Naomi Klouda

GCI posts loss in 2Q, takes hits in consumer and rural health care

General Communications Inc. posted a $9 million loss in the second quarter, which company officials attributed to weakness in consumer wireless and video as well as lost rural health care subsidies.

GCI released its second quarter financial results Aug. 2, showing the telecom brought in total revenue of $224 million, an overall decline of $4 million over this year’s first quarter.

Business owner builds floor-cleaning robot

The janitorial contract for the old Palmer Hospital, now medical offices, involves thousands of square feet of floor space to clean using above average sanitary measures.

Noting an irksome shortage in qualified applicants answering the call “for hire,” Curtis Lucas figured maybe a robot could do the job.

The accountant who launched Alaska Professional Janitorial 13 years ago in Wasilla had steadily built a clientele of large medical facilities, retail stores and commercial buildings. It took a staff of 22 seven days a week to handle the work.

Medical marijuana amendment has little impact on Alaska

States that have legal medical marijuana programs will remain free of federal law enforcement efforts if an amendment makes it into the final budget as it has for the past three years.

The Senate Appropriations Committee on July 27 approved what is known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment to prohibit federal funds from being used against businesses in states with legal medical marijuana programs. Sen. Lisa Murkowski sits on the committee and supported the amendment.

Crisis management earns honor for local PR firms

An Anchorage company that provides student tutoring services got a visit in December 2015 from police officers delivering bad news: one of the employees was suspected of possessing and distributing child pornography.

The tutor also had allegedly engaged in a sexual relationship with a teen minor.

The urge to avoid publicity when a bad situation strikes a company may be a perfectly natural response. But that’s not the advice a good public relations company covering its reputation would recommend, said Kristin Helvey.

After years of hikes, Premera files rates for 2018 down 21.6%

Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska filed insurance rates for 2018 with a 21.6 percent decrease for customers on individual Affordable Care Act compliant plans.

As predicted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services when Alaska received a Section 1332 “innovation waiver” on July 11, Alaskans on the individual market exchange would see a 20 percent to 22 percent decrease in 2018.

Ocean Tuesday starts conversation on innovation

Picture crustacean DNA that allows crabs the ability to grow a new leg. That chemical makeup, in an innovator’s hands, becomes a product to seal up a human puncture wound.

Imagine a band-aid made of it.

Alaska has lots of crab, but getting from raw seafood byproducts to a marketable commodity will take a new infrastructure. A blue economy movement now in its Alaska infancy is involved in engaging all the human resources necessary to help such innovations evolve.

Longtime Anchorage business wins Made in Alaska Award

Alaska Garden and Pet Supply, a company patronized by backyard farmers, large scale agriculture and most of Alaska’s big box stores, won the Alaska Manufacturer of the Year Award on July 24.

Also known as Alaska Mill &Feed, Chief Operating Officer Ken Sherwood and company President Joel Klessens accepted the Made in Alaska Award at the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce’s Make it Monday Forum.

McMahon promotes SBA successes in trip to Alaska

Linda McMahon saw her first ulu this past week.

The head of the Small Business Administration visited the Ulu Factory in Anchorage on July 20 during her two-day trip to the state to view firsthand an American business that benefited from the SBA loan program.

“So that’s how you get the handle on it,” watching May Arruiza assemble wood to blade by hand. “And the stamp, how is that done?”

Marijuana board moves to prohibit common lease arrangement

Should a landlord be allowed a percent of sales in lieu of charging rent to a marijuana business?

That’s a current practice of concern to the Alaska Marijuana Control Office. Such arrangements has the potential to allow a landlord — who is not a licensee — “to exert influence on the operation.”

Addressing the issue was among the 12 agenda actions sent out for public comment after the Alaska Marijuana Control Board met in Fairbanks July 12-14.

Repeal or replace fails, but state to see premiums fall in ‘18

Alaska has the highest insurance premiums in the individual market in the country with an average monthly cost of $927 that’s nearly equal to the average rent of $1,100.

Premiums in the individual insurance market are now projected to decrease by as much as 20 percent to 22 percent in 2018 after the state received a Section 1332 “innovation waiver” under the current Affordable Care Act.

Consumers won’t be the only one to see a savings.

Board makes call about on-site cannabis consumption

A proposal that would allow on-site consumption of marijuana is now open for public comment after the Alaska Marijuana Control Board endorsed a measure opening the way July 14 during its meeting in Fairbanks.

Working from one of three draft proposals, the board looked at a number of restrictions in lengthy debates before approving the on-site consumption measure. The public will be able to weigh in on these and other aspects of the concept:

Alaska Startup Week launches ‘Year of Innovation’ event series

Taking a business idea from a kernel of thought to grand openings, in the old model, meant testing a market at the end of the process: sales equated success.

The new model shows a different way that turns those steps upside down: test and refine ideas in a community of entrepreneurs before putting up the business sign.

How to start up a startup is the main idea behind Alaska Startup Week July 22-30 with nine days of events in Alaskan communities to help speed momentum and opportunities around innovation and entrepreneurship.

Fairbanks sets visitor records through winter tourism

The Inland Empire 483 miles from the ocean wouldn’t qualify it as a “shore-side excursion” in the traditional sense but that’s exactly how Fairbanks is designated as thousands of cruise ship visitors make their way directly from the dock to the train or bus that takes them to Interior Alaska.

Fairbanks saw new records set in tourism numbers the past two years as a rising number head toward it just as most visitors begin to leave the land of the midnight sun.

SBA chief McMahon latest cabinet official to visit Alaska

The head of the U.S. Small Business Development Administration will be the latest cabinet official from President Donald Trump’s administration to visit Alaska with stops in Anchorage and Bethel.

As part of her nationwide SBA Ignite Tour, Administrator Linda McMahon will focus on listening to business owners and leaders as well as educating about SBA services for accessing capital during her July 20-21 trip, said SBA Regional Communications Director Melanie Norton.

State granted waiver to continue reinsurance program

The 23,000 Alaskans in the individual insurance market are projected to see premiums decrease by as much as 20 percent in 2018 after the state received an innovation waiver under the current Affordable Care Act.

While the U.S. Senate debates changes to the ACA, also known as Obamacare, the State of Alaska was approved for a five-year waiver that will allow it to continue the reinsurance program passed by the Legislature in 2016 using $55 million in premium fees to help the lone individual insurance company left in the state hold rates down.

Marijuana board set for marathon meeting in Fairbanks

Advertising attempts keep tripping up owners of the newly established cannabis shops and resulting in violations, and when the Alaska Marijuana Control Board meets in Fairbanks July 12-14, it will be taking a look at how to streamline ad messages that can be sent to the public.

Owners cannot advertise health benefits of the bud or edibles; they can’t put prices next to products; and they can’t announce freebies. There has still been confusion, though, about what is legal.

Yup’ik fashion artist follows family tradition through tech

Women’s leggings are a hot versatile commodity in today’s fashion world. Worn under dresses or long blouses, they’ve come close to nudging out the t-shirt as a visual statement.

When Yup’ik artist Mary Charles felt the creative urge more recently, she yearned to do something traditional like her fur-sewing grandmother’s parkas or dance fans but knew that wasn’t going to be realistic.

Pollock skins to dog treats coming soon

Americans love their pets and are willing to shell out $23 billion per year on their food, which would be good news for Alaska seafood marketing if more products were developed to serve all those well-cared-for dogs and cats.

Now a treat for dogs made of pollock skins has been developed to the marketing stage, perhaps even allowing for a secondary market in millions of tossed-out pollock skin tonnage to come into its own market at 30 to 50 cents per pound.

Downtown cannabis shop gets green light; moratorium debated

Cannabis shops located in Downtown Anchorage were the subject of more than three hours of debate June 27 at the Anchorage Assembly meeting, this time the pros and cons of permitting what is considered the largest operation in Alaska.

At the end of testimony from about 30 people, the assembly unanimously approved a marijuana license and special land use permit for Great Northern Cannabis Inc., in a vote of 9-0, with Assembly members Suzanne LaFrance and Fred Dyson excused due to illness.

Senators welcome delay on healthcare vote to lobby for Alaska

A delayed vote on overhauling the U.S. health care system buys time for U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan to negotiate on key provisions for Alaska over the July 4 recess.

Neither of the Alaska senators issued an official statement after Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., saw that he did not have the necessary 50 votes to pass his legislation repealing and replacing the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

Through spokesperson Karina Petersen, Murkowski called the delay a “good thing.”

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