Some years ago, Fairbanks Economic Development Corporation performed an analysis that indicated even a small shift in consumer spending habits (10%) from online purchasing to buying locally could pay huge dividends for our local economy (creating over $375 million of increased economic activity and 1,700 good paying jobs). It’s for this reason that FEDC started the “Grow Fairbanks” initiative and, specifically, its Fairbanks First: Think Local program. It’s also for this reason that, with the NCAA’s March Madness college basketball tournament and BuyAlaska.com’s Manufacturers March both in full swing, we’d like to highlight a few more local manufacturers and a few of the programs FEDC maintains to help support them.
Building on last week, three more of the major manufactures operating in town are Hoffer Glass, Greer Tank & Welding and Apocalypse Design.
Hoffer Glass is a family-owned company which has been in operation since before statehood. They provide excellent costumer service, professional installation and an array of vendor-supplied products. But Hoffer Glass also offers local builders and home/building owners something special in addition: the ability to produce custom designed, locally fabricated, truly “arctic-grade” windows and doors. Offering superior thermal characteristics, exceptional wear and a wide palette of colors to choose from, Hoffer’s Nordic Vinyl Windows continue to be the economical, energy-efficient gold-standard for keeping the heat in and the cold out in the Golden Heart.
Another major local manufacturer is Greer Tank & Welding. As the name implies, Greer offers customers a full range of pre- and custom-built liquid storage products ranging from in- and above-ground fuel and water tanks, septic tanks, and haz-mat containment vessels — this in addition to all manner of steel & aluminum items cut, joined, modified, or fabricated to customer specifications. It’s this breath of capabilities and expertise that makes “Greer Tank & Welding” the most frequent answer when anyone in FEDC circles asks, “rather than import those, is there someone who could produce them here in town?”
A manufacturer that’s not only “Fairbanks Famous” but world renowned is the FNSB’s very own Apocalypse Design. Named for the imposing and inhospitable 9,000 foot peak in Alaska’s Revelation Mountains, Apocalypse has been designing and creating custom outdoor gear and expedition clothing since 1983.
In the process, they have not only become the place to go for local shoppers looking for great new additions or repair of old favorites, they’ve become the place to which aficionados as diverse as Hollywood filmmakers and international polar explorers turn when they need the very highest quality outdoor gear producible. They’re also an amazing community partner: At the height of the pandemic last year, when supplies were tight and FEDC & Alaska-MEP asked if Apocalypse Design could and would be willing to mass produce clinical-grade protective gear for local medical providers, Apocalypse Design’s answer to both was a resounding “yes”.
To support these enterprises, the many others around our community, and to move us toward the goal of increased local purchasing and all the good it will do for our economy, FEDC hosts a range of projects aimed at boosting recognition of our local businesses. Topping the list is the above referenced Fairbanks First: Think Local program where, on our website (www.investfairbanks.com), corporate Facebook page (www.facebook.com/FairbanksEconomicDevelopment) and the dedicated Facebook page (www.facebook.com/FairbanksFirst), FEDC regularly spotlights locally owned and operated establishments and things that might help them better compete in the regional, statewide, national or international marketplace. It also provides networking opportunities like the Local Business Meetups and ever popular seasonal shopping events like the summer Tour of Farms and winter Moose on the Loose.
Finally, for local businesses like the ones above, or out-of-town businesses with the guts to pit their products against the Interior’s rugged environment and rigor-filled winters, FEDC offers use of its trademarked “Arctic Tested, Alaska Tough” certification and logo — and, thereby, as Apocalypse Design can, let potential purchasers know their products aren’t just comfortable, fashionable and quality-made, but are as tough as tough gets.
So, check out the list of local manufactures currently being featured in the FEDC website, the purveyors highlighted on the Fairbanks First Facebook page, and the expansive list of local businesses registered in the Interior section of BuyAlaska.com. And then have a little March Madness of your own shopping in our community’s local businesses. Your favorite team may not make it to the final-four, but you’re sure to score and win big thinking Fairbanks First and helping grow our economy by Buying Local.
Jomo Stewart and Evan Wilken are project managers with the Fairbanks Economic Development Corporation.