When fast-food business treats workers like customers they reap the profits

The service and food industry probably has the lowest retention and highest turnover of all the industries in the United States. The reasons for this are varied, but a lot of it can be attributed to low pay, long hours and a work force that is perceived to be low caliber and/or low skill. Rightly or wrongly, this leads to an industry facing constant turnover and managers who find themselves frustrated, and in some cases reluctant to make fundamental changes in the way they manage people. However, one company clearly stands above the others. La Rosa’s Pizza Co. is a national chain of 53 outlets consisting of 3,000 employees with more than $100 million in sales each year. La Rosa practices the art of leadership and takes the science of quality management to its highest form. The first major difference between this company and other food businesses is they consider their employees their internal customers. Putting their people first is like the law of physics: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In this case, the reaction is a higher level of customer service provided to their external customers, which in turn generates higher profits. In most businesses the human resources department is responsible for people issues. Unfortunately, in some cases, most of these departments do not have the power or respect to make change. The power to make change rests with the people who have the authority. The philosophy is different at La Rosa’s. Their chief executive, Tillman Hughes, says, "The soft stuff needs to become the hard stuff." They eliminated their human resources department and created a chief people officer. They did more than merely change names. Now the responsibility, authority and the power for the internal customers rests with the top executives. Most businesses play lip service when it comes to taking care of their employees. However, it goes from lip service to reality when you actually measure it. This puts a company in a powerful position to make improvements and hold people accountable. At La Rosa’s they use several different measurement methods. * Managers meet with newly hired workers for the first four weeks and conduct a new hire survey about 30 days after they have been on board. They ask questions like "How do you feel about working here and how is training going?" * They do a cultural audit, similar to an internal climate assessment, once a year, which measures feelings about pay and benefits, care and recognition and so forth. This gives them a quick pulse on how employees feel about how they are being treated. * Employees evaluate their bosses twice a year. A bottom-up internal customer satisfaction index is conducted twice a year with all employees. The index asks the employees to give their managers a letter grade from A to D in four categories: communication, accountability, quality and professionalism. After the index is completed and the comments have been tabulated, the chief executive has the managers come in and talk about the results. They address specific behaviors and come up with action plans for improvement that can be tracked daily. The meetings are held in an open and trusting environment so as not to cause any fear of retaliation. They also discovered that leadership training is key to their success. At one time they sent their managers to those public, one-day leadership courses downtown. They found it was hard to reach critical mass this way because everyone came back with different ideas, a different philosophy and a different language of what leadership meant. La Rosa now sends all their managers to the same six-week training program. Gregory P. Smith is the president of a management consulting firm, Chart Your Course International, in Conyers, Ga.  

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor: The issues surrounding the farming of shellfish in Alaska have been the subject of a number of recent articles and opinion pieces published in several Alaska newspapers. Contrary to the claims made in some of these articles, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has been, and will continue to be, supportive of responsible aquatic farming in Alaska. The Legislature passed the Aquatic Farm Act in 1988. Since that time, the department has issued 176 aquatic farm permits, permit amendments, or permit renewals. The reported value of the products from these permitted farms continues to grow each year. As is the case with most resource-based industries, there have been successes and failures, and new challenges to face as the industry evolves. While the Aquatic Farm Act provided basic guidance for developing aquatic farms using suspension techniques, such as hanging nets or rafts for growing oysters, the act did not address "on-bottom" farming of species like littleneck clams and geoducks. In recognition of the unique challenges involved with on-bottom farming and the need to gather additional information to properly administer the suspended or floating farm industry, the department has recently released new draft aquatic farming regulations for public review. The comment period on these proposed regulations is open until Feb. 12. A critical issue addressed in these draft regulations is how naturally occurring clams and other species are to be managed in relation to aquatic farming. A number of people applied for farm sites to gain exclusive use of these valuable common property resources in order to subsidize their farming activities. The Alaska Constitution and a number of provisions of Alaska law do not allow the exclusive use of our resources. The applicants were offered and refused permits with conditions that reflected Alaska’s constitutional and statutory mandates. Several of the applicants, whose proposed farm sites are estimated to contain more than $5 million of naturally occurring geoducks, have filed suit against the state for failure to grant them exclusive rights to harvest this public resource. We believe that an equitable balance should be reached between all Alaskans wishing to use existing wild stocks. Farming, the developing commercial dive fisheries, subsistence and personal use must all be considered in developing plans and regulations for responsible resource use. The department believes that aquatic farming means either growing new product on a farm site or enhancing productivity beyond naturally occurring levels on a farm site. It does not mean providing permits to exclusively harvest valuable common property resources under the guise of a farm. I urge all those with an interest in these issues to look beyond the rhetoric we have seen of late and assist the department in continuing to develop the aquatic farming industry in a manner consistent with the law and good public policy. Sincerely, Frank Rue Commissioner Alaska Department of Fish & Game  

Cargo volume builds

Despite increased costs to users, the Alaska International Airport System is posting double-digit increases in cargo landed weight for the peak shipping season months at Fairbanks International Airport and mid-single-digit growth at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport"This is standard growth for Anchorage," said Bill O’Leary, comptroller for the AIAS system. "Growth for the whole system also reflects standard predictions."Fairbanks weighed in with a 9.52 percent increase for international landed cargo with 318.5 million pounds from September through November 2000, compared with 290.7 million pounds during the same period of 1999. Anchorage landed 5.6 billion pounds during the peak fall season in 2000 compared to 5.3 billion pounds in 1999.Both airports showed a double-digit increase in international freight deplaned, enplaned and in transit, but the Anchorage numbers are suspect due to the double counting of transit and enplaned cargo, according to industry accountants.Fairbanks doesn’t transload cargo from aircraft to aircraft so its numbers do not include transit cargo double reporting.Airports Council International, a worldwide cargo organization that monitors the international air cargo industry, lists Anchorage with an asterisk to clarify that Anchorage has a unique counting method.Anchorage showed a total of 1 billion pounds enplaned, deplaned and in transit during the peak season in 2000, a 17.05 percent increase from 1999. Fairbanks showed an 11.46 percent growth with 74 million pounds moved in 2000 compared with 66.3 million pounds in 1999."We currently are proud to support 32 intercontinental wide-body landings per week, or 130 monthly," said Dave Carlstrom, marketing director for the Fairbanks Industrial Development Corp. "We have experienced some growth with the big jets over the months of September through November of 2000 with an increase to 388 flights."Air France, Lufthansa Cargo, and Cargolux are Fairbanks International’s core group of carriers. The increase is due to Cargolux’s increased activity as loads between Europe and Asia increase, said Carlstrom.As the AIAS grows, so has the cost of doing business in Alaska. Touted as one of the cheapest airport systems in the world to do business, the system recently went from around 50 cents in 1998 to 89 cents per landed pound of cargo in fiscal 2001.A new airport operating agreement will include increases in every category including landing fees, leases and fuel flowage, according to AIAS officials. The agreement, which has not been signed, has been in negotiations for more than a year by the airport users and state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities officials.Other factors that will increase the cost of doing business in the AIAS will be the increase in the fees due to capital improvements to the system’s infrastructure and the terminal renovation debt service.AIAS fees still rate comparatively low, and very low by international standards. A standard Boeing 747-200 that weighs an average of 830,000 pounds would generate a $738.70 landing fee at both Anchorage and Fairbanks.According to an American Association of Airport Executives comparison of fees for medium U.S. hub airports -- which includes Anchorage -- the average landing fee for a signatory air carrier in 1998 was $1,281 for a Boeing 747-200 aircraft.On the international scale, for example at Japan’s Narita Airport, the average landing fee for a B-747-200 is $10,000.

Alaska to fly to Red Dog

Cominco Inc. Red Dog Mine officials, worried about the beleaguered condition of Reeve Aleutian Airways Inc., have given the contract for the mine’s crew-change flights to Alaska Airlines."After Reeve announced that they were liquidating the airline, we had to do something," said Jerry Koon, supervisor for materials management and surface operations at the mine.Alaska Airlines will serve the mine, nestled in the hills north of the Noatak River in Northwest Alaska, with three flights weekly starting Jan. 23. Tuesday flights will be for passengers only, using a Boeing 737-200 aircraft with 111 seats. The two other flights will be in a combination freight and passenger configuration."It’s a delight to have the contract back," said Joe Sprague, statewide sales manager for Alaska Airlines. "Red Dog has a very bright future, and we are glad to partner with such a fine company."Alaska Airlines had the contract for weekly flights but lost out to Reeve in 1997 over a lower bid for services. Reeve operated the year to year contract since 1997, and RAA officials were under the impression that they would operate the contract for 2001.During Reeve’s tenure as Cominco’s carrier the mine site airport was approved by the Federal Aviation Administration for global positioning system approaches, which were pioneered by RAA. The airport also has distance measuring equipment to assist in traditional instrument flight rule landings."Reeve gave us excellent service, and we really enjoyed our relationship with their folks, but it wasn’t coming together with their management," Koon added.The contract for service was put out for bid late last year, according to Koon, before Reeve announced its intentions to curtail scheduled flights and liquidate the airline.Reeve officials could not be reached by the Journal."Alaska came in with a good package and we are really happy that they have the aircraft to make as many flights as we may need due to weather conditions up here," Koon added.Koon, responsible for warehouse, maintenance, surface transportation and barge operations at the mine, is also the airport manager for Red Dog’s 6,000-foot gravel airstrip, "Pilots tell us this is the best gravel strip in Alaska," Koon said.After working with Reeve for several months in an effort to create an aviation department by buying RAA’s two Boeing 727-200 combi aircraft, Cominco officials were unable to work out a solution with Reeve. "We couldn’t find an airline operator to take over maintenance and technical details, so we dropped the idea of buying their jets and decided to contract with Alaska Airlines," Koon said.Reeve’s two Boeing 727 aircraft are not Stage Three equipped, for noise abatement, and cannot be flown in the continental United States, Canada or Europe on scheduled service, limiting their use to Alaska or Third World countries.Red Dog mine has 775 people connected with operations and construction of a $100 million upgrade to enlarge the mine and its facilities. The mine has 420 employees that change shifts weekly, along with NANA/Lynden and NANA Management Inc. employees and other construction contractors.Northern Air Cargo and Lynden also frequently operate freight and oversize cargo flights to the mine, according to Koon. The Alaska Airlines contract may affect NAC’s frequencies to the mine, but Lynden, which lifts unusual and large shipments, will not be affected, he said.Reeve officials had earlier indicated that they would continue to operate weekly flights to the Red Dog Mine and to Shemya on charter flights after curtailing scheduled service in December 2000."It’s a shame to see this happen but due to their announcement, they left us no choice," said Koon.

Era considers Russian Far East service; Evergreen eyes Adak flight

Business travelers and their companies may soon have an alternative for flights to the Russian Far East from Alaska, but not before local companies carefully survey the possibility for new business."We are going to make a business decision on this, but it will have to stand on its own," said Paul Landis, vice president of fixed wing operations at Era Aviation.Landis engaged Zoomerang, an online marketing clearinghouse, to conduct a market survey from late December through mid-January on the possibility of Era offering service to the Russian Far East.The survey was prompted by the discontinuation of scheduled flights by Reeve Aleutian Airways Inc. for service statewide and flights to the Russian Far East, according to Landis.Reeve officials indicated they were experiencing some growth on their Russian Far East flights shortly before the company suspended flights just before Christmas.Era stated in the survey’s preface that it has a long history of service to the oil industry and has the capability of inter-island and helicopter service on Sakhalin, but that it was moving ahead cautiously based on the experience of other carriers that are no longer serving the industry there.In the meantime, Evergreen International Aviation Inc. is also considering adding a DC-9 jet for cargo to Adak and perhaps on to the Russian Far East as well. Local company officials indicate that the decision will be made on the corporate level.Mavial or Magadan Airlines, a Russian carrier based in Magadan, has also voiced an interest in the additional routes in the Russian Far East, according to state of Alaska officials. Those officials, who spoke on a background basis, told the Journal that Mavial operated four charter flights in December after discontinuing its monthly scheduled service between Anchorage and Magadan during December and January.Era’s Zoomerang Web survey starts out with a catchy, "Perhaps it is time for a new era in aviation support for Sakhalin. We are interested in your opinion." Logical air carrier questions about frequency, seat demand, price and choice of departure airports are interspersed with personal opinion questions to be answered by the respondents.Era currently operates three main types of aircraft in its fixed wing fleet: the Convair 550, the Dash 8 and the deHavilland Twin Otter -- none of which have the necessary range for flights to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk or Petropavlovsk.What Era does have on hand is former Reeve chief pilot Philip Bray, who pioneered the Russian Far East routes for Reeve. Bray, now the director of operations for Era’s fixed wing operation, did not return calls from the Journal. He joined Era in November before Reeve’s announcement to curtail scheduled service.When asked about what equipment the airline would use if it decides to serve Sakhalin oil projects from Anchorage, Landis said that the decision would also be influenced by the survey and refused to discuss options.Era officials will make the decision sometime in the spring, according to Landis."We are inclined to lean toward contract charter services for flights," added the Era vice president. "This will help underwrite the cost of the service."The departure of Reeve has forced Russian Far East passengers and freight forwarders to use a very long and expensive route from Japan through Korea that ends up with a connection to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk on Korea-based Asiana Airlines."This is ridiculous. I have to fly four days to do three days of work," said Keith Burke, president of Natchiq/ Sakhalin LLC.Reeve was also providing lift for local forwarders Lynden Air Freight and Panalpina, both of whom specialize in oversize industrial cargo."This caught us completely by surprise," said Jeff Berliner, trade specialist with the state’s International Trade and Market Development office. "We knew that Reeve was in negotiation with investors, but we were not prepared for this. We are currently having discussion with state, federal and private sector on how to respond to this challenge."Berliner added that in addition to Mavial having an interest, Aeroflot officials have reportedly surfaced and may be rethinking their decision to pull their Russian Far East flights out of Anchorage in December 1999."There are more than just college students traveling between Anchorage and the RFE. There are also professionals here working on the Magadan oil and gas lease sales," Berliner said. "And if that takes off, we could be the staging grounds for that, too."Berliner also indicated that the trade division is doing surveys and has hired research analysts to aid the private sector in making a decision to regain Alaska as a Russian gateway."Going to the RFE through Korea is not what we would want. We want Alaska to be the staging ground for the RFE," Berliner said.

Legislature doesn't see need for tax breaks to build gas pipeline

JUNEAU -- Leading Democrats and Republicans oppose state tax and royalty concessions for developers of a natural gas pipeline, disagreeing with Gov. Tony Knowles that such a break might be needed to make the $10 billion project viable. But that might have been the only broad point of agreement between the parties as they reacted to Knowles’ State of the State address. Knowles chose the Jan. 8 opening of the 22nd legislative session to highlight the natural gas issue, and he made it a major theme of his annual address Jan. 10. The governor earned applause from legislators by saying: "I believe Alaskans can be on the working end of a shovel building a natural gas pipeline within two years. After two decades of false starts and broken dreams, the economic and political stars are finally aligned in our favor. Natural gas is the fuel of the 21st century." Among his requests to the Legislature, Knowles wants authority to negotiate with North Slope producers on a revenue package that might defer some state royalties and taxes in order to "backload" project costs and ensure viability of the project. The Legislature would have to approve such a package, said Revenue Commissioner Wilson Condon. Commercialization of the gas eventually is expected to yield about $200 million to $400 million in state revenues annually. Although natural gas prices have skyrocketed recently, Knowles said Jan. 8 that a tax break is still needed for the natural gas pipeline, which he called marginal. North Slope producers haven’t yet requested a negotiated deal on state revenues, but the governor said there is need to lower upfront costs due to the length of time for construction and the likelihood of lower prices over the long term. While there is broad agreement on the desirability of the project, legislators are saying they doubt that pipeline developers would need the additional incentive of a break on state royalties and taxes. There also was discontent in the Legislature a year ago about the tentative deal Knowles brokered with BP Amoco concerning its merger with Atlantic Richfield Co., which was seen as less favorable than the arrangement ultimately approved by the Federal Trade Commission. Senate President Rick Halford, a Chugiak Republican, said that if the pipeline to the Lower 48 is otherwise feasible, state tax breaks wouldn’t make a difference and would amount to giveaways. House Finance Co-Chairman Eldon Mulder, an Anchorage Republican, said he might be open to deferring some state revenue, but said the Republican position is "don’t sell the farm or give it away." "I would prefer for there not to be inducements," said Senate Minority Leader Johnny Ellis, an Anchorage Democrat.  

Around the World January 21, 2001

STATEJobs jump 1.5 percentJUNEAU -- The state Department of Labor reported jobs increased by 4,300 -- or 1.5 percent -- in October over the same time the previous year.The job growth didn’t come from any one industry, but came from small gains in numerous industries statewide, according to a report in the January 2001 Alaska Economic Trends.Statewide, the biggest gainers for the year ending in October were the services and miscellaneous industries with an increase of 2,400 jobs, 1,000 of which were in health services and 700 in the mining sector.Statewide unemployment for October rose half a percentage point to 5.5 percent, but dropped 0.2 percentage points when compared with the same period the previous year.Villages get EPA grantsWASHINGTON -- Seven Alaska Native villages are getting a total of more than $500,000 in grants from the Environmental Protection Agency for continuing work on environmental programs.Communities receiving grants under the Indian Environment General Assistance Program include:* $90,000 for the Native Village of Chignik* $90,000 for the Native Village of Savoonga* $90,000 for the Native Village of Port Heiden* $82,740 for New Stuyahok Village* $52,000 for the Wrangell Cooperative Association* $65,218 for the Ninilchik Traditional Council* $75,000 for the Kenaitze Indian tribeAquatic farmers file suitANCHORAGE -- A group of aquatic farm applicants has filed a lawsuit against the state charging that the Department of Fish and Game changed its policies preventing them from obtaining permits.The lawsuit was filed in Ketchikan District Court by seven aquatic farmers who claim that Fish and Game is preventing them from operating geoduck clam farms in southern Southeast Alaska. At issue is whether farm applicants are entitled to harvest geoducks already on their farm sites, Amy Miller of Coastalaska radio reported.Scott Thomas, one of the plaintiffs, said some of the farmers intentionally chose sites that had populations of geoducks because the law requires it."What the Department of Fish and Game did, is after we applied for these permits, they went out and did surveys," Thomas said. "They wanted to see what was there. And they found that there was lots of Geoduck clams in some of these areas. And they said, ’this is a bunch of clams, and you guys are going to make a bunch of money, and we don’t think that you guys should be able to do that.’ And we said, ’well this is exactly what the law says we have to do.’ We have to apply for areas that are suitable for the species that we are intending to cultivate."According to the state attorney general’s office, state law doesn’t require that a proposed site have an existing stock.Lawmaker wants new CapitolJUNEAU -- An Anchorage Republican has reintroduced a bill calling for a new building for the state Legislature.The bill by Rep. Norm Rokeberg would direct a panel of lawmakers to write specifications for construction of a new legislative hall by Dec. 15, 2001.Rokeberg has said the Capitol is unsafe because corridors are obstructed by copiers and other equipment too large to store in already cluttered offices.The measure also says the building’s wiring is inadequate, its heating system is antiquated and chambers and public galleries are too small.Rokeberg offered an identical measure last session, but it died in committee.NATIONConsumer sales slumpWASHINGTON -- Inflation at the wholesale level remained tame in December despite a record surge in natural gas prices, but shoppers’ caution translated into a weak rise in holiday retail sales.Supporting the view that the economy has slowed significantly, the Commerce Department said Jan. 12 that retail sales in December rose by just 0.1 percent. Overall activity was held back by a big 0.6 percent plunge in sales at department stores, reflecting a disappointing Christmas season as falling consumer confidence dampened shopping.In addition to reporting weak December activity, the government revised down its estimate of sales in the previous two months, showing an even steeper 0.5 percent plunge in October.Mortgage rates fallWASHINGTON -- Mortgage rates declined last week with rates for 30-year and 15-year mortgages hitting their lowest levels in 21 months.The average interest rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to 6.89 percent, down from 7.07 percent earlier.A year ago, the rate on 30-year mortgages stood at 8.18 percent and was rising. In mid-May, rates on 30-year mortgages hit a five-year high of 8.64 percent.Fifteen-year mortgages, a popular option for refinancing, declined to 6.49 percent, down from 6.74 percent. A year ago, 15-year mortgages averaged 7.78 percent.The 30-year mortgage rates were the lowest since April 23, 1999, when they averaged 6.88 percent. The 15-year rates were the lowest since April 16, 1999, when they averaged 6.47 percent.WORLDBP Amoco to sell 2 unitsLONDON -- BP Amoco PLC plans to sell two chemicals businesses in a move away from product manufacturing, the oil and gas company announced Jan. 11.The U.S.-based fabrics and fibers unit and the Europe-based plastic fabrications unit are to be sold by the end of the year, BP Amoco spokesman David Nicholas said."This move is all about our chemical strategy," Nicholas said, adding that the two units do not fit with a plan to limit the company’s focus to producing fossil fuel-related materials.The businesses, which have a combined annual turnover of about $1 billion, produce a range of products, primarily from polyethylene and polypropylene.Compiled from business wire services.

Experts see tight commercial market

The Anchorage commercial real estate market should continue a trend this year of low vacancy in office and warehouse space, according to a panel of industry officials.Also, several new commercial construction projects expected to begin this year or be completed in 2001 could affect the market.Some of these projects and future development in Anchorage should be compatible with the city’s comprehensive plan, outlining strategies for area growth.Industry leaders also cited a possible new Lowe’s store in South Anchorage.Speakers addressed these topics Jan. 12 at the Building Owners and Managers Association of Anchorage commercial real estate forecast in the Hilton Anchorage Hotel.In the office space sector, the market should see continued growth with fewer vacancies and higher rental rates, said Chad Frampton, partner at Schwamm & Frampton LLC."The office market is very tight and is getting tighter," he said.Anchorage has 13 million square feet of office space, but 4 million square feet of that is government offices and not active in the market, he said. Of the remaining office space, 4 million square feet is class A or the highest quality office space, while the remaining 5 million square feet are class B and C office space, he noted.Currently, Anchorage tallies a tight market for class A space at 2 percent vacancy rate, Frampton said. Class B and C office space registers a 4 percent vacancy rate, he added.Smaller offices -- from 1,000 to 3,000 square feet -- are the most available size in Anchorage now, while 3,000- to 7,000- square-foot spaces are picked over, he said. Selection of 7,000 to 15,000 square foot offices are limited, and tenants looking for larger space might consider a design-build project since availability and demand are low, he said.Class A rental rates are up 15 to 20 cents per square foot from last year, he said.He cited new projects including physician’s offices at Alaska Regional Hospital, Providence Alaska Medical Center, the new Lake Otis Medical Plaza -- which will house HealthSouth among others -- and the Southcentral Foundation Primary Care Center expansion.Other new projects to be leased include a 600,000-square-foot Midtown office building to be completed in spring that could affect the market, Frampton said.Work has started on a two-story, 27,000-square-foot federal Drug Enforcement Agency office behind Tony Roma’s restaurant, he said. A new Division of Motor Vehicles building in Midtown, slated to be one-story and 20,000 square feet, could start this year and be completed by fall, Frampton said.Arctic Slope Regional Corp. aims to consolidate its offices in a new 10-story, 200,000-square- foot building in Midown that could be finished by fall 2002, he said. Frampton believes ASRC’s former office space could be absorbed by the market by natural growth.A proposed 23-story building, called the Fifth Avenue Tower, could begin work in spring. It would combine retail and office space with 60 residential condo units and 160 parking spaces, he said. The building may be built at Fifth Avenue and F Street.Anchorage has other new commercial projects to anticipate, including possible office and hotel facilities at Ship Creek, a new Brother Francis shelter and expansion of the Anchorage Museum of History and Art, said Larry Cash, president and chief executive of RIM Architects.Another possible project is a 100-room hotel near Dimond Center, he said.Renovation of the University of Alaska Anchorage Consortium Library should begin in 2002 and add 100,000 square feet, he said.Jeff Thon from Pacific Tower Properties Inc. presented notes on the retail sector from Hickel Investment’s Bill Gee. Retail space has the highest vacancy rate at 5 percent and availability ranges 1,000 to 60,000 square foot units, Thon said. Most space is available in East or Midtown Anchorage, he said.The warehouse market records a vacancy rate of 2 percent, which may continue in 2001, and rental rates should stay low even though the market’s tight, Thon said. Possible new construction could be located near Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, he said.The city comprehensive plan provides a new direction for future development, said Sue Fison, municipal planning director. The plan outlines more urbanization, quality of life issues, design standards and natural open space.Anchorage has a shortage of vacant land and most of it is zoned for residential use, she said. However, changing a zoning from residential to commercial could prove increasingly difficult, she said.Planning for the expected population growth by 2020, Fison noted that more multifamily units will be needed, unlike current housing development, which is largely single family units.Next month the city will launch an online database to track zoning and platting cases so residents can track projects more easily, she said.

Stevens puts missile defense, ANWR atop list

Funds to begin construction of a radar station at Shemya as part of a National Missile Defense system should be released "by the end of March," according to Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens. Stevens, a Republican, considers the missile defense system one of his top priorities for 2001. Also on his list: pushing for the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration; settling issues dealing with Alaska fisheries; and supporting construction of a natural gas pipeline. But Stevens warned that getting Alaska issues approved in a Senate split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats may be difficult, and that much of his agenda will depend on President Bush’s policies and budget, which won’t be spelled out in detail for several months. "All our priorities will have to wait a while," Stevens said. In a wide-ranging interview with the Journal, Stevens was clearly delighted with the new Bush administration. "The difference is a matter of attitude," Stevens said. "(Bush) is a Westerner. We’ll be listened to and consulted before they take any action concerning Alaska." He added that after eight years of the Clinton administration, "people are smiling around here." Stevens pronounced himself satisfied with the Bush appointments to key Cabinet positions, such as the Interior and Energy departments. He described Gale Norton, the nominee for Interior Secretary, as "a bright, bright, strong woman. It’s what we need in fighting the trends of the last eight years." He had similar praise for Edward Spencer Abraham, selected by Bush to be Energy Secretary, whom he described as "a close personal friend." Stevens predicted both Abraham and Norton will be confirmed, even though "there will be a fuss -- there’s always a fuss." Stevens made national headlines last month when he held up passage of the federal budget in order to secure a compromise over fishing closures that threatened to cripple the cod and pollock fisheries. That compromise delays -- but does not eliminate -- a series of steps designed to preserve dwindling numbers of Steller sea lions. What’s his game plan for 2001? "To try to get some science," Stevens said. Part of the compromise included funding for studies of how fishing affects the food supply of the sea lions. The restrictions include 20-mile no-fishing zones around sea lion rookeries, a distance that Stevens said was arbitrarily chosen. "That’s what the extreme environmentalists asked for and that’s what they got," he said. He added that his hope is that with further study the size of the no-fishing zones could be reduced. As for the missile defense system, Stevens clearly believes that it will move forward, since the incoming Bush administration has publicly supported it. While debate continues over whether such a system would violate the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with the former Soviet Union, Stevens said he expects a key element of the system -- a radar site on Shemya Island in the Aleutians -- to move forward soon. "Construction of the radar in and of itself is not a violation of the ABM treaty until it is integrated into a defense system," Stevens said. He pointed out that funds for the radar have been approved by Congress and simply need to be released by the Bush administration. Stevens said the missile system poses no political problem, citing a recent national poll showing 65 percent of Americans support the idea. "I expect soon to get the decision for Shemya to go ahead," Stevens said, adding that by "soon" he meant "by the end of March." As chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Stevens has successfully steered hundreds of millions of dollars to Alaska each year for a variety of road and military construction projects. He said the just-completed budget contains funding for fiscal 2001, which ends in October. "Now we’re working on 2002," Stevens said. "I expect levels to be approximately the same as last year."  

Dollars flow north

Alaska Rep. Don Young has a new assignment in Congress: chairman of the House Transportation Committee. Given Alaskans’ concerns with maritime, surface and aviation issues, this committee is fully as important to the state as the Resources Committee that Young chaired in the last Congress. Young remains a member of the Resources Committee, and as the ranking Republican, will be vice chairman of that committee, now chaired by Rep. Jim Hansen, a Republican from Utah. Several of Young’s key Alaska staff have been brought from Resources over to Transportation, including Chief of Staff Lloyd Jones, formerly a state senator from Ketchikan, Mike Henry, chief counsel Liz Meggison and Steve Hansen, who will handle public information for the Transportation Committee. One of the Alaska resource issues the congressman may deal with soon is lining up co-sponsors for his HR39, a bill introduced as the new Congress convened that would open the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to exploration, according to Chris Fluhr, a Resources Committee staff member assigned to Alaska issues. The same bill was sponsored by Young last year and had 45 co-sponsors and many more interested in the measure. But given the certainty of a veto by President Clinton, Young did not attempt to move the bill out of Resources last year. This year may be different, with a new Republican administration in power. There may be much more interest in the issue in Congress this year, given the gravity of the nation’s energy supply situation, Fluhr said. Young held hearings on national energy policy last year in which ANWR was the main topic. Another key issue the Resources Committee may tackle is the new roadless initiative Clinton recently put in place banning road building in several national forests, including the Tongass and Chugach forests in Alaska. Hansen is keenly interested in this because of the effects in his home state of Idaho. Young feels that the Clinton administration double-crossed Alaskans by first promising to exclude the Tongass, then saying the roadless policy would take effect in four years, and finally imposing it immediately. Legislation is a possibility, but Fluhr said the Bush administration may choose to undo the regulations through administrative action. But this will take time because a clear policy reason for the action must be established, and then rule-making procedures carefully followed to avoid lawsuits from environmental groups, he said. For Alaska, the most expedient course may be through the lawsuits being pursued by the state of Alaska. There is a clear legal argument against the roadless plan in the Alaska national forests through the "no more" clause of the 1980 Alaska National Lands Conservation Lands Act, Fluhr said. Another key Alaska issue being followed through the Resources Committee is the environmentalists’ initiatives being pursued under the Endangered Species Act, not just with Steller sea lions but also Cook Inlet beluga whales, Steller and spectacled eiders and Aleutian sea otters. Alaska priorities in the Transportation Committee are still being worked out, according to Steve Hansen, spokesman for the committee. One of the early issues the committee may take up is increased funding for the U.S. Coast Guard, not only for its day-to-day operations but for upgrades to vessels, aircraft and search and rescue capability as well, Hansen said. This will benefit the Coast Guard presence in Alaska, he said. Aviation will be another area the committee will be working on this year, including issues of airline competition and consolidation and essential air service, a matter of importance to smaller Alaska communities. The committee also has jurisdiction over pipeline operations and safety, including the trans-Alaska pipeline system, Hansen said. Reauthorization of the pipeline right of way lease is an issue Young will be watching closely, but it may not require legislation. The 1973 authorization act included provisions for administrative renewal of the right of way in 2004. Unless environmental lawsuits bog the process down, Congress may not have to intervene, Fluhr said.  

Web site helps Bristol Bay fishing business expand in Germany

A Bristol Bay commercial fishing family is building its business by selling Alaska salmon lox and filets in Germany via the Internet.The Great Ruby Fish Co., run by the Adams family, has been selling its sockeye salmon product to Germany for two years, said Kevin Adams, who handles public relations and sales for the company.A German language Web site, launched six months ago, has opened a new door for sales, he said.Recently, a woman living in Texas visited the Web site and e-mailed the company’s agent in Germany to find a way to purchase the Alaska salmon. Adams contacted her, and she purchased more than 100 pounds for Christmas gifts, he said."She thought it was unique -- Alaska fish smoked in German style," he said.The company aims to carve its niche selling high-quality Alaska salmon products, Adams said."We’re fishermen, first and foremost," said Adams, whose family has been fishing from Naknek since 1966. For years the family has brought fish home to Anchorage and prepared it, he said. Now Adams Enterprises is selling Alaska salmon in Germany, targeting what Adams calls the educated palette. "We’re offering to the market fisherman-quality fish," he said.Robin Zerbel, executive director of the World Trade Center Alaska, believes small- to medium-size seafood processors, like the Great Ruby Fish Co., are a key to a new era of marketing Alaska seafood. However, as demand increases for their products the key will be meeting that demand, she said.Work by the Great Ruby Fish Co. and others, Zerbel said, alters a once common standard that fishermen typically worked for unknown consumers since fish was sold through intermediary companies."Now the harvester produces knowing who the market is, and (fishermen) are paying attention to trends," she said.Zerbel, who met Adams in the early 1990s, said he is trying to support small value-added operations for the industry.Adams and his family have seen many changes in the commercial fishing industry in Alaska in the past several decades. Some companies have consolidated and others have closed in that time, he said. Adams Enterprises has invested for the long haul, buying property in 1976 and building a warehouse in Naknek that has received several additions since then, he said.In 1983 Adams Enterprises started selling fishing nets, gear and some marine hardware as well as storing fishermen’s nets in winter.The cannery once had supplied these services for the area, and so the family entered the net business, said Adams’ mother, Lila Adams of Anchorage.Adams Enterprises Net and Gear is open in Naknek from April to September. The business includes Lila Adams’ husband, Charles Adams, brother-in-law George Adams, her three sons and six grandchildren. "We’ve consistently stayed a family-operated business," she said.The family also has seen the impact of competition from farmed fish. "Farmed fish is eroding our major market, Japan" which has led to consolidation of companies in Alaska, Kevin Adams said, noting the strain on Alaska’s top market for fish exports.One way to successfully compete with farmed salmon is to present high-quality wild fish, he said. He is concentrating on the European market because consumers are willing to pay for a high-quality product and they are concerned about genetically engineered food, he said.Ten years ago the Adams’ began a partnership with a King Salmon lodge owner who now provides the secret flavoring for the product. The lodge operator, who catered to German clients, asked Adams Enterprises for fish to smoke as lox for clients.Two years ago Adams visited Germany and examined the seafood market. Adams Enterprises hired an agent there who handles wholesale and consumer sales and visits restaurants and grocery stores to hand out product samples, Adams said.He plans to grow the business slowly, although supply is available since the company, which operates three fishing boats and has four permits, can buy from other fishermen, he said.This summer Adams Enterprises plans to operate custom processing after the area cannery closes in mid-July. The move could post new opportunities for fishermen to harvest remaining sockeye as well as work the silver and chum seasons. "We want to open this opportunity to other fishermen," he said.Adams, who earned a international relations degree from California State University at Chico, believes his education helps him open doors with people from other countries.After two years of selling salmon direct to Germany and launching the Web site, Adams calls the results part of a learning curve. "We’re learning and the Germans are learning," he said.

Forest Oil ready to spend $85 million on Alaska, with most going to Cook Inlet

KENAI -- Cook Inlet will see the lion’s share of the $85 million that Forest Oil Corp. plans to spend in Alaska this year.Denver-based Forest Oil completed its purchase in December of Forcenergy Inc , which last summer installed the Osprey Platform near West Foreland in western Cook Inlet. The majority of the $85 million will go to drill exploratory wells from Osprey and install production facilities onshore, said Gary Carlson, Forest senior vice president, Alaska division.Forest also is drilling a new well onshore at its West McArthur River oil field three miles south of Trading Bay.It plans to acquire seismic surveys for several Cook Inlet leases, participate with Unocal in development at the McArthur River field and explore for oil and gas near Glennallen.Forest has permits to drill four exploratory wells from Osprey to its Redoubt Shoal prospect, plus a fifth well where it can inject drilling muds and cuttings deep underground for disposal.It has applied for permits to build pipelines and onshore production facilities."We would hope to build those this year," Carlson said. "It may stretch into next year, depending on permits, prices and delivery of equipment. And, of course, we have to be happy with what we find from our drilling."He said he hopes Osprey will begin producing early next year.Applications to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency suggest Redoubt Shoal could produce up to 25,000 barrels of oil and 4.3 million cubic feet of natural gas per day. That would be a huge boost to the Inlet’s oil production of roughly 32,000 barrels per day.However, Forest will not know how big the Redoubt Shoal reservoir is until it drills exploratory wells, Carlson said. The tentative 2001 budget includes roughly $25 million to drill exploratory wells, which will cost $5 million to $7 million each, Carlson said. The first well, already under way, has reached a depth of about 14,000 feet and should reach the target at 15,600 feet by the end of the month.The 2001 budget includes $25 million to build pipelines and production facilities. If the exploration wells find sufficient reserves, Forest will build two undersea pipelines to carry the oil and gas roughly 3.3 miles to Kustatan on the Inlet’s western shore. There, it will build a power plant and facilities to remove the "produced water" that comes out of the ground with the oil and gas.A third undersea pipeline will carry produced water back to Osprey for disposal through the injection well.Forest also plans two 7.8-mile pipelines to carry natural gas and crude oil from Kustatan to Trading Bay. From there, it could sell gas through existing Cook Inlet gas lines, and oil through the existing pipeline to the tanker terminal at Drift River.Forest has budgeted roughly $25 million for drilling and redrilling elsewhere around Cook Inlet. It already has started a new onshore well at its West McArthur River oil field. Carlson said the site was suggested by the success of a well drilled last year. West McArthur produces about 3,500 barrels of oil per day, of which Forest’s share is 2,600 barrels per day.Meanwhile, Forest holds roughly a 46 percent interest in the McArthur River field, tapped through the Dolly Varden, King Salmon, Steelhead and Grayling platforms. Unocal, which holds a 54 percent interest, is the operator. Carlson said the companies plan to redrill several wells and to drill a new well to a target between the McArthur and West McArthur fields.Forest has budgeted roughly $10 million to acquire Cook Inlet seismic surveys and to pay for geological and geophysical work in the Copper River basin near Glennallen, where it holds a license to explore on nearly 400,000 acres of state land.Carlson said Forest’s 2001 spending plans have not been finalized and are subject to change depending on prices for crude oil and natural gas.

Business Profile: Northern Skies Federal Credit Union

Name of the company: Northern Skies Federal Credit Union Established: 1967 Location: 5515 Arctic Blvd., Anchorage Telephone: 907-561-1407 Major focus of services: Northern Skies Federal Credit Union provides consumer financial services including savings accounts and loans, but not commercial services or real estate first mortgages. History of the company: Employees of Reeve Aleutian Airways decided to form their own credit union, and RAA Federal Credit Union was chartered by the federal government in the late 1960s. The credit union started with 25 members and no paid employees. However, the financial institution expanded its membership requirement to include all employees working in the area of Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, including airlines, airport employees and car rental staff. In the early 1990s the name was changed to Northern Skies Federal Credit Union. Today, the credit union serves about 3,150 members and has nine full-time employees. Although final numbers are under review, total assets for 2000 are expected to hit nearly $15 million and total loans should be $11 million. Top accomplishment of the company: "I think the primary achievement of this credit union is offering years of personal and friendly service to our members while remaining competitive with the larger institutions in terms of pricing and breadth of services," said Northern Skies President Peter G. N. Saliba. Major player: Peter G. N. Saliba, president, Northern Skies Federal Credit Union. Saliba, who was planning to move from Philadelphia back to Europe, visited Alaska on vacation in 1982 and decided to move to Alaska instead. He first began working at the credit union in 1983 as operations manager. In 1988 he was appointed president of the credit union. Quote: "I think the success of this credit union is that we keep lots of loyal members. ... We are trying to reach the next generation of members. We know people by their first names. ... We are small enough to react to market changes. We have to stay on our toes to stay competitive." -- Nancy Pounds  

Murkowski goal is to open ANWR

Alaska Sen. Frank Murkowski returns to familiar turf in the new Congress this year. He again chairs the Senate Energy and Resources Committee, a panel of considerable importance in resource-rich Alaska. One of Murkowski’s top priorities remains the opening of the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration. A national energy bill will be introduced soon and will be an early agenda item in the Resources Committee, he said. ANWR will inevitably be a part of that. Energy has been identified as one of five top priorities for action in the new Congress, Murkowski said. The senator doesn’t want to push too far on ANWR until he is able to bring uncommitted senators to Alaska in late spring or early summer to see the coastal plain. That will help build support for the initiative, he said. One of Murkowski’s key priorities, establishment of a new Environmental Protection Agency Region 11 in Alaska, may be more favorably viewed in the new Bush administration than under President Clinton. A lot will depend on how new EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman looks at the question, Murkowski said. Interestingly, a executive order establishing a Region 11 was one of the last actions of the administration of George Bush, father of the incoming president. However, the order was never implemented by the Clinton administration. Murkowski thinks there’s enough justification for the new region because Alaska environmental issues are much different than those dealt with in the other Pacific Northwest states in Region 10. But there are some Alaskans who are skeptical of the idea, Murkowski admitted. "There are some people who worry about having the regulators too close at hand," he said. The North Slope natural gas pipeline and trans-Alaska pipeline right of way renewal will both be of considerable interest to the Senate committee. "It’s unfortunate timing that both are on us at virtually the same time," Murkowski said. On a national level, electrical deregulation and nuclear waste issues will continue as priorities for the committee. Deregulation of electricity has become a mess in California, and problems Californians are having with price and supply of power are beginning to spill over into other regions, Murkowski said. Washington and Oregon residents are now beginning to worry about whether they should allow electricity produced in their states to be exported to other states. Murkowski will also continue to work on an Alaska-Canada rail connection, a long-time priority. He expects members of a joint U.S.-Canada rail study commission to be appointed, and for the commission to begin work this year.  

Calendar January 21, 2001

Confabs The Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce is holding its general membership luncheon at noon Jan. 23 at the Westmark Fairbanks. Patrick Poe, regional director of the Federal Aviation Administration, is the scheduled speaker. The luncheon cost is $11.25. For more information, call 907-452-1105. The Greater Soldotna Chamber of Commerce is holding its weekly meeting at noon Jan. 23 at the Riverside House, 44611 Sterling Highway. Mark Gregory, director of the Kenai Peninsula Small Business Development Center, is the scheduled speaker. For more information, call 907-262-9814. The Greater Wasilla Chamber of Commerce is holding its Must Be Tuesday luncheon program at noon Jan. 23 at the Mat-Su Resort, 1850 Bogard Road. A presentation on the 2001 Tesoro Iron Dog race, the world’s longest snowmachine race, will be featured. Program fees are $3 for members and $5 for others. For more information, call 907-376-1299. University of Alaska Fairbanks Career Services and the Alaska Travel Industry Association are sponsoring the 2001 Visitor Industry Job Fair from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 24-25 at the UAF Wood Center. The event provides opportunities to secure summer employment with travel industry members operating in Alaska. For additional details, call 907-474-7596. The Kenai Chamber of Commerce is holding its weekly meeting at noon Jan. 24 at Paradisos, 11357 Frontage Road. Betsy Arbelovsky, executive director of the Economic Development District, is the scheduled speaker. The luncheon cost is $10.50. For more information, call 907-283-7989. The Greater Palmer Chamber of Commerce is holding its open meeting forum at noon Jan. 24 at the Palmer Moose Lodge, 1136 S. Cobb St. Wayne D. Carmony, general manager of Matanuska Electric Association, will speak on the topic, "State Regulation vs. Local Regulation for MEA." The cost is $9. For additional information, call 907-745-2880. The Kenai Peninsula Small Business Development Center is sponsoring a seminar on financing a business from 1-4 p.m. Jan. 24 at the Soldotna Red Diamond Center, 43335 Kalifornsky Beach Road. The cost is $15. A tourism and Internet marketing seminar is slated for 1-4 p.m. Jan. 26 at the Kenai Visitors Center, 11471 Kenai Spur Highway. For more information, call 907-262-7497. The Anchorage Convention & Visitors Bureau is holding its monthly orientation/refresher at 2 p.m. Jan. 24 at ACVB corporate offices, 524 W. Fourth Ave. For reservations or member information, call 907-257-2396. The Anchorage Chamber of Commerce is holding a new member reception at 4 p.m. Jan. 24 at the chamber office, 441 W. Fifth Ave., Suite 300. Activities include meeting the chamber staff, networking and gathering information about the chamber and the business community. For additional information, call 907-272-2401 or visit (www.anchoragechamber.org). The Alaska Railroad is holding an open house meeting from 4-7 p.m. Jan. 24 at railroad headquarters, 327 W. Ship Creek Ave. The meeting’s objective is to inform the public, government representatives and special interest groups about the railroad’s capital improvement plan. Presentations will be given on the track realignment project, the South Anchorage double-track project and the airport rail station. For more information, contact Wendy Lindskoog at 907-265-2498. The Resource Development Council for Alaska Inc. is presenting 2001-2003 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program at 7:30 a.m. Jan. 25 at the Petroleum Club of Anchorage, 3301 C St. Joe Perkins, commissioner of the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, is the guest speaker. Breakfast for members cost $10.50 and for others is $12.50. Reservations are required. For more information, call 907-276-0700. The Anchorage Convention & Visitors Bureau Business Exchange is scheduled from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Jan. 25 at the Holiday Inn Downtown, 239 W. Fourth Ave. The fiesta-themed event will feature south-of-the border cuisine, salsa and merengue music and a scavenger hunt. For reservations or more information about ACVB, call 907-257-2396. Alaska Support Industry Alliance’s Meet Alaska 2001, the 18th Annual Oil & Conference, is scheduled for Jan. 26 at the Sheraton Anchorage Hotel. Speakers include Gov. Tony Knowles; Dick Olver, managing director and executive vice president of BP; Geoffrey Briggs, NASA Mars Exploration project manager; Ed Kelley, director of the Cambridge Energy Research Association; Dodd DeCamp, senior vice president world exploration for Phillips Petroleum Co. and Keith Bailey, president and chief executive of Williams Cos. Tickets cost $185. For additional details, call 907-563-2226. The Alaska World Affairs Council is presenting a program by Wei Jinsheng, author of "The Courage to Stand Alone," at noon Jan. 26 in the Hilton Anchorage Hotel. Jinsheng is a Chinese dissident who was imprisoned for nearly 20 years. Program lunch fees are $17 for members and $20 for others. For more information, call 907-276-8038. The Anchorage Chamber of Commerce Business Development brown bag lunch on e-commerce is scheduled at noon Jan. 26 at the chamber conference room, 441 W. Fifth Ave., Suite 300. Darren Donald of Gateway Computers and Steve Volz of Alaska Communications Systems will discuss cable modems, digital subscriber lines and T1 connections. The cost for members is $5 and for others $10. For additional information, call 907-272-2401 or visit (www.anchor agechamber.org). The Anchorage Small Business Development Center and the Adult Learning Center are sponsoring a seminar entitled "Beginning QuickBooks Pro" from 1:30-4:30 p.m. Jan. 26 at the Adult Learning Center, 3401 Minnesota Drive. The cost is $50. For registration, call 907-272-7232. The Greater Soldotna Chamber of Commerce is holding its 42nd annual Awards Banquet beginning at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 26 at the Soldotna Elks Lodge No. 2706, 44640 Parkway, Crown West Building. Tickets cost $25 per person. For reservations, call 907-262-9814. The Alaska Symphony of Seafood is planning a tasting for the public from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Jan. 27 at the 4th Avenue Theater in Anchorage. The cost is $35. For more information, contact the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation at 907-276-7315. The Anchorage Small Business Development Center in Anchorage is sponsoring a seminar entitled, "Cutting the Red Tape: Here’s How" from 1-4 p.m. Jan. 29 at the SBDC office, 430 W. Seventh Ave. The free overview features bidders’ list applications and points of contact for federal, state and local government. For registration, call 907-272-7232. The Alaskan Apple Users Group and the Alaska Computer Society are offering a special presentation from 7-9 p.m. Jan. 29 at the Providence Alaska Medical Center east auditorium, Anchorage. Corel Corp.’s new Corel Draw 10, Corel Paint and Knock Out will be demonstrated. For more information, call 907-566-0956 or visit (www.akappleug.org).  

Clinton forgoes ANWR monument status; developers 'optimistic'

JUNEAU -- State political leaders are breathing a collective sigh of relief after prevailing over conservationists pushing for more protection for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.The White House announced Jan. 10 that President Clinton will not designate ANWR a national monument before he leaves office.Gov. Tony Knowles said it’s one less barrier in the way of approval by Congress to drill for oil in ANWR’s coastal plain, a 1.5-million-acre slice of tundra just east of Prudhoe Bay."Had he made it a monument, we would have taken it to court -- we would have beat him to the courthouse steps with that issue. But then there would not have been any action until that had been resolved, and we all know court actions can take months, if not years, to be resolved," said Knowles, a Democrat.The governor had argued that monument designation by executive order would be illegal because federal law requires congressional approval to withdraw more than 5,000 acres of additional land in Alaska from the public domain.Sen. John Torgerson, R-Kasilof, chairman of the state Senate Resources Committee, called it good news for Alaska and the Lower 48."This clearly opens the road for our congressional delegation to put in legislation to authorize drilling for oil on the North Slope," said Torgerson.The 19-million-acre ANWR was made a refuge in 1980 under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, with the provision the coastal plain could be drilled for oil if approved by Congress. Alaska’s congressional delegation in the past has tried unsuccessfully to pass bills authorizing oil development there, believed to be the best single prospect for discovering large quantities of petroleum in North America.Clinton vetoed a budget bill in 1995, in part because it would have opened the refuge to oil drilling, and the president still opposes efforts to drill in ANWR, said Jake Siewert, a White House spokesman."But we believe ... ANWR has something that some of the other areas we looked at does not have, which is legislative protected status, which is actually higher than that conferred by the monuments," Siewert said.Even if Clinton had made the refuge a monument, Congress still could have allowed oil drilling there. However, environmental groups believed it a step toward greater protection for the coastal plain, home to migrating birds, caribou and other wildlife.Now the focus returns to Congress. Environmentalists and supporters of oil drilling in ANWR both believe they have the votes in Congress and the support of the public to achieve their opposite goals."We’re definitely optimistic," said Cam Toohey of Arctic Power, an Anchorage-based pro-development group. "This is the best scenario we’ve had in eight years, and we’re looking forward to ... when the administration changes hands.""I think in the 107th Congress, they’ll find it even more difficult to secure a bill for opening the coastal plain," said Allen Smith, Alaska regional director of The Wilderness Society. "But it will be a fight, there is no question about that."

BP, state reach $34 million royalty settlement

BP has paid the state of Alaska an additional $34 million in royalties on North Slope oil and gas produced through 1999, Gov. Tony Knowles announced Jan. 2. The payment concludes several audits of BP’s royalty obligations and represents 2.6 percent of the total royalties paid by BP from 1993 through 1999. The payment was made on Dec. 29, 2000. More than $10 million of this amount, or almost 30 percent, will be deposited in the Alaska Permanent Fund, and the balance will go to the state’s general fund. BP also paid the state $1.2 million to resolve outstanding royalty issues between the state and ARCO Alaska Inc. for the period through Dec. 31, 1999, when BP assumed Atlantic Richfield Co.’s royalty obligations as a result of the BP-ARCO merger. The payment reflects the latest in a series of tax and royalty settlements that Alaska has negotiated to settle disputes over the past 23 years with BP and other oil lease holders in the state’s North Slope fields. The resolutions have come more quickly in recent years, which means back interest on the payments have tended to shrink.  

Keep your eye on these five trends

As the year kicks off and turbulence begins to rock the business and economic sectors, it may be time to cast a roving eye to the future, particularly as it affects marketers and their customers.  A singularly reliable source for predicting business and societal change is the World Future Society at (www.wfs.org), that during the last decade has made predictions with a 95 percent accuracy rate. The organization’s latest report, "50 Trends Now Changing the World," by Marvin J. Cetron and Owen Davies, pinpoints a number of business and marketing-related observations and prognostications that affect the marketer, large and small. Anybody associated with marketing would be well advised to play close attention to the five trends that follow. 1. "Societal values are changing rapidly." According to the report, "society will increasingly take its cue from Generations X and Dot-com rather than the baby boomers who have dominated its thinking for most of four decades." Family issues will remain dominant issues through the end of the decade. And the harsh, polarized views best exemplified by the extreme right and left of the political spectrum will become unpopular. Moderates will dominate. Bottom line, the harsh polarization of the ’80s and ’90s "will slowly moderate as results-oriented Generations X and Dot-com begin to dominate the national dialogue." 2. "Generations X and Dot-com will have major effects in the future." This thirty-something Generation X cohort will be recognized for its entrepreneurialism, since its members are starting businesses at unprecedented rates. They’re economically conservative, begin saving at an earlier age and seek the shallow information skim from a CNN or a USA Today rather than absorb in-depth reporting. The dot-com generation, now entering their 20s, are proving to be even more business-oriented. Twice as many say they would prefer to own a business rather than be a top executive. By a factor of five to one, they would rather own a business than hold a key position in politics or government. 3."Consumerism is still growing rapidly." Because consumers will increasingly have access to and information about pricing, services, delivery time and customer satisfaction through Internet sourcing, the consumer marketing battle will see a halt in the decline of prices and a counter-prevailing shift to service improvement and salesmanship. That’s not to say that the discount stores, big boxes, factory outlets and mega-food stores will not continue to proliferate. In the end, however, fixed pricing will fall out of favor as goods and services are sold through online auction. The proponents of the need for improved customer service will be proved right. To quote the report, "as prices fall to commodity levels and online stores can list virtually every product and brand in their industry without significant overhead, service is the only field left in which marketers can compete effectively." As expected, branded items with dominant reputations will remain powerful and in demand. 4."Tourism, vacationing and travel (especially international) will continue to grow by about 5 percent per year for the next decade as it did throughout the 1990s." Why? Because there is more disposable income generated by a growing number of two-earner families. By 2010, air travel for both business and pleasure will reach triple the 1985 rate. The Internet will become the preferred vehicle for communicating information about every element of the travel buying process from accommodations to weather to currency to passport requirements. Printed materials will be replaced by the Web site and streaming video as broadband penetration increases in the home. Consumers will take shorter mini-holidays but more of them spread throughout the year instead of the traditional two-week vacation. 5."Consumers increasingly demand social responsibility from companies and each other." Social responsibility will take many forms, both legislated and self-imposed: * Companies will be judged on how they treat the environment. * Safety testing of children’s products will be in greater demand. * Increased testing for AIDS and drug abuse will necessitate more personal responsibility on the part of the individual. * Government will intervene in the airline industry (better safety and service), financial services (controlling instability and cost), electric utilities (nuclear problems) and the chemical industry (toxic waste). * With 5 percent of the world’s population, but 66 percent of its lawyers, America will remain litigious and will sue for redress where responsibility is not forthcoming. Alf Nucifora is an Atlanta-based marketing consultant.

Wage hike on Gov. Knowles list

JUNEAU -- Gov. Tony Knowles’ call for an increase in the minimum wage and for a trigger mechanism to raise new state revenue were unexpected parts of the State of the State address Jan. 10. Knowles had spent a month highlighting different parts of his proposed budget and legislative priorities, a method Republican leaders have derided as management by press release. But while the second-term Democratic governor clearly had signaled his intentions in some areas -- for example, to boost education spending and make veterans a priority in the state Pioneers’ Homes -- he kept the minimum wage and the trigger mechanism close to the vest. As a result, Republican leaders weren’t specific in their responses to those proposals, saying only that they would consider them. "Working for a minimum wage in Alaska shouldn’t mean a minimum quality of life," Knowles declared to a joint session of the Legislature, sparking scattered applause but not from some conservative Republicans like Rep. Vic Kohring of Wasilla. Knowles said the minimum wage should increase from $5.65 an hour, the lowest on the West Coast, to $6.40. He said there should be another hike next year and inflationary adjustments thereafter. State law calls for the Alaska minimum wage to be 50 cents higher than the federal rate, and the last increase was in September 1997, according to officials at the state Department of Labor. House Speaker Brian Porter, R-Anchorage, said his caucus would take a look at the plan. "... I think most people in this room would like an automatic inflation-accelerator in their wage incomes," he said at a press conference. "It’s not dead on arrival," said Senate President Rick Halford, R-Chugiak. Alaska Chamber of Commerce President Pam La Bolle said she guessed her board would not support inflation adjustments. Knowles had said he would address the need for a long-range fiscal plan in his speech, but he hadn’t said how specific he would get. He highlighted a recent turn in the debate by calling for new unspecified revenues that would kick in when the Constitutional Budget Reserve, the state savings account that has been used to plug budget deficits, drops to $1.5 billion. "This approach has long been discussed by many thoughtful Alaskans, most recently by former Governor Jay Hammond," Knowles said. The reserve, which comes from settlements of tax and royalty litigation against the oil industry, is projected to be about $3 billion by the end of the current fiscal year on June 30. But the administration projects that a draw of more than $500 million will be needed in the next fiscal year to balance revenues and expenditures. Without some structural budget change, that means the account then could be depleted within a few years. Knowles acknowledged previous doomsday scenarios haven’t come to pass because "higher oil prices once again saved the day." His plan for a mix of budget cuts, income taxes and revenues from earnings of the Alaska Permanent Fund failed to win a single vote in the Legislature in 1999. The Legislature’s subsequent plan focusing on permanent fund earnings was rejected by 84 percent of voters in a ballot advisory question that year. "I’m as relieved as anyone that drastic steps were unnecessary then," Knowles said. "But we also know it would be irresponsible to fail to plan for the possibility that oil and gas revenues someday will be insufficient to pay for essential services." Republicans, while touting their own budget-cutting measures over the past five years, were noncommittal about a long-range fiscal plan including new revenues. "Before we ever put that proposal out there, we have to engage the public," said House Finance Co-Chairman Eldon Mulder of Anchorage. "... While everybody supports a fiscal plan, the support diminishes or falls apart when you start talking about permanent fund earnings or income tax or sales tax or increased user fees." But Sen. Alan Austerman, a Kodiak Republican who has pushed for a long-range plan, said his concern with the trigger concept is that it allows the Budget Reserve to be drawn down in the meantime. He said he’d prefer an endowment approach, with the existing reserve invested long-term to earn more money for government operations while new state revenue measures are enacted to plug the budget gap immediately.  

Movers & Shakers January 21, 2001

Jack McCann has joined Center 4 Interior Design as a business development supervisor specializing in furniture procurement opportunities. McCann has seven years experience in office systems furniture sales and marketing in Alaska. Center 4 Interior Design has hired Melissa McMillan as an interior designer. McMillan has three years experience with interior design and space planning for commercial and residential clients.Anchorage Fur Rendezvous has hired Nancy Perry as communications manager. Perry has experience in event planning and marketing. Perry’s responsibilities range from media relations and advertising, to parade coordination and the recycling campaign.Tom Calla, a staff member of Bezek-Durst-Seiser, is now a registered architect in the state of Alaska. Calla is also a registered architect in Louisiana and earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Louisiana State University. Calla has been employed by the architectural and planning firm since 1998.Anita Foster has been appointed marketing officer at Northrim Bank. Foster is responsible for managing the bank’s marketing research, product tracking and the management customer information file program. Foster’s other responsibilities include product promotion, direct mail and sales communications. Erika Bills was promoted to financial sales officer. Bills recently transferred to Northrim’s Wasilla branch. Bills joined the bank in 1995. Cris Parrocha was promoted to financial sales officer at the Midtown Financial Center. Parrocha has more than 10 years experience in banking and has been at Northrim since 1999. Kerry Cole Madden has been hired as financial sales officer at the SouthSide Financial Center. Madden has 13 years financial experience. Shanna Lankford was promoted to assistant branch manager at the Huffman branch. Lankford, joining Northrim in 1995, has more than eight years banking experience.Don Wilson has qualified as a member of the 2000 Chairman’s Council of New York Life Insurance Co. Wilson ranked in the top 3 percent of New York Life’s 6,500 active U.S. agents based on 1999-2000 sales performance. Wilson of Anchorage has been a New York Life agent since 1964. Leona B. Baldwin and Lon Wilson have qualified as members of the 2000 President’s Council of New York Life Insurance Co., ranking in the top 6 percent for sales performances. Baldwin has been an agent with New York Life since 1979. Wilson became an agent with New York Life in 1988 following completion of a one-year training. Kap-Sun Enders has qualified as a member of the company’s 2000 Executive’s Council. Enders has been a New York Life agent since 1994.Gov. Tony Knowles has presented the State Medal for Heroism to Timothy Eldridge and Billy Luce of Anchorage, Gene Snell of Shishmaref and Rick Siangco of Juneau. The four residents were awarded one of the state’s highest honors for valorous or heroic actions performed in the saving of a life.Richard Sanchis, owner of Arctic Roadrunner Restaurants, has been chosen Lord Trapper for Fur Rendezvous 2001. Oro Stewart, owner of Stewart’s Photo, has been chosen Lady Trapper. Sanchis and Stewart, as Fur Rondy Royalty, will act as goodwill ambassadors at this year’s events.Belinda Wallace has joined Dynamic Properties as a sales associate. Wallace has been a full-time real estate agent for five years. Wallace also represents Discovery Homes and its new construction.Robert Sackerson has joined Wedbush Morgan Securities Inc. as an investment executive in the firm’s Anchorage office. Sackerson was previously employed as a financial advisor at PaineWebber. Dean Rickerson recently joined Wedbush Morgan Securities Inc.’s Anchorage office as an investment executive. Rickerson has been in the securities industry since 1984 and has worked as a financial consultant at Merrill Lynch.


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