Unalaska-Dutch Harbor still top U.S. fishing port

WASHINGTON -- For the 13th consecutive year, the Unalaska-Dutch Harbor port has topped the nation with the highest volume of fish landings, officials announced Aug. 13.The Commerce Department and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that the port’s commercial fleet delivered 834.5 million pounds of fish in 2001. That was an increase of 134 million pounds from the previous year.However, the port ranked second in terms of the value of fish landed. That honor went to New Bedford, Mass., with $150.5 million worth of fish landed. Dutch Harbor landings were valued at $129.4 million, an increase of $4.5 million from the previous year.Kodiak was sixth in terms of the amount of fish landed with 285.5 million pounds. That’s down from 289.6 million last year.Kodiak was third in terms of the value of the harvest, which dropped to $74.4 million last year from $94.7 million the previous year.-- The Associated Press

Nikiski mill will soon begin churning out two-by-fours

KENAI -- Alaska’s lumber industry has seen better days, and timber, one of the state’s most bountiful natural resources, is being plagued on the Kenai Peninsula by spruce bark beetles. With a recent downturn in timber production, the industry has nowhere to look but up.A Nikiski business is in the works, however, that hopes to pump life into the industry, make use of lifeless beetle-killed trees and help build the economy in the central peninsula area in the process. Key components of the operation, however, had to be uprooted and moved from Seward.Husky Lumber has been a work in progress for nearly two years, building two lumber mills and a kiln dryer just off the Kenai Spur Highway. The kiln dryer, a steam-powered plant able to dry and condition lumber to specific moisture contents, is the final piece to the puzzle and will soon be operational after having been relocated from Seward, said Steve Johnson, general manager of Husky."When both mills and the kiln are in complete operation, Husky will need (about) 30 people to run it," Johnson said.The kiln dryer is a more efficient way to process wood before it goes to market. The apparatus is a self-contained building that provides temperature control and a steady and adequate flow of air over the timber surface. The air flow rate and direction is controlled by fans; the temperature and relative humidity of the air can be adjusted to suit the species and sizes of the timber being dried.The Husky kiln will take about two days to dry an average of 70,000 board-feet per kiln load-charge, or approximately seven homes worth of lumber.Mark Powell, business consultant and timber buyer, said Husky has a complete logging operation and will be pulling timber from a year-and-a-half supply in the Nikiski area."We also can buy from other loggers," he said. "We have the trucking capacity to ship lumber, and we use dead or green trees."Husky will be one of the largest providers of kiln-dried, graded dimensional wood in Alaska."Johnson said the mill’s capacity will be in the vicinity of about 8 million board feet per year. Powell said it will be able to supply Alaska and Lower 48 markets with dimensional lumber for building, logs for homes, "tongue-and-groove" markets, log siding and large materials for industrial oil fields."We deal with Home Depot, Arctic Builders and other sources in Alaska," Johnson said.Powell said a $186,297 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture paid for half of the nearly two month move from Seward. He said the company received help from more government agencies and officials, including the Kenai Peninsula Community and Economic Development Division and Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska."Because of appropriations from the USDA through Stevens, $2 million in grants were made available for kiln drying operations in Alaska," Powell said.Johnson, who’s been in the logging industry since 1966, said the major challenge in uniting the kiln dryer with the rest of the Husky operation has passed, and he is ready for the daily work to begin. Powell agreed with him."The biggest challenge was getting all to one location," Powell said. "Centralizing our location will make us more efficient, and therefore, more profitable."Once the kiln dryer is completed, Johnson said the work will begin."The first order of business will be getting out the two-by-four and two-by-six dimensional lumber," he said.

Kenai Wild exceeds expectations in its first year

KENAI -- The end of the commercial fishing season means the close of the first year of the Cook Inlet Salmon Branding program. And although branding program officials admit there is still a long way to go in the learning curve, the verdict is in on its performance thus far."It was a tremendous success in terms of identifying what it’s going to take to improve the commercial salmon industry," said Kenai Peninsula Borough Business Development Manager Jack Brown.Brown backed up his assessment by reading a message of applause from one of the recipients of salmon stamped with the Kenai Wild seal of certification."The sockeye arrived in great condition," the memo read. "They were well boned and pinned. If you can assure that level of quality, you should have a highly marketable product."But Mark Powell, CISB president and Alaska Salmon Purchasers Inc. owner, said that even with the strides made in the program, the Cook Inlet commercial salmon industry was still a ways away from being out of hot water."To have stubborn buyers, stubborn fishermen and (a) stubborn government come together. It worked," Powell said. "We had a few fish this year, but this industry is in trouble. Saving the industry, we’re not."The program, envisioned by borough Mayor Dale Bagley, benefited from $305,550 fronted by the borough assembly for startup until a $93,000 legislative grant and grant monies totaling $231,000 from the state Department of Community and Economic Development and Alaska Manufacturers Association could find their way back to the branding program’s coffers.Powell said the program was able to exceed the original goal of 20,000 pounds of inspected and certified, high-quality sockeye."We learned we can do it and do it at a higher level than we thought," Powell said.The process of bleeding every fish and icing them immediately was determined as a way to create a consistent level of quality, which would, in theory, give purchasers cause to pay a higher price for fish.This plan would create more work for fishermen and processors alike, to earn the Premium grade -- described by one inspector as a perfect fish -- or the secondary Grade A.Twelve setnetters and 22 driftnetters contributed nearly 85,000 pounds of fish for certification during the six weeks of fishing, with nearly 63 percent of that catch being scrutinized by a team of two local and two outsourced inspectors. Of that number, 22,395 pounds was certified either Premium or A.Brown said the program was a success on all three of its general goals. In addition to having twice as much as the projected poundage, CISB was able to teach fishermen better care for fish and create community awareness of the move to reverse the industry’s downturn.

Phillips Alaska to lose 60 jobs following Conoco merger

ANCHORAGE -- Phillips Petroleum Co.’s merger with Conoco Inc. will mean the loss of 60 jobs at Phillips Alaska Inc.Employees could be transferred out of Alaska or could take severance pay to leave the company, a Phillips spokeswoman said Aug. 15.That’s more than a 6 percent reduction in the company’s 950-employee work force in Alaska.Most of the affected employees perform "shared services" for Phillips and its subsidiaries such as accounting, computer support and working on tax matters, said Dawn Patience, a Phillips spokeswoman in Anchorage.Once Conoco and Phillips unite to form a new company, Conoco Phillips, some support functions will be centralized, Patience said. Some Alaska employees will be offered jobs either at Phillips’ headquarters in Bartlesville, Okla., or in Houston where Conoco is based and where the new company will have its headquarters, she said.Also, some employees can opt for a severance package to leave Phillips, said Patience. In any event, 60 Phillips Alaska jobs are likely to go away, including some in Anchorage where as many as half the company’s employees work on any given day, she said. The rest work in the North Slope oil fields.Alaska employees received an e-mail last week on the company’s plans. A couple of months ago, employees likely to be affected by consolidation were surveyed for their preference on moving or taking severance, Patience said.The merger still must be approved by the Federal Trade Commission. Conoco and Phillips hope approval will come by the end of the year."All employees will know their status in 45 days after the merger is approved," Patience said.Phillips is a top Alaska oil producer, along with ExxonMobil Production Co. and BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. Last November, Conoco, with 20,000 employees and $27.9 billion in assets as of the end of March, and Phillips, with 37,400 employees and $36 billion in assets, announced a "merger of equals."

Asset allocation helps reach goals

Asset allocation strategy is based on the theory that different investment categories are affected differently by economic events and market factors. It is the key to achieving your financial goals and it is arguably the single most important factor in determining returns from investing.With this in mind, the first steps to achieving your financial goals is to determine what they are, when you want to attain them and what they will cost. For instance, do you want to purchase a vacation home when you retire? Would you like your home mortgage paid off in 10 years?Consistent returns result from picking investment alternatives that meet your goals, not the hot investment of the day. This is clearly evidenced by the run-up in the stock market in the late 90’s, when the best strategy seemed to be to own only stocks. If you subscribed to this strategy, the past few years of stock market doldrums has had a sizeable impact on your attainment of financial goals.Had you subscribed to an asset allocation strategy, investments would have been owned in proportion to their combined historical returns meeting your goals. In other words, asset allocation provides a disciplined approach to reducing portfolio risk through diversification. Listed below are some advantages and tips on an asset allocation strategy: Asset allocation strategy is designed to control your portfolio’s long-term makeup. It shouldn’t change based on economic conditions or market fluctuations. Any changes should be based on a change in your goals -- "What they are, when you want to attain them and what they will cost."Rebalance your portfolio at least annually, however, since over time, your actual asset allocation will stray from your desired allocation due to varying rates of return for different investments. Investments with higher returns have higher risk and more volatility in year-to-year returns. A combination of investments, more aggressive with less aggressive, will reduce your portfolio’s overall risk. By owning different types of assets, it is hoped that when one asset suffers a major decline, other assets will be increasing in value. Know your stock and bond funds. Before you set up your asset allocation plan, determine the nature of the companies purchased by the mutual funds you intend to own. It is not enough to diversify across broad investment categories, such as stocks, bonds and cash. You should also diversify within those categories. In stocks, for instance, your categories include large-capitalization stocks, small-capitalization stocks, value stocks, growth stocks and international stocks. Don’t rely on software alone to build a savings plan. Most programs don’t have the depth needed to devise your specific asset allocation plan. Unfortunately, there is no asset allocation plan suitable for all investors. You need to evaluate your risk tolerance. Risk tolerance is one of the most important, albeit subjective, parts of determining your asset allocation. Assess your emotional ability to stick with an investment when returns are less than expected, as well as your time horizon for investing and return needs to determine how you should allocate your portfolio among the various investment categories.It’s never too late to get started and it’s never too late to revamp or revise an asset allocation plan. Staying focused on the big picture through your asset allocation strategy will help prevent you from investing in assets that won’t help accomplish your goals.Rather than investing in a haphazard manner, it gives you a framework for making investment decisions. In general, you should consider a more conservative allocation if you have short-term needs for your money, have low earnings, have a low-risk tolerance or are uncomfortable with investing.A more aggressive allocation may be indicated if you have higher earnings, do not need your money for many years or are an experienced investor.Ron Kukes is president and chief executive of Alaska First Bank & Trust. He can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]

Knowles urges stores to carry local produce

DELTA JUNCTION -- Gov. Tony Knowles said Aug. 14 he had made a phone call that could catapult lettuce from Alaska’s fields into stores.Knowles said he called Sam Duncan, president and chief executive of Fred Meyer Corp. in Oregon, to ask why the giant retailer was no longer selling Alaska lettuce. Knowles told him that Alaska agriculture needs his support. Knowles said Duncan was willing to help.Safeway, too, has been called on to help Alaska agriculture. It is selling 400,000 pounds of Alaska potatoes in its Washington stores.Knowles made the comments during the Delta Farm Tour while stopping for lunch at the Clearwater Lodge."We’re looking at opportunities for all of our farm products," Knowles told the audience of more than 100. "It supports a great industry; it supports some great families."The 88 tour attendees, many of them from Fairbanks, applauded the new opportunities, as did the Delta Farm Bureau members serving lunch. Rex Wrigley, who has farmed with his son in Delta Junction for 19 years, endorsed the governor’s ideas as the tour moved on to Northern Lights Dairy."I hope they work," Wrigley said. "I hope they follow through with sending potatoes down there."Wrigley, who is from Idaho, said he believes that once Northwesterners get a taste of Alaska potatoes, there will be a market.The grocery stores’ cooperation wasn’t the only boost to the industry that Knowles announced during his whirlwind tour of Alaska agriculture. Knowles spent the morning of Aug. 14 in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, visiting an organic farm and produce operation in Palmer before flying to Delta to join the annual farm tour.With Knowles were Pat Pourchot, commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources; and Robert Wells, director of the Division of Agriculture.In Palmer, Knowles announced that NANA Development Corp. has agreed to step up its use of Alaska Grown produce in its food service contracts to Pioneers’ Homes, the University of Alaska and other entities. Alaska Department of Administration contract language also will be amended to require Food Services of America, which supplies the Corrections Department and Alaska Marine Highway, to list Alaska produce available each week.Knowles said the change will make it easier for state workers to purchase quality Alaska products for food service.Earlier, Knowles had proclaimed Aug. 12-17 "Farmers Market Week" in Alaska to recognize the 10 farmers’ markets around the state, including the farthest north market in America in Fairbanks. Last year Alaska farmers produced record crops of potatoes and other vegetables. The potato crop alone was worth more than $3 million in cash receipts, representing one-tenth the value of cash receipts from all farm marketing.

Natives, fisheries regulators have gradually begun to trust each other

KODIAK -- Alaska Natives are working with state and federal fish managers to gain better understanding of salmon runs. It’s a hard-won collaboration which has come about by building trust and mutual respect."It’s been a real turnaround," said Ken Harper of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge. "In the past, it’s been us versus them. When we tried to hire locally there was mistrust about working for the state or federal agencies, because they were ’enforcement,’ and people would be shunned in their villages."Now they’re a part of the data gathering and they have a better understanding of the data. People within the villages are very excited about these collaborative projects."A lack of knowledge about salmon runs has been especially glaring in Western Alaska, where most of the collaborations are occurring. For example, Harper said little was known about what was really going on within the many salmon streams that crisscross the 20 million-acre Yukon refuge.Until the early 1990s the state had just one salmon counting station on the 540-mile Kuskokwim River and little understanding of how many of each species returned each year. When king and chum stocks dwindled in the 1980s and no one knew why, the resulting fishing closures angered local fishermen.That discontent led to the first cooperative arrangement in 1987 when the state Board of Fish created the Kuskokwim River Management Working Group, which brought managers and fishermen to the table to discuss decision making. "We were really in the dark in the late ’80s and early ’90s, and had very little understanding of the dynamics of the Kuskokwim’s salmon runs," said Doug Molyneaux of the Alaska Department of Fish & Game in Bethel.Early on, much of the local involvement on the Kuskokwim centered on test fisheries, but for the past decade, Native groups have been more directly involved in generating the data that helps fishery managers assess the status of the salmon stocks."It became obvious that without having good escapement information and ground truth, that test fisheries weren’t all that useful by themselves," Molyneaux said. "Now we have information from tribal groups that provide us with better assessments on the impacts of management decisions, and whether we need to be more liberal or conservative in our commercial fishing approach."The collaborations have also spawned training for Native youths. Samantha John of the Kuskokwim Native Association said more than 50 young people, 14-18 years old, have worked so far as interns with state and federal fish managers in the field."It was slow at first, but now we have to turn kids away," John said. "What we’re hoping is to have the kids return each summer and learn to do more of the work -- pulling scales, measuring, tagging, everything. The goal of the internship program is to have our local people become interested in these fields and become biologists."That’s already come true in several cases, says Greg Roczicka of the Orutsararmiut Native Council in Bethel. "Three of the individuals we’ve brought on board have been hired as staff within the ADF&G. In the past, these positions were filled with Lower 48 college students coming up for the summer. Now we have our own people in those positions. That’s what’s at the heart of it -- getting our own people working within the state and federal management systems."There’s more of a mandate today for cooperative programs between Native groups and state and federal resource managers. In 1995, President Bill Clinton signed the first executive order requiring consultation and coordination with Indian tribal governments. That was followed in 2000 with Governor Knowles’ Millennium Agreement. But formal mandates aside, the collaborations begun in Alaska have fostered something even more important: a sense of mutual trust and respect."That is definitely the case," said Molyneaux. "It’s also created a level of respect for the local people’s knowledge of the area. Rather than having people come in from Anchorage or wherever, we’re able to draw from local knowledge and expertise."Harper agreed. "Once there’s trust in the data, people have a better feeling for management actions," he said. "If they need to be cut back on fishing, they understand the data that is there to support that decision. Whereas before, there was a mistrust in the data that just came from one side, now they have a hand in gathering the data and they see how the runs are progressing or not during a season. It’s really helped out.""It went both ways," said John, "We had several years of fishery disasters and they were very concerned. Our people were very persistent in saying, ’we have knowledge so listen to us.’ U.S. Fish and Wildlife and ADF&G have been so helpful, and really wanted to work with us. So it was from both sides that this opened up."Stable sources of funding are critical to the future of cooperative management programs throughout Alaska, and that’s raising a red flag. The Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association has been the longest funding contributor to weir and counting tower projects on the Kuskokwim with grants from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. However, that money is in jeopardy for next year, said the association’s Andrew Corcoran. "We might be losing close to $1 million which is earmarked for Western Alaska research projects," Corcoran said.Kodiak-based free-lance writer Laine Welch can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]

Sales and marketing can benefit from lean manufacturing

In these tough economic times, any discussion of philosophy, strategy or process aimed at thinning the organization and reducing costs always gets my attention.A concept that seems to be capturing the notice of smarter and larger manufacturers is "lean manufacturing." Its most recognized incarnation is the Toyota Production System which, as Fortune Magazine notes, "evolved during the transition from mass production to mass customization. Unlike the old ’push’ systems designed to build inventory, TPS aims to build to customer demand in the shortest possible time and with minimum resources. Its Westernized version is now known as lean manufacturing."But the plot thickens. TPS is, in turn, built on the concept of Kaizen, Japanese for "continuous improvement." The Kaizen process is initiated with the formation of study teams made up of production-line workers, managers, supervisors and administrators, and sales and marketing functionaries who analyze existing workflow and identify weaknesses and barriers to quality and productivity.The teams then design and set up prototype lines or systems and practice the changes before they are introduced onto the floor. Prominent U.S. companies such as Maytag and Pella Windows are committed Kaizen disciples.An introduction to KaizenI recently had the good fortune to view Kaizen in operation when I visited the U.S. division of the world-wide WIKA Co., a leader in the manufacturing of pressure and temperature measurement devices for process control.The company makes a variety of machine and hand-assembled, finely calibrated gauges, thermometers, pressure sensors, transducers and transmitters. Manufacturing quality is obviously of exceptional importance to both company and customer.The U.S. division, based in Atlanta, employs more than 460 people and generates annual sales of $61 million. According to Michael Gerster, executive vice president and general manager, WIKA was forced to consider Kaizen techniques because of inefficiencies that were accumulating in spite of its adoption of accepted manufacturing processes.WIKA ran its first Kaizen event in June of 2001 and to date they have conducted 14 team events around manufacturing, business processes and quality improvement. The results have been impressive, with productivity up 15 percent to 30 percent; compression in lead time to minutes rather than days or weeks; floor space savings of 30 percent to 50 percent; improved quality, safety and ergonomics; and, most importantly, a noticeable lift in employee motivation and morale.But WIKA management has had to address potential pitfalls to the process. According to Gerster, Kaizen can only succeed long term if it’s driven down from the top. The operating environment must also possess a culture that accepts change, runs with a sense of urgency, maintains a strong desire to sustain after the initial success and is driven by constant hunger.Applying Kaizen to sales and marketingIn a recent poll, 173 chief executives were asked the question, "Are your sales people calling on the right customers, at the right time, with the right offer?" Virtually all of them responded, "I don’t know." Which isn’t surprising. Sales and marketing are still the last bastions of protected turf, limited management scrutiny and lack of accountability.Unfortunately, the important lessons learned and the gains in effectiveness and efficiency derived from lean manufacturing have not been successfully translated to the sales and marketing environments.It’s understandable. Chuck Reaves, leading sales trainer of XXI Associates makes the valid point that, "Sales involves people doing business with people, not people doing activities with machines and processes. Sales is perceived to be more of an art form than a science. Yet, ironically, sales is virtually a pure science and, as such, is both measurable and predictable."If Reaves is correct, the disciplines of Kaizen can easily be applied to the sales and marketing functions resulting in significant increases in effectiveness and bottom line results.Why should we apply lean practices to sales and marketing? The litany of reasons is familiar to anyone who operates in those environments. Existing response times are woeful. Customer service practice continues to decline. The concept of "zero-defect" performance, which has been successfully incorporated into the manufacturing cycle, seems to have escaped the notice of many sales and marketing types.Quality in delivery and performance varies significantly from sector to sector and from company to company. But worst of all, sales and marketing productivity has never been known for its improvement gains. In truth, we are a sloppy profession that has been able to evade accountability for too long.How might we apply Kaizen techniques? According to Reaves, companies interested in applying lean techniques to the sales and marketing functions can begin the journey by: Asking whether or not a certain step is necessary, thereby reducing habitual behavior; Determining how necessary steps can be done better, thereby demanding continuous quality improvement; Asking who else could perform the step if necessary, thereby building team performance while improving results; and Determining how each step can be done better, faster and cheaper, thereby forcing sales and marketing personnel to start focusing on cost of sales."Like the folks in manufacturing who examine each individual element associated with building the product, professional sales and marketing people are going to have to sit down and apply the same rigorous scrutiny to their own processes," Reaves concluded.Alf Nucifora is an Atlanta-based marketing consultant. He can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]

Cruise companies urged to do more thorough cleaning

ANCHORAGE -- State and federal epidemiologists are urging cruise-ship companies to aggressively sanitize and disinfect their vessels to prevent viruses from spreading among passengers.After a series of viral outbreaks sickened hundreds of cruise passengers this summer, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, the Alaska Division of Public Health and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued new guidelines.The voluntary measures announced Aug. 15 call for the use of stronger chlorine-based cleansers, easy access to motion sickness bags, super-hot laundry temperatures, and meticulous hand washing, among other steps.The viruses are typically spread through fecal matter or vomit, the epidemiologists said.In June, more than 250 people aboard the Ocean Princess came down with flu-like symptoms, including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The bug was identified as a Norwalk-like virus, a hardy strain that can withstand freezing temperatures and temperatures up to 145 degrees Fahrenheit, said Sue Anne Jenkerson, nurse epidemiologist with the state public health division."It’s very hard to eliminate," said Jenkerson.More than 170 passengers and crew members aboard the Ryndam, a Holland America ship, fell ill with a Norwalk-like virus in late July, the company said. Less than a week later, a recurrence of the virus sickened more than 230 passengers and crew members. Holland America canceled the next voyage so the company could thoroughly disinfect the ship.On the Wilderness Discoverer, a small cruise ship owned by Glacier Bay Cruiseline, some 18 passengers and crew members suffered flu-like symptoms that mirrored those produced by Norwalk viruses.This summer’s illnesses aren’t unusual, said Dr. Beth Funk, a state epidemiologist. Cruise ships plying Alaska waters report clusters of illness among passengers virtually every year, she said. If more than 3 percent of people on board get sick, the ships must report the outbreak to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.After this summer’s first outbreak aboard the Ocean Princess, health officials sent cruise lines recommendations for how to keep viruses at bay. On Aug. 15, they released strengthened guidelines that apply to cruise ship, tour bus and railway operators.In addition to the use of a stronger chlorine bleach cleaning solution and the washing of laundry in 160-degree water, health officials say cruise employees who get ill shouldn’t return to work until three days after their symptoms disappear.Crew members are advised to wash their hands vigorously with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, including wrists, under nails and between fingers.Erik Elvejord, a spokesman for Holland America, said he hadn’t yet seen the new recommendations, but after the recent outbreaks, the cruise line stepped up its protocol for keeping passengers and crew healthy. It’s a stringent, fleet-wide directive, Elvejord said.National health experts advise caution for the elderly and people with chronic medical conditions considering a cruise, because they may be more susceptible to infection. The CDC recommended in 1998 that anyone over age 65 or those with existing illnesses check with their doctor before embarking on a cruise.

ENSTAR may cut rates in wake of ruling

The Regulatory Commission of Alaska has approved a revenue requirement for ENSTAR Natural Gas Co. of $107.6 million, down $3.3 million from the $110.9 million that the natural gas utility told the commission it needed, according to a commission order issued Aug. 8.The commission’s adjustments to ENSTAR’s request may require the utility to cut rates for residential or commercial gas customers, but the impact won’t be determined until later this year at the earliest, commission chairwoman Nan Thompson said on Aug. 13.ENSTAR distributes natural gas to residential and commercial customers in the Anchorage Bowl and outlying areas from Wasilla to the Kenai Peninsula.The commission approved an overall rate of return of 9.97 percent on an approved rate base of $156.1 million. ENSTAR had requested an overall rate of return of 10.01 percent on a rate base of $163.8 million.ENSTAR’s base rates have remained unchanged for more than 15 years although customers have paid the varying costs of gas through a fluctuating surcharge."We review a utility’s rates to strike a proper balance between the interest of the ratepayers in paying the lowest reasonable rates, and the utility’s interest in adequate revenue and a return to shareholders," the commission said in its order.ENSTAR has the right to appeal the RCA’s decision.Although the RCA order indicates an annual reduction in revenue, the outcome will not change the company’s earnings projections for 2002, which remains at 80 cents to 85 cents per share, said John E. Schneider, SEMCO Energy chief financial officer. SEMCO acquired ENSTAR in 1999.Thompson said the commission’s public advocacy section also filed a motion requesting customer refunds for periods when ENSTAR’s rates were higher than the allowable amounts and resolution of the case would take anywhere from two to nine months.

Bering Strait dream won't die

George Koumal admits he’s seen plenty of eyes roll, heads shake and jaws drop while pitching a $40 billion submarine railroad tunnel connecting the continents of Asia and North America at the Bering Strait.Koumal, head of the Tucson, Ariz.-based Interhemispheric Bering Strait Tunnel & Railroad Group, says the link is the only thing missing from Alaska’s ability to become the economic hub of the world. A world, he says, that will see an economic renaissance as never before if only a tunnel were bored beneath the Bering Strait, opening access to vast untouched natural resources in Alaska, Canada, Siberia and eastern Russia.Koumal says he’s far from alone in his beliefs, with a worldwide membership not of pipe dreamers but of astute engineers, economists and forward thinkers from everyday walks of life.

Agency still looking at options for fish center

JUNEAU -- An official with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the agency is looking at "a couple of options" in regard to a new fisheries research center in Juneau, although Alaska Sen. Frank Murkowski said he’s been told the site will be built at Lena Point.Construction of a $51 million NOAA fisheries lab was to have begun this summer. NOAA canceled the bid process last month after construction costs exceeded estimates. The agency decided instead to analyze whether to downsize the Lena Point facility or upgrade the current Auke Bay lab.Kelly Sandy, the director of the NOAA Western Administrative Support Center in Seattle who is now the head of the Juneau fisheries center project, said Aug. 14 the agency is keeping its options open."We’re going to rescope the project and make sure we can come within budget. That causes us not only to look at the Lena Point site, but adequate alternatives," he said. "That process will come to a head on Jan. 15 when the options will be presented to NOAA management. We do agree with the senator that we need to act responsibly and come within budget and we want to get the best facility we can afford."Chuck Kleeschulte, Murkowski’s press secretary, said Aug. 14 there’s no doubt the project will be built at Lena Point. Murkowski was informed of the decision by a "high ranking official" at the Department of Commerce that morning, although Kleeschulte declined to reveal the person’s name due to a department request, he said. NOAA falls under the Department of Commerce."We certainly feel it’s possible for the Department of Commerce and NOAA to come up with a beautiful building with the $51 million available," Kleeschulte said. "That’s a tidy amount of money. It should provide a quality building, a very nice lab facility."John MacKinnon, interim city manager, said a department decision to focus on Lena Point is good for the city’s work on a 1.2-mile access road. The city and NOAA were sharing the cost of the $2.7 million project, although the city is waiting to receive $805,000 from the agency."They didn’t say the check’s in the mail, but they’re getting ready to send it," MacKinnon said.NOAA director Sandy said the agency hasn’t formally directed the city to stop building the road.As proposed, a 69,000-square foot lab at Lena Point would provide room for about 100 National Marine Fisheries Service employees in Juneau. The University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences also is planning to build an $18 million fisheries center at Lena Point.

Phillips, state reach settlement over transportation costs

ANCHORAGE -- Phillips Alaska Inc. has agreed to pay about $6 million to the state to settle an oil royalty dispute.About 12.5 percent of North Slope oil production goes to the state as a royalty. When oil companies sell the oil, the state gets the proceeds minus certain expenses such as transportation costs.Recently, both the state and Phillips proposed revisiting the complex formula used to calculate the amount the state receives.In basic terms, the state felt that the old formula was not yielding fair market value for Alaska’s oil, while Phillips thought that it was constrained from deducting higher hauling expenses brought about by the addition of new double-hull tankers.Two of those tankers, the Polar Endeavour and the Polar Resolution, already have begun hauling Alaska crude oil to West Coast refineries, with three more under construction. Each costs about $200 million and can carry just over 1 million barrels of cargo, or about one day’s production of North Slope crude.The $6 million is a retroactive settlement for January 2000 through February 2002, a period when the state’s oil economics changed in part because Phillips hauls oil to a different lineup of West Coast ports from those used by Arco Alaska Inc., its predecessor in Alaska.The new formula favors the state by bumping up the "destination value" of royalty oil, thereby increasing proceeds to the state, Banks said. In the future, however, the additional shipping deduction given under the formula to Phillips could favor the oil company, he said.Some of the $6 million will go into the Alaska Permanent Fund with the rest deposited in the Constitutional Budget Reserve Fund, into which legislators often dip to fund state services.Alaska has a long and litigious history of tax and royalty disputes with oil companies.Dawn Patience, spokeswoman for Phillips Alaska Inc., said only: "We’re happy we resolved the issue.""This is a fair settlement that fully protects state interests," said Gov. Tony Knowles. "It also demonstrates our ability to quickly recognize changing circumstances and deal positively with the oil industry to resolve issues despite the complex and sometimes difficult nature of such negotiations."The Phillips agreement is similar to a deal the state signed in June with BP, another Alaska oil producer. BP already has paid $5 million in back royalties, according to state officials.

This Week in Business History

Editor’s note: "This Week in Alaska Business History" revisits events that shaped our past.20 years ago this weekAnchorage TimesAugust 18, 1982Hotels cut costs as convention business slowsBy Dan BaumTimes WriterThe management of the Sheraton Anchorage Hotel has taken a hard look at how the current recession is affecting its convention business and has decided to stuff croissants with ham and cheese."It’s one of our creative convention items to help hold down costs," said sales director Creston Woods. "A full bacon-and-eggs breakfast is too expensive, but a continental breakfast -- juice, coffee and danish -- is too sparse. This is kind of a classy Egg McMuffin, in between."All four of the major hotels in town are either taking or considering such steps to encourage corporations and associations, especially those in the recession-wrecked Lower 48, to hold their meetings in Anchorage.For the first time, the Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau predicts a 2 percent decline in convention business for the city’s hotels through the next six years.Anchorage TimesAugust 19, 1982Steel firm will sell limestone holdingsBy Dave CarpenterTimes WriterFacing a grim outlook for the steel market, the United States Steel Corp. has put its substantial limestone holdings in Southeast Alaska up for sale.The company first staked claim to the property on Wadleigh Island in 1953, and received a patent to it about 10 years ago with the intention of using the mineral resource in a steel plant it planned to construct in California.But with the steel industry reeling from the effects of the recession, a spokesman for U.S. Steel said, there’s "no way" the factory can be built now.The Salt Lake City-based spokesman, who asked not to be named, said the firm hopes to generate some income from its Alaska holdings by leasing the claims or getting involved in a joint venture.The holdings amount to nearly 200 acres on the 5.5 mile-long island just west of Prince of Wales Island near Klawock.10 years ago this weekAlaska Journal of CommerceAugust 24, 1992Oil spill liability fund ends claim reviewBy Rose RagsdaleAlaska Journal of CommerceThe Trans-Alaska Pipeline Liability Fund, the $100 million insurance fund established by Congress to help victims of oil spills, has completed its review of all 29,000 claims from individuals and groups seeking compensation for the Exxon Valdez oil spill.In its Aug. 3 report to U.S. District Court Judge Russel Holland, the fund lists 13 claimants it could not locate because of bad addresses and mentioned that it has completed the process of issuing final dispositions for all remaining claims and notifying claimants of the decisions.The dispositions were completed in May by Judge John Gibbons, a special administrator appointed by the fund’s board of directors to assess the claim.But no money has been released for the $86 million pot the fund can disburse because more than 3,300 claimants have appealed.Alaska Journal of CommerceAugust 24, 1992ARCO test well drilled in BeaufortBy Kristen NelsonFor the Alaska Journal of CommerceARCO Alaska has the Kullock semi-submersible drilling vessel on location at its "Kuvlum" site in the eastern Alaska Beaufort Sea, with drilling under way. The test is scheduled to go to 12,000 feet.ARCO’s permit to drill Kuvlum, located roughly 16 miles offshore and 60 miles northeast of Prudhoe Bay, is the only 1992 well in the federal waters off Alaska. The U.S. Minerals Management service signed ARCO’s permit Aug. 7. The location is between earlier wells drilled in the area by Unocal and Shell Western E&P.Unocal made an oil discovery at its "Hammerhead" well just west of where ARCO is drilling Kuvlum, but the prospect is apparently not commercial without more discoveries in the area.Kuvlum is being drilled by Global Marine, using the Beaudril Ltd. Kullick, a vessel designated and built for Arctic offshore conditions. The well site is in 110 feet of water 16 miles northeast of Point Barrow.-- Compiled by Ed Bennett.

Top News of the Week

The consortium of television stations working to roll out digital TV in Anchorage plans to submit a bid for a tower site in Eagle River within a few weeks, according to the group’s president, Al Bramstedt Jr.The site currently hosts a wireless cable TV operation owned by Alaska Communication System. ACS, citing the high cost of converting its service to digital, recently put the business up for bid.According to Betsy Pease, vice president of operations for ACS Television, none of the bidders was interested in the business; they only wanted to purchase the system’s tower, land and facilities.As a result, Pease told the Journal she intends to shut down the TV service by Aug. 31 and has arranged to shift her remaining customers to Dish Network satellite cable TV service.Pease said she welcomes a bid for the tower site from the broadcasters, whose original plans to transmit digital TV from an Anchorage site have fallen through.- Ed BennettJournal Managing Editor

Borough pursues port possibilities

PALMER -- For the last two years the Matanuska-Susitna Borough has been trying to find a way to upgrade its port at Point MacKenzie. For John Duffy, the newly hired borough manager, the effort includes dealing with the suspicions of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers."The Corps was concerned about the very same issues we were concerned about, making sure we had the kind of port that could sustain major industries, with a deep-water capability," Duffy said. "We also wanted to make sure we had a port that could stand up to the elements we face year round, including earthquake activity."The Corps was especially concerned about the condition of the existing dock, which had shown some settling. The borough is scheduled to award a contract this month to solve the problem by reworking and stabilizing the gravel surface of the dock. Duffy said that should create the kind of foundation that will accommodate the borough’s future plans for the dock. The Port MacKenzie Industrial Park’s capabilities rival those of any other port in the state. The main reason is land, with 5,000 acres available for development. Location is also a selling point, since it is just two miles from the Port of Anchorage, a port which is quickly running out of land.Alaska Manufacturing Inc. is entering its third year as the primary tenant at the port. It has been building and shipping dozens of manufactured homes to villages throughout Alaska.Another group, Northern Pacific Industries, has signed a lease agreement with the port. The firm is looking into developing a wood- chip loading facility there. Also, VECO has already presented a letter of interest to the Matanuska-Susitna Borough for constructing the firm’s oil and gas modular units at Port MacKenzie.But customers like VECO need utilities and good access to the port, which is what Port Manager Marc VanDongen is concentrating on now. "We are focusing on four main goals: utilities, a deep-draft dock, paving the Point MacKenzie road and having a year-round ferry operating between Anchorage and Port MacKenzie," VanDongen said. "Right now, we’re making significant progress toward achieving all of these goals."According to VanDongen, 11 miles of right of way for utilities were cleared and grubbed by Cruz Construction in July. Power lines and poles are already being strung. The last three miles of lines will be buried in the 5,000 acre port district.Matanuska Telephone Association has been granted an easement to install a microwave relay tower and equipment building that would provide telephone, fax and Internet capability within the port district. The phone lines will be buried in the same trenches as the electric lines. Both projects are expected to be completed before December.In addition, the borough recently received $10 million from the state to build a deep-draft dock and pave the road to the port. A contract has been awarded to Peratrovich, Nottingham & Drage Inc. to design the dock. Construction is set for May 2003. Road upgrades will take place next summer. The borough is also working with the Municipality of Anchorage to develop closer ties between the two governments. "We recently signed a memorandum of agreement with the Municipality of Anchorage, which outlines the responsibilities of each party for the study, design, preliminary engineering, permitting and funding for the development of ferry landings at the Port of Anchorage and Port MacKenzie," said Duffy.Contracts have been awarded to Tryck, Nyman Hayes Inc. to conduct a feasibility study and do preliminary design and engineering of the ferry landings and terminal buildings.According to Duffy, another contract has been awarded to HDR Alaska Inc. to conduct an environmental assessment for the ferry system."These studies as well as the design and preliminary engineering should all be completed by March 2003," Duffy said. "If the results are positive, we anticipate construction to begin by spring 2004."In addition to the $10 million in state funding, the borough obtained $7 million in the next federal Transportation Appropriations Bill for the Port MacKenzie ferry and intermodal facility. The borough says these funds will be used to purchase or construct a ferry capable of year-round operation in Upper Cook Inlet.Chas St. George is a free-lance writer based in Palmer. He can be reached via e-mail at stgeorge @mtaonline.net.

Abandoned NPR-A wells could require millions for fixes

FAIRBANKS -- The state says the U.S. government has not properly maintained abandoned wells left over from federal exploration in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska decades ago. Officials on each side say the problem could cost millions to fix.Two of the wells have released crude oil and gas into the environment and state officials fear more leaks will occur if the wells are not repaired. The federal Bureau of Land Management says it started working on the problem last year by inspecting and counting the wells."We figure there are 110 wells scattered around the 23 million acres, which is the size of the state of Indiana," said Ed Bovy, BLM spokesman in Anchorage.It will take two more years to develop its inventory of the remote northern Alaska site, Bovy said.BLM is also conducting a records search on the wells, which were drilled on behalf of the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Geological Survey between 1944 and 1981, he said.Exposure to extreme temperatures coupled with snow and rain have caused the wellheads to deteriorate over the years, state officials say. They say the wells should be capped according to current state and federal standards.Last year an official with the Native Village of Barrow reported that one of the wells was leaking crude onto the tundra at Cape Simpson. An estimated 30 to 50 gallons had spilled from a worn wellhead, said Tom DeRuyter, an environmental specialist with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. The well is located in the midst of naturally occurring crude oil seepage."There wasn’t a lot of environmental damage, but clearly the well had not been maintained," DeRuyter said. "It is unknown how many other wells are in this same condition."Several years ago, BLM reported to the DEC that a well at Umiat was leaking gas, DeRuyter said. The well has since been fixed, he said. DEC was concerned then about the leakage but has since placed gas leaks lower on its priorities list, DeRuyter said."The gas itself points to maintenance issues," he said.Earlier this year the state asked BLM for $4,863.36 for responding to the cleanup at Cape Simpson. The BLM rejected the bill. The agency’s then-acting state director, Linda Rundell, wrote that the federal agency is not responsible for the state’s costs of monitoring BLM’s cleanup activities. She wrote that the United States is protected by sovereign immunity and therefore is not subject to state oversight.In March officials with the DEC and the federal Environmental Protection Agency co-authored a letter to BLM officials asking them to develop a program to properly close the wells, many of which are more than 50 years old. They also noted the massive cost of such an undertaking but suggested the three entities work together to find funding."Both EPA and ADEC are concerned that these aging wells pose increasing risks to the environment due to their potentially deteriorating conditions and remote locations that limit routine inspection and security measures," wrote Ed Meggert of DEC and Carl Lautenberger of EPA.In her response, Rundell maintained the position that BLM is not legally bound to take any action regarding the wells and disputed that any real contamination occurred at the Cape Simpson spill since crude oil had already come from natural seepage."Nevertheless, the BLM is presently undertaking a detailed inventory and analysis of each well site in order to assess the potential risks associated with the wells," Rundell wrote.BLM’s spokesman Bovy said it would take years to get a complete picture of what needs to be done. Most of the cost to repair the wells will be in getting materials and workers to the remote sites, he said.Some of the wells are located in tracts the BLM has leased or plans to lease to oil companies for oil and gas exploration, but Bovy couldn’t say how many. The oil companies would not be liable for the wells, he said.

Long-term view aids tax planning

Planning for retirement in a constantly changing tax environment can be challenging. It’s important for you to continually reevaluate your long-term planning strategies to help you achieve the best tax advantages that you can.Whether it is beneficial to defer income, for example, can fluctuate depending on whether tax rates are high or low. Generally, it is a more attractive option to defer income when a taxpayer is subject to the highest tax rates. Three principles should guide your long-term approach to tax and financial planning.Maximize income deferralThe current high rates on ordinary income and the new tax law, which may reduce the highest marginal rate by almost 5 percent over the next five years, may prompt you to look hard for opportunities to defer income and the associated tax liabilities.Your best chances to defer significant amounts of ordinary income for the long term are generally in the area of earned income, such as salary and bonuses, and retirement accumulation plans.You may also have opportunities to defer tax by using qualified retirement plans and nonqualified deferred compensation plans. Even though you might not expect to be in a lower tax bracket when you receive the income, the ability to "invest" your pre-tax income and allow it to compound tax deferred for several years can be very attractive.Evaluate investments on an after-tax basisThe maximum federal tax rate on gains from property you hold for longer than 12 months, called ordinary capital gains, is 20 percent. There are different, more favorable rules for small business capital gains, and less favorable rules for collectibles and certain real estate.By contrast, ordinary income is taxed at a maximum rate of 38.6 percent. It is likely that you will be in different tax brackets in different years. Except for municipal bonds, which are generally tax-exempt for federal and state purposes, most investment income will be subject to income tax at some point.For example, the interest on passbook savings accounts is taxed annually, and the appreciation in the value of a stock is taxed when the stock is sold, while dividends are taxed annually.When you evaluate investment options, you should consider investment issues such as risk and asset allocation, and you should certainly consider the effect of income taxes on those investments. Generally, income taxes will decrease your investment return, although their effect will differ at various times.To be sure you are comparing "apples with apples," evaluate the performance of investments on an after-tax basis. This allows you to make accurate comparisons of value among investment options.Consider income shifting to maximize family wealthMembers of your family may pay substantially different tax rates. These differences in tax brackets may encourage you to shift income and assets from high-bracket individuals to low-bracket individuals, who may include your children and grandchildren, as well as your parents.For the tax year 2002, unmarried individuals who are at least age fourteen are subject to a 10 percent tax rate on the first $6,000 of income and 15 percent tax rate on the balance up to $27,950.Children under age 14 are generally taxed on their investment income at the same rates as their parents, excluding the first $750, which is not taxed, and the second $750, which is taxed at 10 percent. Trusts that accumulate income may also offer you planning opportunities.Looking at your tax and financial situation from a long-term perspective, you’ll want to identify and quantify your individual goals. For example, you may want to retire at age 65 and be able to spend $50,000 per year after taxes. If you are currently age 64, you don’t have a long time in which to implement a plan. You can, however, evaluate whether this goal is possible based on your current assets and projected retirement income and make some adjustments as a result.If, on the other hand, you are currently age 44, you can have a substantial effect on your ability to make your goal a reality.Not expecting to retire in the conventional sense? It might still be nice to know when you have achieved financial independence, however you define that term. By developing your own individual definition of financial independence, you can evaluate whether you have achieved it and still continue to work.Allen Bingham is a partner with the accounting & consulting firm of Mikunda Cottrell & Co., where he specializes in income tax and estate planning. He can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]

Biologists study research to prepare for fall, winter crab harvests

KODIAK -- The Bering Sea crab survey vessel docked recently in Dutch Harbor, and that means harvesters will soon know how much crab will be up for grabs during fall and winter fisheries.Each year from mid-May through July, state and federal biologists conduct surveys in the Bering Sea to assess the population of king and Tanner crab stocks in Bristol Bay, the Pribilof Islands and as far west as St. Matthew Island. The test fisheries are also used for various crab research purposes, such as seeing how well various excluder devices keep king crabs out of Tanner pots.Biologists are busily crunching the numbers and an announcement for the red king crab harvest at Bristol Bay will be out later this month for the season which opens Oct. 15. Crabbers will also know if there will be an opener this year for kings at the Pribilofs and St. Matthew Island. Those two regions traditionally open in mid-September, but low crab numbers have kept the fishery closed since 1998. The harvest numbers for snow crab, Alaska’s largest crab fishery which occurs in mid-January, will be released sometime in September.Meanwhile, two red king crab test fisheries will kick off over the next two months.According to Skip Gish of the Alaska Department of Fish & Game, one red king crab tagging project starting in Bristol Bay in late September is a follow-up of a study begun last year that focuses on crab mortality due to fishing effort. Gish says roughly 25,000 pounds of legal-sized male crabs will be harvested to cover the costs of the project and sold to processing plants in Western Alaska.The intended date of delivery is Oct. 11, and because of the timing of the test fishery, there will be great interest over the price the red king crab brings. It will give crabbers some indication of what they can expect when the red king crab season opens in Bristol Bay in mid-October. Last year, the preseason crab brought $5.35 a pound, and harvesters received $4.80 during the fishery.The second cost recovery project will occur in late October, after the Bristol Bay opener. A harvest of around 112,000 pounds of king crab will be taken, and the money from the sale of that crab will fund the cost of the fishery observer program.Bristol Bay updateWith the poor catch in Bristol Bay this year, Japanese importers have reportedly been quick to conclude contracts for the limited amount of frozen sockeye salmon produced during the season.According to market watcher Bill Atkinson, purchase prices increased slightly since the start of the fishery, and all of the frozen production by the major U.S. packers has been sold. "At a wholesale price of about $2.41 per pound for 4-6 pound Bristol Bay sockeye, the Japanese buyers are complaining about the high cost," Atkinson said. "The importers aren’t concerned, though, with apparent plans to slowly market the sockeye throughout the year."He added that the wholesale price isn’t expected to change. "Following a demand spurt prior to the mid-August Obon holiday season (in Japan), sockeye sales generally fall off until the end of the year. While the users are disappointed by the wholesale price levels, the importers don’t appear to be concerned about their ability to market the limited amount of frozen Bristol sockeye at the current price levels," Atkinson explained.This year’s sockeye salmon catch in Bristol Bay only totaled about 10.5 million fish, the second lowest catch level since 1998. The average fish size is slightly lower than last year, reducing the overall tonnage produced in the fishery. With a focus on canned sockeye production, only about 10,000 tons of frozen sockeye was produced this year. "Only about 8,000 tons of sockeye is expected to be shipped directly to Japan," Atkinson said. "This compares with an import supply of about 17,000 tons from the Bay last year."On a related note, the fall chum salmon fishery in Hokkaido, which is the world’s largest, will start in about one month, and projections estimate the overall run will total about 49.5 million fish. That will add up to a catch of roughly 155,000 tons, down 5 percent from last year. Cattle rancher turns to lobsterA former cattle rancher who grew tired of fluctuating markets and too many federal regulations has turned to farming lobsters. The Alaska Fisherman’s Journal reports that Bob Eddy of Mina, Nev. is raising 500,000 blue and red Australian freshwater lobsters at his desert dwelling.According to the article, Eddy grows lobsters in old tomato tubs filled with three feet of water in both inside and outside facilities. Tires are provided as places for the lobsters to hide. The indoor area doubles as a greenhouse, where Eddy and his wife also grow tomatoes.Instead of fetching a dollar a pound for beef, Eddy gets $14 a pound for his lobsters, and there are no federal or state regulations to hinder his business. He sells his catch to passersby on Highway 95 who see his "lobster crossing" sign and stop in. Eddy plans to open a restaurant in Mina where he’ll sell lobster, cole slaw and french fries for $6.95.Kodiak-based free-lance writer Laine Welch can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]

Group focuses future growth on airport

ANCHORAGE -- The Anchorage Economic Development Corp. has outlined a plan to strengthen local businesses and create new jobs by boosting activity at the city’s international airport.The idea is to leverage a decade of growth in Anchorage’s air cargo industry by targeting shippers, cargo handlers and other related companies that could take advantage of the Anchorage hub.Larry Crawford, AEDC president and chief executive, outlined the plan Aug. 7 at a presentation to AEDC members. Crawford said the group will tout Anchorage’s advantages to big-name companies in North America, Asia and Europe by phone, mail and visits.The nonprofit group is using $150,000 in state funds and $100,000 in private donations and staff time for the effort.Anchorage has a strategic location and can offer maintenance and cargo transfer services. But the next wave of services AEDC envisions require constructing a new facility.Christina Wallace of Evergreen International Airlines said businesses at the airport, AEDC, the airport and city are discussing a building that could be a one-stop aviation shopping center.Airlines are already landing to refuel and de-ice. Why go to another airport for repairs, re-sorting cargo for the next leg, and getting cargo containers repaired? Do it all in Anchorage will be the message."We believe we can make that happen," said Crawford, a former Anchorage city manager. AEDC is a nonprofit funded mostly by private donations, with city funds adding another 40 percent, and another 5 or so percent from the state. Its mission is to promote economic development in Anchorage.Crawford said the airport already owns land that could accommodate a one-stop shopping center with services such as cargo container repair.Over the next year, AEDC will pitch the airport’s growth potential to anyone in North America, Asia and Europe who might be interested."We’re looking for developers, providers and customers," Crawford said. He said the project does not have a fixed timeline and probably wouldn’t happen next summer. "We’re looking for enough letters of intent, letters of interest to convince somebody that this could happen."Crawford also said the planning process is flexible. If customers expressed more interest in a hangar that could accommodate a Boeing 747, he said, that could move up to the top of the list.

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