​​Economic Development

A travel destination pinned on countless bucket lists, tourism is a pillar of economic vitality in Anchorage, Alaska's largest city.

With federal relief dollars, Anchorage businesses and community organizations amplified marketing efforts, established safety procedures, overcame labor shortages and fostered a travel recovery.

Tourism in Anchorage made gains in 2021 largely because state and local grant relief programs kept tourism businesses on their feet in tough times.

“Honestly, we weren't even sure if things would work out but [the funding] sustained​​​ us through​ that period of time where we were still in question... Without that money, I'm not sure we would be sitting at the table today."

- Angie Oberlitner, Co-Owner Alaska Step On Guides​​​

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Recovery Highlight

Visit Anchorage | $4,000,000

Visit Anchorage aims​ to attract and serve visitors to the Municipality of Anchorage. Travel and tourism generate social, cultural, and financial benefits for residents and diversify and develop Anchorage's economy.

Visit Anchorage was awarded ARPA funds in 2021 to award and distribute additional and expanded tourism business grants to empower businesses to confidently staff up, prepare product, market, and serve visitors as travel to Anchorage began again.

Direct Relief
New to grant administration, Visit Anchorage distributed $3 million in ARPA funding to small businesses in 2021. When combined with $7 million in CARES Act funding, Visit Anchorage awarded a total of $10 million for grant distribution.

283 businesses made up 98 percent of organizations awarded. Of these businesses, about 75 percent make less than $1M in revenue annually.​​​

Tourism Reignited
​​​​In addition to running the Tourism Small Business Relief grant program, Visit Anchorage received $1 million in ARPA funds to amplify and expand tourism campaigns, further refine messaging and strengthen Anchorage's ability to tap into new travelers and meet shifting consumer demand and desires beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. 

​See the Impact | Visit Anchorage

Tourism Grant Projects

Thanks to the stewardship of Visit Anchorage, most ARPA dollars dedicated to tourism were directed as grants, infusing the local economy with funds for both revenue replacement and industry innovation. While 285 businesses were awarded new grants or supplemental payments through ARPA, the following list highlights the small businesses that received more than $10k in ARPA funds as grant awards:​

Tier A | $12,032.20
Tier B | $30,080.50
Tier C | $60,161.00

Tier A | $12,​032.20

  • AK Travel and Tour
  • Alarcon Holding LLC (Alaska 4x4 Car Rental)
  • Alaska House of Jade
  • Anchorage Brochure Distribution
  • Big Swig Tours LLC
  • Birdhouse Garage
  • Danger Island Studios
  • Downtown Hotel LLC
  • Ellison Air, Inc
  • Icy Strait Aviation, LLC
  • Infinite Adventures LLC
  • Spruced Up Cleaning LLC

​Tier B | $30,080.50

  • AK Holiday Express
  • Alaska Latin Tours, LLC.
  • Alaska Travel Adventures Inc
  • Al's Alaskan Inn
  • Anchorage Trolley
  • Anchors Way Bed and Breakfast
  • Ascending Path LLC
  • Chinook Tours LLC
  • Crow Creek Inc
  • EAS Alaska Promotion Inc
  • Expeditions Alaska
  • Fifth Avenue Furs
  • Gold in Quartz
  • H S Shaka Shack Inc
  • HAI Shirokuma Tours LLC
  • Main Event Services LLC
  • Matanuska Brewing Downtown Pub LLC
  • New World Tours Incorporated
  • New World Travel, Inc.
  • Northern Explorer Adventures
  • Portage Glacier Day Lodge
  • Tim Melican & Associates, Inc. (The Magic Bus)

​Tier C | $60,161.00

  • A Alaska Cruise Transfer and Tours
  • A&P America & Pacific Tours, Inc
  • Alaska Destination Specialists
  • Alaska Geographic Association
  • Alaska Markets & Events, Inc.
  • Alaska Skylar Travel LLC
  • GoNorth Travel LLC
  • Hukali LLC
  • Logistics LLC
  • North Pole Tour LLC
  • Ronald Apollo Naft
  • The Ulu Factory
  • Wilderness Express LLC​

2022 Recovery Projects ​​​in Action ​​​​

Learn where ARPA federal relief dollars are making a difference.

​Alaska Black Caucus Equity Center Renovation​​​​​
​​The Alaska Black Caucus (ABC) is the premiere non-partisan, Black-led, 501c3 non-profit organization with the mission to assert the constitutional rights of African Americans in Alaska. The ABC is seeking to renovate the new Equity Center building, located at 605 Barrow St., to create a service hub for the BIPOC community. The Equity Center will also provide space below market rate to house other BIPOC-led and allied organizations and businesses.​

South Potter Marsh Visitor Site Amenities
​​The pandemic spurred a huge demand for outdoor recreation and connection to nature.  At Potter Marsh, a 55-car parking lot is funded for 2022, but it lacks adequate toilets and safe pedestrian circulation.  Toilets and pedestrian connections are critical for public safety and health at the South Potter Marsh visitor site.  In addition, a boardwalk would provide universal access and a tourist attraction.​
​ACLT Commercial Kitchen Incubator 
​The Anchorage Community Land Trust (ACLT) Kitchen Incubator Project is a shared commercial kitchen incubator facility. The incubator will house multiple pay-by-the-hour shared commercial kitchen spaces available for rent 24/7 with space for food processing, dry and cold goods storage and on-site retail. The target users are smaller-scale food operations not yet ready for a full-time lease, food trucks, caterers and producers of value-added goods. These businesses will have access to much needed space and will fine-tune their business offerings through experience and ACLT's Set Up Shop program support.​

​Fish Creek Green Infrastructure Investment Project: Feasibility Assessment
​Spearheaded by the community organization, Friends of Fish Creek, the project seizes the opportunity offered under Water, Sewer and Broadband Infrastructure and Restore & Support Public Sector Capacity categories. It includes a watershed-level feasibility assessment and cost-analysis of daylighting Fish Creek as the surface waterway of a green infrastructural corridor with its associated community amenities: east-west trail, parks, and open space. The project also includes the acquisition of a vacant lot along Fish Creek's historic channel that will provide needed mid-watershed stormwater storage capacity and potential for future limited infill housing. 
​Rebuilding, re-establishing, and expanding the Chugiak Eagle River Trail System
​The Chugach Mountain Bike Riders proposed this project to build upon the Anchorage Trails Plan and extend the Coastal Trail North to connect with Eagle River - Chugiak trail systems. 

​Welcoming Center of Anchorage Feasibility Study
​The Alaska Literacy Program, Inc. (ALP) established this project to provide the planning and design funding for a purpose-built Welcoming Center, infrastructure which is currently lacking within the Municipality. This center will serve as a "one-stop shop" for immigrants and refugees joining our community. Program scope will be determined throughout the planning process, but initial outreach and historical experience show that the following services will likely be at this center: financial literacy, safety net services, child and adult education services, workforce and job placement services, to name a few.
Mountain View Field House
​Gamers-Sports Travel is developing a Community Center in the Mountain View neighborhood of Anchorage. The Community Center will be located at Lot Six "A" (6A), Block One (1), Fairview Subdivision, which is across the street from Mountain View Lions Park. The purpose of the Community Center will be to provide year round athletic activity and academic support for residence of the Mountain View neighborhood of Anchorage Alaska. The building will be 4,200 square feet, roughly the size of a gymnasium, sufficient space for youth activities, with the added benefit of high speed internet access for academic support.​

​Arctic Heat Youth Softball at Loretta French
​A youth softball league, the project funding will be used for developing and promoting youth softball infrastructure, fields, equipment and camps for kids ages 10-18 impacting players, families  and veterans across the municipality and the state of Alaska.

​Job Training, Digital Literacy and Educational Classroom Safety Renovations
​ALP's classrooms focused on Job Training but also including Digital/Health/Family/Adult Literacy Education are in dire need of repairs for safety compliance and usability. Identified classroom life/safety issues are electrical faults, lack of break-away exit doors, exit lighting, functional hot water heaters, security alarm system and failing bathroom fixtures. Classroom technology updates are needed to improve work efficiencies and upscaling capabilities. A comprehensive code/assessment survey and project manager will prioritize/outline a building improvement plan for efficient use of award.

​Alaska Center for the Performing Arts, Inc. Broadway Alaska and Workforce Development
​ACPA is launching our new Broadway Alaska program in partnership with Nederlander, bringing $35-$45M in economic impact to Downtown. With 6 new positions and infill of existing positions, expansion of staff levels and critical training of technical theatre specialists will ensure a healthy workforce with more support for productions in the venue. ACPA is developing two new programs in partnership with UAA and IATSE (stagehand union). One will be a Technical Theatre Certification Program (ACPA/UAA) and the second will establish advanced professional development (ACPA/IATSE).

​Eagle River Lions Foundation State Land Transfer
​The Eagle River Lions Park property is currently managed by the Eagle River Lions Club under permit by the State of Alaska.  The state has determined that they will be unable to renew the permit after 2024 and because of this legislation has been passed to transfer the property to the Eagle River Lions Foundation.  This transfer will require the Eagle River Lions Foundation to pay $50,000.00 for administrative fees and costs and for improvements, amenities and community events at the park.
​Anchorage Park Foundation Tikahtnu-Cook Inlet National Heritage Area Development
​National Heritage Areas provide federal financial support for community-generated projects to enhance historic, scenic, outdoor recreation and cultural tourism opportunities. Nation-wide, NHA's bring a 5:1 return on investment locally. Tikahtnu is the Dena'ina name for Cook Inlet and means big water river. Celebrating the land, resources, people, and history of Tikahtnu-Cook Inlet will improve our quality of life and stimulate economic revitalization. Funding will be used to define the scope.

​Visit Anchorage Circulator Transit Route
​This new route will connect attractions spread across Anchorage with a loop route served by a motorcoach with service running between 10am - 4pm for 90 days in the summer months. 
​Roadmap to a Vital and Safe Anchorage
​RVSA was born out of a need to make Anchorage more resilient and to get Anchorage's economy going. As a result of the work, the business community is more engaged than ever on revitalization issues. We know the high value of this community support as we continue to implement the actions identified by RVSA members. These funds will be used to continue the staffing work done by SALT & Northern Compass Group to take all steps possible to encourage investment, remove barriers to investing, make downtown more connected and livable, and connect to the rest of Anchorage.
​AWWU Water and Sewer Improvement Levy Strategic Planning
​The Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility is to create a muni-wide strategic plan on Water and Sewer Improvement Levies. 

​Anchorage Ski Club Arctic Valley Trailhead Summer Visitor Series
​Develop a new visitor contact station immediately next to the trailhead, move an existing but unsuitably-located coffee stand to the new facility, and repurpose the vacated structure as a community educational meeting room. Project includes purchase/installation of new structure, new utilities and outdoor seating. Contact station would be staffed by two persons during summer, who would provide visitor information, manage parking and existing public restroom, and use of public meeting room. A wider range of snacks and drinks would be provided including coffee, soft drinks, beer, and sandwiches.
​Hilltop Ski Area Surface Conveyor Life Upgrade
​Hilltop needs to replace its aging rope tow system that brings beginners to the top of the learning hill with a modern, easy to use, energy efficient lift conveyor system.  The rope tow that is currently in use is slow, aging, low capacity and learners struggle with grabbing the moving handle. The learning hill is an integral part of the snowsports school. Replacing the rope tow with a lift conveyor system, the student capacity for the Snowsports School would be exponentially increased, therefore reaching a larger number of Anchorage youth not only in lessons but also in youth employment.  

​Anchorage Library Foundation Loussac Library Alaska Room
The Alaska Room represents more than a physical space to house the Alaska Collection; it will be a welcoming learning and gathering space that acknowledges the diversity of cultures that make up Alaska's largest city. A record of our past as well as a bridge to our future, the Alaska Room will bring us together in a public space to celebrate our cultures, learn about our shared history, exchange ideas and backgrounds, and engage in civic dialog and action.
​Anchorage Glacier Pilots Clubhouse
​The Anchorage Glacier Pilots will replace the current clubhouse with a portable building. 
​Anchorage Dowtown Partnership Pl​acemaking Project
​Placemaking is ADP's space activation program. Year round, ADP activates underutilized public spaces downtown with free, community events and programs such as live concerts, fitness classes, children's events and more. These programs bring traffic into downtown to support local businesses before, after and during the event. These programs also employ local musicians, artists and create jobs within ADP's team. From making downtown Anchorage a destination for tourists and residents, to bringing significant dollars into the downtown economy, Placemaking creates investment into our community.
​Eagle River Elks Lodge 
​A collection of facility improvement projects, this funding is dedicated to the purchase of a new hybrid mini SUV, including outfitting the vehicle with a radio, lights and decals.  After the purchase and details the remainder of the grant money would be used to purchase American flags and bags for the purpose of honoring first responders, military and veterans at the time of their death.

​Anchorage Park Foundation Indigenous Place Names Project
​Amplifying Anchorage's Indigenous heritage is good for the economy and good for our quality of life. The IPN project creatively, accurately, and beautifully highlights the culture and history of Anchorage and its first peoples, the Dena'ina, through 31 interpretive place name signs (Point Woronzof planned Summer 2022). We appreciate the Municipality of Anchorage's work to name the Dena'ina Convention Center, support land acknowledgement work and formalize a government-to-government agreement with the Native Village of Eklutna. This project makes parks and trails more inclusive to all. 

​Visit Anchorage Anchorage Fur Rendezvous
​This funding will offset hard costs for organizers of a signature Anchorage event and may be granted to organizers for use on costs like permitting, fees, and security. Scheduled in February/March every spring, these events are recovering from the challenges of 2020 and 2021.

​Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage
​The Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage currently facilitates several youth ski programs including the Anchorage Junior Nordic League and ASD High School and Middle School ski programs.  Timing equipment, skis and race supplies used for these programs are desperately in short supply and are outdated and not able to keep pace with increased participation or needs for the programs.  Technology and equipment upgrades are needed to increase, maintain and improve the experience for all youth participants. This project would fund the purchase of new timing equipment, race bibs and youth skis.​
​Arctic Entries​​
​​Arctic Entries (AE), a volunteer-run non-profit that builds community and supports local nonprofits through storytelling performances, was forced to stop its shows at the Performing Arts Center due to the COVID-19 pandemic. AE organized a few safe outdoor shows at lower levels of revenue, but continued to incur insurance expenses. AE is preparing to re-launch its PAC shows in Fall 2022 but needs funding to cover the out-of-pocket investment required to produce the shows.​

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