Inside Alaska Business
Alaska Division of Agriculture
An aerial, landscape photograph view of The Totchaket Agricultural Project on state land near Nenana, Alaska
Alaska DNR
The Totchaket Agricultural Project on state land near Nenana is going forward. The state Division of Agriculture expects to hold land sales around midsummer on 30,000 acres of the 140,000-acre project, with tracts ranging from 5 to 5,000 acres but mostly around 40. A new bridge across the Nenana River made the area accessible, and Doyon, Limited built a road, initially for oil and gas exploration. Unlike previous state-led agricultural projects at Delta and Point Mackenzie, Division Director David Schade says landowners will have more flexibility to define “agricultural use,” with no rigid timelines for development.

Imaging Associates
Advanced MRI is empowering physicians and improving patient experience at Imaging Associates in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. The MAGNETOM Vida 3T MRI with BioMatrix technology has a 70-centimeter bore and a new magnet design that lets the scanner adapt to patients of all shapes and sizes. Imaging Associates CEO Ward Hinger says the technology delivers a personalized MRI experience with greater diagnostic accuracy, decreasing the need for re-scans.

Sonic Drive-In
Fans of fast food served on roller skates need not travel all the way to Wasilla anymore. Sonic Drive-In opened its second Alaska location at Huffman Road in South Anchorage. As usual when a new chain restaurant arrives, customers lined up around the block on opening day.
Port of Alaska
The US Department of Transportation (DOT) must pay the Municipality of Anchorage $367,446,809 because of defective construction at the city-owned Port of Alaska. A judge granted the city’s full request in February, following a December ruling by the US Court of Federal Claims which found that DOT’s Maritime Administration breached its contract to ensure defect-free open-cell sheet piles. Defects halted port construction a decade ago.
The next phase of developing a facility near Ketchikan to separate rare earth elements is proceeding without the team that invented the technology. Three top executives of Innovation Metals, which was acquired by Ucore Rare Metals in 2020, are resigning as the company transitions from “white coat science” to commercialization of the RapidSX separation method. Using RapidSX, Ucore plans to build a Strategic Metals Complex in Southeast Alaska, first processing concentrates from Canada and then rare earths mined from its Bokan-Dotson prospect on Prince of Wales Island.
Alaska Premier Auctions & Appraisals
A huge opal kept by an Alaskan family since the ‘50s sold at auction for $143,750. Alaska Premier Auctions & Appraisals (APAA) conducted the sale in February for the 11,855-carat opal named Americus Australis. Fred von Brandt, a gold miner in Big Lake, said the milky, iridescent gemstone had been kept in his family’s closet long enough, so he wanted to put it back out in the world. The final gavel price equaled the minimum bid of $125,000, plus a 15 percent buyer’s premium. According to APAA principal auctioneer Dan Newman, the buyer was a man in Dallas who read a news article about the opal on the day of the sale.
Iñupiaq Wordle
A new tool to keep an Alaska Native language thriving rides the coattails of a popular online guessing game. Barely a month after Wordle launched in January, Myles Creed created a spinoff in the Iñupiaq language. Creed grew up in Kotzebue but he is not Iñupiaq, so he used the North Slope Iñupiaq dictionary by Edna Ahgeak MacLean to plug five-letter words into a Wordle modification template developed by a Canadian linguist. The game is hosted by Ilisaqativut, an Iñupiaq language learning group.