FISH FACTOR: Begich shares thoughts on fisheries issues in Kodiak

“With fisheries, it’s almost the forgotten resource of our state as an economic driver. It’s almost like they are an afterthought. We have to realign that,” said Mark Begich, Democratic candidate for Alaska governor, as we readied for an interview during his trip to Kodiak last week. Begich came to Kodiak despite the cancelled fisheries debate caused by a no show by his Republican opponent, Mike Dunleavy, who has not responded to requests to share his ideas and vision for Alaska’s oldest industry. “I think it’s appalling,” Begich said. “I think it shows his lack of respect for our coastal communities and their importance to the economy of this great state and the people who live and work here.” Begich spoke easily and at length on a wide range of fishing industry topics. He called state funding for fisheries research and stock assessments a top priority. “We are never going to be able to manage our fisheries resource the proper way without it. And I think there are opportunities through federal, state as well as foundation money that I believe is out there to help us do this,” he said. Begich said he is a strong supporter of Alaska’s hatchery program. “I know there is some conversation going on about hatchery fish impacts in the ocean … But there is no real science around that and the hatcheries have been very successful for us as a state,” he said. In terms of selecting an Alaska Department of Fish and Game commissioner, Begich said good management skills and the ability to bring people together are critical. “People are frustrated. They feel like their voice isn’t heard. We need commissioners who are willing to step up to the plate and recognize that it’s their job to bring people together, solve problems and move forward,” Begich said. “Obviously, I would want him or her to be knowledgeable about fisheries. We need someone who understands the controversies that are out there, the uniqueness of our resource, and how to balance it with making sure we do things for the long term and not for the moment.” The average age of Alaska’s fishing permit holders is 50, and Begich believes the state can help fend off a “graying of the fleet” crisis and give young entrants a boot up. “First we have to make sure the fisheries remain as stable as possible so future generations can get into that business. Another issue is the capital it takes,” Begich said. “We should look at how to utilize the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, which is a financing arm of the state, and is usually designed for big projects. “We should figure out if they can be a player in helping to bring low cost capital to the table so that people who want to get into fishing have a chance and are not denied because they don’t have the money or the capacity to borrow. I think there is a tool here that has been underutilized by the state for the fishing industry and a lot of the small business industries that we have.” The Trump Administration’s push for offshore fish farms gets a thumbs down from Begich. “Alaska is known for our premium product because we are wild caught,” he said. “Farmed fish could impact our natural stocks if improperly managed. I don’t want any of that in Alaska, for sure.” Begich also is no fan of Trump’s tariffs on seafood going to and from China, Alaska’s biggest customer. “This spat that the president has with China is costing Alaskans jobs and money and putting a damper on our products,” he fumed. “With fisheries, if we’re not careful it could add another $500 million to $700 million to the cost of our fish products sold to China. What they will do is decide to buy products from another place and once they do that, we’ll lose our market share.” “We should be teaming up right now with the governors of Washington, Oregon and the Gulf states, working with the Trump Administration and the State Department and start pounding on them that this is hurting American jobs,” he added. “These are dangerous games for us to be playing and the effects are long lasting.” Begich said as governor, he would reinstate the coastal zone management program, which would bring back Alaskans’ ability to have input regarding management of our coastline. Alaska is the only state that does not have that outlet for the public’s voice. A coastal zone management program in Alaska was in place starting in the 1970s but expired in 2011 when lawmakers and then-Gov. Sean Parnell failed to agree on its extension. “We need to have that coastal zone management program. It is about our own sovereignty in deciding what we want to do, and to have public comments on our coastal zone versus the federal government controlling it,” Begich said. “Secondly, it provides millions of dollars to the state that are rightfully ours and going to other states right now.” Other protein industries, such as beef and pork, use everything but the squeal. But in Alaska, most of the seafood trimmings end up as waste. Begich called that “short sighted” and said he believes that there is tremendous economic potential for Alaska’s billions of pounds of fish parts. “We need to have the financing available to build the infrastructure that will allow these companies to do maximum utilization of their seafood,” Begich said. “We also need to think about how we can use marketing in a way that helps utilize all of every product.” Begich did not hesitate when asked what he views as the biggest threat to Alaska’s fisheries. “Climate change,” he said. “Ocean acidification, warming waters — these are things that right now we don’t have enough information about to understand what the long term impacts are going to be, and it is clear that there are going to be impacts.” “The state must put investment into research and better utilizing our university so we understand what we can do, if at all, to mitigate the impacts of climate change to our fisheries,” Begich said, adding that the state also has its own goal to reach. “We have to get to our goal of 50 percent or greater of renewable energy so we can start doing our part in this world of making sure we put less emissions into the air.” “We have to do it to prepare and protect our environment, our industries and our economy,” Begich said. “Secondly, we are the natural lab for a changing climate and we can become a leader in figuring out solutions to the challenges we face and show the rest of the world how to do it right.” EM sign up Pot cod and longline vessels fishing in federal waters were able to sign up by Nov. 1 for electronic monitoring of their catches for 2019. This year was the first time that the EM systems got the go ahead for use on boats under 60 feet; the program has now expanded to include more and larger boats. “The cap for 2018 was 145 vessels. Since then the North Pacific Fishery Management Council in June increased the number of vessels that can participate in the EM pool to 165,” said Abby Turner-Franke, project coordinator at the North Pacific Fisheries Association in Homer, which has helped get the program out on the water. Malcolm Milne, NPFA president, said the EM system is simple to use. “Once your boat is wired you get a camera and instead of carrying a human observer, you just turn the cameras on and they record everything coming over the rails,” he explained. “When the set is done, the camera is off and at the end of your trip you mail in the hard drive to be reviewed in Seattle. It took a trip or two to get used to the whole system, but after that, you don’t even realize it’s there at all.” In years of test trials, the EM cameras proved they could track and identify over 95 percent of the species required for fishery management decisions. All costs are covered by grants from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation. Laine Welch lives in Kodiak. Visit www.alaskafishradio.com or contact [email protected] for information.

AGDC meets with FERC to stay on schedule

The state corporation in charge of developing the Alaska LNG Project has already submitted its first round of answers to questions posed three weeks ago by federal regulators preparing the project’s environmental impact statement. The response came as the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. is looking for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to stay on schedule for its release of the project’s draft impact statement in February 2019. State project team members met with federal regulators last week to discuss the timeline and seek clarification on specific items among the almost 200 data requests presented by FERC on Oct. 2. AGDC submitted several hundred pages of answers and data on Oct. 22, with another round expected by Nov. 19. AGDC asked FERC staff at the Oct. 18 meeting in Washington, D.C., if the corporation’s timeline for responses would be sufficient to maintain the environmental impact statement, or EIS, schedule. That will depend, commission staff said, on whether the answers are complete or if they prompt substantial follow-up questions. FERC and state project staff held a similar technical conference in March to review information needed for the EIS. In addition to AGDC and FERC staff, the Matanuska-Susitna and Kenai Peninsula boroughs, along with the city of Valdez, sent representatives to the Oct. 18 meeting, as all three Alaska municipalities are advocating that the gas liquefaction plant and marine terminal be built in their community. All three have filed with FERC, pushing for the impact statement’s alternatives analysis to consider their community. The site-selection debate, however, did not come up at the meeting. In a more general discussion, FERC staff on Oct. 18 reiterated that the EIS will analyze each project alternative on three criteria: If it meets the project’s needs; if it is economically and technically feasible; and if it provides an environmental advantage. If the environmental review process stays on schedule, FERC plans to issue the project’s final EIS in November 2019 — which would allow the full commission in February 2020 to grant authorization for construction. The state filed its application with FERC in April 2017. The state proposes to build a $43 billion project to pipe Alaska North Slope natural gas more than 800 miles to a liquefaction plant and marine terminal in Nikiski, on the eastern shore of Cook Inlet. In addition to the FERC authorization, the state team is working to line up gas supply agreements with North Slope producers, contracts with customers for the LNG, along with investors and financing for what would be the country’s most expensive oil and gas project. Development funding, however, could run out late 2019 unless AGDC is able to find investors or the Alaska Legislature appropriates additional money. Issues covered at last week’s conference included FERC’s Oct. 2 requests for: • More details on AGDC’s plans for horizontal directional drilling, or HDD, to install the pipeline beneath water crossings. The state team reported it has not contracted with an HDD contractor and therefore cannot provide all of the clarifications requested by FERC. The type of equipment used, for example, might be specific to the contractor, AGDC said. Commission staff clarified that FERC is requesting a general plan with such information as HDD worker training, drilling monitoring, contingency plans, source of drilling water and use of drilling mud. • More specific information on the pipeline’s water crossings, including the proposed crossing method, width of the banks, fisheries habitat and population, and whether any fish spawning occurs at the crossing or upstream. AGDC said it has not visited every crossing — almost 450 along the project route — but it has aerial photos of each location. The state team asked FERC if it would be sufficient to list the areas where its information is incomplete. Commission staff said they need a consolidated table with each crossing, listing the construction method (such as open-cut trenches) and other details. FERC staff said the state team should send in what it has, even if there are information gaps. • More information on the project’s potential impacts during construction and operation on surface water and groundwater. AGDC said some of the information — such as the treatment, location and volume of water discharges — would not be known until a project construction contractor is hired. The state team said it could not anticipate water use and discharges by contractors it has not yet hired. Commission staff responded that AGDC is the project applicant and, therefore, ultimately responsible for environmental impacts. FERC staff explained they are particularly interested in any potential impacts on municipal water sources. AGDC answered that state law governs water use, with specific permitting requirements. FERC recommended AGDC submit information on the state permitting process and how the project would be held responsible for mitigating any impacts on water sources. • An updated groundwater monitoring plan for protecting public and private wells. AGDC reported it is not working with individual land owners on a monitoring plan, though it has notified potentially affected landowners in the project’s path. FERC suggested AGDC identify wells that could be affected by project construction and operation, explain exactly what information it has and where and why it is limited in some cases. FERC clarified that its focus on groundwater monitoring is not limited only to construction camps but applies to the entire project. The state team said additional information would be available before the project’s construction phase. • Cumulative impact estimates for sulfur and nitrogen emissions in sensitive areas at each compressor station along the pipeline route and at the LNG plant site west of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. AGDC asked why FERC is applying a more stringent level of analysis for some federal lands than is required by the Clean Air Act. The state team noted that the U.S. Department of Interior had written to FERC, pulling earlier requests from department agencies for such analysis. FERC explained that in some cases it requires additional reporting beyond what is requested by other federal agencies. Commission staff recommended that AGDC make its case why it should not be required to model additional analysis of emission impacts on federal lands far from the direct emission source and FERC would consider it. Issues addressed in AGDC’s Oct. 22 filing with FERC included: • A revised migratory bird conservation plan that addresses questions about vegetation clearing during construction, raptor surveys and nest management. • More information about AGDC’s plans to use granular-fill work pads during construction, particularly in areas of thaw-sensitive permafrost. • AGDC’s response to the possibility of hauling dredged material — pulled from the seafloor to make way for the freight offloading dock at Nikiski — to beach-nourishment sites 40 to 60 miles away on the Kenai Peninsula. AGDC said using the material at distant sites would not be feasible, due to the time and cost of moving the dredged material. The project proposes disposal offshore, in nearby deeper waters in Cook Inlet. FERC requests on the state’s list for response by Nov. 19 include: • Additional details on construction plans to lay concrete-coated pipe across 29 miles of the seafloor from the west side of Cook Inlet to Nikiski. • A revised groundwater monitoring plan, providing “proposed avoidance, minimization and mitigation measures for potential effects on groundwater supply wells” near the pipeline and project sites. • Further information on potential impacts on permafrost during and after construction. • A table of all areas of thaw-sensitive soils along the pipeline route. • Additional geotechnical and geophysical studies of the feasibility of trenchless pipeline crossings at specific waterways. • An updated discussion of seismic risks to the project, reflecting the magnitude 6.4 quake that hit the North Slope in August. Larry Persily is a former Alaska journalist, state and federal official who has long tracked oil and gas markets and projects worldwide.

Alaska Air Group ready for results from Virgin acquisition

Alaska Air Group Inc. had a solid third quarter netting $217 million, but company executives said during an Oct. 25 earnings call that they are not satisfied with the results. CEO Brad Tilden said the company has completed about 90 percent of its work to integrate Virgin America into Alaska Airlines since it closed on the purchase of the West Coast competitor nearly two years ago and has done so as fast as any other merger in the industry. Air Group leaders are now ready for that work to start paying off in the form of higher revenue and profit margins. “The performance of our core business remains strong and our brand and products are gaining increasing traction in California,” Tilden said. Seattle-based Alaska Air Group is the parent company to Alaska Airlines and regional carrier Horizon Air. The $217 million profit was down from $259 million for the same period in 2017. It translated into earnings of $1.75 per share. Air Group paid a dividend of 32 cents per share during the quarter and has repurchased about 582,000 shares of common stock for $37 million so far in 2018. Air Group stock opened trading Oct. 31 at $63.16 per share. The $217 million came on the back of $2.2 billion in operating revenue, which was up 5 percent year-over-year on 4.8 percent capacity growth. That equated to flat per-unit revenue for the quarter, the best result in five quarters for the metric that had been trending in the wrong direction, according to Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Harrison. “This is only the beginning, and we expect our unit revenue momentum to continue as we execute on a number of substantive initiatives to ensure our recent trajectory continues into the fourth quarter and beyond,” Harrison commented during the Oct. 25 call. The company expects to capture $130 million in synergies next year as Virgin America aircraft and employees are fully blended into Alaska operations, Tilden said. Flight attendants are being trained to work on both Alaska’s fleet of Boeing 737s and the fleet of former Virgin America Airbus A320 series aircraft that Alaska now operates; he said they would start working in both types of aircraft next February. Harrison added that Alaska is working through IT issues for paid upgrades on Airbus flights and will be reconfiguring the Airbus cabins to increase first class capacity by 50 percent. “We expect to see significant revenue increases from the front cabin in 2019,” Harrison said. And while Alaska Airlines’ popular Club 49 loyalty program mostly insulates Alaskans from baggage fees, the airline recently announced its fees for non-mileage plan members would go up $5 to $30 for the first checked bag and $15 to $40 for the second bag, bringing them in line with fees charged by other major carriers, according to Tilden. Additionally, Tilden said the company would begin what he called “the difficult but we believe necessary step” of cutting some management positions next year, but he did not elaborate as to which positions or how many employees would be let go. “This will save overhead but more importantly it will improve the speed of decision-making and the flow of information through our organization,” he said. Higher fuel costs have been a major contributor to the decreased margins, according to Tilden, who said the industry as a whole has not yet adjusted to them. Fuel can be upwards of one-third of an airlines’ overall operating expenses and despite significant hedging efforts, Air Group’s fuel costs were up 39 percent year-over-year to $513 million in the third quarter. In response, Air Group plans to slow its growth in 2019 and executives are comfortable with the company’s position in that regard, Tilden said. By the end of 2018 the company will have paid down $800 million, or roughly 40 percent of the debt it took on to acquire Virgin America, he added. Alaska Air Group had a debt-to-capitalization ratio of 49 percent at the end of the third quarter, compared to 59 percent when it bought the airline in December 2016. The company also held $1.4 billion in cash on Sept. 30. “We feel confident we’re on the road to producing better returns in the quarters ahead as we work together as a single team to demonstrate the true power of our combined company,” Tilden said. ^ Elwood Brehmer can be reached at [email protected]

Interior gas officials agree to explore Siemens’ plan

Utility officials have signed a one-year agreement with Siemens Government Technologies to further investigate the company’s plan to get more and cheaper natural gas to Interior Alaska. The Interior Gas Utility board of directors voted 4-2 on Oct. 23 to enter into a memorandum of understanding with Siemens. Company representatives have said for more than a year that they, leading a consortium, can put together an LNG supply chain that is competitive with the Interior Energy Project plan IGU and the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority have already agreed to. The Siemens team also contends its “turnkey” project would relieve IGU from much of the work it would have to do for the Interior Energy Project; all the utility leaders would have to do is sign a liquefaction services agreement, or LSA, and wait for the Alaska Railroad to deliver LNG to the utility’s storage tank in south Fairbanks. The agreement prohibits IGU from negotiating or soliciting potentially competing gas supply plans other than the Interior Energy Project plan IGU is currently developing. However, either party can terminate the MOU with 30 days notice. It also calls for Siemens and IGU to finalize an LNG supply contract term sheet by the end of the year and for Siemens to make a fixed-price LNG supply offer to the utility within five months of the term sheet being completed, which would be May on the current schedule. “It’s really just an agreement to collaborate; that was the way that I thought about it,” IGU attorney Robin Brena said before the vote. Siemens is working with the Knik Tribe and Knikatnu Inc. to put together its 20-year LNG supply chain from Southcentral. At the heart of the plan is a pair of Siemens’ modular “LNGo” gas liquefaction units that can produce up to 30,000 gallons of LNG per day. The plan is to initially install two LNGo units at a proposed industrial park on Knikatnu land near Alaska Railroad Corp. tracks in Houston. The fuel would travel by rail to IGU’s 5.25 million-gallon LNG storage tank currently under construction in south Fairbanks for regasification and distribution to residents and businesses. Once gas demand grew to where more than four of the LNGo units were needed, the company would look at installing a single, larger LNG facility, according to Siemens officials. Siemens Energy and Infrastructure Director Kelly Laurel and other Siemens officials have acknowledged that the company hopes to parlay work with IGU into more gas supply projects in the state, notably at Interior military bases. A crucial element of any Interior LNG plan, Laurel said Oct. 23 that Siemens has agreed upon terms with a Cook Inlet producer for feedstock natural gas. She would not name the producer, but said the company and potential gas contract terms could be disclosed to those doing due diligence to validate the LSA, but that would be done under confidentiality as well. Siemens has consistently stated a belief it can get feedstock gas for $5 per thousand cubic feet, or mcf, or less, which would be significantly cheaper than pricing much larger Southcentral utilities have been able to secure in recent years on much higher volume supply contracts. IGU currently has a short, three-year gas supply contract with Hilcorp Energy for $7.72 per mcf. AIDEA officials participated in negotiating that contract and generally consider it a win given it is for a small base load of roughly 1 billion cubic feet, or bcf, per year with expected, but unsure, demand growth once liquefaction capacity is added in some form. The Siemens-led group is also investigating the prospect of developing potential gas reserves in the Houston area, which would bring the feedstock price down to $4 per mcf, according to the company’s project documents. Gary Wilken, a former AIDEA director who was recently appointed to the IGU board, voted against signing the MOU on a belief it will unnecessarily drag out the Interior Energy Project that AIDEA and the Fairbanks utilities have been working on since 2013. “From the beginning this project has been dancing on the head of a pin,” Wilken commented during the meeting. “I’m very concerned that we are doing nothing but extending this project and creating continued uncertainty that will hurt us financially and it’ll hurt us with the very customers that we are trying to elicit support (from).” AIDEA and IGU have estimated their plan, with its state financing support, would result in an initial $17.30 per mcf burner tip price to consumers in 2020. That price could drop to the $15 per mcf IEP goal by 2022 more customers are brought online. Using IGU’s contract price, Siemens would get LNG to the Fairbanks storage tank for $17.98 per mcf, according to the company — plus $5 to get it all the way to customers. Wilken has long said he is open to alternatives — several of which AIDEA has evaluated — to the current plan of adding LNG capacity to the small Titan LNG plant that is now IGU’s, but he’s skeptical of the Siemens plan largely because of the company’s unwillingness or inability to provide firm pricing on key elements of the project. IGU vice chair Jack Wilbur joined Wilken in voting “no,” saying he doesn’t have any confidence Siemens will have a firm offer for the utility to consider by next May. Board chair Pamela Throop said the MOU is needed to finalize the details of the plan and without it the alternative plan would die now. “I’m happy to give them the time to do what they need to do to put together a proposal. I think we owe that to this community,” Throop said. IGU director Steve Haagenson said he was in favor of the MOU because IGU has ostensibly been bound to AIDEA’s LNG development plan for years and needs to be able to evolve with new information. As for the current plan, IGU General Manager Dan Britton said he expects the utility to have completed engineering and design on the Titan expansion plan by mid-May as well. The utility should have prices on project components at that point, according to Britton, but a final construction price will still need to be penciled out. Expanding the Titan plant to meet expected natural gas demand growth in the Fairbanks area is currently estimated to cost $46 million. Additionally, the AIDEA board of directors would have to approve of IGU formally contracting with Siemens or any other LNG provider because the Titan expansion plans were part of the $331 million package in which AIDEA sold Fairbanks Natural Gas to IGU and agreed to finance gas supply and distribution infrastructure build out with Interior Energy Project grants, loans and bonds the Legislature approved in 2013. ^ Elwood Brehmer can be reached at [email protected]

Aleutians borough seeks subsidies for ‘copter service to Akun airport

UNALASKA — After four years in storage, the hovercraft that shuttled to and from Akun Island has been sold to a buyer in Kazakhstan and replaced by helicopters for the ride to the new airport. Now, the Aleutians East Borough wants federal funding for the helicopter service to end a unique situation where the subsidies terminate short of the final destination in the federal Essential Air Service program. No doubt about it, Alaska is unique and so is the way the Essential Air Service operates subsidized passenger service in the state, especially because it’s the only state in the nation where the program ends one island short of the final destination, in Akutan, leaving a local government stuck with a helicopter bill. That’s according to the program’s top administrator Joel Szabat, the deputy assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Aviation and International Affairs. Szabat, a career federal administrator, repeatedly remarked on Alaska’s unique transportation situations, compared to the Lower 48 where state transportation departments plow snow off roads and not airport runways. Szabat visited Unalaska on his way to his program’s most unique destination, Akutan, where federal funding ends six miles across the water from the six-year-old airport on Akun, where a hovercraft formerly completed the trip. That spendy machine was finally sold earlier this year to a Kazakhstan company, Circle Maritime Invest, after about four years of indoor storage in a hanger in Akutan. Now, the Aleutians East Borough wants the federal government to step up to the plate and fulfill its responsibilities to an isolated community with unique circumstances, where it was too expensive to carve a runway out of the side of a mountain. So instead the state built the first airport on land across the bay on the smaller, but more importantly flatter, island of Akun in 2012. The project was not inexpensive, but was within the budget of about $50 million on the island that’s uninhabited except for cows and horses and a borough-operated hotel for weathered-in passengers originally built for the construction workers building the airport. Szabat couldn’t commit either way to a helicopter subsidy, saying it’s neither allowed nor forbidden by federal law, but repeatedly remarked on Akutan’s unique place in the EAS program, because it doesn’t get passengers where they’re going, and instead deposits them on another island, with the borough providing the subsidies for the helicopter ride from Maritime Helicopters at substantially less cost than the hovercraft but still not cheap. The EAS program currently subsidizes the airplane ride to Akun from Unalaska/Dutch Harbor, about 40 miles away, via Grant Aviation. The hovercraft was finally sold in February, for $4.4 million, to Circle Maritime Invest, in the Central Asian nation of Kazakhstan according to Aleutians East Borough Manager Anne Bailey. In May, the borough assembly decided to spend hovercraft sales proceeds on transportation expenses, including $2.5 million for the Akutan-Akun link, $1.3 million for the King Cove Access Project, and expenses involved in the sale of the watercraft. The hovercraft was originally used for a few years in King Cove for travel to the all-weather airport in Cold Bay, as an alternative to the controversial road proposed through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge opposed by environmental groups. The hovercraft, named Suna X, was purchased with $9 million in federal funds before eventually relocating to Akutan where it rode above the water on an aircushion, before the borough decided it was too expensive and frequently unable to operate because of rough weather. In Kazakhstan, hovercrafts shuttle between shore and oil rigs in the Caspian Sea, and one Alaskan company, Cruz Marine, nearly bought the Suna X for North Slope oil field support, but backed out when oil prices collapsed four years ago, according to former borough manager Rick Gifford. The hovercraft was replaced with another “extremely expensive” way of getting from the airport at Akun to the main island and village of Akutan, Bailey said. Akutan is also the site of a Trident Seafoods plant with around 1,000 workers. Helicopter service costs $1.7 million a year, with only $400,000 from ticket sales at $100 for a one-way flight. The borough pays the balance of $1.3 million, Bailey said. The borough is now in the early stages of planning a small boat harbor and breakwater at Akun, she said. U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan told borough officials at an assembly meeting this year that he strongly supports federal funding for the proposed Akun harbor project. Troy LaRue, a top administrator of the Alaska Department of Transportation from Anchorage, accompanied Szabat in Unalaska, and said a water link to Akun may help the airport “maximize” its economic potential, if Trident Seafoods can get seafood onto aircraft economically, which was feasible with a hovercraft, but is too expensive to ship fish even a short distance with a four-passenger helicopter. LaRue also said that Akutan is looking at building homes on Akun, within city limits. Another way Alaska is unique in the EAS program is with airports operated by the state government, unlike Lower 48 states where roads and highways, but not aviation, keeps state transportation departments busy, Szabat said. Szabat praised the Alaska DOT for keeping the feds informed of airports that shouldn’t be on list of EAS-eligible communities, and were removed this year. Szabat said holding down costs is a top priority, and in 2011 the program was limited to existing communities LaRue said those three were Funter Bay and Chatham, both in Southeast, each with no more than two residents, and Aleknagik, near Dillingham, where the airport hasn’t been used for airline service since a bridge was built across the Wood River. Yet now another isolated rural community wants to join the program. Aleutians East Borough Assembly Advisory Member Justine Gunderson of Nelson Lagoon wants her community added to the EAS list, although borough staff said it would take an act of Congress for the Alaska Peninsula village to qualify. Szabat said Unalaska doesn’t get at EAS funds because it doesn’t need them, as commercial airlines operate profitably because of the large volume of passengers due to the seafood industry’s large presence. Former Unalaska city councilor, ex-bookstore owner, and retired city employee Abi Woodbridge protested spending taxpayer dollars on aviation improvements benefiting the little village of Akutan and one seafood company, ridiculing the millions spent building the Akun airport as a “boondoggle,” she told Szabat at the October meeting at Unalaska City Hall. She said she believed most Unalaskans shared her view that the Akun project was wasteful. Prior to the airport at Akun, passengers from Anchorage flights were flown to and from Unalaska directly to Akutan on Peninsula Airway’s amphibious antique Grumman Goose which landed on the water in front of the village. Pen Air eventually sold the Goose, citing the high cost of maintaining the plane built in the 1940s. LaRue said that since the Akun airport opened, more people are arriving in Akutan by air, and fewer on Trident’s fishing vessels from Unalaska. While the helicopter is presently the only way to the airport, some Akutan residents would rather avoid the flying machine altogether, and instead wait for seasonal arrivals of the state ferry Tustemena for travel to Unalaska and connecting flights to Anchorage. Szabat said he was touring Alaskan communities at the request of Sullivan. Szabat was formerly the executive director of the federal Maritime Administration, and said his previous aviation experience was limited to rebuilding airports in war-torn Iraq. Presidents always try to kill the EAS program, which serves 160 communities, a third of them in Alaska, Szabat said, but Congress always refuses to go along, and saves the $300 million annual federal Essential Air Service subsidy program that provides passenger service to communities where it’s not otherwise affordable. Half the funding is from special taxes on airlines, and the other $150 million comes directly from the federal budget, he said. Jim Paulin can be reached at [email protected]

Electronic monitoring has smooth first year; human observer costs rising

After the first year of electronic monitoring on fishing vessels in Alaska, the National Marine Fisheries Service is expanding the pool for boats that want to get in on it. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council has been working on implementing an electronic monitoring program for commercial fishing vessels in Alaska for several years. The devices, essentially small cameras and sensors, replace a human observer and take note of the bycatch and total catch on eligible vessels. In 2018, the first year of the program, the council approved 145 vessels to participate. At its meeting Oct. 4 in Anchorage, council staff member Elizabeth Figus said things went so well on those vessels that not a single one had to be removed from the pool for a violation of the Vessel Monitoring Plan, or VMP. “That was really good news,” she told the council. In June, the council approved an expansion of the program to allow up to 165 vessels to participate. The deadline to register through the Observer Declare and Deploy System was Nov. 1. The small boat fleet in particular pushed for the implementation of electronic monitoring equipment after the council changed the requirements for observing to include small vessels — boats 60 feet or shorter— because it’s harder for them to provide the space and gear for another person besides the crew. Though the council recommended the pool expand to up to 165 boats, funding is a limitation. In the draft 2019 Annual Deployment Report — which lays out the plan for deploying observers in the partial observer coverage program for the upcoming year — council staff wrote that the EM pool will include 141 boats to start, based on the funding available. If that funding materializes, vessels will be prioritized based on whether vessels already have equipment, whether they’re fully wired and only lack the specific equipment or if the vessel is between 40 feet and 57.5 feet and doesn’t have enough bunk or life raft space for an observer, according to the ADP. “If additional funds become available, the number of EM boats could increase to the Council’s recommendation of 165 boats,” the report states. “If funding is not sufficient to accommodate all vessels in any one of these prioritized categories, NMFS will randomly select vessels from that category until funding is exhausted.” While EM systems have been shown to effectively monitor bycatch, NMFS also uses observers to gather biological data at sea. Human observers are still deployed across the fishing fleet, with varying coverage based on gear type and vessel size. For 2019, NMFS is recommending a 15 percent observer deployment allocation strategy plus optimization and consideration of catch limits of specific prohibited species including king salmon, crab and halibut. The ADP only governs the partial observer coverage fisheries — which is only about 8.8 percent of observer days, or about 3,606 days — and is designed to reduce gaps in coverage in partial-coverage fisheries and to shoot for at least a 50 percent chance that at least three trips are observed in each hook-and-line and trawl fishery, though the report states that the likelihood of that level of coverage isn’t as high in the other gear strata. Funding is an issue across the observer program. NMFS estimated in the ADP that the program would cost about $4.45 million, or about 3,110 observer days, though that may change after the EM application pool closes. The Fisheries Monitoring Advisory Committee, a stakeholder group advising the council on observer program issues, made note of a its concern about the increasing cost of observer days from $1,100 to more than $1,400 per day. The committee noted that the increase in cost for the days was multifaceted and wanted to know more about why the cost is increasing, Figus told the council. The reason for the increase isn’t clear, either. In a written comment to the council, North Pacific Fishermen’s Association President Malcolm Milne echoed the concern, saying the increase was about 35 percent more per day than in 2017. “In 2017, planned coverage rates were 11 percent for hook and line, 4 percent for pot fisheries, and 18 percent for trawl and 14 percent for tendered trawl trips and the cost was nearly a third lower — $935 per day,” he wrote. “In 2018 NMFS’ sampling design established a 15 percent base coverage rate in order to meet NMFS priority of filling gaps in remote fisheries in areas with low effort. “Does an equal coverage sampling design add to the increased cost? NPFA requests that the Council inquire into the causes of the increased cost and seek ways to reduce costs through the ADP process where feasible.” Based on that cost, the committee voted against supporting an ADP that included the crab Prohibited Species Catch limit into its metrics for coverage, which would increase coverage for pot fisheries and possibly reduce it for hook-and-line fisheries, where the members felt more management was likely necessary. The committee also “supports sticking with only halibut and chinook because of the real-world effect they have in closing down fisheries,” according to the minutes from the committee’s Sept. 13-14 meeting in Seattle. The council passed a motion in response to a Fisheries Monitoring Advisory Committee’s recommendation to write a letter to NMFS requesting additional federal funding to support the partial observer coverage program. The committee also requested an explanation of how fees for the EM program and the observer program will be split, which council staff is working on, Figus said at the meeting. ^ Elizabeth Earl can be reached at [email protected]

Unions, companies, labor officials mull worker shortage with major projects on horizon

How quickly things can change. Alaska, still inching its way out of a three-year recession that cost the state more than 10,000 jobs, could soon be a facing a labor shortage in some of its trademark industries, according to state workforce development officials. “We’ve got this sort of perfect storm of challenges where we have a downturn in our economy; we have an aging workforce, including oil and gas workers; we have stagnant wages in Alaska and there’s a boom going on in the Lower 48 pulling a lot of our workers (away),” state Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Heidi Drygas said in an interview. Most of the estimated 10,100 jobs the state has lost since 2015 were in the tightly connected construction and oil and industries, which together lost about 6,900 workers, according to state figures. At the same time, workers in those industries are at a premium in the Lower 48, where the shale oil boom continues and has helped spur a generally robust economy. Most oil companies in Alaska contracted some during the three-year price downturn and some delayed projects. Others, however, focused on exploration on the belief the price would eventually rebound. Armstrong Energy and Repsol combined to make the large Nanushuk formation oil discovery on the central North Slope, which ConocoPhillips has parlayed into multiple other prospects. The four recent discoveries made by those companies — two smaller prospects and the Nanushuk and Willow projects with potential for more than 100,000 barrels per day each — along with a couple other developments that have been in the works for years are expected to be the drivers of North Slope labor demand Drygas and others are concerned the Alaska workforce might not be able to meet. ConocoPhillips expects to need up to 700 construction workers per winter for its $1.5 billion Greater Mooses Tooth-2 oil project in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska from late 2019 through early 2021. Initial work laying gravel will begin at GMT-2 this winter. Hilcorp Energy also received federal regulatory approval Oct. 24 for its long-anticipated Liberty manmade island oil project, which will offer another 200 or more construction jobs per winter during the coming years. But those two are just the start. ConocoPhillips submitted a master development plan for its major Willow prospect in the NPR-A to the Bureau of Land Management last summer. While the company is still in the early planning stages on Willow, ConocoPhillips Alaska officials estimate it will generate “thousands of construction jobs” and hundreds of long-term operations positions once it is online — likely in the mid-2020s based on the company’s current schedule. The Nanushuk project, now led by Australian-based Oil Search after its acquisition of an operator stake in the Armstrong-Repsol discovery last fall, is expected to need a construction force of nearly 1,500 workers. Oil Search Alaska President Keiran Wulff said the company expects to make a final investment decision sometime in 2020. Additionally, Donlin Gold is slowly compiling the remaining permits it needs to build the world-scale open-pit gold mine it has planned in the Kuskokwim drainage. That project, with a 315-mile natural gas pipeline, two port developments, and a road to go along with all the on-site infrastructure, is expected to generate upwards of 3,000 construction positions. Finally, the far more controversial Pebble mine could add another 2,000 construction jobs to the state in the coming years if it is ever approved. Drygas said she is already hearing from some union hall leaders that they are starting to run out of skilled laborers. Doyon Associated President Warren Christian said Oct. 26 during the Labor Department’s Rising to the Challenge: Preparing Alaska’s Workforce forum that his pipeline development company was pretty much at full capacity last winter and already has at least as much work lined up on the North Slope for the next several years. Donlin spokesman Kurt Parkan and others who spoke at the event emphasized that finding workers with soft skills, such as the ability to pass a drug test and show up on time, can be the biggest obstacle to filling open jobs. Drygas said the state wants to encourage young people to look at careers in the trades, saying the “college for all” mantra espoused by many today is a “pervasive” problem in recruiting them. “We’re about to ramp up on some pretty significant projects in Alaska. We have all this work going on on the North Slope; we have a boom in military construction in the Interior and other Interior build out projects. We have an expansion of mining at Fort Knox and Kensington; Donlin Gold looks like it’s going to come online and they’re all happening at the same time,” she said. “It’s going to be challenging but it’s a pretty incredible opportunity too.” State economist Karinne Wiebold said strictly by the numbers, those jobs will be filled, but that could require recruiting Outside workers, something Drygas is constantly trying to avoid. Wiebold noted that Alaska’s construction sector has historically been comprised of upwards of 20 percent nonresident workers and in the oil and gas sector the figure rises to nearly 30 percent Outsiders. How many Alaskans left those industries to find similar work in the Lower 48 is largely an unknown and would be a very difficult figure to calculate, according to Wiebold. “It’s definite that some folks have left and it’s definite that some folks are still in Alaska but working in different industries,” she said. That forecast doesn’t even include the $43 billion Alaska LNG Project and the nearly 12,000 construction jobs it could add to the state. It’s largely understood that AK LNG would necessitate bringing in significant Outside labor help. State budget cuts have also contributed to the worry of a future worker shortage. Drygas said the Labor Department budget, which was one of the hardest hit in the Legislature’s effort to reduce the state’s multibillion-dollar deficits, was reduced 38 percent in the first couple years of Gov. Bill Walker’s administration. And many of those cut funds were meant for training programs, according to Drygas. She said those training programs, such as the Alaska Construction Academies, can be expanded on relatively short notice, adding that the University of Alaska has already cut tuition on its career and technical education, or CTE, courses by 25 percent in hopes of attracting more students. Fairbanks Central Labor Council President Doug Tansy said his union hall, part of the AFL-CIO, put all of its available laborers to work this year by April, largely due to the roughly $500 million worth of military construction projects being done at Interior installations. Tansy added, however, that about 60 of the union’s Alaska workers are on jobs in Seattle and Portland because they can simply make more money Outside which Drygas and Christian reiterated. They said wages for trade jobs are currently about 20 percent more in the Lower 48 than they are in Alaska. “Pretty much anyone who works in the Lower 48 in the pipeline industry has a job,” Christian said, and it’s expected to stay that way for at least another five years. Tansy said the 2008 global recession, which mostly missed Alaska, led to less CTE training down south and has now “created a wildfire of opportunity” in a rejuvenated economy. He sees the same scenario playing out in Alaska, just a few years later. A state capital budget plan — in addition to addressing deferred maintenance and basic infrastructure needs — could also spur Alaskans to return to the construction trades, Drygas stressed. “If there was an infusion of money for projects right now we can ramp up fairly quickly but what it’s going to take is everyone singing from the same sheet of music and that is we have to invest in this; we’ve got to invest in Alaska’s infrastructure and we’ve got to invest in training programs and training opportunities,” she added. Drygas reiterated that her message to the next governor’s administration would be to “invest in Alaska’s future” through a somewhat larger capital budget and workforce training programs. “We have to invest in young Alaskans and in training — ensuring that we have Alaskans first in line to work in these jobs,” she said. Elwood Brehmer can be reached at [email protected]

As stocks plunge, should you overhaul your financial plan?

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are spiraling lower again, bonds are losing money and everything suddenly feels very shaky. Time to overhaul your financial plan, right? Financial advisers hope your answer is an emphatic “no.” Ideally, you already set up your plan with the understanding that something as common as a 10 percent tumble in stocks would occur again and again. But at the very least, the recent turmoil offers a good marker to reassess where things are, and where you want to be. Conditions have certainly changed from the smooth run of past years, when stock funds were returning double digits with few hiccups. In the last month alone, S&P 500 index funds have dropped close to 10 percent. Bond funds are supposed to be the safe part of a portfolio, but even many of them have lost ground this year. Investors are ringing the phones much more than usual at Inspired Financial, a financial-planning and investment-management firm in Huntington Beach, California. But the voices from clients aren’t in a panic, said Evelyn Zohlen, the company’s founder and the incoming president of the Financial Planning Association. “They’re pragmatic,” Zohlen said of the callers. “They’re asking if there’s anything unusual about this drop and whether they should be doing anything different.” Some things that she and other financial advisers suggest to keep in mind: This is what stocks do The stock market has offered the best long-term returns historically, but they’ve come at a price. Stocks can drop suddenly, sometimes for inexplicable reasons. Drops of 10 percent are common enough, even when the market is largely on the upswing, that Wall Street has a term for them: “corrections.” Since the summer of 2015, the S&P 500 has had three such declines, and the index is narrowly close to a fourth. The S&P 500 is down 9.9 percent since setting its record last month. That latest trigger for market turbulence was a news report on Oct. 29 that President Donald Trump may intensify the U.S. trade war with China by announcing tariffs on all its remaining imports. It sent the stock market in reverse, and the S&P 500 flipped from a gain of as much as 1.8 percent in the morning to a loss of 0.7 percent by the end of the day. The report is the latest addition to the pile of worries weighing on stocks in recent weeks, including higher interest rates and the threat of a coming slowdown in corporate profit growth. An investment mix to match your saving goals If you’re saving money for a retirement that’s 10, 20 or 30 years away, financial advisers ask that you ignore the market turmoil and remember that you’re in it for the long term. Selling stocks now would only lock in the losses. Drops like this make the stomach churn, but stocks have eventually come back from every one of their past declines to set more records. A $10,000 investment made 20 years ago in what is now the largest stock fund has turned into roughly $40,000. That span includes two of the biggest implosions for the stock market: the 2000 dot-com bubble bursting and the 2008 financial crisis. But if you’re saving to pay your kid’s tuition in the next couple years, or even to pay next month’s credit-card bill, the money should be in something far more stable than stocks. Bonds generally have steadier returns than stocks, though many have had losses this year as a result of rising interest rates. Savings accounts or bank CDs are even safer for money that will be needed in the very short term. Control what you can No one can predict for sure where stocks and bonds will go next, let alone dictate it. So try to keep costs down. It’s one of the few actions people can control on their own. Funds with low fees tend to have some of the best success rates because higher-cost funds have to perform that much better just to match their performance. Thankfully, the investment industry is in the midst of a fierce pricing war to lure customers. Fund companies have been slashing fees on mutual funds and exchange-traded funds, and Fidelity recently introduced mutual funds that have zero management expenses, for example. Some help for savers The upside of rising interest rates is that savers are finally able to earn more, if just a bit. One-year CDs offered online are paying rates that are above the rate of inflation, which was 2.3 percent last month. Some money market and savings accounts available online also are getting closer to the rate of inflation, and they allow more freedom to take out money than CDs. Borrowers beware The downside of rising rates is that debt is getting more expensive. Credit-card rates are rising, for example. Higher mortgage rates, meanwhile, are weighing on home prices, which raises worries for people who had been banking on selling their homes to pay for their retirements. Another area where Zohlen has seen some clients feel pressure is through their home equity lines of credit. “They had been basking for years in incredibly low HELOC rates and have been chipping away interest-only because they were only paying 3.5 or 3.75 percent interest,” she said. “All of a sudden, we’re looking at 5.5 or 6 percent, and we’re starting to see some pain.”

Progress or gridlock? How midterm vote could affect US economy

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has warned that if Democrats regain political power in the midterm elections, the U.S. economy would essentially implode. Democrats, he insists, would push tax hikes and environmental restrictions that stifle growth. Undocumented immigrants would steal jobs and unleash a crime wave that would halt commerce. Health insurance would devolve into a socialist program offering shoddy care at unsustainable cost. “At stake in this election,” Trump declared at a rally in Houston, “is whether we continue the extraordinary prosperity that we’ve all achieved or whether we let the radical Democrat mob take a giant wrecking ball and destroy our country and our economy.” Almost no private economist agrees with Trump’s portrait of a financial apocalypse. If Democrats win control of the House in next week’s congressional elections, their legislative priorities wouldn’t likely much alter a $20 trillion economy. For one thing, Trump would remain able to block Democratic initiatives — just as they could stop his plans for more tax cuts and a 5 percent cut to Cabinet department budgets. What instead would likely result is continued gridlock — perhaps even more entrenched than what exists now in Washington. Arrayed against a stout Republican majority in the Senate, a Democratic House majority couldn’t do much to reorder the economy, which typically hinges more on the willingness of consumers and businesses to spend and on the state of the global economy than on government policy priorities. “It’s probably not that much of a change,” Beth Ann Bovino, chief U.S. economist at S&P Global, said of the likely outcome. “While you might see further gridlock if the Democrats take the House, that doesn’t mean it would tip the boat and slow growth.” Many polls and analyses suggest — though hardly assure — that the Democrats could regain a majority in the House if their voters turn out in sufficient numbers in key races. If so, Trump would have to contend with a divided government instead of one with Republicans in complete control. Yet depending on voter turnout, it’s also possible that the Republicans could maintain their hold on both the House and the Senate. Analysts at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley foresee a divided government as most probable. So do their peers at Oxford Economics and Keefe Bruyette &Woods. “The most likely political consequences would be an increase in investigations and uncertainty surrounding fiscal deadlines,” Goldman Sachs concluded in a client note. Oxford Economics’ senior economist, Nancy Vanden Houten, has suggested that the Republicans’ legislative agenda would stall if they lost the House. “A Democrat-controlled House would, in our view, be a line of defense against further tax cuts, reduced entitlement spending and efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act,” she said. The economy has enjoyed an acceleration in growth this year — to a gain estimated to be 3 percent after tax cuts. Unemployment is at a 49-year low of 3.7 percent, and employers continue to post a record number of jobs openings. The economic expansion is already the second-longest on record. But annual growth is widely expected to dip back to its long-term average of near 2 percent by 2020. It’s even possible that the economy could slip into a recession within a few years as growth inevitably stalls — for reasons unrelated to who controls the White House or Congress. A global slowdown could, for example, spill over into the United States. Or higher interest rates, spurred by the Federal Reserve, might depress economic activity. Trump would still have plenty of discretion on some key economic issues. His trade war with China and his drive to reduce regulations are two of them. The president has managed to pursue those priorities without Congress’ involvement, though his updated trade agreement with Canada and Mexico would need congressional approval. “Trade stuff is being done administratively; regulatory stuff is being done administratively,” said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the right-of-center American Action Forum. “There’s just not that much on the table legislatively.” In an appearance this month at Harvard University, the House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, outlined her agenda should her party regain the chamber’s majority and she the speakership. Within the first 100 days, Pelosi said, she would seek to reduce the influence of large campaign donors and groups that aren’t legally required to disclose their funding sources. She would also push for infrastructure funding — to rebuild roadways, rail stations or airports, for example — and seek protections for undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, among other priorities. Any such initiatives, though, could be blocked by a Republican Senate — or by Trump. Budget and deficit issues will also surface after the election. Congress will likely need to raise the government’s debt limit and approve spending packages before October 2019. And mandatory government spending caps are set to kick in for the 2020 fiscal year after having been suspended for two years. Those spending limits could dampen economic growth. Lewis Alexander, chief U.S. economist at Nomura, said Republicans might renew their focus on reducing the national debt, after having approved tax cuts last year that swelled annual budget deficits by $1.5 trillion over the next decade. Alexander noted that shrinking the deficit has historically become a higher priority when competing parties have controlled the White House and Congress. If the government seeks to pare the deficit, it could possibly slow the economy, which in the past year has been fueled in part by government spending. It’s likely Trump would blame Democrats if growth falters, just as he might absorb criticism for his economic stewardship as Democratic presidential campaigns accelerate into a higher gear. The hostile rhetoric makes it unlikely that Democrats and Republicans would join to pass any meaningful legislation for the economy, such as for infrastructure rebuilding. “The way parties are talking about it right now, I don’t think anybody is dying to cooperate,” said Michael Madowitz, chief economist at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank. Still, if Democrats regain the House, the president might feel pressure to produce some tangible legislative results ahead of his own quest for re-election in 2020. “Trump is the wild card here,” said Jason Rosenstock, a financial industry lobbyist with Thorn Run Partners. “He may want to be seen as a deal-cutter going into the 2020 election.”

Movers and Shakers for Nov. 4

The Alaska SeaLife Center welcomed four new members to its board of directors, and announced the election of two new officers: board Chair Wendy Lindskoog of BP Alaska; and Vice Chair Terry Lauck of ConocoPhillips. Terms for new members and officers began Sept. 28, 2018. The new board members will serve three-year terms. The new board members are: Josh Howes, Dr. Laura “Lu” Levoy, Dr. Herb Schroeder and Christy Terry. Howes has been the President of Premier Alaska Tours Inc. since 2010. He holds a master’s degree in global supply chain management and has studied abroad in Japan. Howes serves on various boards including the Alaska Chapter for the Red Cross, the Statewide Steering Committee for the Alaska Marine Highway Reform Project, and the Alaska Travel Industry Association. Levoy is an emergency medicine physician in Anchorage. She studied medicine at West Virginia University and East Tennessee State University. Levoy is licensed with the West Virginia Board of Medicine and the Alaska Board of Medicine. Schroeder is vice provost for the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program and founder at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He is the recipient of the White House 2004 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring for outstanding mentoring efforts and providing opportunities to the local communities of indigenous people. He is the professor of engineering at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Schroeder received his Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder. Terry is the Seward Port Manager of the Alaska Railroad Corp. She is a former member of the Seward Chamber of Commerce Board and a former City Council member. Terry is a member of the Alaska Association of Harbormasters and Port Administrators and chairs the City of Seward Port and Commerce Advisory Board. Terry is a Certified Port Executive. She was the recipient of the Alaska Journal of Commerce Top Forty under 40 in 2012 and the Alaska Railroad’s Golden Spike Award in 2015. Northrim Bank hired Maureen Swartwood as associate vice president and branch manager; and announced the promotion of Christina Clayton to assistant branch manager and Darren Donahue to branch supervisor as the leadership of the new Eastside Community Branch. Swartwood joins Northrim Bank with 15 years of experience in the financial industry. She started as a teller and worked in various positions to become a branch manager at Alaska USA Federal Credit Union. Swartwood moved to Alaska after growing up in Fiji. Clayton has been with Northrim Bank since 2016 and has nearly five years of experience in the financial industry. Before joining Northrim Bank, she had more than 30 years of experience in retail sales management. Clayton holds an occupational associate’s degree in retail management. Donahue joined Northrim Bank in 2012 as a teller. Trevor Bradford is the newest addition to the Evergreen Business Capital team in Alaska. He has 16 years of experience in the finance industry, including the last four years as a commercial loan officer and small business lending manager at Northrim Bank in Anchorage. Trevor is an active board member of the Alaska Small Business Development Center and often leads meetings and lunches with small business owners educating them on many financial related topics. Providence Health &Service Alaska has named a new chief medical officer and Providence Medical Group Alaska a chief executive. Dr. Michael Bernstein, M.D., will join Providence as chief medical officer effective Nov. 12. Dr. Thomas Yetman, M.D., began serving as PMGA chief executive on Oct. 1. Bernstein comes to Alaska from Providence St. Joseph Health in Los Angeles, where he served most recently as chief medical officer of Providence Medical Foundations and president of Providence Specialty Medical Group. He earned a bachelor’s degree in East Asian studies from Harvard University and completed his doctorate in medicine at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland. He completed his medical residency at the University of Washington in Seattle and clinical fellowships in pulmonary and critical care medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. During his time in Los Angeles, Dr. Bernstein worked with more than 650 employed physicians across three medical foundations and 900 affiliated physicians in Los Angeles County. Yetman will oversee an organization that provides primary and specialty care to Alaskans and is connected to Providence Alaska Medical Center and The Children’s Hospital at Providence. With more than 30 years in health care, Yetman joins Providence Alaska from Providence Medical Group Northwest Washington in Everett, Wash., where he served as chief executive and then chief medical officer. A graduate of the University of California, San Diego, with a bachelor’s degree in biology, Yetman received his medical degree from George Washington University. Upon completion of a family practice internship at the U.S. Navy Hospital in Bremerton, Wash., he spent time on active duty as part of the U.S. Navy Medical Corps at the Navy hospital in Guam. He then completed training in obstetrics and gynecology at the U.S. Navy Hospital in Portsmouth, Va.

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