December unemployment steady
Alaska’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained unchanged in December at 7.3 percent. The comparable national jobless rate for December was 8.5 percent, down from 8.7 percent in November. Both rates were lower than a year ago, when the national unemployment rate was 9.4 percent and Alaska’s was 7.9 percent. Non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates increased in all six of the state’s regions, which is typical in December. Rates were lower than
December 2010 in four regions, about the same in the Northern Region and noticeably higher in the Southwest Region. The largest increases in Southwest were in the Aleutians East Borough and in the Aleutians West and Wade Hampton census areas. Nineteen of 30 areas in the state had unemployment rates in the double digits with five of those exceeding 20 percent, which is not unusual for winter. Rates were highest in Skagway and the Aleutians East Borough. The lowest rates were among the larger communities where seasonal employment is less pronounced.
NRCS offers help SPCC regulations
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in Alaska is offering assistance to agricultural producers who are required to comply with Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure regulations. Most agricultural operations with more than 1,320 gallons of aggregate aboveground storage need SPCC plans completed and in place by May 10, 2013. Farming operations with more than 1,320 but less than 10,000 gallons of aboveground storage capacity can complete a “self-certification” template to meet the SPCC Plan requirements. Alaska NRCS is offering partial financial assistance for specific practices when they are identified in an approved SPCC Plan or “self-certification” template. NRCS offices will begin accepting applications for this special SPCC pilot on Feb. 3. All eligible applications will be ranked according to program guidelines on June 11. Contact information for the offices in Alaska also available at www.ak.nrcs.usda.gov/contact/fieldoffices.html.
JEDC helps mines, farms go green
The Juneau Economic Development Council, through its national technology transfer program SpringBoard, has facilitated cooperative research and development agreements with various mining and agriculture companies hoping to make use of the biopolymer in their operations. The biopolymer technology may help the mining industry in soil restoration and re-vegetation processes. It could significantly increase the growth rates of forage grasses, fruits, vegetables and other plants for the agriculture sector. Two Juneau high school students will be performing a test using the biopolymer for this year’s science fair project through a new relationship with ETS Inc. The project will individually test each species of plant used in re-vegetation in Southeast Alaska by the mines to determine which species will or will not respond with increased growth or germination rates from application of the biopolymer.
Governor’s safety conference set
The annual Governor’s Safety and Health Conference will be March 19-21 at the Egan Civic and Convention Center in Anchorage. The conference, called “Injury Prevention In Alaska – No One Left Behind,” is open to employers, employees, safety and health professionals and the general public. Nominations are open for recognition of Alaska businesses that exemplify good corporate citizenship and a commitment to worker health and safety. Awards will be given for the Governor’s Safety Award of Excellence, Governor’s Special Achievement Award and William “Tinker” Childress Memorial Award. Nomination deadline is Feb. 15 at 4:30 p.m. Exhibitor space is available for safety or health related products or services. More information is available online at labor.alaska.gov/lss/asac or by calling (907) 269-4940.
Alderfer earns QSC certification
The Homer-based Alderfer Group is the first Alaska real estate firm to earn the status of a Quality Service Certified real estate brokerage, with 100 percent of all agents having received their QSC certification. An integral part of maintaining QSC status is evaluation and feedback from every homebuyer and seller that works with an Alderfer Group realtor. Following the closing of each property purchase or sale, an independent research company surveys the consumers. The results are then made available to the general public for review.
Report: SBDCs help small businesses
A new report details how the U.S. Small Business Administration’s national network of Small Business Development Centers plays an essential role in the economic development of their states and local communities through counseling for small businesses. The report, produced by the National Small Business Development Center Advisory Board, focuses on SBDCs’ impact on small business access to SBA’s programs and services, including access to SBA capital, procurement, disaster and international trade programs. The report found that the 900 SBDC service locations provide a necessary local footprint in the communities they serve, delivering unique offerings tailored to the needs of its small business community. It can be viewed online at http://www.sba.gov.
Kittelson, Dowling merge
Kittelson & Associates Inc. and Dowling Associates Inc. are joining forces in a merger that will provide broader service capabilities and geographic presence for both firms. The agreement builds on a collaborative relationship that dates back more than 25 years. Kittelson provides transportation planning, engineering and research services to government agencies, municipalities and private organizations across the U.S. and Australia. Dowling Associates also specializes in transportation engineering, planning, research and education.