Naomi Klouda

Like ‘80s recession, net migration turns negative

More than 20,000 people left Alaska than moved in over the past four years in what state economists are noting as a consistent negative trend in migration that likely will continue into the next year.

Alaska typically gains 40,000 to 50,000 people per year from “in-migration,” said demographer Eddie Hunsinger. The state also loses about that many in most years.

“The numbers cancel one another, and growth comes with natural increases (births),” Hunsinger said.

Arctic Council members tout cooperation as US hands off chair

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson assured Arctic leaders from around the globe gathered in Fairbanks May 11 that the United States is committed to advancing the work of the Arctic Council into the future but as yet, President Donald Trump hasn’t established a policy on how to deal with climate change.

Consumer revenue keeps dropping as GCI reports 1Q results

General Communication Inc. took in $228 million in its first quarter of 2017, but a decline of nearly $7 million in consumer revenue and a $46.5 million accounting writedown for income taxes led it to post a $55.2 million net loss for the period.

In the first quarter of 2017, GCI’s revenue from consumers fell to $107 million from $113.7 million in the same period for 2016. But those losses were somewhat offset by nearly $4 million in additional business revenue for the same time period.

Unlikely pair taking Alaska hospitality to next level

Partners Jason Motyka and David McCarthy are changing what it means to pass on Alaskan hospitality one plate at a time.

As what they call the “third generation” of Alaska restaurant owners, they’ve formed partnerships with lettuce growers, fishermen and meat producers. They helped a restaurant down the street — a potential competitor — just as in the old Alaska when neighbors helped neighbors.

And they incorporate unique stories of the frontier to help customers walk away in understanding of what they hope is a deeper experience.

Murkowski: Spending bill funds ‘Alaska priorities’

The U.S. Senate passed an omnibus appropriations bill May 4 in a vote of 79-18 that funds major Alaska programs for the remainder of fiscal year 2017 — a save from the chopping block for threatened line items such as Essential Air Service, the Denali Commission and energy assistance grants.

The legislation, now on its way to President Donald Trump’s desk, prevents a feared and much-discussed possible government shutdown. But that was never an option in her mind, said Sen. Lisa Murkowski in a May 4 morning press conference with the Alaska media.

Northern Edge exercise takes to Alaska skies, seas

Alaskans looking to the skies this week will witness military jets acting out a war scenario in rare training opportunities meant to sharpen tactical combat skills.

The Exercise Northern Edge May 1-12 includes an exercise that pits blue team against red team and involves about 6,000 U.S. military personnel. The combat zone is above central Alaska ranges and the Gulf of Alaska.

Merger creates largest real estate firm in state

Dar and Ed Walden, co-owners of the Anchorage-based Dar Walden Team at Keller Williams Realty-Alaska Group, announced their acquisition of Fairbanks-based independent brokerage Madden Real Estate on April 25.

The move positions Dar Walden to rank as one of the highest producing realtors in the state, according to rankings in Real Trends and in the Wall Street Journal.

“This places us close to 800 sales (annually), assuming we keep the same pace as last year,” Dar Walden said. “Then we will be the No. 1 team in Alaska covering a broad area from Fairbanks to Kenai.”

Bills aimed at conflicts stall out

Two bills aimed at potential legislative conflicts of interest are stranded or buried in the legislative heap of last minute work hurtling toward the May 17 deadline for the end of the 2017 session.

Sen. Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage, introduced Senate Bill 5 to close a loophole that currently allows lobbyists to donate to legislators outside their districts.

Entrepreneurs awarded at UA competition

Congressional budget cuts mean fewer federal funds will be flowing to Alaska projects, but a 30 percent tax incentive for private enterprise on infrastructure investments lends a potential ace for rural Alaska.

That’s one of the concepts behind a winning idea at the 2017 Alaska Business Plan Competition April 21 at the Beartooth Theatre hosted by the University of Alaska Anchorage Business Enterprise Institute.

First blood test for breast cancer detection reaches Alaska

Blood tests let patients know if they have a vitamin B deficiency. Blood testing provides windows into whether a person has diabetes. But until recently, no blood test could tell if a person has breast cancer.

New technology available for the first time in Alaska should help ease anxiety for women tested for breast cancer by providing clearer answers during cancer screening. Dr. Karen Barbosa at Alaska Breast Care Specialists on the Alaska Regional Hospital campus is the first in the state to offer the protein-based blood test for detecting breast cancer.

Minerals prices rebounding, but jobs still off from 2012 highs

Alaska saw a dip in mining jobs during 2016, numbers attributed to losses in the oil patch as well as hard rock mines when commodities prices took a dive.

Employment numbers are tallied in different ways by various agencies. Alaska Department of Labor statistics show Alaska went from 17,400 mining jobs in 2015 to 14,200 jobs in 2016.

That number lumped in petroleum jobs, said Alaska Economist Neal Fried, with “mom and pop” placer mines and large entities such as Usibelli coal.

Education funding in focus amid growing budget impasse

It’s either an education funding raffle, drawing Permanent Fund earnings or an income tax: lack of agreement on any one of these three solutions is stymying action in the Alaska Legislature this week while as yet no conference committee is named to roll up sleeves and get to work filling a $2.6 billion hole.

Education forms 44 percent of the Alaska budget between K-12’s $1.3 billion need and the University of Alaska system’s $325 million allocation. That’s the elephant stuck in a keyhole, according to legislators working through three possible solutions under consideration.

Education officials alarmed by proposed Senate budget cuts

Legislators at work reconciling budget differences between the House and Senate are hashing out a 5 percent cut across all 53 school districts in the state as a way to slash $69 million from the budget deficit.

Several districts’ officials traveled to Juneau this week to make appeals: A 5 percent cut would turn education upside down, they told legislators.

Hughes aims for more bang for education buck

Alaska’s achievement gap in education places it among the lowest test scores in the nation. Graduation rates also lag dismally behind.

Severe budget woes mean the State of Alaska can’t mend its way to academic successes through hiring more teachers and creating more education programs anytime in the near future. But “transforming” education might have a chance, according to the ideas behind a Senate bill created by Sen. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer.

Denali Commission directed to work on shutdown plan

Here’s the task handed to Denali Commission federal co-chair Joel Neimeyer: What would it take to shut down 17 years of the Denali Commission’s work in Alaska if funding is eliminated in 2018?

On March 31 by close of business day, Neimeyer was required by the Office of Management and Budget to summarize how he would close down the federal agency created in 1999.

President Donald Trump’s initial budget submitted to Congress, the so-called “skinny budget,” calls for eliminating the $15 million budget that funds a myriad of projects in rural Alaska.

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