CIRI president describes new Alaska business model to ambassadors

CIRI President and CEO Margie Brown delivered a presentation to ambassadors and foreign dignitaries visiting Alaska as part of Experience America, a program organized by the U.S. Department of State. The Experience America program gives foreign ambassadors an in-depth understanding of America by coordinating dialogue with business, nonprofit and civic leaders through tours and excursions in American communities. Thirty-seven foreign ambassadors visited Alaska June 21-24.

Brown spoke to the ambassadors during an Anchorage Chamber of Commerce breakfast and panel discussion on June 22 at the Hotel Captain Cook. Approximately 200 people, including the 37 foreign ambassadors, attended. She gave an overview of Alaska Native history and CIRI’s diversified business portfolio, and focused on the ongoing economic and cultural impact of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) of 1971.

“Alaska Native corporations are changing the Alaska business model,” said Brown. “In the old business model, Outside businesses came to Alaska and exported profits from the state. In the new model, Alaska Native corporations invest not only in Alaska but also in business interests outside of Alaska that generate profits that return to the state and benefit Alaskans.”

Brown further described how Alaska Native corporations have capitalized on their economic growth to pass on cultural, vocational and economic benefits to their shareholders. For example, she pointed out that in December 2011, CIRI’s cumulative dividend distributions to its shareholders since the company was founded in 1972 will surpass $963 million, the total value of the original ANCSA cash settlement that was divided among the 12 Alaska Native regional corporations.

Brown explained that the impact of ANCSA goes beyond the bottom line in business. She outlined the benefits that CIRI-affiliated and CIRI-founded nonprofits, such as The CIRI Foundation, Southcentral Foundation, Cook Inlet Housing Authority, Cook Inlet Tribal Council, the Alaska Native Heritage Center, Koahnic Broadcast Corp. and the Alaska Native Justice Center, have on the greater community.