NEWS_Study finds Sealaska Heritage is $10 million force in state

NEWS_Study finds Sealaska Heritage is $10 million force in state

Posted By:
Kathy Dye
Kathy Dye
Published On: December 22nd, 2020

Research marks first time institute’s total economic impact quantified

January 24, 2019

(Study Summary)

A new study by a Juneau research firm has found that Sealaska Heritage Institute’s (SHI) economic impact on Alaska was more than $10 million in 2018 and that its impact on the City and Borough of Juneau (CBJ) was $9.2 million.

A study in 2012 found SHI’s biennial Celebration has a $2 million economic impact on the city each year it is held, but this is the first time research has quantified the institute’s total economic impact on Juneau and beyond.

“I realized that SHI was growing, but the numbers were beyond my expectations,” said SHI President Rosita Worl, noting SHI generated $170,000 in sales and bed taxes alone. “It was astonishing to see how high the numbers actually are. It’s very gratifying to know that we contribute this much to the economy of Juneau and the state.”

The study, The Economic and Value-Added Impacts of SHI, 2018, by the McDowell Group found that SHI’s direct expenditures in the Juneau economy totaled $4.8 million for the purchase of goods and services from Juneau vendors and contractors, SHI payroll and Sealaska scholarship recipients’ educational expenditures in Juneau. The study found that in 2018:

  • 200 Juneau businesses and individuals benefited from SHI purchases and contracts.
  • $800,000 was paid to 60 Juneau-based contractors for an average of $13,500 each. Contractor payments were primarily in support of SHI grant programs.
  • $750,000 was provided to the Juneau School District and the University of Alaska Southeast for additional teachers and staff, teacher education, and arts programs.
  • $120,000 in Sealaska scholarships was awarded to 59 Juneau students, of which $70,000 was spent on education at UAS.

The study also found that the economic impacts of SHI’s operations go beyond direct expenditures in the Juneau economy. Indirect impacts include employment, income and output generated when SHI purchases goods and services in Juneau. Induced impacts include employment and wages generated when SHI employees and vendor employees spend their income in Juneau. These impacts are commonly known as the “multiplier effect.”

The study found that SHI operations supported a total of 85 employees in the Juneau economy (including direct, indirect, and induced effects), who earned nearly $4 million in labor income; and SHI-related spending in Juneau totaled $7.1 million (including direct, indirect, and induced effects).

In 2018, SHI held Celebration, which generated an additional $2.1 million in visitor spending in Juneau and drew more than 5,000 people, including about 2,600 people from outside the city. The spending impacts of SHI’s operations and Celebration resulted in an estimated $170,000 in sales and bed tax collections for the CBJ, the study found.

The study attributed SHI’s ability to affect the economy to that extent to its success in securing grants to fund programs. The institute spent nearly $40 million in grant funds between 2009 and 2018, the study found.

Worl noted that the study speaks to the economic benefits, but not the qualitative benefits resulting from SHI’s educational and cultural programming, such as the improved academic achievements of Native students and school retention.

Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private nonprofit founded in 1980 to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. Its goal is to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events. SHI also conducts social scientific and public policy research that promotes Alaska Native arts, cultures, history and education statewide. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars, a Native Artist Committee and a Southeast Regional Language Committee.

CONTACT: Kathy Dye, Media Specialist, 907.321.4636,  

Caption: Sealaska Heritage Institute. Photo by Ken Graham.

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