Council survey to gauge state's economic future

Results intended to show what development options Alaskans want to pursue

Posted: Friday, October 08, 2004

The Juneau Economic Development Council is floating a questionnaire statewide to learn about Alaska's economic development conditions and what residents want in the future.

The council, which promotes economic development in Juneau, Southeast and through statewide programs, launched the study last month at the Pioneers of Alaska conference in Juneau, JEDC Executive Director Lance Miller said.

"Often the people in politics are the ones who get all the press, but what about the people (pioneers) who've been here?" Miller said Thursday.

The survey asked Alaska residents what they thought were the state's top three potential economic growth areas.

Gerald Lind, a retired Petersburg commercial fisherman and a Pioneers member who responded to the questionnaire, said commercial fishing, timber and fast freight ferries have growth opportunities.

Commercial fishing could be advanced if fishermen had better transportation to get their product to markets outside of Alaska, Lind said. Improvements could be made through the use of fast freight ferries and air freight, he said.

More modern sawmills could help revive Alaska's timber industry, Lind said.

Lind also said he wants another airline to serve Southeast Alaska and compete with Alaska Airlines.

Other questions include what strengths Alaskans should capitalize on, the best way to keep the next generation here and how the state should secure its financial future.

To offset responses from pioneers, JEDC sent the questionnaire to Alaskans in their 30s and 40s last week, Miller said.

The council will collect the information through the end of this year, he said, but he is not sure how it will use the data.

"The results to date show something worthwhile to talk about," said Miller, who declined to discuss the responses.

• Tara Sidor can be reached at

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