The noticeable shift in attitude between 2020 and 2021 is likely a clear reaction to COVID-19. However, a negative trend in outlook that was apparent in 2019 also may have reversed — despite the pandemic. (Rain Coast Data)

Many Sitka businesses are feeling optimistic about the future, according to a regional survey conducted by the Southeast Conference.

Thirty-nine Sitka business managers and owners responded to the survey, which was distributed to communities across the region.

In fact, a quarter of Sitka’s respondents actually characterized the business climate as “good” in the community this year.

Garry White reviewed some of the data in a presentation to the Sitka Chamber of Commerce last week (5-26-21).

“The good news this year is that most people think things are turning around, and we’ll have a better outlook for businesses and industries moving forward,” he said.

The data put Sitka as the third-most optimistic community in Southeast, behind Hoonah, where 38-percent of businesses felt good about the business climate, and Prince of Wales Island, where 43-percent of businesses were feeling good.

Sectors with the most positive outlook in Sitka included Construction and Engineering, nonprofit, Food and Beverage, and Retail and Wholesale.

Nevertheless, much of the data in the survey tipped toward the negative. In the largely cruise-ship dependent economy of Skagway, 69-percent of businesses described the business climate as “very poor.” Ketchikan and Haines were also quite negative, with 47-percent of respondents choosing “very poor.”

Sitka’s “very poor” response was only 18-percent.

A presentation by McKinley research last month showed that Sitka was among the hardest-hit communities by the pandemic, in terms of job loss. White told the chamber that those businesses that survived were helping drive the positive attitude in Sitka.

“Most people are just trying to maintain,” White said. “But it looks like 2021, more folks are talking about adding jobs, because they lost jobs last year, which was evident by being down on average in our job loss. That all makes sense.”

The annual business climate survey is conducted by the Southeast Conference, and compiled by Rain Coast Data. You can find a link to complete survey results at our website,