Alaska Forward: Towards a Next Generation Economy

ECG was retained in 2009-10 to deliver the Alaska Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (ACEDS), Phase 1: Situational Analysis.

Challenge: In 2009, Alaska was faced with a one dimensional economy—natural resources-- at a time when demand for the products and services of other reasonably strong sectors at the time—tourism, sea food—were being hit hard by the national recession and long-standing sectors—forestry, boat building—were in very steep decline. Leaders knew that a fresh look at the economy, updated forecasts, and new ways of thinking about economic development were necessary.

Solution: ECG's economic analysts and economic development strategy experts were retained in a highly competitive selection process to take on the challenge. We designed a project of two phases, the first was to produce a comprehensive situation analysis and the second to mobilize state leaders and go to work, cluster-by-cluster to identify critical issues and to go to work with new public policies, new public-private partnerships and new institutional reforms to revitalize the state's economy. Bringing the best of the ECG family into the effort, the economic experts in ECG were linked up with the oil and gas experts of ECG CERA (Cambridge Energy Research Associates) to develop the assessment. Analyses were made of the current economic situation, forecasts for oil and gas, comparative benchmarks, and the capacity of the state's economic development organizations to tackle the challenge.

Results: Alaska is now using the Situation Assessment to mobilize and inform the efforts of cluster working groups being implemented across the state. They include: Tourism, Trade and Logistics, Forest Products and Alternative Energy. Each group is moving forward with actionable solutions, soon to be woven into a state strategic plan for economic development that is already being implemented at the regional level. Overseeing this effort is the Alaska Forward Leadership Council made up of top business leaders, the president of the university and the executive team of the state department of economic development.

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