By: Sophie Minich, CIRI president and chief executive officer
It was great to see so many of you at the first CIRI Open House in Anchorage! Thanks to those of you who came out to learn about CIRI’s 2013 business operations and share in the financial success of our company.
The Open House and the upcoming Shareholder Information Meetings in Kenai and Puyallup, Wash., are a great opportunity to reconnect with shareholders and discuss CIRI’s financial results from the past year. Those results are presented in more detail in the 2013 CIRI Annual Report that was mailed to shareholders earlier this month.
The theme of this year’s annual report, A Stronger CIRI – Built on Diversity, reflects one of the key reasons for CIRI’s success. Diversity has always been one of CIRI’s strongest assets, and I’m proud to be part of an Alaska Native corporation where, instead of letting our differences divide us, we use them to unite us. Our strength lies not only in our cultural diversity, but in our financial diversity too. By developing a portfolio of assets and investments in a range of business sectors, CIRI has built a stable foundation for its continued financial success.
CIRI achieved strong results in 2013. The company reported net income of $21.4 million, an increase of $5 million over 2012. CIRI’s total assets are $836 million and shareholders’ equity grew to nearly $629 million. Because dividends are based on shareholders’ equity, our dividends will increase in 2014. Although the increase is modest, it’s a sign we are moving in the right direction.
Last year, CIRI also celebrated a huge moment in the history of our company. The dividend distribution in the fall of 2013 brought the cumulative dividends and distributions to shareholders since the company was founded to more than $1 billion. No other Alaska Native corporation has reached that milestone, and we can all take pride in CIRI’s long-standing commitment to deliver economic benefits to shareholders. 2014 will no doubt bring challenges, but I look forward to the opportunities for growth and collaboration brought by the new year.
As our company grows, we can also contribute to the growth of the community CIRI calls home. This month, construction began on the new 8-story office tower that will be the first building at the Fireweed Business Center in midtown Anchorage. This project marks an exciting new phase for CIRI, which will move its offices into the first tower in early 2015. With more than half of the building available for commercial lease, it will also generate income and cash flow for the company.
In 2014, CIRI also looks to further strengthen our connections between CIRI villages, tribes and nonprofits through the Tikahtnu Forum, an organization that provides a platform for business collaborations and discussion of issues that impact all Alaska Native people.
One such issue is subsistence. We welcomed the news this month that the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the State of Alaska’s appeal to overturn federal rules, among other things, that provide a subsistence hunting and fishing priority for rural Alaskans during times of shortage. The “Katie John” case, as it’s known, affirmed the critical role of subsistence in rural Alaska and we hope the Supreme Court’s action marks the final challenge to the federal law that secures this fundamental legal right.
As we continue our Shareholder Information Meetings in Kenai (April 26) and Puyallup, Wash. (May 3), I’m looking forward to meeting with shareholders to celebrate our accomplishments during 2013 and discuss ways that CIRI can better meet the needs of our shareholders. I hope to see you there!