Business Briefs

Posted: Thursday, July 20, 2000

Wells Fargo completes NBA purchase

Wells Fargo & Co. completed its purchase Monday of National Bancorp of Alaska, which owns all shares of National Bank of Alaska.

Shareholders of National Bancorp of Alaska approved the merger on June 8, and regulatory approval came June 21. Wells Fargo will exchange .896303 shares of its common stock for each share of National Bancorp of Alaska common stock.

NBA customers soon will be able to use Wells Fargo products and services, including more than 5,100 U.S. branch offices, 6,500 ATMs and Internet banking. Alaska customers immediately can open free checking accounts.

NBA mortgage origination operations, including Northland Mortgage Co., now operate as Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. NBA Insurance Services is changing its name to Wells Fargo Insurance Services, and will begin offering Wells Fargo insurance products. NBA's Northland Credit will begin operating as Wells Fargo Financial. The NBA Leasing Corp. will begin operating as Wells Fargo Equipment Finance Inc.

National Bancorp of Alaska did not declare its usual June quarterly dividend. Instead, former National Bancorp of Alaska stockholders will receive future quarterly dividends declared by Wells Fargo.

Most NBA branches will keep the National Bank of Alaska name until mid-2001, then convert to the Wells Fargo brand and computer systems.

Era adds third Dash 8

Era Aviation has added a third Bombardier Dash 8 plane to its fleet.

The 37-passenger plane has two engines and carries two pilots. Era also operates five 50-seat Convair 580 planes and nine 16-seat de Havilland Twin Otters. It flies between Anchorage and Kenai, Homer, Kodiak, Cordova, Iliamna, Valdez and Whitehorse, Yukon, and also connects 17 Western Alaska villages to Bethel.

Robinson's Mini-Mart wins Tesoro recognition

Robinson's Mini-Mart is the first winner of the 2000 Tesoro Rebate Incentive Program semi-annual contest, which Tesoro intends to reward dealers for continued patronage and to provide financial incentives for dealers who maintain a first-class store image. Robinson's Mini-Mart, managed by Sheryl Groves, is at Mile 14.5 Kalifornsky Beach Road.

Kasilof business grows

Mana Kalani Sauces now are sold at Kasilof Mercantile in Kasilof, Jersey Subs in Soldotna, Twin City Oriental in Kenai and Coal Point Seafoods in Homer. They will appear next week at Ohama Seafood Market in Kirkland, Wash., said Richard Hamilton, who runs the business with his wife, Kim.

The Hamiltons hired Beaverton Foods in Beaverton, Ore., in February to produce the first batch of six sauces Kim developed for dipping, barbecuing, basting and marinating. Richard said they already have ordered a second lot of her Jung sauce, their most popular product. They soon will be ordering second lots of the other sauces and also of the institutional size of Jung sauce, he said.

Northrim earnings rise

Northrim Bank reported second-quarter earnings of $1.4 million, up from $1.1 million in the same quarter last year. The bank's total assets on June 30 were $539 million, up 7 percent from June 30 last year. Total loans outstanding were $414 million, up 7 percent, and deposits were $482 million, up 8 percent.

H.C. Price promotes Homer man

H.C. Price Co. has promoted David L. Matthews, who lives in Homer and Anchorage, to vice president and Alaska general manager. H.C. Price is an international construction company specializing in pipeline maintenance and power and process facilities. Matthews joined the company in 1981 and has been general manager of the Alaska division since 1998.

Development center offers help for fishers

The nonprofit Alaska Business Development Center Inc. has been awarded a state contract to provide free or low-cost business counseling and assistance to commercial fishers and related small businesses.

Projects that promote value-added fish processing and improved quality are of special interest. ABDC can help with Internal Revenue Service problems, loan extensions and preparation of loans for vessels, gear, quality improvements, small business development, permits and IFQs.

ABDC has provided these services for the last 20 years under previous contracts with the state Division of Investments. For information, call 562-0335 or (800) 478-3474.

Crowley promotes two

Crowley Maritime Corp. has appointed Steve Collar director of special projects for its subsidiary, Vessel Management Services. Collar, a 25-year Crowley veteran, was previously general manager, petroleum transportation, for Crowley Maritime. He holds a master of business administration degree from the University of Washington.

Chris Dugan was promoted to manager, oil transportation, for Crowley Maritime. He holds a bachelor's degree in marine transportation from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and an MBA from Pepperdine University. He joined Crowley in 1997.

High-tech training grants announced

WASHINGTON -- Workers in nine states, including Alaska, will be trained for careers in high-tech fields under grants announced Wednesday by Labor Secretary Alexis Herman.

''We don't have a worker shortage in this country, but we do have a skill shortage,'' Herman told reporters during a conference call announcing the $29 million grant program.

In Alaska, the Municipality of Anchorage will get $2.4 million. The money will be used to train 300 people for jobs in computer systems analysis, computer software engineering, electrical engineering and sales and marketing.

The grants are expected to help employers in the telecommunications and computer technology industries in Anchorage and the Mat-Su borough meet the demand for qualified workers.

Funds for the grants come through fees paid by foreign workers seeking temporary work visas, mostly in technical fields. The workers, who enter the United States to take jobs in ''skill shortage'' occupations such as computer programming, engineering and nursing, pay a $500 fee, much of which is applied to the training program for American workers.

The so-called H1-B visa program allows companies to hire the foreign workers temporarily. Congress expanded the program in 1998, increasing the number of visas from 65,000 to 115,000 per year.

The H1-B program has become vital to high-tech companies in the northwest and in California. Microsoft Corp., for instance, estimates that about 8 percent of its 23,500 employees are H1-B workers.

Herman said about 5,000 Americans will be trained using the grant money.

Wednesday's round of grants represents the second of three, which will total about $83 million, Herman said.

''Our work forces and our workplaces are literally changing at warp speed,'' she said. ''We certainly want to take seriously the fact that employers are saying they want more assistance.''

Herman said private industry can't be expected to bear the burden of training workers in fields such as telecommunications, computer programming, digital media, computer animation and nursing.

''They are doing a lot, but they can't do it alone,'' she said.

Congress is considering two measures to raise both the H1-B fee and the number of workers allowed into the country each year.

Herman said she had not taken a position on either measure, but supports the principle of increasing the limit on how many workers can enter the country on the six-year visas.

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