ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A survey of Alaska’s business climate by cable channel CNBC rates Alaska dead last. The survey portrays an expensive state with weak infrastructure, and might convince some companies to avoid the Last Frontier.
CNBC does the survey each year to show viewers and readers how the business climates of various states compare to one another. Alaska has never fared well, and on Wednesday the state Chamber of Commerce had the opportunity to ask survey author Scott Cohn why.
Cohn, a senior CNBC correspondent, received a fairly warm welcome from the chamber despite the news he came to deliver -- and the reasons behind it. According to CNBC's report, Alaska has slow broadband, bad roads and burdensome regulations.
“High wages and high utility costs and high workers' comp costs, relative to the other states,” Cohn said. “You also have high rent -- we look at office rent and industrial rent, so the cost of space in Alaska is relatively high.”
Cohn says the good news for Alaska includes the state’s low taxes and high quality of life.
“Capital is looking for a place to go; people are looking for investment opportunities. That's something that may be an opportunity for Alaska,” Cohn said.
But some local business leaders take issue with national surveys like CNBC's, and suggest that comparing Southcentral Alaska to other metro areas might yield a more accurate picture.
“Trying to do a broad-brushstroke, apples-to-apples comparison is really hard in fact -- I think it's impossible,” said Anchorage Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Bill Popp. “Anchorage is a great story to tell: we're doing very well as an economy nationally, we rank as one of the top cities to be in the United States in terms of employment.”
Cohn says not to attach too much importance to the survey -- after all, Alaska's business leaders know why they came here and stayed.
Texas took first place in the survey, with Virginia and Colorado also ranked well. Other states listed towards the bottom include Rhode Island, Nevada and Hawaii.
Contact Ted Land at firstname.lastname@example.org