• Client: Southeast Conference
  • Date: Apr 2019
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In April of 2019, 320 Southeast Alaska business owners and top managers from 25 communities responded to Southeast Conference’s annual Business Climate and Private Investment Survey. More than half (59%) of respondents were positive about the economy, calling the business climate “good” or “very good,” an increase of 4% from last year. Looking forward, Southeast Alaska business leaders overall have a similar outlook from a year ago. More than half (56%) of survey respondents expect their prospects to remain status quo, 30% expect their prospects to improve in the coming year, and 14% expect decline. This represents a one percent increase in overall positive outlook over last year. Businesses in Hollis, Gustatvus, Hoonah and Skagway reported the outlooks that are most likely to improve. The timber, food and beverage, and tourism industries reported the most improving outlooks by industry. A new question added to the survey this year was regarding hiring expectations over the next year. More than a quarter of business leaders surveyed expect to add jobs to their businesses over the next 12 months, while 51% expect to maintain total jobs, and 11% expect to reduce total employees. The largest gains are expected in the visitor industry, where a staggering 42% of respondents expect to increase their total staff in up coming year. Skagway employers expect the most significant job gains. Juneau and Petersburg are the least likely to add jobs next year. This year businesses were also asked to rate their preferences regarding how they would like to see to the state achieve a balanced budget, and 320 Southeast business leaders from 25 communities provided their insights. Of the 15 categories of budget components businesses were asked to rank, the top four elements Southeast business leaders would most like to see used to address the fiscal gap include: 1) Reducing oil tax credits (77%); 2) Reducing individual PFD payments (72%); 3) Increasing the percent of market value earnings from the Permanent Fund used to pay for state services (66%); and 4) Instituting a state-wide income tax (63%). The categories businesses would least like to see used to balance the state budget include cuts to the Alaska Marine Highway System, cuts to K-12 education, and implementation of a state property tax. Southeast businesses said they invested approximately $221 million in their businesses last year. The report includes open-ended responses.

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