Establishing businesses in rural Alaska is hard but not impossible. Hundreds of businesses exist in rural communities around the state, and business owners have found ways to deal with the barriers created by small markets, remote location, high costs, and harsh climate.

But many others have tried and failed to overcome the many difficulties, and some may have business ideas but are reluctant to take on all the risks involved in trying to establish a business in rural Alaska.

This summary highlights the findings of a longer report (see back page). We looked at businesses in small rural places that are off the road system and have populations between 200 and 1,400 (see map). We identified businesses in these communities with the 2006 state business license file and then looked for relationships between business activity and community characteristics. We also took a random sample of 19 communities and tried to interview all business owners. (We do not name the surveyed places, because we promised respondents we wouldn’t.) Finally, we did detailed case studies of some rural businesses, based on recommendations of our project advisory board and others familiar with rural Alaska.

Viability of Business Enterprises for Rural Alaska Study