaders that are pushing the Anchorage economy to new heights.”

Those thoughts are echoed by Visit Anchorage President and CEO Julie Saupe as she explores in length how visitor industry efforts will “quite likely make 2013 the new high mark for Alaska tourism.”

Not every sector will see increases, though.

Vice President and Senior Economist Marcus L. Hartley with the research and analysis firm Northern Economics gives a warning that “the increasing value of the dollar relative to other currencies, particularly the Japanese Yen, coupled with the recession in Europe, could mean lower revenues for Alaska’s seafood exporters.” This will have an impact on our international trade bottom line.

World Trade Center Alaska Executive Director Greg Wolf forecasts “when 2013 results are tallied, Alaskan exports will be in the $4.3 billion to $4.5 billion range.”

Avalon Development Corp. President Curtis J. Freeman began his commentary with: “The mineral industry this year has a split personality.” You’ll have to read the Mid-Year Economic Outlook for the rest of his wisdom.

Alaska Oil and Gas Association Executive Director Kara Moriarty explains how “the oil and gas industry continues to have mega opportunities but continually faces challenges.”

The voice of Alaska’s transportation industry continues that train of thought. Alaska Trucking Association Executive Director Aves Thompson wrote that “the oil tax reform issue still hangs over our heads, so I think we remain cautiously optimistic.”

“We plan to continue our strategic growth,” asserts Aleut Corporation CEO David Gillespie. “These businesses are in position to strengthen Alaska’s economy,” states Calista Corporation President and CEO Andrew Guy. “I am optimistic about the state of Alaska’s economy.” comments Doyon, Limited President and CEO Aaron Schutt.

Alaska Native regional corporation leaders express growth, strength, and optimism for Alaska. I like that. I like the July issue, too. The team at Alaska Business Monthly has produced another really great magazine.


This article first appeared in the July 2013 print edition of Alaska Business Monthly magazine.
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