SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions


By Deborah Hayden


June 22 2015
Monday PM

Recently, in a brilliant move, Governor Walker convened a group of experts in Fairbanks and is entertaining suggestions for building a sustainable fiscal future for Alaska. The Rasmuson Foundation created a position paper with options for cutting education and social service funding, adding taxes and using Permanent Fund reserves and other Permanent Fund revenue to fill the oil revenue gap. I submit offer an additional option. If we increase revenues for local governments, they can fund more of their own education and social service expenses.

Many states have adopted a program called Economic Gardening. This targets growth businesses and provides assistance that takes them to the next level. Specialists help CEOs identify which issues are hindering their growth and then leverage sophisticated tools to deliver insights and information that CEOs can apply immediately. Not only does this create new jobs and healthy businesses, it also increases local sales and property tax revenue.

Over 30 years ago, Littleton, Colorado had lost its major industrial company, Martin Marietta. 7,800 people were laid off. After instituting Economic Gardening, jobs tripled and sales tax revenue went up 350%. Littleton resolved never again to rely on a single industry for its economic health.

We do not need to prop up the state government’s role as sugar daddy to local governments with new taxes and incursions on the Permanent Fund. The need is to replace oil revenue with a diverse base of vibrant businesses that access global markets.

This program has spread from Colorado across the country. States which have some form of Economic Gardening are: Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma.

The Edward Lowe Foundation operates the Center for Economic Gardening which has information and training on how to implement an economic gardening program:

At the very least we can investigate the possibilities of instituting such a program and adapting it to Alaska’s economic environment. It can be an important part of the mix that will create a sustainable fiscal future for Alaska.

In 2012 and 2013, I operated a similar program in Ketchikan, the first in Alaska. We created or retained 15 jobs and helped 13 organizations improve operations. We can do it in Ketchikan, and we can do it across Alaska. In other locations these programs receive continuing funding from local or state governments. It is entirely possible to structure a program that, within a short time, funds itself. There is no downside to this initiative. Let’s do it.

It’s time.

Deborah Hayden,
Certified Economic Developer
Economic Development Finance Professional
Ketchikan, Alaska


Received June 16, 2015 - Published June 22, 2015



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