2016 was a tough year for Anchorage. The onset of the first recession our city has seen since the 1980s has created new headwinds that our community has not had to deal with in decades. The current recession is considerably milder than the previous recession that resulted in a disastrous situation of 10 percent of the total jobs being lost in Anchorage. However, the loss of 2 percent of total jobs in 2016 was a definite sharp pinch that was felt across the Anchorage economy.

In the face of these challenging times AEDC worked even harder to provide factual economic information to the business community, community leaders and citizens of our city to help dispel rumors and support sound decision making in the face of the ongoing recession. You’ll see the results of these efforts in the number and scope of the reports AEDC produced, as well as the avenues AEDC used to communicate the important information we produced in 2016.

AEDC also made definitive progress in its efforts to strengthen the foundations of our community through the Live. Work.Play. initiative. With over 200 volunteers and nearly 160 partner businesses, organizations and agencies, Live. Work.Play. achieved marked progress in its efforts to make Anchorage a city in which people would want to invest in and live. AEDC remains very confident that we can succeed in addressing the many challenges our city must overcome to achieve the Live.Work.Play. vision.

AEDC’s focus on the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport as a key element in the future success of the Anchorage economy remained front and center in 2016. In particular, the effort by AEDC to support the creation of the Alaska AeroNexus Alliance was a major step forward in building a new partnership between the City of Anchorage, the Alaska International Airport System and AEDC. The AeroNexus partnership has the potential of significantly expanding the economic impact that the airport has on Anchorage in the near future.

AEDC continued to assist new and existing businesses in 2016 by providing advice and support to 168 businesses. One stand-out initiative was the launching of the “Where to Startup,” video series that provides indispensable advice and council from prominent business figures to entrepreneurs and small business owners. Another major business expansion project is a partnership between the City of Anchorage, Northrim Bank and AEDC to complete a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) for Anchorage by late 2017. The CEDS will put into place vital strategies for growing the Anchorage economy in the years to come.

AEDC’s mission is to grow and diversify the Anchorage economy and to make Anchorage less dependent on oil, gas and government spending for its economic health. We strive to promote reinvestment in our city, to be advocates for affordable health care, housing, education and community safety. We need to ensure that we have a ready and skilled workforce and sound economic policies that promote business investment and job growth. We have to help develop, maintain and improve Anchorage’s quality of life and unique recreational and creative opportunities. As you will read in this annual report to our members and the community, we are making great progress toward accomplishing our mission.