Federal funding gets another look

This is the last year of the current six-year federal transportation program, and next year Congress will take up a reauthorization of the program for another six years.Whether the next six-year plan is as generous to Alaska as the current plan, which brings $350 million to $400 million a year in funding for surface transportation projects to the state, remains to be seen, according to Jeff Ottesen, chief of statewide planning for the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.Lobbying of Congress by different states and interest groups has already started, he said. Groups like the national Associated General Contractors and the Association of State Highway Commissioners are making their views known, along with states and municipalities interested in more money for mass transit."We’re generally in a good position because of the seniority of our congressional delegation and Congressman Don Young’s position as chairman of the transportation committee in the U.S. House," Ottesen said.Still, the fact that Alaska gets several times more in federal transportation money than it contributes in federal gasoline tax revenue makes the state a target for others.Many states receive less federal funds than they contribute in gasoline taxes, he said.Over the years the guidelines on use of federal surface transportation funds have been made more flexible. For example, 10 years ago federal funds could only be used on highway projects that were built to certain federal specifications. That meant federal funds could not be spent on narrower or unpaved rural roads.Since then the program has been changed so that federal funds can be used for a wide variety of surface transportation needs, including rough rural roads, trails and even recreational amenities like scenic turnouts and bike paths.That is all subject to change, however, when Congress does the periodic reauthorization.Besides the money Alaska receives through the formula in the federal transportation program, Rep. Young and Sen. Ted Stevens, both Alaska Republicans, are able to secure additional funds for special projects. Alaska also receives money for airports, ports and harbors through other programs.

Port engineer departs over design

The Port of Anchorage’s top engineer lost his job last month over differences in the direction expansion plans should take.It’s unclear whether Richard Burg was fired or had resigned, but he is no longer employed by the municipality."The port was my life," said Burg, who had almost a dozen years with the city-owned port. "It’s devastating not to be working there anymore."Burg said he could not support a new port expansion plan being pushed by port director and Alaska’s former Gov. Bill Sheffield."I found myself on the wrong side of the sheet pile," Burg said in reference to the newest port design, which would use scalloped-shaped steel plates to create the facility. "I could not support the vision of the administration. Their vision is not my vision, so I decided to step aside and get out the way and let it go in the direction it’s going to go."Sheffield refused to talk about Burg leaving the port, citing personnel issues."Rich is a nice guy and a bright engineer," Sheffield said.For the past few years, Burg had been working with engineers at Tryck Nyman Hayes Inc. drawing up plans for a new deep-draft dock expansion at the Port of Anchorage.The city already had spent $1.5 million for that plan. But in March, Peratrovich, Nottingham & Drage Inc. submitted an alternate plan at the request of Sheffield. It envisions expanding the port north and 400 feet seaward of the existing dock, incorporating some 9 million tons of fill to create a nearly mile-long dock. Some 85 acres would be created and added to the port’s existing 100-acre footprint.The new design, according to its engineers, is bigger, better and cheaper. At $146 million, the new facility is about $80 million less than what it would cost for the other port expansion plan, said Sheffield."It’s a very attractive alternative for us," Sheffield said. "It’s bigger and it’s millions cheaper, and money is getting harder to come by now."Sheffield has said Alaska Republicans Sen. Ted Stevens and Rep. Don Young have been supportive toward funding the newest port expansion project designed by Peratrovich, Nottingham & Drage.In time, Sheffield said, an engineer will be hired to replace Burg. Meantime, the port will contract out work to R&M Consultants Inc., which already has been hired to perform a review of the newest port expansion plan.Anchorage Mayor George Wuerch appointed Sheffield to the post in the spring of 2001. He officially took over as port director last June.Sheffield has since been aggressive in pushing for an expansion to the port, which serves more than 80 percent of Alaska with an annual economic impact of $725 million from various commodities moved across its docks.

Jet fuel tax sparks opposition

A proposed 2-cent-per-gallon fuel transfer tax in the Fairbanks North Star Borough has ignited a spate of controversy and legal opinions.Williams Alaska Petroleum Inc., the Alaska Air Carriers Association and the Alaska Railroad Corp. say state or federal law or both prohibits the tax.Advocates say the measure would drastically reduce property taxes in the borough.The Alaska Air Carriers Association says it will sue the Fairbanks North Star Borough if the referendum is approved by voters at a June 25 special election.Merrick Peirce, spokesman for A Bright Future for Fairbanks, the group pushing the proposed tax, said the fuel transfer tax would bring in $24 million -- enough to reduce property taxes by 40 percent throughout the borough."We’re not trying to increase taxes," Peirce said. "We want to diversify the tax base and grow our economy."Peirce said property taxes in and around Fairbanks have doubled during the last 15 years. The borough’s population has slid by 2,000 residents in the last few years and property tax delinquencies are up, he said.Property tax relief would stimulate Fairbanks’ economy and would be good for everyone, he claimed.Most of the money from the proposed tax likely would come from jet fuel Williams Alaska sells to Anchorage from its North Pole refinery, Peirce said.Jeff Cook, vice president of external affairs for Williams Alaska, said state and federal law prohibits the proposed tax.Williams Alaska pays the third-largest amount of property tax in the borough, about $3 million annually. Although it would save about $1 million a year in property taxes if the fuel transfer tax is approved by voters, Williams would suffer severe financial losses from its jet fuel sales, Cook said."If we would have to pay it, it would be devastating to us competitively," Cook said.Cook said his company produces 1.4 million gallons of jet fuel daily for Anchorage. Another 210,000 gallons is produced for Fairbanks each day, he said.Williams provides about half of the jet fuel for the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport and Tesoro Alaska Petroleum Inc. provides another 40 percent via its Nikiski pipeline. The other 10 percent of the fuel normally comes from producers outside Alaska and is shipped to Alaska’s largest city in tankers and barges.Cook said if his company were hit with the tax, it would lose its customers to Tesoro or Outside producers."That’s almost laughable," said Peirce. "Williams has the most profitable refinery in North America. There is no way in hell they will lose those jet fuel sales. They will pass on the 2-cent tax on to customers whenever they can."Petroleum makes up most of the freight revenue for the Alaska Railroad, projected at $36 million for 2002, up $270,000 from a year ago.If Cook is right, the railroad would suffer huge losses, said Patrick Flynn, Alaska railroad spokesman.State law prohibits the Alaska Railroad from taking sides on the issue, Flynn said."Statutorily, we can’t get involved," Flynn said, "but we have concerns. Williams is our biggest customer. What’s bad for them is bad for us."The railroad set daily, weekly and annual records shipping fuel from Williams Alaska Petroleum’s North Pole refinery last year.Flynn said the railroad believes the tax is not allowed under federal law.The proposed tax, Flynn said, would "discriminate against rail transport and exempt pipeline fuel."David Leone, a special assistant for Mayor Rhonda Boyles, said neither the borough nor the Fairbanks City Council have taken a position on the proposed tax."There are a lot of concerns," Leone said. "Alaska statues are not real clear on what is and what isn’t taxable."The borough has hired Av Gross, a former state attorney general, to give a legal opinion on the borough’s power to tax fuel transfers. The borough has paid Gross $20,000 to study the tax.Gross, reached at his office in Juneau, said he would provide the borough with his opinion in early June.Gross would not offer a preview of his findings to the Journal, only to say that "there are a lot of legal issues about this tax."State law prohibits taxation of fuel used for heating and power generation or fuel used in airplanes that operate flights to foreign countries.Cook said most of the jet fuel Williams produces is used for foreign flights.The Alaska Air Carriers Association, which has some 75 members, said in its May newsletter that it would sue the borough if an attempt is made to tax aviation fuel transfers.Timothy Miller, attorney for the association, could not be reached at his Lake Oswego, Ore., office.The Journal is a non-voting associate member of the association.Pierce said his group set a record in Fairbanks on the referendum and expects a high voter turnout."We got 2,000 signatures in 10 days," Peirce said. "I think it will do very well."

Feds turn down Frontier's loan request

Frontier Flying Service Inc. has been denied a $7.2 million federal loan, money the Fairbanks-based airline said would have helped it recover from the effects of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.The Fairbanks-based airline’s proposal, among other things, "did not provide a reasonable assurance that Frontier would be able to repay the loan," the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Air Transportation Stabilization Board said June 3 in a statement."It’s upsetting," said Bob Hajdukovich, director of operations for Frontier Flying Service. "We spent a lot of time, effort and money on the application."The 52-year-old company was one of only six carriers in the nation to apply for the government’s $10 billion loan bailout offered to airlines to help with losses attributed to the East Coast jetliner attacks.In its loan application to the federal government, Frontier Flying Service said its cargo and passenger operations saw a dramatic drop in activity following the terrorist attacks.The airline originally sought $10 million in federal loan assistance.Hajdukovich said the decreased operations coupled with increased insurance costs prompted the company to apply for the loan. Hajdukovich said the company would have used the money to purchase a fleet of five Beech 1900-series aircraft it has been leasing for the past three years.Insurance premiums have increased since the terrorist attacks, Hajdukovich said, adding that if the company were to purchase the fleet of airplanes instead of leasing them, the airline would be able to negotiate better rates.Securing the $10 million loan also would have allowed the company to refurbish another nine other aircraft the company owns and provide needed working capital, Hajdukovich said.Hajdukovich has said the company, established in 1950, is not seeking bankruptcy protection nor are any of the airline’s 185 employees facing layoffs because of the events of Sept. 11.The Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act passed by Congress in November offered $5 billion in direct aid to airlines to cover losses incurred after Sept. 11, plus $10 billion in loan guarantees.Some 266 of the nation’s airlines, including about 30 airlines who do business in Alaska, have been given $3.8 billion in direct grants.Frontier Flying Service has received $133,589 in direct aid under the grant program.Only America West has received a loan guarantee under the program. The Tempe, Ariz.-based airline, the nation’s eighth largest, had a $380 million loan guaranteed in December by federal regulators.As part of America West’s loan guarantee, the company had to offer a third of its common stock to the government, making it one of the airline’s largest shareholders.While most of the nation’s airlines asked for -- and received -- grant money, they have balked at applying for federal loans, fearing a government stake in their companies.Airlines still have until June 28 to apply.Vanguard Airlines, based in Kansas City, Mo., was denied its $15 million bailout loan last month after federal regulators determined the small regional carrier’s proposal did not demonstrate it had a high likelihood of repaying the note.Besides Vanguard, America West and Frontier Flying Service, three other regional carriers applied for government loans, according to federal officials. They are Spirit Airlines, based in Florida; National Airlines, based in Las Vegas; and Evergreen International Airlines, an Oregon-based carrier that was established in Anchorage in 1961 at Merrill Field by former cropduster and Air Force pilot Delford Smith.In Alaska, Evergreen has a helicopter division, an aviation services and cargo company, and an avionics retail and service business, Avionics Specialists of Alaska Inc.About 350 people are employed in Alaska by Evergreen.Calvin Harmon, an Evergreen spokesman in Oregon, would not say how much the airline was asking for in its loan application.Evergreen received more than $7.1 million in a direct grant following the terrorist attacks."We’ve applied and are awaiting a decision," Harmon said of the company’s loan request. "We’re hopeful."Betsy Holahan, a spokeswoman for the Department of Treasury, which administers the loan program, said details of airlines’ loan applications are not made public for proprietary reasons.Frontier’s Hajdukovich and Evergreen’s Harmon said their companies’ loan applications did not offer stock to the government since both are privately held companies.

Doyon subsidiary gets nod for missile defense camp

ANCHORAGE -- Doyon Universal Services has signed a multimillion-dollar agreement to build a 364-person camp in Delta Junction to house National Missile Defense construction workers.The company signed the agreement with Fluor Alaska on May 15 and subcontractors began preparing the ground the same day, said Mark Huber, Doyon Universal president.Doyon Universal is a subsidiary of Fairbanks-based Doyon Ltd., an Alaska Native regional corporation.Doyon Universal will provide maintenance, security, housekeeping and catering services for the 57,000-square-foot work camp."When the camp is done, there will be a full 25 positions," Huber said. The camp will be off the Richardson Highway a mile south of the Fort Greely main gate.The work is part of National Missile Defense project estimated to bring up to $325 million into the state. Fort Greely will be a test site for missile interceptors designed to shoot down incoming ballistic missiles.The Fort Greely project will employ hundreds of workers during the construction phase, which begins this month. The first missile test at the site is scheduled for this fall, missile defense officials have said.Fluor Alaska spokeswoman Cheryl Smith declined to comment on contracts the company has with subcontractors. The contract with Doyon Universal is about $13 million, said Orie Williams, Doyon president.Doyon Universal has two subcontractors, Arctic Structures and Dihthaad Global Services, for the camp’s construction.Anchorage-based Arctic Structures will provide 92 modular units that will make up the camp, said general manager Ron Courreges. The units will provide 130 double rooms, 104 single rooms, a kitchen and recreational area, he said."It’s a little better than a pipeline camp," Courreges said.The units are being manufactured by about 70 employees at Arctic Structures’ Palmer plant and will be trucked to Delta Junction, with the first to arrive shortly.The camp will be built in sections, with the first completed by June 25, Courreges said."We expect to be out of there by the end of July," he said.The camp will be on 20 acres belonging to Dihthaad Global Services, owned by the Native village of Tanacross, said Jerry Isaac, Dihthaad president. Doyon Universal will lease the land for two years.Twelve people working in 24-hour shifts finished preparation work, clearing the land and laying a gravel pad foundation, in nine days, said Adam Martin, Dihthaad general manager.Dihthaad will next install a septic system pending approval from the state, he said.Dihthaad has a $4 million contract with Doyon Universal to provide site preparation, housekeeping, transportation, water and sewer operations, camp maintenance and utilities operations, Martin said."When we’re done, we get the site without the camps," he said.Dihthaad Global Services was formed last year to provide jobs for tribal members of Tanacross, Martin said.

NPR-A lease sale nets $63.8 million in bids

Eager to follow up on earlier forays into the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, a half-dozen oil and gas companies and investors rushed to snap up 60 tracts offered in a lease sale June 3 by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, offering $63.8 million in apparent high bids.BLM offered 292 tracts in the sale with a total of 3.03 million acres."This is the second sale we’ve held in the northeast portion of the NPR-A and the first sale under the president’s energy plan," said outgoing BLM state director Fran Cherry, who read the sale bids and announced preliminary results June 3 in Anchorage. BLM held the first lease sale in the northeast quarter of the NPR-A in 1999 and attracted high bids totaling $104 million.Four companies and two investors offered a total of 69 bids for 60 tracts covering 579,269 acres in areas designated by federal geologists as having both high and low potential for oil and gas deposits.TotalFinaElf E&P USA Inc., bidding alone, offered the top apparent high bid of the sale, nearly $10.189 million for an 11,476-acre parcel south and west of the previously leased area. In all, TotalFinaElf was apparent high bidder for 19 tracts, with offers totaling $52.9 million.Phillips and Anadarko, bidding together in partnerships with two different percentage splits, were the most active bidders in the sale. The companies racked up apparent high bids on 34 tracts totaling $9.6 million.Phillips Petroleum Co., Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. drilled exploration wells in 2001 and 2002 on prospects picked up in the 1999 sale. Last spring, Phillips announced significant "Alpine-like" finds of oil and gas deposits on five sites it explored during the winter of 2001.In a recently-released report, the U.S. Geological Survey substantially increased its estimate of both technically and economically recoverable oil and gas reserves in NPR-A.The federal government will split the proceeds of the lease sale with the state of Alaska on a 50/50 basis.

Seafood labeling on Senate fast track

FAIRBANKS -- Rules requiring seafood to be labeled by country of origin would go into effect faster than previously agreed under legislation approved by the U.S. Senate last month.Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska, amended an international trade bill to require the new labels within 180 days of the legislation becoming law. The Senate passed the trade bill May 23.Last month, the Senate passed a farm policy bill requiring country-of-origin labeling within two years. The trade bill language would speed up that requirement.The labels would be required for retail sales. The requirement would apply to all perishable agriculture products and seafood.Alaska salmon fishermen hope the requirement improves their ability to market their catch in the face of expanding exports from foreign fish farms.The Senate bills must still be reconciled with House versions.The Senate trade bill also would allow fishermen to qualify for aid whenever cheap fish imports force prices down more than 20 percent in comparison to a five-year average. Fishermen could get up to half their lost revenue reimbursed, with a cap of $10,000 per fisherman.The bill also authorizes money for retraining fishermen.Workers in other industries have benefited from such provisions, Murkowski said."However, an independent fisherman does not go to the dock and receive a pink slip," he said. "Instead, he hears the latest prices for salmon on the radio, and that’s how he learns that his family’s livelihood is threatened."

Business Profile: Hawaiian Vacations Inc.

Name of the company: Hawaiian Vacations Inc.Established: 1982Location: 1010 W. Northern Lights Blvd., Anchorage, AK 99503Telephone: 907-261-2700Web site: www.hawaiianvacations.comE-mail: [email protected] focus of services: Hawaiian Vacations Inc. charters direct flights to Honolulu from Anchorage and handles other travel arrangements. The company owns Kihei Bay Vista, 20 condominiums in Maui.History of the company: John Hardwick started Hawaiian Vacations in October 1982, initially marketing condo accommodations from properties owned by Alaskans. In the mid-1980s the company began providing flight services.Since then Hawaiian Vacations has added more charter flights per week. Initially, the firm had one weekly charter flight. During peak season in winter Hawaiian Vacations tallies four to five weekly flights between Alaska and Hawaii.In 2000, the company aimed to expand its market. One brand, Alaskan Vacations, markets the company’s services to northbound travelers from Hawaii. Fire and Ice Vacations handles similar travel services for visitors from Europe and Australia looking to visit both Alaska and Hawaii. Hawaiian Vacations has hired a contract employee in Japan to market its Alaska-Hawaii travel services.Since April 2001 the company has been developing an e-commerce Web site where customers and travel agents can check prices, book tickets and receive instant confirmation. Hawaiian Vacations is working with Hawaii-based software developer Viata for the custom site, which should be launched in mid-summer.Hawaiian Vacations employs an average of 50 year-round workers, all in Alaska. Last year, about 40,000 customers flew via Hawaiian Vacations.Top accomplishments of the company: David Karp, vice president and chief operating officer, cited Hawaiian Vacations’ increasing frequency of weekly charter flights since beginning service. In early 2003 the company operating Hawaiian Vacations’ charter flights plans to operate newer aircraft between Alaska and Hawaii, he said. The new Web site also marks a significant achievement, said Phil Okeson, vice president and chief financial officer. A goal for the company includes running a charter flight between Alaska and Japan, Karp said.Major players: Karp, chief operating officer, and Okeson, chief financial officer, Hawaiian Vacations.Karp and Okeson joined the company three years ago, leading operations for the owners, Hardwick and his wife Ral West. Karp, raised in Nome, worked for the Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council, then at the Alaska Tourism Marketing Council. Okeson, who grew up in Palmer, worked as an accountant at KPMG LLP in Anchorage and earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Michigan. He worked in Seattle for six years before returning to Alaska to raise his family.-- Nancy Pounds

Work begins on library expansion

Work has started on a $23 million project to expand the University of Alaska Anchorage Consortium Library.The addition will add 109,000 square feet to the library, which now measures 85,750 square feet, said Russ Shoeman, UAA director of facilities, planning, design and construction.The project is scheduled to be completed in January 2004, he said.Funding was appropriated by the Legislature, he said.Once finished, the library addition will transform the campus, said Steve Rollins, dean of the Consortium Library."It really represents the future of the campus," he said. "I think it’s going to allow the library and the university to mature as a major metropolitan university."The library, which serves UAA and Alaska Pacific University, will expand its offerings. Individual study space will triple, and group study rooms will increase from one to six at the larger library, Rollins said.Examples of other changes include adding a student listening facility as part of the music program and a temperature-controlled vault to improve preservation of historic Alaska films and videotapes, he said.Elements of the project include a three-story parking garage and enclosed walkway to the College of Arts and Sciences, he said. Workers are now completing the parking garage.Cornerstone General Contractors of Anchorage started building the addition in early May, said project manager Michael Quirk.Site work has been completed and foundations are now being built, he said. Erecting the structural steel framework and precast concrete panels is scheduled to start in July, Quirk said.Work in 2002 will include the building’s shell and core, with dry wall, acoustical paneling, architectural woodwork and carpeting slated for next year, he said. The three-story addition plus mechanical penthouse should be completed in July 2003, Quirk said. Then renovations begin on the existing library, he added.

Education changes to meet needs

What skills do Alaska’s knowledge workers need today?A recent survey and conference highlight some surprising and unsurprising results.Three years ago Steve Smith, the University of Alaska’s chief information officer, and I hosted a series of meetings with leading information technology employers in the state, seeking to document the war for talent. The groups’ conclusion was that Alaska had a shortage of higher end IT talent and certified technicians to maintain computer systems.Just as important were what are termed the "soft skills" of communication ability, business savvy and ready-to-work skills that employers look for before they would dare put a new employee near a client.The simple three-page estimate of Alaska supply and demand for different job functions and competencies led to the Alaska Science and Technology Foundation instigating an IT Fellows program run by the Alaska High-Tech Business Council. The cost of training and certification of 40 fellows has been shared by ASTF and employers. It involved young people and mid-career people going to work and school as part of a defined plan to upgrade technical certifications and soft skills.Ruth DeCamp of the Anchorage & Mat-Su Workforce Investment Board then took the skill grid and created a wider partnership including the Alaska High-Tech Business Council’s IT Careers Consortium and Matanuska-Susitna College to win a federal $2.3 million training grant to turn out more technicians and upgrade the skills of professionals already in technology careers.So educators, trainers and employers have become better connected. A report resulted that outlines how the various UAA colleges can better coordinate computer and Internet-related courses so students receive a better-integrated and more relevant education. Some of UAF’s excellent computer science graduates now stay in the state to work with start-up technology firms.Charter College now has a four-year degree program. AVTEC, UA regional campuses and private training companies like CompuCom and NBS expanded their offerings.So where are we today?One result of all those efforts is that the acute shortage of computer technicians with Microsoft MCSE, Novell and similar certifications has abated significantly.For the higher-skilled IT occupations, demand still outpaces supply and in some cases has shifted. According to surveys and the recent "Our Workforce, Our Future" IT Symposium, there are still not enough skilled programmers who know computer languages.There appears to be more need for skilled network system designers and administrators as well as those familiar with maintaining network security. Skilled Web-site developers with a good handle on Internet applications and some marketing know-how increasingly can write their ticket as can proficient software programmers and developers.In the world of soft skills, the need for project management competency has become an employer buzzword. That means having good business sense, the ability to manage budgets and people, and understanding the business from the client’s point of view.One consistent employer message is that while colleges may believe in degrees, employers value technical certifications just as highly. But certifications alone do not guarantee getting and holding a job.The high end of information technology is now converging with advanced business or manufacturing systems. All those fields depend on real time data acquisition, ways to monitor quality systems, and benchmarking both production and economic information. Both types of information are needed to assure quality and cost efficiency, as well as the ability to respond to changing market conditions.I suspect that if the information technology industry keeps an eye on how to integrate the data piece with best business and manufacturing practices, educators will not be beaching their graduates’ careers on isolated skill islands.Rural Alaska remains a special challenge. Computer systems in local health clinics, telecommunication sites and schools are too often maintained and upgraded by expensively flown-in technicians. With stepped up training, more local residents can hold those jobs. Hopefully, the now-threatened Regulatory Commission of Alaska will survive to put in place this year a program using existing federal funds for a training effort to increase IT capabilities in off-road Alaska.Leading employers and educators will be meeting soon to revisit our past work and collectively construct a road map of future skill needs.Do I believe that our existing training and education institutions can pause to rest? No, further responsiveness by educators to the changing world of work is necessary, but we have made progress.Have we made enough progress? Probably not. In terms of growing the larger tech sector that Alaska needs, we now can see where we have to go, but we are still not there.Jamie Kenworthy is executive director of the Alaska Science and Technology Foundation. He can be reached at ([email protected]).

Revamped bypass mail plan speeding through Congress

FAIRBANKS-- Legislation affecting Alaska’s bypass mail service to rural villages moved May 22 in both the House and the Senate.The Senate Government Affairs Committee unanimously approved a bill by Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, to set new criteria for companies that want to fly bypass mail in the state. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, secured similar language on a supplemental spending bill in the House.The actions set the stage for quick passage of the bypass mail changes by attaching them to the supplemental bill, which carries an extra $30 billion primarily for the military and domestic security efforts in the current fiscal year.Jerry Rock, president of Evergreen Helicopters of Alaska, said it appeared that Alaska’s delegation had won the battle over the issue. Evergreen had been hoping to get into the bypass mail business, but may not be able to under the legislation."They’re putting us in a position where there’s no way we can stop it," Rock said. "If it went through the normal procedures we could."Stevens and Young want to limit the types of air carriers to which the U.S. Postal Service could give bypass mail. They say doing so would save money and encourage passenger service to rural villages.Under the bypass program, shippers can send 1,000 pounds or more of material, including groceries, to rural Alaska at parcel post rates. It’s dubbed "bypass" because packages do not go through post offices. Instead, they are taken directly to eligible air carriers on a rotating basis.The Postal Service pays airlines to carry bypass mail using a formula based on industry costs. But the program is costing the Postal Service too much and some companies are just flying bypass mail and not offering passenger service, Stevens and Young assert.Their legislation would restrict new carriers on mainline routes between Alaska’s larger cities and Bush hubs. No new carriers on a route would be allowed unless they provide a certain level of passenger service. Existing carriers would not face the passenger requirement.Evergreen contends that’s unfair."If we can’t compete fairly with Alaska Airlines and the other three, then how can we expand our passenger service?" Rock asked.

Business leaders pool funds to plan Anchorage economy

Anchorage government and business leaders hope a report now being compiled will provide ideas to add jobs and diversify the city’s economy.This summer authors of the economic development plan are conducting research and interviews for a final report due in September.A 36-member committee of Anchorage business leaders hired Chabin Concepts of Chico, Calif., to conduct research in the city and compose an economic-development strategy.Using the final report’s recommendations, business and city leaders can endeavor to help existing businesses to grow and attract new businesses, said Rick Morrison, committee chairman. Another goal is to add jobs paying above-average incomes in Anchorage, he said.Committee members aim to build a sustained Anchorage economy rather than one dependent on federal funds or major projects, said Morrison, a 28-year resident who owns EERO Volkswagen and Saturn of Anchorage."If we can create a compelling vision for it, this could be the biggest thing since discovering oil because we could come up with ways to create business," he said.The committee started the effort with help from the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, the Anchorage Economic Development Corp. and the Municipality of Anchorage.AEDC contracted Chabin Concepts to compile the report under a $225,000 contract, Morrison said. That figure includes $125,000 from the city plus private donations, he said. Overall, the committee has raised about $300,000 in private donations, Morrison said. Besides the cost of the report, the committee expects to spend up to $150,000 for marketing and other costs, he said.In May, Chabin Concepts released the first of seven reports, which will be followed by a final economic development plan. The consulting firm interviewed Alaska business people and studied federal and state statistics. Chabin Concepts’ 26-page findings show that dominant industries like oil and seafood are now declining.Other findings include: Anchorage accounts for almost 40 percent of the Alaska population and nearly 50 percent of state jobs. Manufacturing jobs in Anchorage represent fewer than 2 percent of total jobs; nationally, manufacturing jobs account for about 14 percent of all jobs. In the municipality, one in 15 jobs is with the military. Government is the city’s largest employer, followed by services and retail trade. Enrollments and degrees awarded at the University of Alaska Anchorage are declining. Alaska’s innovative capacity and investment trails other states with a low number of patents, venture capital, and science and engineering graduate students per capita.Upcoming reports will analyze and list Anchorage’s strengths and weaknesses, competing cities, target industries and a marketing strategy.Leslie Parks, a Chabin Concepts partner, said the company conducted 40 interviews with public and private sector organizations involved in economic development. Focus groups discussed issues related to business and industry, environment, international, logistics and transportation, high-technology and work-force education.Chabin Concepts wrote a similar plan for Honolulu, which is now using those ideas, Parks said.Parks is now preparing a report for Portland, Ore., which is looking to diversify its economy, once dependent on natural resources such as timber, akin to Alaska. However, unlike Anchorage, Portland lacks a major university, she said.The final report should be completed in mid-September, said Larry Crawford, AEDC president and chief executive. The idea for the project started more than a year ago, and the committee first met in November, Morrison said.So far one major result has been uniting committee members, he said.Crawford agreed. The report can show how city groups can work together to boost business, he said. For example, if AEDC is trying to attract a certain industry, then the group could work with the Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau to book conventions from that industry, Crawford said.Results also can chart a course for economic development groups in Anchorage."Certainly AEDC will take the report and factor it into our future direction," Crawford said.Morrison anticipates the final report should show potential for developing airport and logistics operations.

Tourism bookings strengthen as industry holds its breath

KENAI -- Nine months after terrorist attacks struck a blow to the travel industry, tourism is trying to crawl back from a near demise. The concern for safe travel may turn out to be a boon to Alaska and, in particular, the Kenai Peninsula travel market, despite a snail’s pace start in the booking season.Alaska Travel Industry Association spokesman Mark Morones said some work may help ease a rut that the Alaska tourism industry has slipped into of late."The tourism industry in Alaska has been a growth industry, and that growth is slowing down," he said. "We (are) trying very hard to encourage people within the state to travel and take advantage of all the things there are to see up here."He said ATIA is attempting to shift the focus of its marketing strategy accordingly, with a recent "Find Your Alaska" promotion running on TV and a Web site in the past months."We were offering Alaska resident specials," Morones said. "We’re trying to basically encourage our members to offer discounts to Alaska residents. We had about 34 members who participated in this go-around."Homer expects to fare well from Alaskans visiting the state. Derotha Ferraro, executive director of the Homer Chamber of Commerce, said this is a trend for the city, which is right on course for a successful season."So far, so good," she said. "Homer is a repeat destination. We’re a pretty safe bet. Our No. 1 visitors are Alaskans."Alaskans tend not to make reservations. If the weather is good, they come."Jay Barrett, director of communications for the Kenai Visitors and Convention Bureau, said the late start to the season gave many doubts. But he said he is looking forward to more vacationers arriving as the season goes on."We’re very optimistic," he said. "Although spring might be a little late, the visitors seem to be on time."An ATIA survey conducted in March found a 12 percent drop in travel inquiries and a 13 percent drop in bookings compared with the same time last year. These numbers, however, were improvements over February and December 2001 figures.Tourism businesses have felt this decline, but many business owners say they still have a positive outlook.Princess Tours spokesperson Tom Dow said his company is expecting some improvement in reservations after a slow start in bookings last fall."Most of the people that we talk to feel much better about the way Alaska is going to go than we did back in the fall," Dow said. "The challenge is making up for last fall, where you usually start getting some early business on the books."Tim Worthem is chief executive of Premiere Alaska Tours of Anchorage, a company that operates charter buses from Anchorage to the peninsula. He echoed Dow’s sentiment on playing catch-up on lost reservations."For Alaska, a lot of bookings get planned in the fall," he said. "And that didn’t happen last year. In January, booking picked up, but it’s hard to make up for what you missed."Soldotna Visitor Center Coordinator Shanon Hamrick said progress is in the making."Things were really down at the beginning of the year," she said. "But they’re rebounding."Helen Marrs, Seward Chamber of Commerce executive director, and Kenai Fjords reservation supervisor Sarah Hanson both said the foreign market’s loss is Alaska’s gain."Reservations are up," Hanson said. "Our theory is that all of the people that were going to travel to Europe are going to stay and travel domestic."Marrs agreed, saying cruise ship passengers coming into Seward are equal to last year’s numbers."It seems to be many people are choosing Alaska as a travel destination rather than an overseas trip," Marrs said.Morones said whether tourists will spend money when they arrive is hard to tell. Particularly with so many customers taking advantage of discounted fares, retailers worry that more frugal travelers will be less likely to spend when they come on shore.Those travelers wanting to get here by the road system seem to have more incentive to come now as well, Barrett said."People who are booking RV (recreational vehicle) reservations said their bookings are up over last year," he said. "That’s indicative of the fact that gas prices are lower than last summer, and people are not as eager to fly with security concerns."Joanne Martin, of Diamond M Ranch in Kenai, gave her prognosis of the summer as a whole in the wake of last year’s terrorist attacks."I think it’s going to hurt us a little," she said, "but we’re still optimistic."

Private prison in Whittier joins longs list of dead bills

JUNEAU -- A private prison won’t be going up in Whittier, and Peace Corps volunteers won’t get Alaska Permanent Fund dividends while they’re out of the country.Those proposals are among more than 700 pieces of legislation that died when lawmakers left Juneau.During their two years of work, members of the 22nd Alaska Legislature proposed 924 bills and another 190 generally nonbinding resolutions. They passed 261 bills and 88 resolutions.That’s not unusual, said retired state Rep. Ben Grussendorf, D-Sitka, who once served as speaker of the House."In the time that you have, you have to start doing triage, and get to those that are most important to the largest number of people," Grussendorf said. "Some things are just not going to make it to the gate."And that’s not a bad thing, he said."There’s a lot of pieces of legislation that are introduced that should not become law," Grussendorf said.The Whittier private prison bill was one of the two measures favored by Anchorage oil field services and construction firm Veco that faltered this session. The other was a proposed $760 million tax break to spur construction of a gas pipeline from the North Slope.The prison bill came close to passing. It made it through the House and through most of its Senate committees, but ran into a roadblock in the Senate Rules Committee.Committee Chairman Sen. Randy Phillips, R-Eagle River, said he did not like the bill because the state had not sought bids through a competitive process."I’m not opposed to privatizing prisons, but I do have a real problem with sole source," Phillips said.Proponents of the bill said Whittier had gone through its own competitive bidding process.Sen. John Cowdery, R-Anchorage, tried to revive the prison bill during the special session, but it ended before he could hold a hearing on it.Anchorage Republican Rep. Norm Rokeberg’s bill to set up an insurance pool for nonprofit organizations and small businesses expired in the Senate Health Education and Social Services CommitteeChairwoman Sen. Lyda Green, R-Matanuska-Susitna, said the insurance bill was too complicated to consider with just a week left in the session when it arrived in her committee."That’s a big, big deal," Green said. "That has to be gone over very, very carefully."Green’s committee was also the graveyard for the Peace Corps and Alaska history bills.Nobody’s version of a fiscal plan to bridge Alaska’s anticipated fiscal 2003 budget gap of $963 million passed the Legislature.The House passed bills to raise about $570 million next year through an income tax, use of permanent fund earnings and raising the excise tax on alcohol. The only piece that survived the Senate was the smallest one -- the alcohol tax increase, which is expected to add about $20 million to state coffers.On the Senate side, Finance Co-chairman Sen. Dave Donley, R-Anchorage, largely failed in pushing through legislation he said would reduce spending or help constrain the growth of government.Several of his proposals would have saved money by trimming programs that benefit rural Alaska, and House Community and Regional Affairs Co-chairman Sen. Carl Morgan Jr., R-Aniak, refused to hear them.Donley’s proposed constitutional amendment to limit state spending also never made it to the House floor. In fact, lawmakers declined to put any constitutional amendments on this fall’s election ballot.Alaskans also will continue to set their clocks forward in spring and back in the fall. A proposal to eliminate daylight savings time died in the House Rules Committee.

Kasilof man delights customers with sausage from salmon

KENAI -- Coming soon to a ballpark near you: dogfish dogs?Fred West, owner of Tustumena Smokehouse, has perfected a technique for making polish sausage, bratwurst, pepperoni and breakfast sausage entirely from pink, chum or "dog," and sockeye salmon. And judging from the reaction he’s been getting from customers, the product is bound to be a hit."I didn’t even know it was fish. I think it’s just great. I was just amazed," said Kelly Johnson while buying several packs of polish sausage to bring with him on a trip Outside. Johnson said he heard about the sausage when a friend of his offered him a piece of the fish sausage earlier this year. He said he was hooked from the beginning."It brought me out here, didn’t it?" he said.West has been perfecting his technique for making the sausage for about seven years now. He said he got started on the idea out of curiosity."The reason I got into this is I just like to experiment around," West said recently from his store in Kasilof.He said what started out as a hobby quickly became an idea to save his business."Over the last four years I’ve been sending samples out. Now I’m getting a lot of interest. What started as an experiment has become survival, it’s as simple as that," said West, noting that conventional salmon products have seen retail prices plummet in recent years."It’s an innovative product, and it’s a value-added product," he said.Don’t think that since West uses mainly pinks and chum, traditionally the least expensive salmon, his product isn’t high quality. He said he only uses fish that have been properly handled."It has to be good fish. The fish has to be bled and iced and kept at the highest quality or I won’t buy them. It has to be a top-notch, quality fish. You can’t make silk out of a sow’s ear."That quality is what West is hoping will catch on with consumers. He said he’s already been contacted by at least three major chain retail stores inquiring about his product. He said they are intrigued by the potential for the growth of the sausage product."One buyer called and said, ’Fred, how much can you produce?’ We’re really excited."West’s salmon sausage currently is only available through the Tustumena Smokehouse. However, West said plans are under way to distribute his product locally."You can use it in anything, really. It’s good in soups, stews, scrambled eggs, omelets, pizza, and you’d never know it’s fish."West also noted he could never have developed his product without the help of lots of friends, fishermen and even government officials.As a customer, Johnson agrees West’s sausage is good for the community as a whole."Every time I turn on the radio or pick up the news, all I hear about is how there’s no money. What I want to hear is entrepreneurial stories like this. You should be proud of yourself," he told West.Then Johnson opened a fresh pack sausage and took a bite."I think it’s great," he said.

Adak transfer to Aleut Corp. one step closer

The huge wheels of the federal government grind ahead, slowly inching forward the process that will turn a former Navy installation in Alaska over to a regional Native corporation.While the U.S. House authorized the transfer of the Adak Naval Complex to the Aleut Corp. in its version of the 2003 Defense Authorization Bill, a Senate bill on the same topic was taken up by a subcommittee of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.The bill, sponsored by Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska, ratifies an agreement reached among the Navy, the Aleut Corp. and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to convey title of the base to the Native corporation in exchange for land rights being transferred to the Wildlife Service. The Navy facility was closed by recommendation of the 1990 Base Closure Commission.Under the terms of the agreement, 47,150 acres -- including an airfield, an entire town and one of the Pacific’s best deep-water ports -- would be transferred to the Aleut Corp. The corporation would then relinquish an equal number of acres of its prioritized land selections to the management of Fish and Wildlife."The bill is a win-win-win situation," Murkowski said. "The land exchange will enhance economic development for the corporation and meets the goals of both the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and the base closure process. I had the opportunity to visit Adak three years ago and was amazed at the infrastructure on the island."Murkowski said he hopes the bill will get a hearing from the entire committee within the next few weeks. The Aleut Corp. plans to use the complex as an air and sea trans-shipment facility, a refueling and re-provisioning area and a fish processing center for the area.The last sailor left Adak on March 1. Petty Officer Ronald O’Toole, a Seebee, had been on duty at the Navy Caretaker Site Office since April 1999. He has the distinction of being the last uniformed military member to serve on Adak, marking the end of nearly 60 years of continuous presence there.The first troops secured the Aleutian Island during the early days of World War II. Other islands in the chain -- Attu and Kiska -- were occupied by the Japanese.The Naval base was one of the country’s outposts during the Cold War, with the job of keeping track of Soviet ship and submarine movement along the Alaska coastline. After the Soviet Union broke up, the expense of maintaining the remote base was judged to be too high for its then-diminished value.A bill promoting the land exchange first surfaced in 1997, but concern over asbestos in a number of the base buildings delayed its passage. Congress has since appropriated funds to the military to remove and stabilize the asbestos at the facility.The Navy plans to continue environment refurbishing projects this summer, including assessing the environmental condition of different sites on the island and coming up with a plan to deal with hazards on the island. Also planned this summer is the demolition of more than 50 cabins.

Communication keeps customers and employees happy

Today’s businesses must change course quickly. Communication and information are essential to innovation, good customer service, high retention and change. And it has to flow freely.In a survey my organization conducted, respondents were asked, "To improve your workplace environment, what would you like to see your executives, supervisors or managers do?"Sixty nine percent of the respondents said, "Be better at communicating."You’d think that with so many ways to communicate -- cell phones, Internet, e-mail, personal digital assistants, pagers and so forth -- our ability to communicate would improve. But the opposite seems to be true: As technology advances, the quality of communication declines.Put another way, as the quantity of communication tools increases, the quality of communication decreases.In 1995, the Boeing Co. suffered its second-longest walkout ever when the Machinists Union led a 69-day strike against the company. Boeing lost hundreds of millions of dollars and experienced big customer service headaches when the company missed the delivery dates on 36 airliners.Part of the problem was that while Boeing preached teamwork and productivity, it sent jobs out to lower-cost subcontractors. This disconnect between what management was saying and doing escalated tensions between the union and management.Boeing’s chairman and president blamed the strike on its "own lack of understanding of worker sentiment and on a failure to communicate corporate concerns to the work force." He noted that part of the problem lay with Boeing’s "inability to communicate effectively on what we were about and why we were about it."In 1998, United Parcel Service suffered a similar fate when its employees went on strike. UPS lost over $700 million in revenues and a blow to its credibility and trust among its loyal employees. In retrospect, the company’s Atlanta human resources director, said, "No one won." He noted that the walkout could have been prevented if UPS had done a better job of communication prior to and during the negotiations.UPS learned two important lessons from the strike. First, the employees did not fully understand their benefit packages prior to the strike. If they had understood them, much of the confusion could have been eliminated. The final settlement between the union and management did not significantly increase benefits over the previous contract.Second, UPS underestimated the need to communicate during the actual negotiation process. To avoid confusing people during the rapidly shifting negotiations, it kept a tight rein on information -- a major mistake, as it turned out.Employees wanted to know what was going on, and because they couldn’t, many loyal employees felt betrayed by management and walked off the job. The lack of information created a backlash and anger, resentment, legal actions and lost revenues.Finally, UPS learned never to assume that your people know what you think they know. When in doubt, over-communicate.Organizational types: low- and high-accessThere are two basic types of organizations: low-access and high-access. Good communication is a hallmark of the high-retention work environment. At its heart, communication is all about access.In a low-access organization, the flow of communication is guarded and restricted. People find themselves kept in the dark, like mushrooms, stuffed in narrow confines based on job descriptions, ranking and where they sit on the organizational chart.It’s no surprise that low-access organizations, many of them hierarchical, have greater difficulty responding to change, fluctuating customer needs and the fluidity of the modern workplace.In contrast, a high-access organization thrives on information and shares it to the maximum extent possible. The more information people have, the more quickly they can respond to the changing needs of customers and the environment. High-access companies are committed to open communication.Symptoms of the low-access organization include: A low-access organization is structured around rules, regulations and policies. Management places more emphasis on enforcing rules than eliminating unnecessary rules and regulations. The low-access organization has a top-down decision making process. The low-access organization has a reward system that minimizes change and initiative. Because only the people on top of the organization are responsible for interpreting and approving any changes to regulations, decision-making slows down because the responsibility and power to make decisions is taken away from those who need it the most. A low-access organization protects itself from change. Only a disaster, a threat or a public relations crisis is enough to initiate change. In the compartmentalized, functionally aligned, department-by-department organization, there is an expert for everything. In its worst form, a low-access organization becomes a caste system. Top-down layering dictates what roles to take, whom to talk to, and with whom to associate. Rank, position and educational degrees become more important than results.Gregory P. Smith leads the management consulting firm called Chart Your Course in Conyers, Ga. He can be reached via e-mail at ([email protected]).

UAA spends $14 million for part of University Center mall

University of Alaska Anchorage officials are purchasing about one-fourth of the University Center mall, which lost many tenants and was sold late last year.The move expands the UAA campus space by 6 percent and breathes in new life for the retail tenants who remain at the state’s third-largest shopping center.Also, UAA is finalizing details to acquire another 30,000 square feet at the former Gottschalks west entrance, said Chancellor Lee Gorsuch.For UAA, the $14 million deal will boost classroom space, ease parking and provide improved access to offices for student services like registration and financial aid, officials said.The price tag includes renovations to create high-tech classrooms, labs and an auditorium. University staff could move in during November and classes could begin in January, UAA officials said.Six months after acquiring the University Center with a partner, JL Properties, an Anchorage developer and property management company, is selling its piece to UAA.Last December JL Properties acquired the 350,000-square-foot shopping center with Furniture Enterprises of Alaska, which owns Sadler’s Home Furnishings, said Leonard Hyde, a managing member of mall owner University Center LLC.Each partner bought a piece of the mall, said Hyde, who is president of JL Properties."I think it’s very positive for the mall," he said. "As you know the mall is significantly empty at this point."UAA is buying the 90,000-square-foot portion owned by JL Properties, he said. That section, built in 1986, extends south from the site of former tenants Roundtable Pizza and Bering Sea Originals to the movie theater, he said.The addition of UAA students and faculty could be a boon for current tenants like Habitat and Natural Pantry."It will be new activity at the mall that will be good for merchants," he said.Sadler’s also will operate at the mall, Hyde said.Opened in 1972, University Center was owned by Hickel Investment Co. and ranked as the third-largest shopping center in Alaska, behind Dimond Center and the Anchorage 5th Avenue mall.However, the mall lost tenants due to national closures and relocations elsewhere, among other factors. Last year Gottschalks department store closed its University Center location.Last year university leaders asked legislators for $25 million to buy and renovate the mall. That appropriation bid was unsuccessful, and Hickel Investments considered other offers at that time.Hickel Investments returned the title to its lender, Equitable Life Insurance Co. JL Properties and Furniture Enterprises acquired the mall from the lender, Hyde said.The university also bid on the mall when Equitable Life auctioned it, but did not win the bid, Gorsuch said."This is our third attempt," he said.The university was not part of the original plan by JL Properties and Furniture Enterprises, he said.In March, the University of Alaska Regents approved buying a part of the mall. The university will issue bonds to finance the deal which will be reimbursed from a $14 million legislative appropriation in the capital budget. The legislation awaits the governor’s signature.On May 20, UAA said it is buying part of the mall. The $14 million price tag includes $5.7 million to buy 90,000 square feet plus another $5.7 million for renovations, Gorsuch said. The remaining $2.6 million is earmarked to purchase the additional 30,000 square feet from Furniture Enterprises, he said."It will be a great supplement to the original package," Gorsuch said.Negotiations continue between the university and JL Properties, Hyde said."One thing to keep in mind is there will ultimately be significant work done to this facility," he said.He would not list the amount JL Properties and Furniture Enterprises paid for the mall.University officials believe advantages of the mall acquisition include proximity to campus and added space for less than leasing or building in Midtown Anchorage."It’s a great deal for us," Gorsuch said. UAA’s price for part of University Center is one-fourth to one-third the cost of leasing space and half the price of new construction, Gorsuch said.The new space will house UAA’s Community and Technical College and offices for advising, payments, registration and admission.Additional space at University Center meets UAA’s need for classroom space and helps improve community access, Gorsuch said.

Business Profile: Alaska Pet-ography

Name of the company: Alaska Pet-ographyEstablished: 1989Location: 1921 W. Dimond Blvd., Anchorage, AK 99515Telephone: 907-868-1680Web site: www.alaskaportraits.comE-mail: [email protected] focus of services: Alaska Pet-ography handles studio and on-site photography of Alaskans and their pets and shoots photos for weddings, graduations and other events. The studio also features a gift store selling picture frames, albums and greeting cards.History of the company: David Jensen started Alaska Pet-ography after recognizing his affinity for photographing dogs during a University of Alaska Anchorage photography class. Also, in the mid-1980s he noted a market niche for in-studio pet photography when he searched for a studio to photograph his dog.In 1989 he started the business, taking portraits part time while working at another job. He worked as Alaska Pacific University public affairs director until 1998 when he chose to pursue his photography business full time.Alaska Pet-ography gained clients, but the busiest season was August through December when customers wanted family portraits for Christmas cards and gifts. He estimates he photographs 300 to 400 families in those five months.Three years ago Jensen started photographing weddings to diversify the business and meet customer requests. This year he expects to photograph 50 weddings. Jensen also expanded to shoot portraits for political campaigns, engagements and graduations.Jensen ran Alaska Pet-ography from his home until opening his office and studio two years ago.In February Jensen spent $35,000 on digital photography equipment including a camera, monitor, scanners, computer and printer. Using digital equipment allows customers to see images minutes after the shoot and pick up their photo orders sooner, he said.Jensen’s wife Carol helps during the busy season, and the company has employed part-time staff. David Jensen aims to hire a full-time employee by August.Top accomplishment of the company: Jensen is proud of Alaska Pet-ography’s reputation in the state. "There’s a lot of name recognition out there," he said. The photographer also travels to other Alaska communities for photo shoots.Major player: David Jensen, photographer, Alaska Pet-ographyBorn in Fairbanks, Jensen graduated from Anchorage’s Service High School. He later earned a degree in journalism and marketing from UAA. Jensen worked for the legislative affairs office. While building his photography business, he was a part-time writer for Catholic Social Services publications.-- Nancy Pounds

Alyeska moves engineers to Anchorage

FAIRBANKS -- Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. will move 40 project engineers to Anchorage, Alyeska President David Wight said May 21.The announcement brings to 100 the number of jobs lost from the company’s Fairbanks office, though some positions from Valdez will be transferred north.Alyeska announced in April it would cut 150 jobs statewide, with 60 positions from Fairbanks or along the pipeline route."It’s a tough time," Wight told the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce.The company began notifying employees of the changes May 21.Alyeska, a consortium owned by six oil companies, has 1,049 employees. Only 900 will remain in the company’s three divisions in Fairbanks, Anchorage and Valdez, Wight said. Anchorage and Valdez will lose about 90 jobs.Many of the layoffs will occur in July and others will take effect by the end of the year.The 40 engineers bound for Anchorage are part of the company’s project department and the move will bring them closer to Alyeska contractors, Wight said.City Mayor Steve Thompson expressed disappointment over the move. "It’s unfortunate we don’t have those contractors here in Fairbanks," he said.Under a 1997 reorganization, Alyeska laid off 450 employees and moved 260 people to Fairbanks. Fairbanks, Anchorage and Valdez each gained human resources, accounting and finance departments, Wight said. Now those functions will be centralized in Anchorage.Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Rhonda Boyles said she believes there is plenty of opportunity with military projects, such as the National Missile Defense project at Fort Greely, for those who want to stay in Fairbanks. She met May 21 with representatives from the Department of Defense, Fluor Alaska, the project’s main contractor, and Boeing, the project’s designer.


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