July 2020 | Volume 37 | Number 7 | AKBIZMAG.COM

Contents

Features

Telecom & Tech: Technology to the Rescue

Technology to the Rescue

Applications support remote work amid the COVID-19 crisis
By Tracy Barbour

Getting Ahead of the Curve

How Alaska’s medical community tested more than 30,000 Alaskans in first months of outbreak
By Sam Friedman

Redefining Business-as-Usual

Challenges, innovations, and takeaways on navigating retail commerce during the pandemic
By Amy Newman

Virtual Visitors

With the 2020 tourist season decimated, businesses look for new ways to serve customers
By Bailey Berg

The Art of Arctic Negotiation

Finding balance and identifying ‘who’s at the table’ is critical to development
By Isaac Stone Simonelli

Oil in Alaska

Contrasting oil operations on the Slope to the Lower 48
By Julie Stricker

Breaking Frozen Ground

How general contractors tackle the hurdles of building homes in the Interior
By Isaac Stone Simonelli

The Real Results of Real Estate

Local facilities and diverse business lines generate revenue for Alaska Native corporations
By Samantha Davenport

Immediate Aid for Long-Term Mental Health

The Alaska Mental Health Trust invests in care for Alaska’s most vulnerable
By Isaac Stone Simonelli
Alaska Mental Health Trust
Alaska Business (ISSN 8756-4092) is published monthly by Alaska Business Publishing Co., Inc. 501 W. Northern Lights Boulevard, Suite 100, Anchorage, Alaska 99503-2577; Telephone: (907) 276-4373. © 2020 Alaska Business Publishing Co. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher. Alaska Business accepts no responsibility for unsolicited materials; they will not be returned unless accompanied by a stamped, self addressed envelope. One-year subscription is $39.95 and includes twelve issues (print + digital) and the annual Power List. Single issues of the Power List are $15 each. Single issues of Alaska Business are $4.99 each; $5.99 for the July & December issues. Send subscription orders and address changes to [email protected]. To order back issues ($9.99 each including postage) visit simplecirc.com/back_issues/alaska-business.

Immediate Aid for Long-Term Mental Health

The Alaska Mental Health Trust invests in care for Alaska’s most vulnerable
By Isaac Stone Simonelli
Alaska Mental Health Trust
Healthcare: Immediate Aid for Long-Term Mental Health
Telecom & Tech: Technology to the Rescue

Technology to the Rescue

Applications support remote work amid the COVID-19 crisis
By Tracy Barbour

Getting Ahead of the Curve

How Alaska’s medical community tested more than 30,000 Alaskans in first months of outbreak
By Sam Friedman

Redefining Business-as-Usual

Challenges, innovations, and takeaways on navigating retail commerce during the pandemic
By Amy Newman

Virtual Visitors

With the 2020 tourist season decimated, businesses look for new ways to serve customers
By Bailey Berg

The Art of Arctic Negotiation

Finding balance and identifying ‘who’s at the table’ is critical to development
By Isaac Stone Simonelli

Oil in Alaska

Contrasting oil operations on the Slope to the Lower 48
By Julie Stricker

Breaking Frozen Ground

How general contractors tackle the hurdles of building homes in the Interior
By Isaac Stone Simonell

The Real Results of Real Estate

Local facilities and diverse business lines generate revenue for Alaska Native corporations
By Samantha Davenport
Alaska Business (ISSN 8756-4092) is published monthly by Alaska Business Publishing Co., Inc. 501 W. Northern Lights Boulevard, Suite 100, Anchorage, 
Alaska 99503-2577; 
Telephone: (907) 276-4373. 
© 2020 Alaska Business Publishing Co. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher. Alaska Business accepts no responsibility for unsolicited materials; they will not be returned unless accompanied by a stamped, self addressed envelope. One-year subscription is $39.95 and includes twelve issues (print + digital) and the annual Power List. Single issues of the Power List are $15 each. Single issues of Alaska Business are $4.99 each; $5.99 for the July & December issues. Send subscription orders and address changes to [email protected]. To order back issues ($9.99 each including postage) visit simplecirc.com/back_issues/alaska-business.
Best of Alaska Business Special Section
Best of Alaska Business Awards

About The Cover

“But your cover last July was fantastic! How can you have such amazing July covers year after year?” our readers ask. Easy! We reach out to local Alaskan artists and demand their best. This year, Annie Brace of Corso Graphics absolutely hit it out of the riverbed with this cover art that celebrates Alaska’s favorite businesses through Alaska’s favorite fish. Every company in our Best of Alaska Business special section is a catch—just like Brace, who reeled us in with her vibrant color choices and bold graphics. If you haven’t seen her work around the state (unlikely as that may be), check out Corso Graphics on Facebook—we promise you won’t be disappointed.

Cover by Annie Brace

Best of Alaska Business Awards

About The Cover

“But your cover last July was fantastic! How can you have such amazing July covers year after year?” our readers ask. Easy! We reach out to local Alaskan artists and demand their best. This year, Annie Brace of Corso Graphics absolutely hit it out of the riverbed with this cover art that celebrates Alaska’s favorite businesses through Alaska’s favorite fish. Every company in our Best of Alaska Business special section is a catch—just like Brace, who reeled us in with her vibrant color choices and bold graphics. If you haven’t seen her work around the state (unlikely as that may be), check out Corso Graphics on Facebook—we promise you won’t be disappointed.

Cover by Annie Brace

Alaska Business logo
Volume 37, #7
Editorial Staff
Managing Editor
Kathryn Mackenzie
257-2907 [email protected]
Associate/Web Editor
Tasha Anderson
257-2902 [email protected]
Digital and Social Media Specialist
Arie Henry
257-2910 [email protected]
Staff Writer
Danny Kreilkamp
[email protected]
Art Director
Monica Sterchi-Lowman
257-2916 [email protected]
Art Production
Linda Shogren
257-2912 [email protected]
Photo Contributor
Kerry Tasker
BUSINESS STAFF
President
Billie Martin
VP & General Manager
Jason Martin
257-2905 [email protected]
VP Sales & Marketing
Charles Bell
257-2909 [email protected]
Senior Account Manager
Janis J. Plume
257-2917 [email protected]
Advertising Account Manager
Christine Merki
257-2911 [email protected]
Accounting Manager
Ana Lavagnino
257-2901 [email protected]
Customer Service Representative
Emily Olsen
257-2914 [email protected]
CONTACT
Press releases:
[email protected]

Postmaster:
Send address changes to
Alaska Business
501 W. Northern Lights Blvd. #100
Anchorage, AK 99503

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From the Editor

Remembering Our Mission
Kathryn Mackenzie

W

riting this letter, this month, at this time in history is difficult. How do I write about whether we’re all enjoying the long, languid days of an Alaska summer at a time when the nation is engulfed in fear and anxiety? From COVID-19 to rioting in the streets, and news that, yes, we’ve officially entered a recession, it’s been a tough 2020 so far, and none of us knows what’s next.

Our stated mission at Alaska Business is to “promote economic growth in the state by providing a thorough and objective discussion and analysis of the issues and trends affecting Alaska’s business sector.

Northern Air Cargo plane
Keeping Alaska Open for Business
Northern Air Cargo is committed to continuing our cargo operations while maintaining the health and safety of our customers and employees.

Regulations are changing constantly. For the most up-to-date information visit www.nac.aero.

Northern Air Cargo plane tail
Northern Air Cargo is committed to continuing our cargo operations while maintaining the health and safety of our customers and employees.

Regulations are changing constantly. For the most up-to-date information visit www.nac.aero.

Northern Air Cargo plane tail
TELECOM & TECH
Technology to the Rescue
Applications support remote work amid the COVID-19 crisis
By Tracy Barbour
W

hen the COVID-19 pandemic made social distancing compulsory, many organizations were forced to implement programs to allow staff to work from home. They had little choice as the world responded to the health crisis by locking down and staying home.

For instance, Anchorage’s “hunker-down” order initially required non-critical businesses, such as hair salons, barber shops, clothing stores, gyms, and movie theaters, to close their premises and asked residents to stay home as much as possible. The restrictions have since eased, but all businesses—and people—are expected to follow physical distancing and other safety practices to the maximum extent possible.

Healthcare
Featured Image
Getting Ahead of
the Curve
By Sam Friedman
Subtitle
Healthcare
Getting Ahead of the Curve
By Sam Friedman
Doctors
COVID-19 testing site at Providence Health & Services Alaska in Anchorage.

Joshua Lowman

COVID-19 testing site
COVID-19 testing site at Providence Health & Services Alaska in Anchorage.

Joshua Lowman

L

ife at the far end of the supply chain can be a challenge even during normal times, as anyone who has ever encountered wilted lettuce at the grocery store when a barge fails to arrive on time knows. It is particularly challenging during a pandemic when even major population centers struggled to acquire essential supplies.

But despite the challenges of geography and a global health crisis, Alaska performed well in a key pandemic response indicator this spring—the state’s ability to acquire and administer coronavirus tests.

Healthcare
Immediate Aid for Long-Term Mental Health
The Alaska Mental Health Trust invests in care for Alaska’s most vulnerable
By Isaac Stone Simonelli
Healthcare
Immediate Aid for Long-Term Mental Health
The Alaska Mental Health Trust invests in care for Alaska’s most vulnerable
By Isaac Stone Simonelli
Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority
I

n the wake of celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2019, the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority has stepped in to provide $1.5 million in grants to organizations responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in the Last Frontier.

“We are concerned about the near- and long-term impacts of the pandemic on mental healthcare,” Alaska Mental Health Trust CEO Mike Abbott explains. “Providers that are doing the day-to-day work with our beneficiaries are in many cases struggling because they’re losing revenue, operational requirements are different and typically more expensive, and they are adapting to telemedicine where they might not have used that technology much before.”

Marketing vs. Advertising–What’s the Difference?
Image of Christine Merki
By Christine Merki
Account Manager
T

here’s a difference between marketing and advertising, but it takes one to get to the other.

To survive in business, the goal is to turn consumers into buyers. It’s a fairly basic concept, but it’s a bit of a walk to go from producing goods and services to getting paid for them. Marketing and advertising lies somewhere in the middle of that marriage.

Retail
Article Title
Business-as-Usual
Challenges, innovations, and takeaways on navigating retail commerce during the pandemic
By Amy Newman
Retail
Article Title
Business-as-Usual
Challenges, innovations, and takeaways on navigating retail commerce during the pandemic
By Amy Newman
M

atanuska Brewing Company was on the path to experiencing record sales at the start of 2020. And then COVID-19 hit.

“It was probably the best January and February we’ve ever seen,” owner Matthew Tomter says. “Then we see Seattle shutting down, and we realized this was about to happen.”

The arrival of COVID-19 led to sweeping health mandates from state and local governments that resulted in closed doors at all businesses except those deemed essential in an attempt to “flatten the curve” of the virus.

Best of Alaska Business 2020
Illustration fish and 2020 Best of Alaska Business
2020 Best of Alaska Business
The sun is out, the salmon are running, and your votes are in

W

elcome to the 5th Annual Best of Alaska Business awards. First and foremost, thank you to our readers who took the time to nominate the businesses that you see provide exceptional services to Alaskans. We publish the results, but you awarded these businesses with recognition for the hard work they do in their very varied fields.

To our winners: congratulations. While we review our survey process every year, year after year we’ve opted for a write-in process so that our readers can tell us what companies they value without us influencing their choices. You’ve earned these accolades, and we feel privileged to pass them along.

Best of Alaska Business 2020
Illustration fish and 2020 Best of Alaska Business
2020 Best of Alaska Business
The sun is out, the salmon are running, and your votes are in

W

elcome to the 5th Annual Best of Alaska Business awards. First and foremost, thank you to our readers who took the time to nominate the businesses that you see provide exceptional services to Alaskans. We publish the results, but you awarded these businesses with recognition for the hard work they do in their very varied fields.

To our winners: congratulations. While we review our survey process every year, year after year we’ve opted for a write-in process so that our readers can tell us what companies they value without us influencing their choices. You’ve earned these accolades, and we feel privileged to pass them along.

Tourism
Virtual Visitors
With the 2020 tourist season decimated, businesses look for new ways to serve customers
By Bailey Berg
F

irst come the shorebirds, congregating on the beaches of the Kenai Peninsula. Then come the king salmon, returning en masse to the rivers where they were spawned. Then—usually—come the tourists.

Last summer more than 2 million visitors were welcomed to the Land of the Midnight Sun. They toured and dined and experienced what makes Alaska what it is. And in doing so, they spent more than $2 billion. Oodles of companies (and entire towns) rely on a tourist presence. Like early homesteaders, businesses depend on summer’s bounty to make it through the winter.

This year has seen innumerable changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, though one of the most profound has been a shift from life in a physical world to a digital one—across the globe businesses asked employees to work from home, schools went online, and shopping carts were found in the upper right-hand corner of customers’ screens.

This shift has challenged Alaska businesses that rely on tourism groups and independent travelers. Across the state, businesses in every industry have had to find creative revenue streams. Many decided to look for ways to add value to the lives of those already here; Alaskans helping Alaskans through uncertain times.

Virtual Visitors featured
Virtual Visitors
With the 2020 tourist season decimated, businesses look for new ways to serve customers
By Bailey Berg
F

irst come the shorebirds, congregating on the beaches of the Kenai Peninsula. Then come the king salmon, returning en masse to the rivers where they were spawned. Then—usually—come the tourists.

Last summer more than 2 million visitors were welcomed to the Land of the Midnight Sun. They toured and dined and experienced what makes Alaska what it is. And in doing so, they spent more than $2 billion. Oodles of companies (and entire towns) rely on a tourist presence. Like early homesteaders, businesses depend on summer’s bounty to make it through the winter.

This year has seen innumerable changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, though one of the most profound has been a shift from life in a physical world to a digital one—across the globe businesses asked employees to work from home, schools went online, and shopping carts were found in the upper right-hand corner of customers’ screens.

This shift has challenged Alaska businesses that rely on tourism groups and independent travelers. Across the state, businesses in every industry have had to find creative revenue streams. Many decided to look for ways to add value to the lives of those already here; Alaskans helping Alaskans through uncertain times.

Environmental
Coast-to-Coast | iStock
The Art of Arctic Negotiation
Finding balance and identifying ‘who’s at the table’ is critical to development
By Isaac Stone Simonelli
C

rashing oil prices and banking investment policies that exclude many Arctic projects are changing the short-term and long-term landscape for development in the Arctic.

“Our Environmental and Social Risk Management framework and policies are a critical part of our due diligence requirements in sensitive industries such as oil and gas, mining, and consumer finance, and they help us identify, evaluate, and manage the environmental and social risks associated with our lending and investments,” Wells Fargo announced in a statement. “Wells Fargo does not directly finance oil and gas projects in the Arctic region, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR)—part of a larger 2018 risk-based decision to forego participation in any project-specific transaction in the region.”

Oil & Gas
Oil in Alaska
Contrasting oil operations on the Slope to the Lower 48
By Julie Stricker
Oil in Alaska featured image
Julie Stricker
W

hy does a company invest billions of dollars in a remote and frigid place thousands of miles from market and connected to the rest of the world solely by air and a skinny 400-mile dirt road?

For ConocoPhillips, the answer is simple.

“We produce oil here because that’s where the oil is,” says Natalie Lowman, director of communications for ConocoPhillips, Alaska’s largest oil and gas producer.

Construction
Breaking Frozen Ground
How general contractors tackle the hurdles of building homes in the Interior
By Isaac Stone Simonelli
Clark James Mishler | Alaska Stock
Oil & Gas
Breaking Frozen Ground
How general contractors tackle the hurdles of building homes in the Interior
By Isaac Stone Simonelli
Clark James Mishler | Alaska Stock
Breaking Frozen Ground featured image
R

esidential construction in Alaska runs on the same seasonal boom-and-bust cycle that dictates work in many sectors of the Last Frontier. Deep, cold winters can leave the dirt too hard and cold to break ground until May, resulting in short seasons for general contractors preparing to build new homes before winter sets in again.

“We have a really challenging building season with limits to the amount of time you’ve got to build a house,” Chad Wilson from Wilson & Wilson says. “We’ve got such a short window. I mean, one minute, there’s snow on the ground, the next it’s 80°F.”

Alaska Native
The Real Results of Real Estate
Local facilities and diverse business lines generate revenue for Alaska Native corporations
By Samantha Davenport
Samantha Davenport
T

he Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act granted Alaska Native corporations two significant assets: cash (in compensation for land lost) and land. With those assets, the Alaska Native regional, village, and urban corporations were tasked to provide for their shareholders—how they did so was left up to them. While the money was an immediate necessity, the majority of Alaska Native corporations have found enduring success through leveraging their lands, and for some that’s taken the form of real estate investment or services.

Alaska Native corporations have invested in a wide range of real estate-related lines of business—from tourism infrastructure and retail centers to real estate investment and management. Below is compiled, by region, a sampling of the many ways that Alaska Native corporations have invested to the benefit of their shareholders and their regions.

Inside Alaska Business
AEDC
The Anchorage Economic Development Corporation released the results of its COVID-19 Business Impact Survey, which ran April 14-23; the second round of findings contained some unsettling numbers. Of the roughly 250 respondents, more than 1 in 5 claimed they were unsure whether their business would remain open or closed following the COVID-19 lockdown; however, and more encouragingly, 62 percent responded they were confident that their business will remain open.
aedcweb.com

Economic Indicators
ANS Crude Oil Production
391,274 barrels
12% change from previous month
5/31/2020
Source: Alaska Department of Natural Resources
ANS West Coast Crude Oil Prices
$38.42 per barrel
194% change from previous month
6/1/2020
Source: Alaska Department of Natural Resources
Statewide Employment
339,863 Labor Force
12.9% Unemployment
2/1/2020. Adjusted seasonally.
Source: Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development
Right Moves
Northrim Bank
Northrim Bank announced personnel changes at three branches in Alaska.

Lindsey Atkins was promoted to Branch Manager of Northrim’s Jewel Lake branch. Atkins has nine years of experience in the financial industry, with five of those years spent at Northrim. Her education includes time at North Idaho College and UAA. Atkins also serves as an active volunteer in the Anchorage community.

David Byrne has been named Commercial Loan Officer at Northrim’s Juneau Financial Center. Byrne comes to Northrim with twenty-one years of experience at financial institutions throughout Alaska. He holds a bachelor’s degree from UAA.

Alaska Trends

Positivity During a Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating. Our early efforts to protect the lives and wellbeing of our families, friends, and neighbors had the unfortunate result of crippling economic activity in the short term and for the long term—no one knows, yet.

But Alaska’s willingness to do what was necessary and its diligence in holding the course was successful: our healthcare system has not been overrun, Alaskans in need of medical care were not abandoned, and we can now turn toward rebuilding our economy (which we’ve done before).

At a Glance

What book is currently on your nightstand?
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (a nightstand staple).

What movie do you recommend to everyone you know?
I’m not a big movie goer…. I’m not sure what I’d suggest as I usually fall asleep before the credits roll. Splash was my most favorite movie as a little girl, as well as Pippi Longstocking, but I’m not sure I’d necessarily “recommend” them.

What’s the first thing you do when you get home after a long day at work?
Because I work from a home studio, days don’t necessarily have a definitive start and stop time, I suppose. If I had to say something, I’d say I kickback with a cold one and indulge in some smutty brain drain TV, but who am I kidding—it doesn’t need to be a long day for me to do that!

If you couldn’t live in Alaska, what’s your dream locale?
I lived in Rome, Italy, for almost half a year during college, which I absolutely loved… I’d love to live in Rome again and really take advantage of all that is there. (Side note: While in Rome I lived on Via Del Corso, my company’s namesake.)

If you could domesticate a wild animal, what animal would it be?
My third kid. She’s always been a wild child bursting with creative, crazy, and chaotic ambitions (my husband affectionately calls her feral). But like most wild animals, she is a fascinating creature that brings so much excitement into our lives… couldn’t imagine life without her!

At a Glance

What book is currently on your nightstand?
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (a nightstand staple).

What movie do you recommend to everyone you know?
I’m not a big movie goer…. I’m not sure what I’d suggest as I usually fall asleep before the credits roll. Splash was my most favorite movie as a little girl, as well as Pippi Longstocking, but I’m not sure I’d necessarily “recommend” them.

What’s the first thing you do when you get home after a long day at work?
Because I work from a home studio, days don’t necessarily have a definitive start and stop time, I suppose. If I had to say something, I’d say I kickback with a cold one and indulge in some smutty brain drain TV, but who am I kidding—it doesn’t need to be a long day for me to do that!

If you couldn’t live in Alaska, what’s your dream locale?
I lived in Rome, Italy, for almost half a year during college, which I absolutely loved… I’d love to live in Rome again and really take advantage of all that is there. (Side note: While in Rome I lived on Via Del Corso, my company’s namesake.)

If you could domesticate a wild animal, what animal would it be?
My third kid. She’s always been a wild child bursting with creative, crazy, and chaotic ambitions (my husband affectionately calls her feral). But like most wild animals, she is a fascinating creature that brings so much excitement into our lives… couldn’t imagine life without her!

Images ©Eliza Brace

Off the Cuff

Annie Brace
A

nnie Brace is the founder and owner of Corso Graphics, which specializes in graphic design, fine art, illustration, and “a splash of photography.” Brace is also the phenomenal artist of our cover this month; we reached out to her because we were drawn to her brilliant use of color, the high energy of her work, and how clearly Alaska inspires her.

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Thanks for reading our July 2020 preview issue!