My Turn: Don't bite the hand that feeds us

Alaskans have a very important vote on Aug. 19. Businesses small and large will be affected. Jobs and the Alaskan economy will be at stake.

There has been much discussion about the referendum to repeal Senate Bill 21. We want to share the positive effects SB21 is having on our business, one based here in Alaska.

Cummins Northwest has been in Alaska for 50 years, doing nearly $20 million in annual business. Our 50 employees in Alaska are committed to making the communities in our state stronger. Cummins Northwest wants to remain in Alaska. We want to help employ more Alaskans with high quality, good-paying jobs.

This referendum is really about whether Alaska wants to continue supporting and attracting many other businesses like ours that put people to work and contribute to the economic and social vibrancy of our state.

Since SB21 went into effect this year, our 2014 units, parts and service sales are up 22 percent. The same is true for our many industrial and automotive partners. We see great value in Senate Bill 21. The impact of a more favorable, competitive and predictable tax structure has resulted in the immediate announcement of investment of North Slope oil producers, oil field suppliers and contractors.

Cummins Northwest supports more than 250 customers, half of which directly support the oil and gas industry and the other half supports indirect markets. We’ve been hearing a great deal of concern from our customers on Ballot Measure 1. The potential repeal of SB21 has our business partners stymied and orders have been placed on hold due to the unpredictability.

Opponents say that Senate Bill 21 was a handout to the oil and gas business. We see the opposite. Cummins Northwest views the passage of SB21 as a helping hand to all Alaskans.

Repealing SB21 is biting the hand that feeds us all – each and every one of us. The potential of repeal has given pause to Cummins and those who have made plans for expansion and long-term growth.

Prior to SB21, oil production was at its lowest since 1977 and the oil field support companies were leaving Alaska to fuel other states’ economies. A “no” vote on Ballot Measure 1 is a vote for the future of Alaska. SB21 is working. The oil production decline has stopped. Keep SB21 in place and allow it to work as designed.

For Alaska, we must view SB21 for what it is – a catalyst for investment and the lifeblood of our state and our business. We are fortunate to live in a state with tremendous natural beauty and truly great, hard-working people. Let’s work toward making Alaska even better by voting “no” on Ballot Measure 1 on Aug. 19.

• Tim Kelly is general manager in Alaska for Cummins Northwest.

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