We tend to think of oil, fish and government as the drivers of Alaska’s economy, yet they are not necessarily the engines of economic growth.  

The University of Alaska Anchorage’s Center for Economic Development has found that almost 90 percent of the new jobs in our state are created by businesses that are five years or younger.

Innovation also plays a big role -- whether the company is one of the traditional economic mainstays, or a new player in Alaska’s business landscape.

This week on Frontiers we look at what stimulates job growth. Here are some of the highlights.

  • Good vibrations: KTVA’s Dave Goldman takes us to Prudhoe Bay and the hunt for new oil. BP is using trucks that send sonic vibrations to the ground that help pinpoint new pockets of oil. 
  • Kvichak Fish Company: Two sisters from Montana team up with Bristol Bay fisherman to market salmon.
  • Triverus: Alaska doesn’t have many manufacturing companies, but there’s one in Palmer that does big business with the Navy.
  • Tap water and toilets: While most Americans take water and sewer service for granted, it’s a big innovation for the Southwest Alaska community of Eek.
  • Noland Klouda is our featured guest. As director of UAA’s Center for Economic Development, he’s one of the Johnny Appleseeds of start up businesses, planting seeds of opportunity in our economic landscape. 

Although the state appears to have turned the corner on the recession, all is not bright in the Alaskan economy. In the face of some of the big state budget cuts the governor has proposed, its recovery is still fragile. 

If the state sheds a lot of jobs this year, more will be needed in the private sector to offset those loses – so it’s a good time to a look what makes our economy tick.  

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