Is Alaska finally clawing its way out of a nasty recession? The Anchorage Economic Development Corporation is optimistic about that.

According to a new forecast released Wednesday, AEDC says, "beyond 2018, we predict growth."

But the same report says, "while A.E.D.C. believes 2018 will mark the bottom of the recession, without a long-term solution to Alaska's budget deficit, full recovery may remain elusive. The absence of State budget and taxation certainly promises to unnecessarily sideline investment."

Business owners are also concerned about the lack of a budget plan. Carolina Stacey, a co-owner of the Lucky Wishbone restaurant, is upbeat about 2018, saying she believes people are feeling a little more stable about their finances.

"Okay, I can go out to eat and spend a little money," she said.

But, she worries that a lack of a stable fiscal plan in Juneau could keep people from spending more and other businesses from investing in their businesses.

"If we don't figure things out in Juneau, I think there are going to be severe repercussions within the economy. It is important. We need a stable and permanent solution. I think everybody knows that, but we just got to get down to business and take care of it," she said.

AEDC surveyed more than 300 Anchorage businesses and organizations, asking them to name their top barriers to business growth. According to the report, 90 percent of them said the condition of the state economy is their biggest barrier.

Jacqui Ertischek, who owns Two Friends Gallery in Anchorage, says she is also worried about the lack of a budget deal in Juneau.

"Hopefully the legislators will get a budget together. A little bit of a difficult thing these days," she said.

But Ertischek is also upbeat about the economy heading into 2018. She expanded her store last spring and is glad she did.

"Christmas was really good. And Christmas makes or breaks a retail store," she stated.

The AEDC report also talks about employment expectations of Anchorage businesses. Twenty-six percent of businesses expect to hire more employees to some degree in 2018. Twenty-percent plan to reduce employment. And 53 percent expect no changes to employment.

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