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When it comes to building the economy in communities throughout Alaska, it’s one step at a time.
The past two days show what that looks like in a couple of ways.
The closest to home is Viking Lumber’s new product — a firelog.
The sawmill company, with operations on Prince of Wales Island, has used excess trimmings and sawdust to compress and create firelogs.
The Biking firedogs are being marketed by a distributor, Tongass Wholesale Distribution, which has secured a distribution deal with Walmart; the log will be sold in Walmart’s Alaska stores.
It’s the type of innovation that Alaskans appreciate in an industry that has been operating for decades in Alaska, and it’s a product Alaskans will buy.
Also of note when it comes to the Alaska economy is ConocoPhillips’ newly flowing oil from the first drill site built on federal land in a nearly 100-year-old oil reserve — the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.
The drill site has the potential to increase from nine wells to 33 and reach a peak production of 25,000 to 30,000 barrels of oil daily.
The field has generated about 700 jobs during the past two winters.
While different in many ways, both endeavors involve getting a product to market. The finished products are derived from Alaska’s natural resources.
This might be the beginning of bigger business for both companies. The potential is there, and, if successfully captured, could be integral to Alaska and its communities.