Permanent Fund will set allocation for in-state investment
The Alaska Permanent Fund will allocate up to $200 million in a special fund for Alaskan investments and hire a special manager to manage the program, Fund managers said. Under guidelines set by the Board of Trustees the investments will have to be capable of earning what the funds would have returned if invested out of state. The goal is to also attract other investors to join the Fund in projects, to share risks. The $64 billion Permanent Fund has never had a specific allocation for in-state investments although there has never been a barrier to it. One of problems with Alaskan investments is that they tend to be too small for the Permanent Fund to do efficiently.
McDowell Group: Tourism climbed 4 percent in 2017, spending $3.2 billion in the state
Summer tourism climbed 4 percent in 2017 to 1.926 million visitors, mostly driven by higher cruise ship travel, which increased 6 percent. That’s according to data compiled by University of Alaska economics professor Scott Goldsmith. Cruise passengers accounted for 57 percent of total visitors. Goldsmith’s reports are published by First National Bank Alaska. Data for the 2018 summer season isn’t yet final but the totals are expected to be over 2 million. Preliminary data shows cruise ship visitors up 7 percent in 2018.
2020 census to start in western Alaska village
The 2020 national census will start in Toksook Bay in southwest Alaska in January 2020, census officials told delegates to the Alaska Federartion fof Natives in mid-October. This is in keeping with the tradition of starting the count in an Alaska village. Toksook Bay has about 700 residents. The census will hire several hundred Alaskans to the count in more than 240 communities.
Retailers close, consolidate in Anchorage as recession bite continues
Retailers in Anchorage are consolidating or closing. Recent casualties, Daily News reporter Annie Zak wrote, include long-established midtown restaurants Sea Galley and the Pepper Mill, which are adjacent to each other on C Street. Both closed in October, as did the Rice Bowl, a longstanding downtown restaurant. Bed Bath & Beyond is closing its east Anchorage store but will keep its south Anchorage store.
Other shifts are underway in Anchorage retail. The move by REI to the Midtown Mall (where Sears recently vacated) and plans by Safeway to build a new grocery there will rejuvenate that facility. The location is well-suited to withstand online retail competition, given its location at major intersections with some of Anchorage’s highest traffic counts.
Costco opens in Fairbanks Nov. 20
Costco will open its new Fairbanks store on Nov. 20, the company said. The store will be located in the former Sam’s Club in the city, which closed due to a corporate reorganization. Costco will employ about 290, including some seasonal workers, at the store. That will include 20 former Sam’s Club workers.
Alaska employment dropped another 0.6 percent in September compared with the same month of 2017, a loss of 2,000 jobs. Construction was up slightly by 200; oil and gas showed another drop, of 400 jobs.
Alyeska Resort is sold to Canadian company
Pomeroy Lodging of Alberta is purchasing Alyeska Resort, a popular ski area and 300-room resort hotel in Girdwood, south of Anchorage. The sale is expected to close by year-end. Idaho businessman John Byrne is the current owner. Pomeroy Lodging owns 18 hotels in western Canada including a 408-room lodge in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. This would be Pomeroy’s first acquisition outside Canada. A sales price was not disclosed but the Alyeska property was assessed at $45.8 million on the Municipality of Anchorage 2018 tax roll. The resort is 60 years old but the present hotel and tram were built 25 years ago.
Mat-Su Borough costs for hacking hit $2 million
The Matanuska-Susitna Borough incurred costs of $2 million in responding to recent cyberattacks that shut down municipal computers last summer. About 35 to 40 percent of costs are related to installation of advanced security measures. The attacks, in July, took out 850 desktop computers and three servers. The borough assembly was asked to move $1 million from two emergency reserve accounts to cover part of the cost. Insurance may cover remaining costs.
Exxon Valdez trust considers alternate use of spill funds
The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council is considering a plan to use about $200 million in remaining funds in the trust to build new facilities for research organizations and to drop additional steps in habitat restoration or preservation. The council met Oct. 17 to discuss the proposal, which was put forth by the Rasmuson Foundation. Conservation group are objecting, saying the trust funds should continue to used for environmental restoration, the original purpose. The trust was established after the 1989 Prince William Sound oil spill, caused by the grounding of the tanker Exxon Valdez.
Marijuana sales taxes hit new record
Marijuana sales tax revenue reached $1.54 million in August, another record, the state Department or Revenue reported. In July the state collected $1.37 million. Overall the state has collected $15.8 million since tax collections began in October 2016.
With loss of hockey team, business is down for Anchorage’s Sullivan Arena
Anchorage’s Sullivan Arena, one of the city’s premier event facilties, is feeling the effects of the recession and the loss of the Alaska Aces hockey team. The University of Alaska Anchorage hockey team still plays at the Sullivan but attendance has dropped. The area lost more than $600,000 in 2016 and $385,000 inn 2017. Municipality of Anchorage, which owns the Sullivan, is picking up the losses and recently voted a $250,000 payment to help fill this year’s deficit. Sullivan managers have cut staff and costs and have a new strategy to attract smaller and more numerous events and will meanwhile invest in needed upgrades.
Prisoners on work-release may work in Southwest Alaska fish processing plants
State corrections officials are discussing a plan to allow prisoners in the last six months of their sentences to work in seafood plants in Unalaska and Akutan. Seafood companies are having trouble getting labor and the controlled work and monitored dormitory environment can help in rehabilitation. Two seafood companies in the region are interested but local officials must agree.
New missile interceptors to be installed at Fort Greely
Congress approved funding for two new missile launch silos at Fort Greely and authorization for more missile interceptors, bringing the count to 62 within five years.
Vigor shipyard in Ketchikan launches second new state ferry
The new state ferry Hubbard was launched Oct. 12 at the Vigor Alaska shipyard in Ketchikan, with remaining work to be done on the water. Two new “Alaska-class” ferries were built at the shipyard. The shipyard is now putting finishing touches on the other ferry, the Tazlina, in preparation for turning it over to the state ferry system.