Inside Alaska Business
Subzero temperatures in Southcentral on January 31 strained ENSTAR’s natural gas delivery system. The utility recorded its largest one-day demand for gas, moving 268 million cubic feet (MMcf) to 150,000 customers. The previous record, set about seven years earlier, was 254 MMcf, and ENSTAR’s average January delivery is about 160 MMcf per day. The cold snap coincided with problems at two storage wells that reduced gas supply. However, ENSTAR President John Sims says different parties came together to make sure the system was stable. For 2025, though, Sims warns that current supply contracts are not enough to meet ENSTAR’s anticipated demand.

A noncompetitive state permit expands the acreage on Augustine Island for GeoAlaska to prospect for volcanic heat. The Alaska Department of Natural Resources concluded in January that a two-year permit on 7,205 acres would be in the state’s interest, and GeoAlaska was the only applicant. Based on magnetic and gravity data collected last year on the island southwest of Homer, the company identified a “sweet spot” for hydrothermal potential, a target of this summer’s exploration in cooperation with Alaska Drilling & Completions.

Couriers in aqua-colored jackets are fanning out from the Amazon ground delivery station near Midtown Anchorage. The online retailer renovated the former Sears warehouse at Dowling Road and Old Seward Highway, ramping up operations during the winter. The company hired more than 100 full-time and part-time workers, and additional Amazon Flex contractors are engaged to carry some packages. An Amazon spokesperson says the new hub will enable the fastest delivery service to customers in Anchorage. The renovation of the 66,000-square-foot warehouse cost an estimated $26 million. The company credits improvements to Dowling Road as helping to make the location more viable.

OBI Seafoods
Like other major seafood processors that are scaling back their Alaska plants, OBI Seafoods is idling its Larsen Bay facility on the west side of Kodiak Island for the summer. The company will still buy salmon from the area’s fishermen, but it will rely on its facility in the city of Kodiak instead. OBI Seafoods CEO John Hanrahan says the decision follows a forecast for a weak harvest of pink salmon and other tough market conditions. He says the Kodiak plant is better suited to respond more flexibly to salmon markets than the Larsen Bay plant. A small team will remain at Larsen Bay to help service the fleet.

Global Credit Union
Established in 1948 as a co-op for US Air Force personnel in Alaska, Global Credit Union reinforced its connection to the military by opening a new branch at Eielson Air Force Base. The 300-square-foot kiosk inside the Base Exchange Shopping Center is the first of its kind: a little smaller than a supermarket storefront while still offering the full range of credit union services and convenient on-base access.

Geneva Woods
The parent company of Geneva Woods pharmacies is closing its two Alaska locations. CVS Health Corp shut down the Wasilla location off Seward Meridian Road in March, and the Anchorage location on International Airport Road is slated for closure in October. That location is the largest mediset pharmacy in Alaska, organizing prescription packages for elderly and disabled patients. Wasilla patients are being transferred to the CVS pharmacy at the nearby Target store.

Coastwise Engineering
Seattle-based nautical architecture firm Elliott Bay Design Group acquired the Alaska assets of Coastwise Corporation in February. The strategic partnership brings the Anchorage company into the group as Coastwise Engineering. Owner and principal engineer Patrick Eberhardt says joining the larger group lets his employees take on more challenging projects.

SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium
As part of an effort to enhance overall compensation, SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) is setting the minimum salary for all direct-hire employees at $25 per hour. The raise affects new hires and current team members who earn below the new minimum. “This pay increase reflects SEARHC’s commitment to providing competitive compensation and builds on our comprehensive incentives and benefits packages to recruit and retain top talent,” says Scott Jungwirth, vice president of human resources for the nonprofit operator of twenty-seven facilities in Southeast, including hospitals in Sitka and Wrangell.

Charter College
The Anchorage campus of Charter College is adding a fourth blended medical program, an associate degree in diagnostic medical sonography. The program is meant to equip graduates at the entry level to fulfill sonography needs and demonstrate a commitment to professional care for patients. Classes start June 17, including hands-on labs and immersive clinical rotations.