It was built in a city in Finland. The city, Turku, is more than 100,000 people smaller than Anchorage. Turku's metro area, of about 300,000, is slightly smaller than that of Anchorage.
Turku is situated at 60 degrees, 27 minutes Northern Latitude. Seward, Alaska is situated at 60 degrees, 7 minutes Northern Latitude. Anchorage is at 61 degrees, 13 minutes NL.
Turku's citizenry is highly educated, and they find jobs:
"The city is also a renowned high-tech centre – the Turku Science Park area in Kupittaa hosts over 300 companies from the fields of biotechnology and information technology, as well as several institutions of higher learning."
Turku - again over 100,000 people smaller than Anchorage, has its own medical school, affiliated with one of its several universities.
The construction of the ship above, the Oasis of the Seas, brought over $1,000,000,000.00 into the city's economy. Its sister ship is on the ways, due to be completed in 2010. The shipyards are full of many ships being constructed, including ferry boats, cargo ships and other vessels. The company that built it probably paid about 12 per cent of their local profit to local income taxes.
The union workers who built it make an average of about $65,000 U.S. From that they pay an 18 percent local income tax. Additionally, their national (very graduated, with few loopholes) national income tax is high. Their medical care is what we would call "socialized medicine."
Many Alaska politicians lament the prospects for our future, once the oil runs out and the pipeline becomes disused. They threaten cuts in every realm of the public sector. Anchorage, with a zero percent sales tax, significant property tax (Turku's property tax is around five mils), and no local income tax, is cutting services right and left, with no practical solutions planned for long-term local infrastructure sustainability. Turku is rapidly expanding its higher education institutions and other public sector services, particularly in low-impact transportation, such as light rail.
Back in the mid to late 1990s, a number of high tech companies in the lower 48 were considering relocating in southcentral Alaska, either in part or totally. Few did. Why?
A young man, employed to research the environment for high tech in the Mat-Su Valley, came to stay with Judy and me for over two weeks in 1998. His final report, made after interviewing city officials in Wasilla (then-mayor Sarah Palin couldn't fit him into her busy schedule), Palmer, the Mat-Su Borough and the borough school district, was that relocation was inadvisable. The quality of local education, which had been high in the early 1990s was, as his report put it, "in a free fall." Politics, at the time, he observed, were in the hands of "a few conservatives who believe the world is only a few thousand years old and may end very soon."
The company, instead of relocating to the Wasilla area, moved to Whitefish, Montana and the outskirts of Spokane.
Our Alaska politicians have become so oil and mineral development centric, so protective of the use of the permanent fund to be reserved exclusively for individual dividends, so hostile to unshackled higher education, that we are selling ourselves and our future very, very short.
Turku is just one of many cities as far north as Anchorage or Seward that seems to manage to do well, with or without oil.
The keys to long-range economic development are a quality environment for education from pre-school through doctoral studies; politicians and administrators with true vision; affordable medical care for all; and freedom from the severe limitations on critical thinking that come from trust in the biased, sometimes hateful practices of fundamentalist religions, be they Christian, Muslim, Judaic or any other weird sect.