(Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
Potential shoppers line the sidewalk of South Franklin Street in downtown Juneau. As business returns to near normal, Southeast Alaska’s business community reports optimism about the future, according to a survey shared Thursday with the Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

(Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire) Potential shoppers line the sidewalk of South Franklin Street in downtown Juneau. As business returns to near normal, Southeast Alaska’s business community reports optimism about the future, according to a survey shared Thursday with the Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Positive growth in the forecast for Juneau’s economic climate

Survey results show optimism in Southeast Alaska’s business community.

Southeast Alaska business owners are optimistic about the region’s business climate, according to a recently released regional survey.

Rain Coast Data owner and director Meilani Schijvens on Thursday shared results from this year’s Southeast Alaska Business Climate Survey at the Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Moose Lodge. Schijvens annually oversees the Southeast Conference’s regional business climate survey as a means of tracking Southeast Alaska’s economic status.

She announced that this was the best business climate survey since 2017, with nearly two-thirds (62%) of regional business leaders expressing overall positive outlooks regarding the Southeast Alaska business climate, which is a dramatic increase from just one year ago. Another positive change was that businesses in small rural communities are currently most likely to report their regional economy as “very good.”

President of the Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce Wayne Jensen watches as owner and director of Rain Coast Data Meilani Schijvens presents the results of an annual business climate survey. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

President of the Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce Wayne Jensen watches as owner and director of Rain Coast Data Meilani Schijvens presents the results of an annual business climate survey. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

Schijvens said the survey results are showing the economic outlook is even better, with half of respondents expecting their prospects to be steadily better or much better over the next year, which Schijvens said is the most positive outlook recorded. The tourism and the food/beverage sector are showing the best economic outlooks as commerce is slowly returning after the pandemic. Communities that are displaying the most positive outlook include Hoonah, Skagway and Sitka.

Another positive result from the survey is that businesses are currently in the hiring phase, with more than a quarter (29%) of regional businesses looking to hire and are expecting to add employees over the next year.

Page 3 of Southeast-Alaska-Business-Climate-2022-Final
Contributed to DocumentCloud by Ben Hohenstatt (Juneau Empire) • View document or read text

The No.1 problem currently facing Southeast Alaska is housing ,according to the survey. Business leaders across the board identified housing as being the top issue that needs to be addressed to advance economic growth in the region. But as Wayne Stevens, president and CEO of United Way Southeast Alaska pointed out, housing has always been a challenge for the region.

“I moved to Kodiak in 1982 and when you got off the plane people said ‘Where are you going to live? Did you bring your tent?’ Housing is a challenge everywhere in Alaska, it’s particularly poignant because we’re in Juneau,” said Stevens. “If I moved to Juneau today, based on what the ‘taxman’ thinks my house is worth and my salary today, I couldn’t afford to buy the house that I live in. So, it’s a challenge, there are no easy solutions, it’s a myriad of issues that sort of all mesh together, and there’s no one string that I think you can pull that solves the problem.”

Lastly, the top business barriers and benefits have been identified as remaining the same or similar over time. This year, as was the case in both 2015 and 2010, the region’s quality of life — including recreation, arts and culture — was cited as the region’s biggest benefit by survey respondents.

Similarly, high freight costs, lack of housing, and overall high cost of living remain the region’s top business barriers. One interesting side note to this, however, is that when each business sector is looked at individually, the arts are still most likely to call the economy poor to very poor.

Charlotte Truitt, executive director of the Juneau Symphony, said she sees the problem as being temporary and directly in correlation with the lingering effects of coming out of the pandemic.

“This is our first time that we’re able to sell a full season; after the pandemic we had to sell one concert at a time because we didn’t know what would be happening next and now with the forecast looking optimistic in dealing with COVID we can now return to season tickets,” Truitt said. “Our product is our art that we do in the community, and we were very successful with having virtual concerts, but there’s nothing like being in person. So, we weren’t able to do our product and so now that we can get back to doing our bread and butter, big concerts, that’s why we’re hopeful things will turn around.”

Read the full survey below

• Contact Jonson Kuhn at jonson.kuhn@juneauempire.com

More in News

A Princess Cruise Line ship is docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021. (Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the week of Aug. 7

Here’s what to expect this week.

From left, Kelsey Dean, watershed scientist with the Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition, and Kaagwaan Eesh Manuel Rose-Bell of Keex’ Kwáan watch as crew members set up tools to drag a log into place. Healthy salmon habitat requires woody debris, typically provided by falling branches and trees, which helps create deep salmon pools and varied stream structure. (Courtesy Photos / Mary Catharine Martin)
 
The SalmonState: Bringing the sockeye home

Klawock Indigenous Stewards and partners are working to a once prolific sockeye salmon run.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police ID man missing from cruise ship

Coast Guard suspends search efforts

(Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Saturday, Aug. 10, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

A northern oriole used dietary carotenoids to make its feathers bright orange. (Courtesy Photo / J. S. Willson)
On the Trails: The colorful world of birds

Colors are produced by cell structure, which can scatter light rays, making… Continue reading

(Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Saturday, Aug. 9, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Ice fog, a phrase in Russell Tabbert’s Dictionary of Alaskan English, is not uttered in many other places because to form it takes a sustained temperature of minus 35 F. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell)
Alaska Science Forum: Alaska lexicon sinks in over the years

When my little Ford pickup chugged into Alaska 36 years ago this… Continue reading

Mimi Israelah, center, cheers for Donald Trump inside the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska, during a rally Saturday July 9, 2022. Two Anchorage police officers violated department policy during a traffic stop last month when Israelah, in town for a rally by former President Donald Trump showed a "white privilege card" instead of a driver's license and was not ticketed. (Bill Roth / Anchorage Daily News)
Alaska officers violated policy in ‘white privilege’ stop

It’s unclear what policy was violated or what disciplinary actions the two officers faced.

Most Read