By Margie Brown, CIRI president and CEO
CIRI just wrapped up its 37th Annual Meeting of shareholders on June 5. Gathering at the Puyallup Indian Tribe’s Chief Leschi School in Puyallup, Wash., shareholders heard a report on CIRI’s business activities and shared thoughts on the Company’s performance. Sixty-one percent of CIRI’s shareholders participated in person or by proxy to elect five directors to CIRI’s Board.
As we mark this milestone of nearly 40 years of ANCSA in action, it is also important to remember those who helped lay the groundwork for Alaska Native rights. Elsewhere in this issue you will read about two pioneers in Alaska Native land claims – Point Possession matriarch Feodoria Pennington and former Interior Secretary Stuart Udall. Both played integral rolls in the settlement of Alaska Native land claims and the formation of the Alaska Native regional corporations. We honor their memory and hope to learn by their example of commitment and integrity.
I offer my congratulations to our returning directors Charles Anderson, Michael Boling, Rolf Dagg and Thomas Huhndorf. I also congratulate and welcome first-time director Hallie Bissett. And I would like to thank retiring director William English for his 21 years of service on the Board.
With the election season behind us, CIRI’s Board and staff look forward to a year of promise. The Company recovered from the difficult business climate of 2008 and returned to profitability in 2009 – no small feat – but we’re not stopping there. The Company is moving forward with its refreshed strategic plan, capitalizing on significant market trends and pursuing new business initiatives aggressively.
Our underground coal gasification (UCG) project reached a significant milestone with the formation of Stone Horn Ridge LLC, a joint venture between CIRI and Laurus Energy that will bring to fruition CIRI’s plans to produce syngas from the otherwise unusable underground coal reserves on its lands on the west side of Cook Inlet. Laurus is a market leader in the emerging UCG field with the expertise and exclusive rights to technology that will enable our joint venture to produce clean, reliable, stably priced power from underground coal.
Another energy project that is moving forward is the Fire Island wind farm being built by CIRI’s subsidiary, Fire Island Wind LLC (FIW). The recent signing into law of Senate Bill 277 streamlines the regulation process while still safeguarding the public interest in power pricing. Final geotech work and clearing continues on Fire Island this summer. FIW has worked cooperatively with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to assist the FAA’s construction of its new VOR navigational beacon near Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport next month. This will allow the FAA to decommission the existing VOR facility on Fire Island next summer, removing a major obstacle to the wind farm’s development. The wind turbines themselves will go up in summer 2012 and will generate power by fall 2012.
Our real estate projects in Alaska have made considerable progress recently. Regal’s new 16-screen Tikahtnu Stadium 16 & IMAX theater opened at Tikahtnu Commons on June 7. The theater is the first stage of the development of the east side of the retail and entertainment complex and the first new theater built in Anchorage since 1998. CIRI Land Development Co. (CLDC), CIRI’s wholly owned real estate development company, and partner Browman Development Co. are currently in discussion with potential tenants to build out the rest of the east side.
Another CLDC project in Alaska started construction on its first building last month. The “11000 C” project is a mixed-use office and retail project on a 22-acre parcel of CIRI land in south Anchorage that could include up to 100,000 square feet of office space as well as additional retail and service businesses. The first structure under construction is a 40,000-square-foot office building pre-leased to Doyon Ltd. and its family of companies. The building should be completed and occupied early next year.
These are just a few of the projects our Board and staff will be working on this year. I am confident that the Company is well positioned to invest in projects and acquisitions that will generate strong cash flows in the near-term while continuing to build a prudent, diverse business portfolio. I thank all shareholders who participated in the annual election of directors and look forward to reporting on CIRI’s accomplishments in the coming year.