Haines largest employer is reported to be Ocean Beauty in Excursion Inlet, which is located about 90 miles from town and seasonal, the next largest employer is our Borough with 63+ employees. I believe State workers are the next largest employer providing local jobs and then probably our non-profit sector followed by seasonal workers or employers.
The real question is can Haines survive with more austere budget changes in Washington DC and a continuing decline oil production from the North Slope here in Alaska?
According to State Legislature records in 2011 our State budget was predicated on $74 per barrel oil! To maintain our current State budget with a 48% decline in production would require the price of oil to hold at approximately $106 per barrel.
Alaska has been lucky during the past 23 years that the price of oil has escalated to the highest historical levels and has benefited directly, but how many remember the 1980's when the price of oil dropped to $8 and a rumored 50,000 folks left Alaska?
We do not have oil, but we do have mineral rich deposits which could be mined, jobs developed and year-round employment provided and help stabilize and diversify our community. Of course we have local environmentalist who will fight to prevent this from happening up until they lose their jobs or their trust funds run out.
But what happened to free enterprise in Haines? Apparently our Assembly still feels they can control it when it comes to winter activities and based on their current negotiations are willing to only allow 2 or 3 local businesses to have access to Heli-Skiing or any winter related "tours". Why not return to American values and permit anyone to apply for the right to start a business and perhaps bring new "outside" money into Haines to develop a full-fledged ski lodge and ski resort type enterprise.
However, only allowing 2-3 local businesses does enable those entities to increase their corporate value and they could sell to the highest bidder and these monopolistic controls certainly prevents any big player with entering the market without buying out one of the 3. None of the 3 local entities have the capital necessary to develop our area into a world class ski area without huge infusions of capital and our Borough certainly does not have the financial resources unless of course they return to the "public trough" for more grants.
I believe in America's private enterprise system.
Haines seems more and more like a Village rather than a City when it comes to the American free enterprise values!