Let’s take a break from the heat of the U. S. Senate race. Let’s look at the Governor’s race through the prism of the Alaskan economy. We need the best economic jockey as Governor to champion our state’s economy for the next four years.
Trash talking the Alaskan economy is bad karma. Candidate Obama blasted the national economy for two years prior to his election. As President, he’s had to deal with the lack of consumer confidence he created. Consumer purchases make up 70% of the Gross National Product. Obama scared consumers. Consumers stopped spending. Gubernatorial candidates should restrain their wild claims and rhetoric about Alaska’s economy. After all, we were virtually exempt from the national recession.
Voters should base economic decisions on the reality of the market, not campaign slogans. If someone tells you that the housing market is bad, check facts. Are condo values really are up 13% in Anchorage? Yes. Are Alaskan foreclosures second lowest in the USA? Yes. Real estate is a body count business. Alaska’s population is growing from adult immigration for the first time in a decade. So housing is strong.
Service industries providing goods to military bases in Southcentral and the Interior are stabilizing foundations of local economies. Our training spaces and welcome mat for the military are rewarded. Alaska’s strategic location means we can deliver troops, airfreight and fresh fish to 90% of the populated world in nine hours or less. Our Governor can foster strong job creation by replacing Outside contractors and suppliers with local small business. Human and financial capital are all that’s needed to fuel jobs.
Growth is roaring back in international airfreight. Alaskans can create small businesses that capitalize on the high value airfreight coming through Anchorage. The Journal of Commerce stated: “January through May (2010) North America international traffic increased 31.5 percent as capacity dipped 0.3 percent year-over-year; May traffic surged 35.3 percent and capacity upticked 4.8 percent year-over-year - the first year-over-year capacity gain.” Let’s capitalize on airfreight by warehousing high value goods for International manufacturers. Let’s create “hub” small businesses that repair high value electronics like computers,
Our Governor’s role is critical for the future expansion of oil and gas. In 2011, the Liberty field alone will add 40,000 barrels per day to the Alyeska oil line. I see two distinct approaches. Ethan Berkowitz proposes negotiating new royalty rates for each field, further destabilizing fiscal certainty. Governor Parnell proposes capping progressive tax rates and using tax credits to expand Alaska crude production. Berkowitz wants the State to build a gas line to Valdez. Parnell wants the private sector to build a Y line to Valdez and the lower forty-eight. Which approach creates more Alaskan jobs? Decide and vote accordingly.
Voters can gain a reality check on a large part of Alaska’s economy by reading the annual Milken Foundation’s survey of 374 USA metropolitan statistical areas. The Anchorage metropolitan area was recognized as the 2010 8th best performing economy in the entire United States. Milken compares all MSA’s for job growth 2004-2009, job growth 2008-2009, 5-year wages and salary growth and the most important report card: job growth April 2009 - April 2010. We should adopt that methodology to help each region of the state join the top 2% of the nation in economic results as Anchorage has done.
During the Reagan years, I served on the SBA National Advisory Council and learned that small business - not big projects - make up the real strength of growing economies. Milken found that MSA’s with high military populations, diverse economies, high tech skills, performing education systems, available energy and lower taxes do much better than other local economies. The Milken report means Governor Sean Parnell gets an A for handling Alaska’s economy. And, he gets my vote. Regardless of the trash talk, he’s quietly and competently delivered results. With a conservative approach to governing and a stable base, let’s expand this positive Southcentral economic model to create more jobs in every region of Alaska.