Inside Alaska Business
Three Bears Alaska
The retail chain serving Alaska’s smaller towns is expanding, though exactly where is not yet clear. Three Bears Alaska announced more new stores in the next three years, thanks to a recapitalization deal with Seattle-based Westward Partners. Three Bears, originally based in Tok, operates nine stores in Alaska—from Ninilchik to Healy—and one in Butte, Montana.

A digital rendering image of the Block 96 Flats project from The Anchorage Community Development Authority (ACDA)
More housing returns to Anchorage’s original townsite with the construction of a five-floor apartment building in the heart of downtown. A groundbreaking ceremony in March marked the start of construction on the Block 96 Flats project at 8th Avenue and K Street. The Anchorage Community Development Authority (ACDA) owns the land and formed a partnership with Debenham Properties, which is building the 48-unit apartment complex. That section of downtown, just north of the Delaney Park Strip, has not had any new market-rate (that is, non-subsidized) housing since the ‘80s. Block 96 Flats has a price tag of $11.6 million.

A video game developed by Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) is a recipient of a 2022 Peabody Award for Digital and Interactive Storytelling. The awards for excellence in broadcast storytelling expanded last year to include achievements in interactive media. The inaugural class includes “legacy” awards for past years, including the 2014 release Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna). The video game, based on a traditional Iñupiaq story about a young person who fights a great blizzard, was developed by CITC’s for-profit subsidiary, Upper One Games, in cooperation with gaming company E-Line Media. Revenue from Never Alone helps fund CITC’s nonprofit programs.
The omnibus federal spending bill contains huge earmarks for Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC). Out of Senator Lisa Murkowski’s forty special requests, the largest single item is $27.7 million for ANTHC to expand the emergency department at Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage. The consortium also gets a combined $37.5 million to provide water and wastewater service in six rural villages. Another $27 million earmark (not for ANTHC) pays for a 15-mile road out of Kotzebue to the site of a possible deep-water port.
Huna Totem | Turnagain Marine
The Alaska Railroad Corporation board of directors approved a lease of approximately 20 acres in Whittier for the city to develop a cruise ship terminal. Whittier is partnering with Turnagain Marine and Huna Totem Corporation on the “Head of the Bay” project: a dock for two large cruise ships and a terminal with shops and other places for passengers to go—a little like Huna Totem’s Icy Strait Point in Hoonah. Whittier city manager Jim Hunt anticipates $1 million to $3 million in annual tourist revenue once the project opens in 2024. |
Alaska Air Cargo
Alaska Air Cargo is adding two Boeing 737-800 aircraft to its dedicated freighter fleet serving the company’s namesake state. These additions increase the freighter fleet from three to five aircraft. Adam Drouhard, managing director for Alaska Air Cargo, says, “The -800 aircraft provides more load space than our current -700 freighters, essentially doubling Air Cargo’s total freighter lift capacity.” The converted aircraft will come from Alaska Airlines existing passenger fleet. The planes are being converted from their passenger configuration. They’re projected to re-enter service as freighters in 2023.
Northrim Bank
A new loan production office in Nome opens in the Bering Straits Native Corporation building on Front Street. Joe Schierhorn, the chairman and CEO of Northrim Bank, says he is pleased to expand into Nome to respond to the demand for services in the Norton Sound region. The office provides loan applications and lending information. Northrim hired the director of the Nome Convention and Visitor Bureau, Drew McCann, to manage the branch.