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Thirty Years of Alaska Business Monthly


Last month we wrapped up thirty years of Alaska Business Monthly, which began with its first issue in January 1985 and has evolved over the years. In reviewing past issues it became apparent some things have remained, though renamed. For example On The Move was the original Right Moves, featuring photos and briefs about new hires and promotions in the Alaska business and industry community. There was an earlier form of Inside Alaska Business. The Economy According To Safir was a precursor to Alaska Trends, with charts consisting of data tables and statistics, plus a regular column by Economist Andrew Safir, president of Recon Research Corporation in San Francisco, now located in Los Angeles.

Safir, who still has energy clients doing business in Alaska and travels here to sport fish, spoke briefly about his thoughts on the Alaska economy from his office in Los Angeles. He pointed out that the new group coming in (Governor Bill Walker and his administration) looks less favorably to the TransCanada gas pipeline. Safir says the philosophy is well vindicated with the Permanent Fund—it remains well funded with money from when oil was high and the investments have grown—it’s not going away. He also assured me the price of oil won’t stay low forever, it will come back up. Intrinsically we know that, though it is good to be reminded.

The magazine has continuously brought readers some form or another of Alaska Trends, including Alaska Trends: An Economic Perspective, which was another commentary with charts and numbers that featured in-depth facts and figures and data sets of economic indicators for Alaska. Eventually, Alaska Trends evolved into what is now produced by the University of Alaska Anchorage College of Business and Public Policy—interesting facts and data as well as timely articles about some aspect of the economy.

As far as interesting stories, we’ve had thirty years of those, and expect thirty more. Many on the same themes and subjects, building a natural gas pipeline, producing coal in the Beluga fields on the western shores of Cook Inlet, petroleum development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, riding the economy up and down through times of busts and booms. From the death of the timber industry by environmentalists to the birth of real-time communications by telecom giants throughout the state—in 1985 we reported: “Twenty years later and millions of dollars later, every Alaskan community with twenty-five residents or more is served by at least a single telephone.” That was a huge boon to companies wanting to do business in the Bush—must have a telephone. Thirty years later and hundreds of millions of dollars later, broadband access is the must-have for every Alaska community, and is available nearly everywhere in Alaska.

Although the production schedule that comes with being a monthly magazine forgoes breaking news in the print edition, we sure do have it on our website. The majority of akbizmag.com content is press releases so readers get breaking news from companies, organizations, and government officials and agencies as it happens. Our website is the go-to spot to find out what is going on in Alaska business. In the monthly edition of the magazine we always work hard to expand those stories and bring readers in-depth, informative, business news from across the many sectors of the Alaska economy to our readers.

We’ve always had the Top 49ers. In 1985 it was The New 49ers and Carr-Gottstein Co., Inc. was number one with $355 million in gross revenues and 2,250 employees. There were nine banks on that first Top 49ers list, not so many thirty years later.

We started our popular listings in 1988 with an Alaska Ports directory in the November issue that year, followed by an Alaska Native Corporations special section and directory the following month. Through the years the special sections and directories have grown and changed with the nature of business enterprises in Alaska. It’s a formula that’s proved successful for the magazine and popular with our readers. Somewhere along the way we started the Power List, that extra publication with all the directories we publish through the year plus others. It’s the year-round desk reference of Alaska businesses.

Alaska Business Monthly has sponsored and promoted the Junior Achievement Alaska Business Hall of Fame since 1987 when JA Alaska began honoring Alaska business leaders. This continues to be a favorite endeavor and commitment of Alaska Business Monthly that we are proud to sponsor every year and feature as a special section each year in the January issue. We salute this year’s Laureates as we do each year. We encourage all businesses and business people to become involved and assist Junior Achievement in bringing financial literacy to the youth of Alaska—in every community.

Something new and different this year, our thirty-first, is our mobile migration. Beginning this month there is a digital app for the magazine. Paid subscribers will have it at no extra charge. To get the app, go to our website, which we’re re-launching this month with mobile optimization and a cross-platform, multi-device design.

Whichever way you’re reading Alaska Business Monthly this month, enjoy! The team has put together another really great magazine.

—Susan Harrington, Managing Editor

This first appeared in the January 2015 print edition of Alaska Business Monthly magazine.

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