The Anchorage business community is coming together with the city and state to attract new business and investment to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, with the hope of driving economic growth amid an uncertain time for Alaska's economy.
The Alaska International Airport System, the Municipality of Anchorage and the Anchorage Economic Development Corp. on Thursday entered into a partnership they're calling the Alaska AeroNexus Alliance.
The goal of the alliance is to demonstrate the advantages of doing business at the Anchorage airport, including its strategic geographic location, to businesses that rely on air cargo. If successful in drawing new business, that would also benefit the air cargo companies that operate at the airport.
"We're confronting this (state's) fiscal situation, and I think the way to address it is to be aggressive," said Mayor Ethan Berkowitz at an event held Thursday at the airport announcing the alliance. "The response we have is to make sure the airport is vibrant and vital and growing."
Some examples of cargo business the alliance might look to attract include pharmaceuticals, auto parts and electronics, said Bill Popp, CEO of AEDC.
"There are lines of industry that have just been flying through and have not realized the geography of Anchorage and its ability to shorten supply chains," Popp said.
One hope is that the alliance will attract enough investment to add new jobs to the area, though Popp said it's too soon to offer any specifics on how many jobs it could generate. The group will start pitching to various industries later this year.
The state, city, and AEDC also wanted to join together so that companies who want to do business at the airport will have one single entity to deal with when entering the market.
"It's easier to market Anchorage when they see an agreement like this," Berkowitz said. "It gives us a competitive advantage."
Airport Manager John Parrott said the growth of e-commerce and mobile commerce was just one part of the decision to join forces.
"There are a lot of things changing in the global economy," he said. "The opportunity for Alaska in general and Anchorage in particular to serve as a distribution node or a consolidation node or a processing node for some goods … those are the things we believe are opportunities to anchor businesses here in Anchorage."