By Alex DeMarban Alaska Dispatch News, Anchorage
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Several Alaskan entrepreneurs and investors will share their ideas as part of a summit organized by Rick Goodfellow, known for his own unique businesses, "Ghost Tours of Anchorage" and classical music station KLEF.
Undaunted by Alaska's economic recession, some local entrepreneurs are sinking money into their business and enjoying strong growth.
An Anchorage meal delivery company revamped its operation last year with a giant remodel, and sharply increased business. A new maker of carbon-fiber airplane parts is so busy he has a three-month backlog.
Owners of those companies and several others will share their ideas Thursday as part of a summit organized by Rick Goodfellow, known for his own unique businesses, Ghost Tours of Anchorage and classical music station KLEF. Also on tap will be angel fund investors, economic gurus and others.
The "KLEF Prosperity Summit" will shine a light on economic opportunities and hopefully foster innovation, Goodfellow said.
He said he's tired of waiting for Alaska's boom-bust economy to turn around by itself, something that could take decades. So he's forking over about $20,000 of his own money to host the all-day summit. The event runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Hotel Captain Cook ballroom.
"I see no point in simply waiting for something to turn up," Goodfellow said.
One panelist will be Linnea Cummings, co-owner of Alaska Dinner Factory. She said business is up sharply since she expanded the kitchen last year for more than $150,000. The upgrade allowed the company to focus on delivering frozen dinner packages. Gone was the option that allowed people to assemble their own meals at the shop.
The changes made the operation more efficient, she said. Despite the economic downturn, people still lead busy lives and want batches of ready-made meals they can pull from the freezer.
"I'm not feeling the pinch in the economy as much as what I'm hearing," she said. "I don't think I'd be afraid to start a business today."
Randy Apling, owner of Carbon Concepts in Wasilla, makes handmade carbon-fiber parts for small airplanes, replacing aluminum parts with the lighter material. The carbon fiber is also stronger, he said.
The oil-price plunge that pummeled the state's economy the last three years has helped his business. Materials and shipping are cheaper, and people are still flying airplanes and wearing out parts.
Business at the 4-year-old company has doubled since 2016 and Apling, another panelist, said he has a three-month backlog of work.
"Things are slowing down a bit in the state, but it isn't dead," he said.