Perspectives on Business and Economics, Vol. 40

30 By contrast, land prices and availability are pervasive challenges. Alaska is the largest state, at roughly 366 million acres; however, the state and federal governments own more than 327 million, while native corporations own an additional 36.7 million, leaving less than 1%, or around one million acres, for private use (U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service, 2020). This scarcity is problematic for businesses seeking permanence. With little land available to purchase, entrepreneurs must rent, incurring this cost over time, an issue particularly in smaller towns, such as Seward, an important port, where just two or three individuals own all the small amount of privately owned land. Rents stay high from lack of alternatives (T. Tougas, remarks to Martindale Center, August 12, 2021). In short, the small population, lack of purchasable land, and high in-state costs make it difficult for Alaskan small, high-growth businesses to compete with firms elsewhere. There are, however, mechanisms in support of small business development. Small Business Aid Although many Alaskan small businesses face barriers, there are several state, regional, university, and industry-specific organizations that support small business development. Two key agencies are the state’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and the University of Alaska Center for Economic Development (CED). Both provide expertise, mentorship, and resources to small businesses. Along with general support, sector-specific state support exists as well. Fishing and tourism policies help both larger and newer developing businesses. Alaska accounts for 60% of seafood harvests in the US (Resource Development Council, 2021). Two major reasons Alaska fishing is so robust and lucrative are the sustainable fisheries management policies—often considered the best in the world— and the marketing of Alaskan seafood as the highest quality. Sustainable catch regulations specific to each region enable large quantities to be harvested commercially and protect subsistence hunting, while maintaining stock to ensure bountiful harvests for years to come (see article by Perillo in this volume). Multiple entities, such as Explore Fairbanks and the Alaska Travel Industry Association, aim to grow the number of visitors and foster the economy. Explore Fairbanks focuses on attracting tourists to the area throughout the year, particularly during the winter when visits significantly decrease. Advertising the northern lights, winter sports, and other activities has led to tourists now contributing 45% of all winter spending in Fairbanks (S. McCrea, remarks to Martindale Center, August 17, 2021). The Alaska Travel Industry Association analyzes tourism in the state and advocates for policies that would support both the industry’s near-term growth and its sustainability for generations to come. In sum, many different groups and resources work to enable small businesses to thrive in Alaska’s harsher circumstances. Most of the focus is on sustaining growth in Alaska’s more established industries. Yet, as discussed in the following section, other sectors have potential too, if similarly cultivated. Unique Opportunities and Niches in Alaska Starting enterprises in Alaska is difficult, but many of the same challenges provide business opportunities. The formula for business success in Alaska is leveraging Alaska-specific advantages coupled with mitigating common barriers. Opportunities stem from Alaska’s existing industries, natural environment, and the pristine Alaska brand. Existing Industries The key industries of fishing, tourism, and aviation each exploit distinct characteristics in the state and have extensive infrastructure already in place. These industries generate opportunities for new small businesses. For example, the numbers of nets, rods, hooks, and other equipment required for production of greater than a billion pounds of seafood each year are substantial (Hutter, 2017). In turn, the large quantities of used gear present more business opportunities: an emerging industry of recycling plants has already renewed over 1 million pounds of fishing equipment (Welch, 2021). Another follow-on resource from fishing is the waste material when seafood is processed to be sold. Where the head and remains of the fish are not good for eating, they are excellent for fish oils and similar products. For instance,