Each year Southeast Conference conducts a regional business climate and investment survey in order to track Southeast Alaska business confidence on an annual basis. The results are analyzed by community and economic sector, allowing the data to be used by policy leaders, program developers, and project proponents to form projections regarding the economic direction of Southeast Alaska.

This year several comprehensive questions regarding COVID-19 business impacts were added to the survey, along with questions to clarify how the private sector can best be supported moving forward moving through this period of pandemic. Open-ended questions allowed for increased input by the business community. The survey analysis provides data so that policy leaders can gauge how ongoing needs vary between sectors, industries, and communities.

This survey was developed in a partnership between Southeast Conference, Spruce Root, the City and Borough of Wrangell, the Petersburg Borough, the Sitka Economic Development Association, the Haines Chamber of Commerce, and the Skagway Development Corporation. Rain Coast Data designed the survey instrument on behalf of this partnership.

The survey invited Southeast Alaska owners and top managers to respond to 28 questions. The web-based survey was administered electronically from June 4th through June 18th. A total of 460 regional business leaders participated in the survey, representing 8,550 current regional workers. The survey results include the following findings:

The survey results include the following findings:

Just over half of businesses have received COVID-19 support funding, including 47% that received PPP funding.
Responding employers have already laid off 18.6% their total workforce due to the COVID-19 virus, and cancelled hiring an additional 3,630 workers – mostly in the tourism sector. One-quarter of businesses expect to cut more staff.
Regional business revenue was down 57% on average in 2020 so far, compared to the same period in 2019. By industry, the tourism and arts sectors have experienced the greatest revenue losses, while mining and timber have seen the smallest. Businesses in Skagway and Haines reported the highest revenue losses in the region.
One-quarter of respondents say that they are at risk closing permanently, while one-third say that are not at risk. The mining and finance industries have the lowest risk of closing due to the pandemic, while child care, social services, and the food/drink sectors have the greatest risk.
89% of respondents call the current economy poor or very poor, and 62% feel that the upcoming year will be worse.