As we reflect upon 2013 and look forward to 2014, I am reminded of what a great year it has been. For me, personally, I have thoroughly enjoyed my first year as CIRI’s president and chief executive officer. Every day I am inspired and motivated by CIRI’s mission and am grateful for the terrific team of employees I have the privilege of leading. The opportunities that have brought all of us together to celebrate our culture and share new ideas as to how CIRI can fulfill its mission have been gratifying as well.
It’s been an exciting year for CIRI and I am proud to report on our continued strong performance on behalf of you, the shareholders. We look forward to new and exciting developments in 2014.
Fire Island Wind
In the early part of 2013, CIRI eagerly monitored the operation of Fire Island Wind which began operating in late 2012. We are pleased to report that the wind project is performing just as we predicted, delivering about 50,000 megawatts hours per year of power to Anchorage homes and offsetting a significant amount of natural gas usage. CIRI has now started construction for phase two of the project, in which we intend to construct another 11 wind turbines once a power purchase agreement has been negotiated with a local utility.
The Tikahtnu Commons Retail and Entertainment Center continued to attract retail outlets and new restaurants. Early in 2013, Old Navy, Starbucks and Famous Footwear stores opened. Then, the construction of Sam’s Club completed in mid-year for a grand opening in September. Currently, we are monitoring the construction of a Texas Roadhouse restaurant, which is scheduled to open in February of next year. The Tikahtnu Commons is now, almost, completely built out and stores are performing well.
ANCSA 12b land exchange
March of 2013 marked a historic milestone for CIRI and the Cook Inlet villages. After decades of complicated legal arguments and debate among the villages, CIRI transferred title of 230,000 acres of land to the village corporations. I’m grateful for all of the hard work of the CIRI staff and the village teams who made this possible. I look forward to even stronger relationships and more collaboration with the villages and tribes in the future.
Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge
In June, CIRI Alaska Tourism Corporation cut the ribbon on the newly rebuilt Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge at Fox Island. The lodge is nestled between a lagoon and the cobbled beach and features stunning views of Resurrection Bay. It was a great accomplishment to complete the work in time for the 2013 season.
Cumulative dividends top $1 billion
CIRI accomplished a major milestone in September with the distribution of third quarter dividends to shareholders. The payments brought the cumulative dividends paid to shareholders since the company’s inception to more than $1 billion. This is an achievement no other Alaska Native corporation has been able to match and highlights CIRI’s commitment to deliver economic benefits to shareholders.
Fireweed Business Center
In the fall, CIRI announced an exciting project that we believe will help define CIRI for years to come – the Fireweed Business Center. On the piece of land that was formerly home to the Fireweed Theater in Anchorage, CIRI is building an office complex that will include an eight-story tower that will be CIRI’s new corporate offices and other tenants. The state-of-the-art, energy-efficient building is being designed to reflect the cultural values of sustainability, diversity and a respect for the land, with the input of CIRI shareholders, descendants and employees as well as in-region villages and tribes. CIRI’s real estate department is actively working with the architects and we expect construction to begin this spring.
As you read on the front page of the Raven’s Circle, CIRI just completed the deal to purchase a one-third ownership of the ConocoPhillips Alaska office complex. This is a significant investment and reinforces CIRI’s commitment to investing within our region.
It has, indeed, been an exciting year for CIRI and I am proud to report on our continued strong performance on behalf of you, the shareholders. We look forward to new and exciting developments in 2014, as well as more opportunities to get together and share in our common heritage.
I wish each of you a happy and healthy holiday season.