Alaska: State of Entrepreneurship

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The Center for Economic Development released Alaska: State of Entrepreneurship, a comprehensive look at the impact entrepreneurs and startups have on our state’s economy.

Read the full report here: Alaska: State of Entrepreneurship, and in the meantime, here's an excerpt to whet your palette! 

"As Alaska’s economy finds itself mired in a recession caused by low oil prices, the state’s entrepreneurs continue to launch startups and create jobs at pre-recession levels. In fact, preliminary estimates suggest that the recession has done little to dampen the potent force of entrepreneurial job creation, even as the rest of the economy sees employment declines. Policymakers and civic leaders easily overlook the formation of new businesses as an engine of prosperity.

Alaska: The State of Entrepreneurship is an attempt to better understand and characterize this engine. In doing so, we analyze data that has not been previously published in an Alaska-specific context. Interwoven with the data are stories from real-life entrepreneurs to add texture and aid interpretation. The report puts numbers and narrative to the jobs that startup businesses create and shows how they are maintained despite the notoriously high failure rate of new firms. We then explore the variations in these trends throughout Alaska’s diverse geography. In the process, we find surprising nuance to the state’s urban-rural divide. Taking the geography of entrepreneurship a step further, we place Alaska in its national context. Here again, the results are surprising and show that by some measures Alaskans are among the most entrepreneurial inhabitants of any state.

Going deeper, we explore the motivations, experience, and traits of entrepreneurs themselves. Here again we rely on a mix of data and personal experiences to begin the process of understanding why someone might forgo security and stability to start a risky enterprise. Topics examined include capital needs and sources, serial entrepreneurship, and the demographics of business ownership. Like business owners in the US at large, Alaska’s entrepreneurs are likelier than not to be older, male, and non-minority than the bulk of the population.

As Alaska’s economy faces headwinds, a better understanding of entrepreneurship could yield high payoffs in the form of jobs and general prosperity. This report is intended to stir dialog and discussion about the importance of entrepreneurship. While it does not make specific recommendations, we hope it will serve as a starting point to explore other aspects of entrepreneurship in the near future."

Gretchen Fauske