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A bit of optimism can go a long way, and it’s good to know Ketchikan has some optimism regarding the year ahead.
On Wednesday, Rasmuson Foundation President Diane Kaplan opened her remarks at the Greater Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce luncheon by asking attendees whether they were hopeful or worried about 2017.
The response was mostly one of optimism, based in part on the community’s strong tourism economy. Kaplan noted that Ketchikan’s response is an “outlier for around the state,” which is seeing much concern about how the state’s fiscal situation will affect communities.
That Ketchikan’s situation might be somewhat different than many Alaska communities is plausible.
While the First City certainly is feeling and will feel further effects from the state’s budget problems, the local economy has more than one leg to stand on.
The visitor industry continues to be robust, with a potential record number of cruise ship passengers on the horizon for 2017 in addition to all of the independent travelers coming to fish and sightsee. Commercial fisheries remain viable, peaking with the summer salmon season and continuing with the geoduck clam, sea cucumber, sea urchin, halibut, black cod, shrimp and other fisheries. The Ketchikan Shipyard operated by Vigor Alaska is a strong economic contributor, as is the Alaska Marine Highway System and PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center. Mining in the region remains a strong possibility with an uptick in mineral prices. Local schools are good, as are local public facilities.
Ketchikan has reasons for optimism, but having reasons for a positive outlook doesn’t always mean there is one. That’s up to the people of Ketchikan.
We’re truly fortunate that Ketchikan residents tend to have a strong sense of community. There’s a general willingness to work together and support each other here that, we believe, contributes greatly to a sense of optimism. We’ve been through good times and bad, and we know how the community can pull together.
The combination of community resiliency and economic diversification is a solid foundation for Ketchikan as it looks forward to the months of 2017 still ahead. We can find some power in that positive thinking.