March unemployment at 7 percent
Alaska’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for March remained unchanged over February at 7 percent. The comparable national average was 8.2 percent. Separate boroughs and census areas, which are not seasonally adjusted, vary widely. The Hoonah-Angoon Census Area had the highest rate at 25.8 percent. The Aleutians west Census Area had the lowest at 4.9 percent, down significantly from 19.7 percent in December.
New programs at UAS, UAA
The University of Alaska Board of Regents approved two new special education degrees and an associate degree in sonography. The board approved a bachelor of arts in special education and master of arts in teaching in special education, both at the University of Alaska Southeast. An associate of applied science in medical diagnostic sonography is approved for the University of Alaska Anchorage. The bachelor’s degree is expected to attract more than 30 students within four years. The master’s degree is expected to attract a dozen students by its second year. The sonography program is expected to attract 10 students within the first year. The programs will be available beginning in fall 2012 through e-learning.
GCI to deploy new rural service
General Communication Inc. plans to provide terrestrial broadband Internet service to 65 remote, rural communities in Bristol Bay and the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. This is the result of early completion of the TERRA Southwest terrestrial broadband transport network to link Anchorage and these communities. The first phase of deployment will begin in June and should be completed by mid-October 2012, a year ahead of schedule. In communities currently served by the satellite-based WISP system, download speeds will be eight to 16 times faster than what is available today on similarly priced plans.
Alaska USA loan program honored
Alaska USA Federal Credit Union has been recognized as the No. 1 lending institution in 2011 for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 504 loan program by Evergreen Business Capital. Alaska USA received awards for Top Community Lender in the state of Alaska and in the Pacific Northwest. Alaska USA’s commercial loan officer Bob Warthen was recognized as the Top Lending Officer in the Pacific Northwest for loans processed through Evergreen Business Capital.
SBA opens second lending application round
The U.S. Small Business Administration has opened a second competitive application period for its Intermediary Lending Pilot Program. This provides long-term loans to eligible nonprofit intermediary lenders to finance their lending to small businesses, especially those in underserved markets looking for loans up to $200,000. Completed applications are due May 25. More information is available on the SBA website or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pebble Fund awards grants
Seventeen nonprofit organizations, schools and villages serving Southwest Alaska have been awarded grants totaling $540,835 from the Pebble Fund, a charitable fund established by the Pebble Partnership at the Alaska Community Foundation. Projects funded include a fuel truck purchase, a presentation on youth homelessness and human trafficking to students in the Lake and Peninsula Borough School District and funding for a new x-ray machine. A complete list of awards is attached is available at www.alaskacf.org.
Anchorage airport wins award
The Northeast chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives has awarded the Balchen Post Award for Large Hub Commercial Airports to the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. This is the fifth time ANC has been awarded this, which honors those who have demonstrated excellence in the performance of ice and snow control. According to airport calculations, airfield maintenance has moved more than 6 million tons of snow from the runways, taxiways and ramps between November 2011 and March 2012.
Senior Care of Alaska changes name
Senior Care of Alaska is changing its name to Midnight Sun Home Care to mark the company’s 10-year anniversary. This was due in part to avoid confusion with being a government service. The company’s clients are mainly seniors. It provides home care for disabled and post-surgical clients, workman’s compensation clients, new moms and overloaded caretaking families who need periods of respite.