How do Alaska’s natural resource industries support jobs in our region?

By: Alicia Teel Posted: 06/13/2019

Three things we learned at June's Alaska Business Forum

(L-R: Speakers Kara Moriarty, Deantha Crockett, and Marleanna Hall) 

Alaska’s natural resources support jobs and revenue for the Seattle metro region. At our June 7 Alaska Business Forum, three leaders representing Alaska’s natural resources dove into this connection.

Three key things we learned:

  1. Natural resources are more than oil and gas

    Marleanna Hall, executive director of the Resource Development Council for Alaska, outlined the five main sectors that make up the state’s natural resources industry:

        •   Fisheries
        •  Forestry
        •   Mining
        •  Oil and Gas
        •  Tourism

    Our speakers highlighted the innovation Alaska demonstrates in these fields, from industry-leading sustainability practices in fisheries, to business-labor partnerships in workforce development for the oil and gas industries, to stringent reclamation processes after a mine site closes.

    Even as oil and gas remain a cornerstone of the Alaskan economy, accounting for one-third of Alaska’s jobs, speakers stressed the interconnectedness of all five natural resource sectors. “All of us are needed to be successful,” said Kara Moriarty, president and CEO of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association.

    Their ongoing vitality is important to our region, too. Thousands of jobs in the Seattle metro region are linked to these industries because of our proximity to Alaska.

  2. Alaska is a key market for our cargo industry

    Deantha Crockett, executive director of the Alaska Miners Association, cut to the chase about the role of the Seattle metro region for Alaska’s mining industry: “You’re a pipeline of supplying what we need to get our jobs done.” She explained that a high volume of large equipment and materials – such as wheels and tires, explosives, and cement – used by the mining industry is shipped by companies here.

    Hall noted that seafood, Alaska’s top overseas export, also depends on our region’s cargo industry. Seafood is a major backhaul item and Hall pointed to several local companies in attendance, including Carlile, Lynden, TOTE, and Alaska Airlines, that play essential roles in getting Alaskan seafood to market.

  3. A rising tide of tourism lifts both states

    Hall reported that Alaska welcomed 2.26 million visitors last year, roughly half by cruise ship. They spent an estimated $2.2 billion in 2018, and tourism now accounts for one in 10 jobs in Alaska.

    Tourists visiting Alaska are an important customer segment for employers in the Seattle metro region, including Holland America Line, Alaska Airlines, the Port of Seattle, and our local hospitality sector. The Port of Seattle reports that Seattle has more than 213 vessel calls projected between April and October 2019, bringing more than a million visitors to the region.

    Each vessel call supports an estimated $4.2 million in economic activity for our region. An average cruise visitor spends $1,547 in Seattle businesses on lodging, entertainment, food and beverage, transportation, and souvenirs during their visit.  Suppliers from across the state, including seafood and produce companies, florists, farmers, vineyards, and maritime support industries have built strong businesses selling to cruise companies. 


The Alaska Business Forum series helps you stay engaged on issues related to doing business in Alaska. The series, which runs September through June, also helps you connect with other businesses in the Seattle metro region that are active in Alaska. For more information, please contact Betsy Paige, our program lead for this series.