While some parts of the Pacific Northwest are undergoing a boom of a magnitude rarely seen in the region, others may be heading for a bust of similar proportions. Just as growth in the tech sector has been good for Washington and Oregon, oil—or a lack of it—has proven very bad news indeed for Alaska.
If declines in Alaskan oil drilling have propelled the state down a rocky road, crashing oil prices have since sent it into free fall. "Conditions have devastated the state's budget," says Ken Simonson, chief economist with Arlington, Va.,-based Associated General Contractors of America.
To contend with a $3.5-billion state deficit, Alaska Gov. Bill Walker halted six significant energy and transportation projects in December. The fact that only a handful of Alaskan projects rank among the largest to break ground in the region last year provides a further indication of the state's troubled affairs.
Many top projects are located in Seattle and, to a lesser extent, Portland, Ore. "Those areas are performing very solidly in the nation's recovery, and Seattle in particular is home to a growing number of highly educated millennials attracted to the high-tech enterprises clustered there," says Anirban Basu, chief economist with Washington, D.C.-based Associated Builders and Contractors.
Portland, known as the Silicon Forest, tells a similar story. It is "one of the nation's most beautiful cities," says Basu. "Capital for construction projects just keeps pouring in."
To see a llst of the region's Top Project Starts, click here.