Opinion: University of Alaska is one of our state’s greatest assets

Nearly a year since the first case of COVID-19 was discovered in Alaska, the pandemic continues to shake the state’s communities and economy. Many Alaskans are still out of work and struggling financially.

The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development reports average job losses for 2020 were 12,400, an 8.3 percent loss in employment compared to 2019. Anchorage now has a five-year recession and the pandemic to recover from. To see a full economic recovery, the city needs to add 18,400 jobs, a feat that will take years to accomplish.

But even during these challenging times, there are opportunities. The Anchorage Economic Development Corp. forecasts the addition of 4,000 jobs in 2021, the largest year-over-year increase in Anchorage jobs since 2001. A healthy housing market is driving new residential construction. A nearly $700 million logistics facility is just one of the potential projects coming to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. There is the potential for billions of dollars of new North Slope oil investments in the next five years.

Another bright spot is the University of Alaska. In Anchorage, the university is an important community asset. When COVID-19 created urgent needs in the local healthcare sector, the university responded swiftly. UAA trained more than 400 contract tracers; graduated and licensed 75 senior nursing students early to meet increased demand; provided personal protective equipment; and manufactured hand sanitizer and 3D printed face shields and ventilator parts. University experts in epidemiology, economic modeling, small business mentoring and mental health counseling assisted the state’s pandemic response.

Read the full article here.

Source: Opinion: University of Alaska is one of our state’s greatest assets | Juneau Empire

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