Alaska exports drop as crude oil heads to domestic markets

Alaska exports dropped 15 percent or $179 million for the first half of 2001, according to the state trade office. For the first six months of 2001 exports totaled $1.029 billion compared with $1.208 billion recorded for the same period in 2000.The drop is attributed to the change in destination of Alaska North Slope crude oil, which producers now send to U.S. refineries rather than to overseas markets.Seafood exports rose 13.6 percent for the period, while energy exports excluding crude oil rose 13.7 percent.The destination change for North Slope crude oil should have little economic impact on Alaska since the wellhead price of oil will be relatively unaffected, according to officials from the state Division of International Trade and Market Development.Exports to Japan, Alaska’s No. 1 export market, declined in many categories, state trade officials said. For the first half of 2001 exports to Japan totaled $460.8 million, a figure that represents 45 percent of the state’s total exports for the period. The country continues to experience economic recession.Korea, Alaska’s No. 2 export market, listed strong seafood exports, while exports to third-place Canada climbed 33 percent to top $75 million in the first half of 2001. Exports to the state’s No. 4 market, China, increased by less than 1 percent to total $50.9 million, and Alaska products bound for fifth place market Mexico rose to $40.2 million, up 433 percent, largely due to increased fertilizer exports.

Jeanie Greene's years of work begin to pay off

When Jeanie Greene was a little girl growing up in Sitka, she was fascinated with stories of Native life. Her parents, both Inupiat Eskimos, taught her the subsistence way of life, and her home was a gathering place for lonely Inupiat students attending Sitka’s Mt. Edgecumbe boarding school.Those influences helped drive Greene to devote the last 11 years of her life to telling Natives stories to a Native audience, using the medium of television. As host and producer of "Heartbeat Alaska," Greene has become one of the best-known people in rural Alaska, and increasingly, by indigenous peoples in Canada and the Lower 48.Today, the Anchorage office of Jeanie Greene Productions Inc. boasts a set for "Heartbeat Alaska," multiple digital video editing suites, and nine employees who use top-quality equipment to gather stories from around the state.In addition to "Heartbeat Alaska," the company produces a weekly religious program featuring Native evangelical speakers called "We Win," distributed by direct broadcast satellite throughout North America on the Sky Angel network.On Sept. 21, the company rolled out a new half-hour TV show, "This Generation," aimed at Native youths."There is so much attacking our youth," Greene said. "We wanted to show the talent and beauty and wonder in our youth." The program is sponsored by the Cook Inlet Tribal Council and is broadcast on the state’s rural TV channel, ARCS.Big sponsors, good equipment, a staff of editors and photographers -- it’s a far cry from the early days of "Heartbeat Alaska," when Greene did it all herself -- from looking for sponsors to shooting and editing video.Greene had always been interested in drama and in the 1980s she started a small theater company in the Anchorage area. In the late ’80s she got her first on-air television experience hosting "Showcase of Homes," a real estate program on KTBY Channel 4 in Anchorage. The program was later moved to KIMO Channel 13.In 1990, Greene got the idea of doing a TV show about Alaska Natives. Called "Northern Lives," the program aired over the last four minutes of KIMO’s evening newscast when it was sent out to rural Alaska on RATNET, as the state’s satellite system was then called. In 1992, the program began airing in Anchorage."That’s when I started getting videotapes from villages," Greene recalled. "The villagers were all my cameramen. I was getting so much video that I could make a half-hour show."KIMO at first rejected the idea, but finally agreed, Greene said. RATNET also beamed it to the Bush. Renamed "Heartbeat Alaska," the show consisted of Greene narrating a variety of stories about Native Alaskans -- and a lot of shaky video from the villages. It debuted in October 1992.Greene is the first to admit it was hokey, but she said it met a need."Until then, the Native people had gone unheard," she said. "They saw themselves as themselves, not as drunken Natives or happy dancers. It was a phenomenon that started to grow and grow and grow."It was a consciousness that started rising up in the Native people. It sure wasn’t my editing!"Shortly after the show’s debut, KIMO canceled it, citing economic problems. The Anchorage public TV station, KAKM, picked it up and has aired it ever since.As word of the show spread, other people became interested in it. Soon, Navajo Nations TV began carrying it, and then it was picked up by Television Northern Canada, a government-run channel, which aired in Canada’s northern villages.Sponsorship of the program had always been difficult, Greene said. She fondly remembers her first sponsor, Coca-Cola of Anchorage, which provided $20,000 to help her begin producing "Heartbeat Alaska." But most advertisers were put off by the nonprofessional look of the program, she said. Also, with no Neilsen ratings in the Bush, she couldn’t prove she had a sizable audience -- even though she was convinced she did.In 1996, exhausted by doing everything by herself, Greene stopped producing "Heartbeat Alaska." She was tired, she said."I hadn’t had a weekend off in seven years," she said.She said she needed time to decide whether to continue with the show or try something new.Then the calls came in, from Alaska and Canada and the reservations in the Lower 48, letting her know how important the show was to her viewers. With no new programs coming in, her broadcast outlets simply began airing reruns.After two months, Greene decided to continue with the show, but this time with a single goal: to improve its technical quality. That, in turn, would give the show credibility with advertisers and distributors."I wanted the highest quality possible because the national and international networks demand it," she said.Greene cut back on her operating costs and began buying state of the art editing and production equipment. In 1998, the Canadian network that carried her program became a commercial operation and began paying her for her show, and airing it nationwide. The increased income allowed her to hire professional videographers and editors, which further improved quality."The sponsors started calling me," Greene said. "Now I am welcome at the table, and I am bringing a delicious dish."Greene says her revenues have increased $50,000 per year since the show began, which would put her near the half-million dollar mark today. She’s clearly delighted with the quality of her program and is continuing to dream up new ideas and new distribution methods.There’s a radio show, "Whistle for the Wind," that’s in the works. Greene is negotiating to have "Heartbeat Alaska" distributed on a direct broadcast satellite channel that covers Europe and North Africa. And she’s working with state international trade officials to get the show broadcast in Japan, Germany and Australia."Don’t you think they’re going to fall in love with us?" she asked.Even though there’s not much home video on the show any more, Greene feels she still connects with her audience. "They’ve grown up," she said. "They’re more sophisticated. I just have to reflect their life, and be honest and true."

Unocal resumes production after pipeline found to be leak-free

KENAI -- Investigators have ruled out the crude oil pipeline serving Unocal’s King Salmon Platform as a source for a sheen seen intermittently near the platform in recent weeks.Unocal resumed production from the platform Sept. 15, after the undersea oil pipeline passed hydrostatic pressure tests, said company spokeswoman Roxanne Sinz. The pipeline again is carrying crude oil from the platform to Trading Bay on the west shore of Cook Inlet.The sheen had been seen around the platform, often at slack low tide, for about two weeks before Sept. 12, when workers determined that the source was underwater and not on the platform as originally believed. On Sept. 13, Unocal stopped production from the platform and used seawater to flush the oil from the pipeline. Now, the pipeline has been ruled out as a source."Now, we’re methodically trying to go through what the other possible sources might be," Sinz said.She declined to speculate on the possibilities.Workers from Cook Inlet Spill Response and Prevention Inc., the industry spill response group, sampled the sheen Sept. 15, Sinz said, but there was not much oil to collect. Unocal has hired an Anchorage lab to fingerprint the sample to help pin down a source. Since then, there has not been enough oil to sample at all.Unocal has provided the U.S. Coast Guard and Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation with a list of 20 possible sources for the sheen. Folley said the possibilities range from wrecked vessels to drilling muds and miscellaneous leaks.Two undersea pipelines serve the King Salmon Platform, which was installed in 1967. One carries crude oil from the platform to Trading Bay.The other carries natural gas from Trading Bay to the platform for fuel.According to DEC, that also has been ruled out as a source. There could be no sheen from the gas line unless liquids were condensing within it, DEC said, and that is unlikely, since the line carries high-quality dry fuel gas. Since the pipeline operates at 400 pounds per square inch, a leak from the pipeline also would produce bubbles of gas, which have not been seen.DEC workers have observed no wildlife oiled by the sheen. A CISPRI response ship, the Seabulk Montana, has stood by the platform during slack low tides, when the sheen seems generally to appear, and has used oil-absorbent materials when possible to recover oil.

Building for the Bush

Theresa Kobuk is like a child at Christmas as she anticipates her new home, a four-bedroom model built by Alaskans, for Alaskans and for the conditions in which they live. Kobuk’s is one of 20 homes manufactured recently at Point MacKenzie by Alaska Manufacturing Contractors LLC. Stacked two high, the homes are being shipped by barge to her village of St. Michael and to Mountain Village, Shaktoolik and Emmonak. The homes should be in the villages by mid-October, just before freezeup. What lies beneath the forest green roof and Sitka moss-colored siding of Kobuk’s new house and the others is a strong all-steel structure awarded several patents for innovative design. Moreover, the homes represent the results of a training and employment program for Alaska Natives. In Kobuk’s village of St. Michael, 420 miles northwest of Anchorage, winter temperatures average zero. So a warm house is more than welcomed by Kobuk, who lives in a structure built decades ago that is less than comfortable -- call it downright frigid -- when the arctic winds blow. "The old ones are cold, the wood is all cracked and they’re drafty,’’ said Kobuk, a single mom with two small children and a baby on the way. "I’m anxious.’’

Alaska companies, individuals raise funds for attack victims

ANCHORAGE -- Alaskans are raising money in ways big and small to help the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Efforts are as modest as kids’ lemonade stands and as big as oil companies’ multimillion-dollar charity budgets.BP contributed $5 million and donated gasoline for rescue vehicles and will match employee contributions 3-to-1. Williams Cos. Inc. kicked in the first $1 million to what is being called the September 11th Fund, established by the United Way and the New York Community Trust. Wells Fargo Bank gave $1 million to the Red Cross. Phillips Petroleum Co. gave $3 million.On a smaller scale, 8-year-old Breanna Lango wanted to sell her toys and stuffed animals until her big sister Megan suggested that a lemonade stand might get more customers."It’s better than just thinking it is sad. We are really doing something to help," Breanna said Sept. 18, while her mother, Dana, took cinnamon rolls out of the oven and put in another batch of brownies. After just two days, the sisters’ stand had brought in more than $200.The bake sale is among projects across Alaska to raise money for emergency relief efforts and families of victims.In Fairbanks, a woman read about a plea for booties for search-and-rescue dogs and came through with more than 500. Elaine Gully had never made a bootie and doesn’t mush dogs. So she contacted winter clothing manufacturer Apocalypse Design. The owner donated the cloth and then came in to cut it. A group of women met at the Ben Franklin store and started sewing. More than 500 booties were express-mailed to New York on Sept. 17."It’s so easy to put money in a can and donate it, and that’s great. But I think some people needed to be hands-on as well," Gully said.In Juneau, where residents don’t even have a place to donate blood, they dug into their pockets when the plate was passed during a Sept. 14 remembrance service at Centennial Hall and gave $20,303, according to Angela Hull, an executive assistant with the Juneau mayor’s office. The money was given to the United Way, she said."People in almost a cathartic way need to help out somehow," said Kelly Hurd, Red Cross community relations manager in Anchorage.Belly dancers at the Saturday Market gave $125. Wayne’s Original Texas Bar-B-Que restaurant pitched in $3,000 from its grand opening. The house band at Chilkoot Charlie’s plans to record a rock version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" and give the proceeds to the Red Cross. Anchorage 5th Avenue mall is turning its wishing wells into collection ponds for the Red Cross.Even the tiniest of efforts are welcomed by people who dispense the aid. One little girl brought Hurd the proceeds from her lemonade stand: $45 in small change and bills stuffed into a fish bowl."People are coming up with extremely incredible and creative things just to help out," Hurd said.

White Pass sets record

White Pass & Yukon Railway reported it carried a record number of passengers this summer. The visitor attraction tallied more than 305,000 passengers during the visitor season, company officials said.In 2000 White Pass & Yukon Railway carried 303,000 passengers.In addition, Princess Cruises & Tours has chosen White Pass & Yukon Railway as the Skagway shore excursion of the season.The award is presented to shore excursions that are most popular with cruise passengers.The White Pass & Yukon Railway was built between 1898 and 1900 to connect the port of Skagway with gold fields in Canada.

Fund value decreases for the first time

Eight consecutive years of higher payouts from the Alaska Permanent Fund have ended, and an ailing stock market is blamed for the fund losing value last year for the first time since it was created in 1976.But the 2001 dividend of $1,850.28 announced Sept. 19 is the second highest in history, $113.58 lower than last year’s benchmark of $1,963.Despite a downturn in the stock market over the past year and the current uncertainty in world financial markets, permanent fund officials aren’t worried about the long-term health of the state’s oil wealth savings account."Expect 2002’s dividend to be the third highest,’’ said Clark Gruening, outgoing chairman of Alaska Permanent Fund Corp.’s board of trustees.Former Fairbanks Borough Mayor Jim Sampson was elected chairman Sept. 19 at the corporation’s annual meeting in Juneau. Gruening will remain on the board of trustees until 2003.Some 590,423 Alaskans will receive the dividend this year, up from 585,878 residents last year. Direct deposit payments will go into accounts Oct. 10, according to permanent fund officials.The total distribution from the oil wealth savings account is $1.09 billion, down from $1.15 billion in 2000."In the future we could see it go back up; in the near future it may go down, but not much," Gruening said of the dividend to Alaskans. "There is no sense of panic. We have a good investment strategy. There is no concern the fund is any way jeopardized.’’Gruening and other permanent fund officials say investments are made for the long run, and short-term slides are to be expected.But even with higher earnings, steady increases in the state’s population could affect the size of Alaskans’ dividend check, Gruening said.Dividends are calculated using a five-year average of the fund’s investment income. The 1997 $2.03 billion record return helped keep this year’s dividend second-best.Interest on bonds, income from stock dividends and the profits from the sale of stocks and other investments this year earned the fund a net income of $1.199 billion, down from $2.222 billion a year ago.The fund’s total market value is $24.81 billion, down from $1.7 billion from last year.Permanent fund managers are projecting a decline in distributions over the next four years, based on average earnings of 8.25 percent and inflation rates at 3.5 percent, said Jim Kelly, spokesman for the corporation.The total amount transferred into the dividend account was $1.113 billion, down from $1.172 billion in 2000, according to Kelly. Next year, $1.073 billion is expected to be transferred; $998 million in 2003; $939 million in 2004; $926 in 2005. In 2006, the transfer amount is expected to increase to $1.31 billion, Kelly said.Poor stock performance forced permanent fund managers to take $588 million from the Earnings Reserve Fund for inflation-proofing, Kelly said. Only twice before in the corporation’s 25 year history-- in 1990 and 1991 -- was money taken from previous years’ earnings.The board of trustees is backing a constitutional amendment that would cap dividends payments at 5 percent of the market value of the fund, covering both payouts to Alaskans and inflation-proofing.Backers of the amendment say the ceiling would rarely limit the size of annual dividends.Currently, state law gives priority to dividends, and money is taken from previous years’ earnings to cover for inflation proofing. Tying earnings to the fund’s market value compensates for inflation, trustees say.The constitutional amendment, if approved by the Legislature, would go before voters in November 2002.

Knowles plans gas pipeline testimony

JUNEAU -- Gov. Tony Knowles is planning to travel to Washington, D.C., this week to push for federal legislation mandating that a proposed natural gas pipeline to the Lower 48 go through Alaska.The governor will also outline proposed federal incentives to make it profitable to build a pipeline from the North Slope along the Alaska Highway, said Bob King, his press secretary.Knowles is scheduled to testify before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Oct. 2. The governor had planned to go earlier, but postponed his trip after the terrorist attacks on the East Coast.Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska, ranking minority member of the committee, said it was time for Congress to hear from those affected by the project. State legislators, the Bush administration and representatives from the oil companies have also been asked to testify."More than 35 trillion cubic feet of natural gas is available on Alaska’s North Slope -- gas that belongs to Alaska," Murkowski said. "The citizens of our state have a right to say how their resource is going to be used."In August, Knowles rolled out his proposed package of federal incentives to entice ExxonMobil Production Co., Phillips Alaska Inc. and BP to build a pipeline along the Alaska Highway route.He wants accelerated depreciation, an investment tax credit and additional credits if natural gas prices drop. The investment tax credit is valued at $1.5 billion. No specific estimates were available for the other incentives."These are worth billions of dollars, and so they are substantial financial incentives to get this project going," King said.The oil producers have commissioned a $100 million study to determine whether a pipeline is feasible, and if so which of two routes it should follow. The companies expect to have their study complete by the end of the year.One of the routes being considered is the Alaska Highway route, which follows the trans-Alaska oil pipeline to Fairbanks, then runs along the Alaska Highway to Alberta.The other option being studied by the producers would mean a 300-mile underwater pipeline in the Beaufort Sea from Prudhoe Bay to Canada’s Mackenzie Delta, then a land line south. That route is about 200 miles shorter and taps into natural gas reserves identified in the Mackenzie valley.Oil companies have opposed any legislation mandating a specific route, and a spokesman said Knowles’ tax credits are unlikely to sway the gas owners."The project needs to stand on its own merits first," said Curtis Thayer, a spokesman for the Alaska Gas Producers Pipeline Team, which is studying the project.The oil companies are backing legislation that would speed up the permitting process without specifying a route.

New website designed to help Natives sell their art overseas

State officials have created a Web site detailing international customs laws limiting export of some Alaska Native art. State and federal agencies have geared site information for artists, gift shop owners and international visitors purchasing Alaska Native art. Customs information is critical because some materials used in traditional Native artwork originate from protected species. State officials hope to help Native artists expand their market especially to international visitors to Alaska by offering the information in an easy-to-use format. The Department of Community and Economic Development introduced the site Sept. 14. The Customs Guide to Alaska Native Arts summarizes export information for 16 countries and almost 40 animal species, detailing which paperwork is required plus which items are illegal for export. Guide information applies only to Alaska Native art departing the United States as personal baggage. The Internet guide is an updated and expanded version of a booklet printed in 1995 by the state international trade office, said Ruth St. Amour, small business development specialist with the Division of Community and Business Development. "Shop owners can use this for customers to help them make wise choices if they go through customs," St. Amour said. Artists who market their crafts to an international audience can use the customs information to employ alternate materials because other items might be illegal for import in some countries, she said. The online guide is an important reference tool for artists, said Saunders McNeill, Alaska State Council for the Arts Native arts program director. The council operates the state’s Silver Hand program, which registers authentic Native art. "It’s a great resource for basic laws and who to contact if you have detailed questions," she said. Even though the Web site offers valuable information, many people in rural Alaska can’t access the guide because they lack Internet connections, she noted. Customs laws regarding Alaska Native art are vital to area artists since it affects how they make a living, McNeill said. "I think a lot of Native artists get really frustrated because if they had a question there was not a central place to find the information. Now they do have a place to find the information," she said. Alaska Native art can be crafted from seal fur, walrus skin, intestinal lining or seal whiskers, but regulations in different countries govern imports, especially for marine mammals. The rules can be complicated, even varying for different parts of the same animal, and making it difficult for artists, she said. "We’re working predominantly with traditional Native artisans. They’re gleaning art from subsistence activities," she said. The total number of Silver Hand program participants has expanded in the past five years, now tallying 1,100 enrollees, McNeill said. St. Amour aims to work with Buy Alaska and meet with gift shop owners personally to describe the Web site. She also will mail letters about the site to gift shops outside of Anchorage.

Airport busiest in nation

Air traffic controllers at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport were perhaps the busiest in nation Sept. 13 as regular air traffic returned after the terrorist attacks on the East Coast.The Federal Aviation Administration reported 744 aircraft operations at Anchorage International just two days after the terrorist attacks, said Joette Storm, FAA spokeswoman in Alaska."Anchorage had more operations than any other place,’’ Storm said, adding that Anchorage International reported more flights because airports in larger cities in the Lower 48 were not allowing flights as soon.Anchorage International normally averages about 870 operations a day, Storm said.Seattle-based Alaska Airlines was operating nearly all of its scheduled flights in Alaska by Sept. 15. The airline did not resume its full operations from Alaska to the Lower 48 until two days later, said Jack Walsh, airline spokesman.The airline was operating only 75 percent systemwide as of Sept. 21."The state of Alaska is a top priority with us,’’ Walsh said. "Alaska is absolutely dependent on air travel. There is a whole different set of circumstances than those in the Lower 48.’’Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, raised Alaska’s uniqueness and dependence on air travel at congressional hearings Sept. 20, stressing the importance of flexibility when applying national emergency air transportation regulations to Alaska.But as dependent as Alaskans are on airplanes, not as many are taking flights nowadays.Passenger levels on Alaska Airlines flights have dropped by at least a third on flights in Alaska and elsewhere, Walsh said."Our passenger loads in Alaska are 50 to 55 percent which is just slightly higher than systemwide,’’ Walsh said. "The planes are only half full instead of two-thirds full.’’Alaska Airlines had lost $20 million in revenue through Sept. 21, including about $4 million daily for the first three days following the East Coast terrorist attacks, and about $1 million daily thereafter, Walsh said.The airline industry nationwide has announced layoffs of 44,000 to 100,000 workers after the terrorist attacks. At presstime, 10 days following the attacks, no one at Alaska Airlines was without a job, Walsh said."A lot of other airlines have announced layoffs,’’ Walsh said. "We’ll only consider layoffs as a last resort. We’re doing everything we can to prevent that from happening.’’Alaska Airlines and its sister carrier, Horizon Air, are in line to get about $100 million, under a federal aid package for airlines approved by Congress Sept. 21.The $15 billion measure calls for $5 billion in cash aid and $10 billion in loan guarantees for the industry. The aid formula is based on the number of passenger miles airlines flew in August, according to Walsh. Alaska and Horizon, both owned by Alaska Air Group, represent about 2 percent of the industry’s total."Financially, Alaska (Airlines) has more solvency than many other airlines but it still has had a very dramatic impact on us, especially when we are losing in excess of $1 million a day,’’ Walsh said.

Company finds two pipelines better than one for northern gas

WHITEHORSE, Yukon -- It would be cheaper to build two separate pipelines to ship natural gas south from the North Slope and from the Mackenzie Delta in Canada than a single line that includes a Beaufort Sea link, says a study by Foothills Pipe Lines Ltd.Foothills holds permits to build and operate a pipeline from the North Slope to the Lower 48 along the Alaska Highway route favored by Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles.Constructing a stand alone pipeline along that route from Prudhoe Bay to Alberta, as well as a stand alone line down the Mackenzie Valley, would cost an estimated $12.8 billion, says the study released this week.The cost of building a single "over-the-top" line from Prudhoe Bay to the Mackenzie Delta, and then down the Mackenzie Valley, would cost more -- an estimated $13 billion, according to the study. The company says its workers spent 50,000 hours on the study over the last year.One reason for the higher cost for the northern route is Foothills’ conclusion that the 300-mile line under the Beaufort Sea would have to be two pipes, not just one, due to the need to provide for a reliable flow during the substantial parts of the year when the line can’t be reached for repairs.The report also says the pipe would have to be larger, and thus more expensive, because compressor stations couldn’t be built along the undersea portion.Brian Love, Foothills’ manager of northern affairs in Whitehorse, told the Whitehorse Star that while the company is just now making its findings public, it has met directly with industry and government in both Canada and United States to share its conclusions."This was a big undertaking," Love said. "Remember, we have done the preliminary engineering work for the Alaska Highway project dating back to the ’70s."We have been at this a long time. What this was, was taking existing information and then adding in things that have changed from a cost point of view ... and then adding in over-the-top," Love said.The Foothills study estimates an Alaska Highway pipeline could be ready to ship gas south in six to seven years, with actual construction taking just 24 months, while it would take eight or nine years to start up the stand alone Mackenzie Valley line.The entire "over the top" line from Prudhoe Bay to Alberta wouldn’t be finished for nine to 10 years, the Foothills study indicates. It says the short window for laying pipe in the Beaufort Sea means that expensive custom machinery would have to be built and would lay idle except for the 40- to 60-day window when work could be done in the Beaufort. The longer construction time also would result in increased interest costs.The gas owners’ group researching the pipeline options has said it will cost $15 billion to $20 billion for a single line along either route, though Foothills and the gas owners don’t necessarily include the same facilities in their estimates.The gas owners say their $100 million feasibility study will be completed by the end of the year. But with natural gas prices back down near $2 per thousand cubic feet, the owners have said that neither route looks promising at this point.

Privacy issues 'vexing' in new economy

One of the most vexing issues lawmakers face in the "new economy" is personal privacy. For the typical American, the right to privacy is a cherished core value -- an apple pie and motherhood concept that government officials at all levels have recognized as a hot-button issue. But ironically, as the media and privacy advocates persistently fret about the threats to our privacy, Gallup and other surveys indicate that, while more than 80 percent of Americans are concerned about the issue, more than two-thirds have little faith in government to solve it.The privacy conundrum came front and center in Alaska earlier this month, during a summit hosted by the Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer in Anchorage. It was a two-day dialogue among experienced professionals on the front lines of the issue and Alaskans with little background on its complexity.Philosophical lines drawn clearly in the sand among privacy advocates, industry and government were, in the end, blurred by the realities of today’s use of data.Perhaps Sun Microsystems’ Scott McNealy framed the issue best, albeit indelicately, last year, with his comment that, "You have zero privacy, anyway. Get over it." He might have added, " and deal with it."Driving the privacy issue is the explosive growth of technology and the Internet. The increased attention that it’s receiving from lawmakers has significant implications for the information technology, insurance, financial and health care industries -- and for government’s own collection and use of personal data.The only thing that appears to have changed in the traditional right to privacy expectation in the United States is today’s technology that makes it more efficient to compile, use and analyze data -- yours, mine and everyone else’s in the new economy.Said Richard Purcell, Microsoft’s director of corporate privacy, "It’s the most difficult problem I’ve seen since I read Kant in college -- an amorphous blob of concerns." Like its colleagues throughout the technology industry, Microsoft believes that "companies and governments can’t solve it; people of the world will solve it," Purcell said at the Alaska summit.Consider just a few examples of Purcell’s amorphous blobs of concerns.We order from a catalog and receive catalogs from 50 more businesses shortly thereafter in the mail. Today, we visit a Web site or join a mail list and receive a box full of unwanted junk mail. Perhaps government should prohibit sales of mailing lists. On the other hand, we might want some of our junk mail. On another hand, for some catalog distributors, the sale of their mailing lists is a significant profit center.Should Web sites be allowed to capture and use my personal buying habits, preferences and browsing habits? Big Brother may be watching me but on the other hand, I don’t mind Amazon.com providing my wish list to my family at Christmas or my news site filtering my topics of interest.More seriously, should government prohibit banks, insurance companies and health care organizations from providing my private information to third parties? On the one hand, my health conditions are no one’s business but my own. On the other hand, I may need that information sent to another provider for special care or other purposes.Government, in fact, has legislated in this area, through the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which require organizations to develop privacy policies and provide them to clients and customers. It’s the reason you’ve been inundated with privacy notices from your bank, attorney and health care provider lately.And then there’s the broad issue of how government collects our information and uses it. Should the state of Alaska, for example, set a policy not to release my voter registration data? If so, how would candidates reach me? What about releasing hunting license lists to businesses that manufacture outdoor safety equipment?Or what about government’s ability to use its advanced technology to monitor my incoming and outgoing e-mail from my ISP? When Ulmer hosted the privacy summit, virtually all of those in attendance appeared to be most concerned with government invasion of privacy -- agreeing that certainly such surveillance could not be allowed without a warrant from the court, with the same protection afforded for the "older" technology of wiretapping.Today, in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center, Americans may well have a different view of the power and ability of government to track some individuals among us by any means.Said Ulmer at the conclusion of the summit, "we have a lot to think about" as the state reviews its own internal policies and what legislation might emerge to govern the private sector. "This will be an ongoing discussion with Alaskans," Ulmer said.The technology industry believes that there are no cookie-cutter rules that either industry or government can devise to protect the third-party use of an individual’s private information.Taking the industry self-regulation position, the Information Technology Association of America and Online Privacy Alliance nevertheless agree that consumers should be provided with clear privacy policies from the entities to which they provide any personal data. They also generally agree that consumers should have the option to opt in, rather than out of, practices that release their data to third parties.And, at least as far as users of the Internet are concerned, new protocols developed by the World Wide Web Consortium will enable Web users to set their own preferences for what data Web sites collect from them and how it can be used. The new Platform for Privacy Preferences 1.0, or P3P, is currently deployed in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 6 and by AT&T’s ISP division, with other browser and Web site developers sure to follow in coming months.In today’s privacy landscape, it’s clearly a case of "consumer, take control of your data."Sally Suddock is executive director of the Alaska High-Tech Business Council. She can be reached via e-mail at ([email protected]).

Business Profile: Aero Recip Alaska LLC

Name of the company: Aero Recip Alaska LLCEstablished: 1963Location: 4451B Aircraft Drive, AnchorageTelephone: 907-243-3133Major focus of services: Aero Recip Alaska LLC provides piston engine overhaul services for light aircraft. The company also overhauls prop governors, turbo chargers, turbo charger components and aircraft accessories such as starters and alternators. Other services include nondestructive testing.History of the company: Jim Kaiser started the company in the 1960s as Sea Air Inc., handling engines ranging from 65 horsepower to 600 horsepower. During its tenure the company has operated chiefly from its current location on the shores of Lake Hood.In 1976 Sea Air merged with Air Power Overhaul. Kaiser sold the company in 1999 to Alvin Gregorash who owns Aero Recip Canada of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Sea Air Inc. was renamed Aero Recip Alaska, serving as the Alaska division of the Aero Recip Canada.Clients include private pilots, aircraft owners and commercial and contract operators.Aero Recip Alaska employs 12 people.One longtime Canada-based employee is sharing his 40 years of aircraft engine expertise by conducting seminars and compiling a videotape aimed at boosting information on radial engine work. Aero Recip Canada quality manager Don McIntosh, who visited the Anchorage office recently, plans to have the training tape produced professionally and released in 2002.Top accomplishment of the company: Aero Recip Alaska officials cite the company’s quality and service. "To date we have not had any failures in the work we have done in Alaska," said Paul Mills, who handles sales and marketing for the company.Major player: Tom Philo, shop manager, Aero Recip Alaska LLC.Philo first came to work for the company as a 17-year-old in 1976. He gained experience working at Sea Air until 1983 when he took another job. Philo returned to the company in 1997, working as an engine assembler. In September 2000 he was appointed shop manager. Philo earned certifications in powerplant, airframe and inspection work.-- Nancy Pounds

Futurist says average lifespan will be 120 years at century's end

Health care of the future will involve capitalism with a moral conscience and unity among individuals, according to a health policy analyst."Humankind collectively in this century will assume responsibility for our evolution," said Leland Kaiser, lecturer, writer and associate professor emeritus at the University of Colorado at Denver."As a futurist, I can tell you that in the next 100 years we will witness the worst of humanity as we just did and the best and brightest," said Leland speaking in Anchorage Sept. 18 in reference to the terrorist attacks on the East Coast a week before.Kaiser spoke to members of Commonwealth North at the Hotel Captain Cook."What I see coming is a new kind of capitalism, a caring capitalism," he said. "Now I think our challenge is to demonstrate to the world that capitalism is the solution."Kaiser is president of Kaiser & Associates, a management consulting firm serving the health care industry. He earned a master’s degree in medical care administration from the University of Colorado, plus a master’s degree in clinical psychology from the University of Pittsburgh and a doctoral degree in social psychology and higher education from the University of Denver.Kaiser perceives a change in American society which could yield improvements, but the onus lies with individuals. "Each of us is called upon to be an architect of the future."Health care also could see changes. "The challenge in health care is not to treat disease; it is to design it out," Kaiser said. "The real challenge is not treatment. Health is what we want, not the treatment of disease."According to Kaiser, healthy people are a consequence of successful functions in other areas of society."Health is a result. It’s what happens when everything works."To engineer a healthier Alaska, Kaiser called for groups to connect with each other rather than operating separately. There’s no difference between churches, schools or other organizations, the lecturer said. However, such connectivity is difficult to achieve."America at this point in time is a collection of rugged individualists, yet the future will be owned by groups," he said. "All the groups must come to the table."Kaiser charged the audience to view the world without country boundaries. "Lines are killing us. There are no lines in the universe," he said. "The function of lines is to divide; they also incur hatred and mistrust. We have to think in wholes, not pieces."Kaiser depicted the health care industry today yet also envisioned its future."Make no mistake, medical technology drives health care," he said. "By the end of this century the average life span will be 120 years."However, people desire healthy aging, he noted.He chided trends which bemoan increasing health care costs."We still view health care as a cost to society," he said. "It’s major contributor to the gross domestic product."Kaiser encouraged people to help others. "Philanthropy is the moral dimension of capitalism," he said, defining philanthropy as either volunteer work or donations."Communism failed because it doesn’t work. Socialism failed because it doesn’t work. Now we will see if capitalism works because for the system to work it must work for everybody," Kaiser said. "The basis for capitalism is learning to share abundance. Sharing our abundance increases our abundance. It’s greed that creates scarcity."The lecturer called for action from companies. "I’d like to see every corporation have a foundation," he said, with 10 percent of profits designated to help others. "Tithing is spiritual economics. What is required is creativity, moral consciousness and will."According to Kaiser, Americans needs to see a demonstration of what he calls caring capitalism. "I’ve been in many states, and I tell you this state has the best chance."Capitalism is the salvation yet it doesn’t yet have a moral conscience," he said. "The challenge is: Could it happen here?"

Many franchise opportunities require modest initial investment

Franchising generates an estimated $1 trillion annually in the United States alone, and it takes an estimated 1,500 companies doing business through more than 316,000 retail units to generate that volume. Representing the industry is the International Franchise Association, the industry’s oldest and largest trade group with more than 30,000 domestic and international members. According to the IFA, the top 10 franchise industries in descending order of magnitude were fast food, retail, service, automotive, restaurants, maintenance, building and construction, retail food, business services and lodging. The inside scoop Surprisingly, it doesn’t require outrageous amounts of capital or a high degree of net worth to become a franchisee. Today, approximately 250 franchise concepts, spanning every imaginable field, have initial investments requiring less than $50,000. The IFA, in its Profile of Franchising report, notes that 75 percent of all companies studied had initial investment levels of less than $250,000. "What really drives up the cost of investing in a franchise are things such as building a large retail or lodging site, maintaining significant equipment or stocking the inventory necessary to run the business," said IFA President Don DeBolt. If all that overhead is not in the budget, DeBolt suggests considering a lower-investment franchise that can be operated from a home office, doesn’t demand a large inventory or expensive equipment and doesn’t require more than a few employees. Nevertheless, there are certain set expenses that are universal to acquiring any franchise. Most franchises require a payment of an initial fee that allows the franchisee to operate the business under the franchise company’s trademark. Most franchise systems -- 70 percent -- charge an initial fee of $30,000 or less. Another charge is royalty payments to the franchisor. In 80 percent of the cases, those royalties are calculated as a percent of revenue, usually in the range of 3 percent to 6 percent of monthly gross sales. In consideration of those payments, the franchisee normally receives help in selecting a location, negotiating a lease, hiring and training employees, securing equipment and establishing a supply line. Reputable franchisors will continue to provide training and support for as long as the business continues in operation. In addition, technology has greatly improved communications via tools such as secure intranet, distance learning and online supply ordering capabilities. And the icing on the cake: Approximately one third of all franchises offer some type of franchisor-sponsored financing. What’s hot The McDonald’s and Dairy Queens may have established the category, but it is the service sector that is creating news today. Trash items from residences and commercial locations can be hauled away by contacting (www.1800gotjunk.com). First to formalize the industry, the company features set pricing. Workers wear uniforms and arrive in trucks emblazoned with the corporate logo. Indexonly.com at (www.indexonly.com) has developed an online business directory that provides users with global access to comprehensive lists of products and services in any state, city or town in the United States and Canada. The downside when considering a new or unique concept is the obvious lack of operating history. Since prospective franchisees cannot monitor a new franchise’s growth and acceptance in the marketplace or interview many franchisees, they should instead review the backgrounds of company executives and founders as well as check all references, research professional credits and talk to expert consultants in that industry. Finding the inside scoop Luckily the franchise industry is one of the most heavily researched, not to mention regulated. Under the Federal Trade Commission’s Franchise Rule and numerous state laws, franchise systems must provide prospective franchisees with detailed information explaining the terms of the franchise relationship, including a long list of items ranging from bankruptcy history to franchisor’s obligations to territorial protection. The IFA also provides access to a number of helpful background publications including the FTC’s Consumer’s Guide to Buying a Franchise. The IFA also sells a 300-page Franchise Opportunities Guide with information on the world’s leading franchise companies including investment requirements, company history and key contacts, legal and financial advice for the prospective franchisee, answers to frequently asked questions about buying a franchise and a self-evaluation section. All IFA publications can be accessed via (www.franchise.org), which also features the Franchise Opportunities Mall Online, containing information on nearly 1,000 franchise companies that can be searched by name, category or investment level. Alf Nucifora is an Atlanta-based marketing consultant.   

Fred Meyer conducts traffic study for possible Eagle River store

Retailer Fred Meyer continues building a new store in Anchorage while studying property for a possible store in Eagle River. The new store near Abbott Road and Lake Otis Parkway should open early in 2002, said company spokesman Rob Boley. Builders have completed walls and roof work, he said. "We’re trying to get it weather-tight before winter hits," he said. The new store will feature a gas station, he said. Last year Fred Meyer stations opened the pumping facilities at the west Fairbanks, East Anchorage and Soldotna stores. Fred Meyer officials began site work in March on its fourth Anchorage store after more than a year of delays. Work on the site had met delays last year due to proceedings required to relocate a radio tower on the property. The tower served Anchorage Media Group radio stations, which are owned by Morris Communications Corp., also owner of the Alaska Journal of Commerce. A new tower now serves the stations. The old tower was removed in early March. The $28.5 million store, which would be the Portland, Ore.-based company’s ninth store in Alaska, would total about 170,000 square feet, Fred Meyer officials have said. Fred Meyer is owned by grocery giant Kroger. Additionally, the company is conducting due diligence work on property in Eagle River, potentially home to a new store there. Fred Meyer has not purchased property but is considering the site and conducting a traffic study, he said. "We’ve entered into an agreement with Eklutna (Inc.)," he said. The retailer previously had been evaluating a site in downtown Eagle River. However, the property owner led by a representative from Spokane, Wash., moved to stop required rezoning plans started by an area developer. Fred Meyer had proposed purchase of 16.8 acre site between the Glenn Highway and Business Boulevard, he said. The retailer would need to rezone five acres of the site from residential to general business.  

Pitlo to oversee Alaska print properties

Stan Pitlo, publisher of the Kenai Peninsula Clarion, has been appointed director of Morris Communications’ Alaska newspaper operations. Pitlo’s promotion to the newly created position was announced Sept. 19 by Susie Morris Baker, the company’s vice president for Alaska newspapers.Pitlo, a veteran of the newspaper business and a resident of Alaska for 27 years, became publisher of the Clarion in January 1999. He had been the newspaper’s general manager since 1995, and before that, its marketing director."Stan is committed to the success of our Alaska operations and is committed to his community as well," Baker said. "I am confident Stan will excel in his expanded role with our company."In addition to his position as publisher of the Clarion and administrator for the Homer News, Pitlo’s additional responsibilities will include oversight of the Juneau Empire and the Alaska Star in Eagle River. Pitlo also will oversee the Journal, the Alaskan Equipment Trader, the Alaska Oil & Gas Reporter and the Alaska Military Weekly -- all in Anchorage.Morris Communications is a privately held media company based in Augusta, Ga. Its holdings include newspaper and magazine publishing, outdoor advertising, radio broadcasting, book publishing and distribution, and computer services.

Around the World September 30, 2001

STATEThree shipyards vie for fast ferry contract JUNEAU -- A second attempt by the state to hire a shipyard to build fast ferries netted responses from three companies that competed for the contract the first time around.Derecktor Shipyards of New York, Eastern Shipbuilding of Florida, and Austal USA, an Australian company with a shipyard in Alabama, have submitted technical proposals for the project, said Philip Grasser, marine engineering manager of the Alaska Marine Highway System.The state will review the proposals to determine if the companies are qualified to build two of at least four high-speed aluminum catamarans capable of speeds up to 32 knots. The shipyards that make it through the initial screenings will have a chance to bid on the contract to be awarded in December, Grasser said.This is the second time the state has tried to award the fast ferry contract. During the first attempt in 2000, five companies filed technical proposals but only one submitted a complete bid to build a ferry slated to run between Juneau and Sitka. The state in April rejected the $35.99 million bid by Nichols Brothers Boat Builders of Washington state, calling it "nonresponsive."BP orders fourth double-wall tanker to carry Alaska oilANCHORAGE -- BP has ordered a fourth double-wall tanker for carrying Alaska oil to the West Coast, the company said Sept. 21.The tanker, like the three ships already ordered, will cost about $200 million, said BP spokesman Ronnie Chappell. It will hold 1.3 million barrels, or nearly 55 million gallons.BP is planning to convert its Alaska fleet to the new double-hull design by 2006, the company said, with deliveries of a tanker each year from 2003 to 2006. Single-hull tankers must be phased out on the Alaska route under a federal law passed in the wake of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.Three tankers were ordered last fall from a shipyard in San Diego, with options for three more. Construction of the new ships is scheduled to begin early next year in San Diego. The first ship is to be delivered late in 2003.The new ships will have dual propulsion systems and other safety measures to reduce the risk of spills.Southeast cruise ships carrying fewer passengersKETCHIKAN -- Cruise ships visiting Southeast Alaska are running far lighter passenger rosters in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist violence on the East Coast.The Carnival Spirit carried "a fair amount lower than 80 percent" of its 2,124-passenger capacity, said Jennifer de la Cruz, spokesperson for Carnival Cruise Lines.Other cruise companies also reported losses.Celebrity Cruises, whose ships Infinity and Mercury stop in Ketchikan, reported sailings to be about two-thirds full in the week after the attacks. Only half the usual number of bookings were made in the days immediately following the attacks, said Richard Fain, chairman and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., which owns Celebrity.The Holland America ship Ryndam had only 880 of its 1,266 beds filled when it arrived in Ketchikan on Sept. 19, and sister ship Statendam, which also can accommodate 1,266 was expected to carry about 700 passengers when it arrived Sept. 21.The week of Oct. 1 is the final week for cruise ships in Ketchikan for the year.Southeast leaders seek electrical intertiePRINCE RUPERT, British Columbia -- Southeast communities will study a format for a regional agency that would own and operate electric transmission lines that might someday link towns from Metlakatla to Skagway.The Southeast Conference, meeting in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, approved a resolution Sept. 20 to send to the communities a memorandum of understanding and draft agreement for the Southeast Alaska Regional Power Agency.The idea is to build transmission lines, and use existing lines where available, to bring inexpensive and reliable electric power throughout Southeast. Some communities are dependent on diesel generators and wildly fluctuating diesel fuel costs. Electricity in small communities can cost four times what it costs in the larger cities, said Randy Cornelius, chairman of the Southeast Conference’s Intertie Committee.At its greatest extent, at 392 miles of lines, the intertie would cost an estimated $435 million to build, he said.NATIONFedEx profits down 36 percent in first quarterMEMPHIS, Tenn. -- FedEx Corp., the world’s largest cargo airline with about 1,300 Alaska employees, reported Sept. 20 that first-quarter profits fell 36 percent, in part because the flat economy weakened demand in the manufacturing and high-tech sectors for its premium services.Company officials said they’re unsure how the disruption of air deliveries in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the economy’s response to the strikes on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon will affect the company’s next quarter.Along with the rest of the nation’s airlines, FedEx planes were grounded for two days as a result of the attacks.The Memphis-based package delivery company reported net earnings of $109 million, or 36 cents per share for the fiscal quarter that ended Aug. 31. That compares with profits a year ago of $169 million, or 58 cents per share.-- Compiled from business wire services.

Halibut facing post-terror woes

KODIAK -- Even Alaska’s halibut market has been disrupted by ripples from the terrorist attack on the East Coast.Without access to the nation’s air cargo system to ship fresh halibut to market, the price paid to fishermen has plunged.When processors can’t fly out the fresh fish, they have to freeze it. Frozen halibut brings a lower price, so the processors pay less to fishermen.Just before the attacks, halibut of more than 40 pounds brought $2.40 a pound in Homer and $2.20 a pound in Kodiak. A week later, the Kodiak price was $1.60 to $1.90.In Homer, boats were tied up at the docks with fish aboard and no market."There are definitely loads begging for a home," said fish buyer Brad Faulkner of Homer, the state’s leading halibut port.Halibut, which is perceived as a luxury, is not selling well to the American consumer, Faulkner said.Custom processor Dave Woodruff in Kodiak was telling fishermen to wait to fish halibut until the market stabilizes."I’ve suggested my guys refrain from fishing for the next few weeks until we see where it’s all going. Prices are free-falling. Frozen inventory is very high," Woodruff said.

Pages

Subscribe to Alaska Journal RSS