The Anchorage Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) hosted its Annual 3-Year Outlook luncheon today. The event always packs the house and this year included an update from Mayor Dan Sullivan on Investments in Anchorage, the 3-Year Outlook from AEDC President & CEO, Bill Popp, and a Keynote Address from Terry Jones, Founder & Former CEO of Travelocity.com, and Chairman of Kayak.com.
Mayor Sullivan’s presentation outlined the strength of investments throughout Anchorage in the past few years and gave examples of continued growth for the Municipality. He highlighted that the Municipality is currently retiring bonds faster than they are being incurred, which is reducing debt for the city. There has been over $372 million spent in road improvements since 2009. Community and neighborhood parks have also been a focus in the past few years. Since 2009, there have been 100 park improvement projects, totaling $20 million. Park rehab has been assisted by more than 460,000 volunteer hours. There will be another 8 neighborhood park projects in 2015.
The Mayor also outlined non-government projects that are helping Anchorage thrive as the Municipality prepares to celebrate Anchorage’s Centennial in 2015. Special events have already started and there are many great activities on the calendar throughout the remainder of 2014 and into 2015. More information about Anchorage’s Centennial Celebration can be found at www.Anchoragecentennial.org.
Bill Popp then took the stage to present the 3-Year Economic Outlook for Anchorage. He started on a high note, saying that the Anchorage Consumer Index is at an all-time high of 63.3 percent. This figure includes three statistics. The first is local economic confidence at 65.2 percent; personal finance confidence at 67.1 percent; and future expectations at 60.4 percent. While all three represent a good outlook, respondents were not as confident in the future as they were in the current economic situation.
The 3-Year Outlook looks at population, employment, personal income, Anchorage airport passenger numbers, air freight volume, building permit values, port volumes, Anchorage visitor industry, and Alaska North Slope crude oil prices as indicators of the economic strength in Anchorage. Highlights from Popp’s presentation include a 4.5 percent growth in personal income. This is likely to be bolstered by a string of larger Permanent Fund Dividend checks in the coming years. Experts are predicting a boost due to loss of 2008 and 2009 averages when oil prices were significantly lower than they are today.
Air travel is also expected to increase in the coming years and is predicted to see record or near record numbers by 2017. Individuals and families are traveling again after holding off during the recession. This is great news for Anchorage and all of Alaska. The Anchorage Visitor Industry as a whole is doing well because the great work of Visit Anchorage, who promotes travel to Anchorage at industry shows throughout the world. Their hard work is really paying off in the level of visitors coming to Anchorage.
Air freight volume and Port of Anchorage volume has been relatively flat in recent years. The freight volume forecast can be attributed to a shift in the logistics/supply industry. The industry is becoming more efficient and able to use surface transportation more than before, which reduces air freight in and out of Anchorage. They are also using larger planes, which increases the amount of freight being carried by fewer planes. The larger planes are able travel different routes, that do not always include stopping in Anchorage. Much of the volume that comes through the Port of Anchorage is fuel and with the loss of Flint Hills and fewer planes coming through with freight, the fuel volume has decreased in recent years. There has been a slight recovery from the Flint Hills loss, but not enough to give a huge upswing.
Popp concluded his presentation with his thoughts on why it is important to 'Vote No on 1' in the upcoming primary election. The Board of Directors of AEDC supports 'Vote No' because they believe that a stable tax structure is the way to keep Alaska’s economy strong and therefore keep Anchorage’s economy strong. This is one way that we as citizens can have some say in the future of our city and state. He encouraged everyone to get out and 'Vote No on 1' on August 19. With the large amount of applause from the crowd, it was obvious that many in the room supported this stance.
A full luncheon recap can be found at www.aedcweb.com, as well as the Anchorage Consumer Optimism Index, and the presentations from the luncheon.