The US military and defense sector represents a key driver in Alaska, accounting for tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in federal spending. Yet, despite its outsized role, there were significant gaps in understanding among public sector decision makers at all levels of the impact of the US Department of Defense (DOD) and the US Coast Guard. The Alaska Defense Industry Resilience Initiative (ADIRI), funded in part by the DOD’s Office of Economic Adjustment (now the Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation), brought together dozens of leaders from across the state to better understand the defense industry’s contribution to the Alaskan economy and the opportunities it presents for future growth.
In June 2020, TIP Strategies was engaged by the University of Alaska Center for Economic Development (UA CED), the organization leading the ADIRI planning effort, to assist with best practices research and stakeholder outreach. A major goal of the ADIRI was to recommend programs and policies that can be implemented in Alaska to strengthen the businesses that serve defense markets, as well as the communities in which they are located. To inform the work of the project team, TIP researched best practices that have been adopted in states and communities across the US in the realms of economic development and defense industry resilience. Another goal for the ADIRI was to identify the organizations and networks that can be leveraged to guide and implement defense-related initiatives at the state level in Alaska. With this goal in mind, TIP helped the UA CED team assess the need for organizing a statewide defense industry coalition and provided guidance on preliminary steps for moving forward.