Inside Alaska Business
The University of Alaska Fairbanks has become the fourth university in the nation to earn the Quality Matters’ Online Learner Support Certification.

Quality Matters is an international, US-based nonprofit organization that is recognized as a leader in quality assurance for online education. The Online Learner Support Certification recognizes programs that provide all the critical student and academic services needed for learner success and that use learner feedback to continuously improve those services.

The Quality Matters review team was particularly impressed with the tech support available and the high satisfaction ratings it got from online students, the programs in place to help students succeed academically, and the variety of ways UAF accepts student feedback, among other things.

This is the second program-level Quality Matters certification UAF has earned. Earlier in 2018, UAF’s Master of Education in Special Education program became the first online special education program in the nation to earn the Quality Matters’ Online Program Design Certification.

Anchorage-based telecommunications companies TelAlaska and Quintillion are bringing high speed broadband to residents of Nome for the first time. The new service will be delivered by TelAlaska over Quintillion’s subsea fiber optic cable system. Residents will have access to the internet at triple the currently available speeds and more than double the included data at competitive prices. |
Office of the Governor
Former-Governor Bill Walker approved the release of $3.6 million (previously frozen by Walker’s signing of Administrative Order 271) so the EIS process for the Ambler Mining District Access Project can be completed. No additional funding is anticipated to complete the EIS process for the project.
Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development
The Department of Labor and Workforce Development is raising the per diem rate for covered workers on remote public construction projects for the first time in thirteen years. Eligible workers will receive $100 per day on remote projects instead of $75.

The per diem rate applies to remote projects awarded by the state or by a local government. “Remote” is defined as an area inaccessible by road or more than sixty-five miles from the international airports in Juneau, Fairbanks, or Anchorage.

The new rate applies on projects bid on or after April 11, 2019.

The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) Board approved a dividend of $10,285,000 to the state general fund for Fiscal Year 2020. “We are very happy to announce this dividend to the State of Alaska, especially since it puts us over $400 million,” said AIDEA Board Chairman Dana Pruhs. “Our dividend is another great example of AIDEA’s strong contribution to Alaska’s economy.”
The Anchorage Assembly authorized the sale of Municipal Light & Power (ML&P) to Chugach Electric Association. By a unanimous vote of 10 to 0, the sale of substantially all the assets of ML&P was approved in early December. The total transaction is valued at $1,009,600,000.

Once all documents related to the sale are finalized and signed, the transaction needs approval from the Regulatory Commission of Alaska, a process that can take from six to nine months. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2019 or early 2020.

GCI launched 1 GIG internet service in Ft. Greely, the newest of sixteen communities in Alaska in which GCI provides 1 GIG speeds; with this new addition, 77 percent of Alaskans have access to 1 GIG speeds on GCI’s fiber optic network.
Norwegian Cruise Line | Huna Totem
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings is partnering with Alaska Native-owned Huna Totem Corporation to develop a second cruise pier in Icy Strait Point, Huna Totem’s cruise ship destination in Hoonah.

The pier is scheduled to be completed for the summer 2020 Alaska cruise season and will be built to accommodate Norwegian Cruise Line’s Breakaway Plus-class ships. In addition, the new pier will provide more cruise passengers with access to Icy Strait’s newly upgraded retail, restaurant, and shore excursion amenities. |

Alaska newcomer Elixir Petroleum acquired a 100 percent working interest in 35,423 acres adjacent to the Umiat oil field in September; in mid-December, the company was announced as the apparent high bidder on an additional 114,310 acres (ten leases) in NPR-A.

According Elixir, “Securing additional leases in Alaska is yet another key milestone achieved during this very active period for the company.”

Elixir is an oil and gas exploration company; in addition to the United States, it has operations in Mongolia and France.