Facebook recently announced that it will be building its first overseas data center, in Lapland Sweden in the artic city of Lulea. The particular climate that Lulea offers is ideal for regulating the temperature of the huge data center, which if located further south would cost a great deal to cool. Servers function best in the cold, and the cold is something that Lulea can offer. It has an inherent comparative advantage when it comes to providing a chilly environment to house cold-loving servers. Facebook could have taken its business anywhere on the continent in order to provide a data center to support its European business, but the Swedish arctic provided the ideal climate. Its inherent comparative advantage, superior chilly climate, with a technology savvy workforce, and I’m sure lucrative tax incentives made the choice fairly simple for Facebook.
What comparative advantages does Alaska hold? What should the state do to market or seek out new business to Alaska? Does the state have a role at all? The Pebble mine is a beautiful example. The area is contested because two things that Alaska does really well; produce Salmon and extract resources, cannot both happen at the same time. We either destroy some Salmon territory and extract minerals or leave them in the ground and catch some Salmon. What if anything does the discussion of comparative advantage have to say on the subject?