Naomi Klouda

Board makes call about on-site cannabis consumption

A proposal that would allow on-site consumption of marijuana is now open for public comment after the Alaska Marijuana Control Board endorsed a measure opening the way July 14 during its meeting in Fairbanks.

Working from one of three draft proposals, the board looked at a number of restrictions in lengthy debates before approving the on-site consumption measure. The public will be able to weigh in on these and other aspects of the concept:

Alaska Startup Week launches ‘Year of Innovation’ event series

Taking a business idea from a kernel of thought to grand openings, in the old model, meant testing a market at the end of the process: sales equated success.

The new model shows a different way that turns those steps upside down: test and refine ideas in a community of entrepreneurs before putting up the business sign.

How to start up a startup is the main idea behind Alaska Startup Week July 22-30 with nine days of events in Alaskan communities to help speed momentum and opportunities around innovation and entrepreneurship.

Fairbanks sets visitor records through winter tourism

The Inland Empire 483 miles from the ocean wouldn’t qualify it as a “shore-side excursion” in the traditional sense but that’s exactly how Fairbanks is designated as thousands of cruise ship visitors make their way directly from the dock to the train or bus that takes them to Interior Alaska.

Fairbanks saw new records set in tourism numbers the past two years as a rising number head toward it just as most visitors begin to leave the land of the midnight sun.

SBA chief McMahon latest cabinet official to visit Alaska

The head of the U.S. Small Business Development Administration will be the latest cabinet official from President Donald Trump’s administration to visit Alaska with stops in Anchorage and Bethel.

As part of her nationwide SBA Ignite Tour, Administrator Linda McMahon will focus on listening to business owners and leaders as well as educating about SBA services for accessing capital during her July 20-21 trip, said SBA Regional Communications Director Melanie Norton.

State granted waiver to continue reinsurance program

The 23,000 Alaskans in the individual insurance market are projected to see premiums decrease by as much as 20 percent in 2018 after the state received an innovation waiver under the current Affordable Care Act.

While the U.S. Senate debates changes to the ACA, also known as Obamacare, the State of Alaska was approved for a five-year waiver that will allow it to continue the reinsurance program passed by the Legislature in 2016 using $55 million in premium fees to help the lone individual insurance company left in the state hold rates down.

Marijuana board set for marathon meeting in Fairbanks

Advertising attempts keep tripping up owners of the newly established cannabis shops and resulting in violations, and when the Alaska Marijuana Control Board meets in Fairbanks July 12-14, it will be taking a look at how to streamline ad messages that can be sent to the public.

Owners cannot advertise health benefits of the bud or edibles; they can’t put prices next to products; and they can’t announce freebies. There has still been confusion, though, about what is legal.

Yup’ik fashion artist follows family tradition through tech

Women’s leggings are a hot versatile commodity in today’s fashion world. Worn under dresses or long blouses, they’ve come close to nudging out the t-shirt as a visual statement.

When Yup’ik artist Mary Charles felt the creative urge more recently, she yearned to do something traditional like her fur-sewing grandmother’s parkas or dance fans but knew that wasn’t going to be realistic.

Pollock skins to dog treats coming soon

Americans love their pets and are willing to shell out $23 billion per year on their food, which would be good news for Alaska seafood marketing if more products were developed to serve all those well-cared-for dogs and cats.

Now a treat for dogs made of pollock skins has been developed to the marketing stage, perhaps even allowing for a secondary market in millions of tossed-out pollock skin tonnage to come into its own market at 30 to 50 cents per pound.

Downtown cannabis shop gets green light; moratorium debated

Cannabis shops located in Downtown Anchorage were the subject of more than three hours of debate June 27 at the Anchorage Assembly meeting, this time the pros and cons of permitting what is considered the largest operation in Alaska.

At the end of testimony from about 30 people, the assembly unanimously approved a marijuana license and special land use permit for Great Northern Cannabis Inc., in a vote of 9-0, with Assembly members Suzanne LaFrance and Fred Dyson excused due to illness.

Senators welcome delay on healthcare vote to lobby for Alaska

A delayed vote on overhauling the U.S. health care system buys time for U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan to negotiate on key provisions for Alaska over the July 4 recess.

Neither of the Alaska senators issued an official statement after Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., saw that he did not have the necessary 50 votes to pass his legislation repealing and replacing the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

Through spokesperson Karina Petersen, Murkowski called the delay a “good thing.”

Deadline for Real ID at bases pushed back

Now that Alaska was granted a Department of Homeland Security extension for Real ID Act compliance, Alaskans will be good to go for air travel and entry to secured federal facilities by using their state driver’s license or identification.

Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson announced that enforcement of Real ID will not begin until Jan. 22, 2018. This replaces a previous announcement that JBER would only accept Real ID-compliant identification and not state drivers’ licenses after July 10.

A new cooling in US-Russia relations 150 years after Alaska purchase

Relationships built on friendship exchanges between the Russian Far East and Alaska since 1988 are substantially diminished as the state celebrates the 150th anniversary the U.S. purchase.

Trade partnerships stopped when sanctions against Russia were enacted by Congress as punishment for its actions in Ukraine and, more recently, for its alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Alaskan delegation pushes parallel cannabis bills

Where will state and federal law collide when it comes to marijuana laws?

That’s the question Sen. Lisa Murkowski put to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein June 13 during a Senate appropriations subcommittee meeting.

Alaska’s ‘Chief Encouragement Officer’

Allan Johnston has a theory about the cyclical attempts at new business ideas.

Institutional knowledge tends to turn over every eight years. Then the knowledge disappears — maybe in the form of a discouraged entrepreneur moving on to a new idea or to the Lower 48.

Alaska attracts talented people possessing good ideas who seek to set a plan in place, but few have the longevity to know what’s already been tried.

UAA lands first global entrepreneur-in-residence

The University of Alaska Anchorage welcomed its first occupant of the Global Entrepreneur in Residence program who’s racked up a string of accomplishments, including inventing a mouse cleaner and founding an international technology start-up.

Nigel Sharp’s position at UAA will involve mentoring entrepreneurs and connecting them to expanded networks. Community members, students and faculty will be able to consult with Sharp. His first day in the 18-month position was June 19.

Flags up for Uber, Lyft drivers after gov signs bill

Uber and Lyft drivers took to the roads in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau this week, newly authorized to offer rides after a bill approving the transportation network companies was signed into law.

Gov. Bill Walker signed House Bill 132 on June 15. The bill had an immediate effective date, allowing the companies to start operating as soon as it was signed. Both had dozens of pre-approved drivers ready to start.

More rural broadband options coming through fiber, satellites

Competition and collaboration between telecom companies promises to bring the costs down for Alaska in the coming two years as Quintillion, Alaska Communications and AT&T launch projects building out wireless and fiber optic networks.

Alaska Communications developed a non-exclusive memorandum of understanding to become the first reseller of OneWeb enabled broadband access in Alaska starting in 2019. That puts rural Alaska a step closer to more affordable broadband access, said CEO Anand Vadapalli.

Hotels spring up as visitor numbers keep climbing

Alaska has some of the highest hotel occupancy rates in the country on average in the short four-month period from May to September, enough to warrant yet four more hotels on the Anchorage landscape in addition to three that went up last summer.

The Hyatt House on C Street opened in May and the company is breaking ground for two more hotels on land cleared at nearby 46th Avenue. Last summer saw My Place on Old Seward across from the University Center open. A new Aptel Hotel opened near the Northway Mall. And Home2 Suite opened in 2016 near Motel 6, also on C Street.

Fishermen watch, wait, work, while Legislature in limbo

An Alaska government shutdown is a fisheries shutdown.

Commercial, sport, gillnet, dipnetters and subsistence fishing would all be impacted in devastating ways if a fiscal year 2018 budget isn’t approved by the Alaska Legislature by July 1.

United Fishermen of Alaska, which represents 33 Alaska commercial fishing organizations, is taking the stance that people should “work on the season,” said President Jerry McCune.

Housing both affordable and trendy snapped up in Anchorage

Key Anchorage building projects underway this summer add more than 100 units to residential availability and inject a nouveau mix of retail space for town segments in sore need of beautification.

A glimpse at high market demand shows itself in the proposed Downtown Edge project sited above Ship Creek’s warehouse district and just below Second Avenue and Christensen Drive.

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