Agrium included in Top 100 employers

Posted: Thursday, August 07, 2003

Two Kenai Peninsula companies were among the top 100 employers in the state last year.

Nikiski-based Agrium came in at number 89, while Soldotna's Frontier Community Services ranked 90th on the list, which was released Monday by the Alaska Department of Labor and Work-force Development. Agrium em-ployed 297 people in 2002, while Frontier Community Services had 293 employees.

It was the first time Frontier made the annual list. In doing so, the Soldotna health care company joined a number of nonprofit groups on the list. A press release issued Monday from the state agency said the list illustrates several growing trends in the state's economy.

"Although the nonprofit sector is not often touted as a powerful force in Alaska's economy, this list of Alaska's largest employers points to an important story," the release said. "Nearly a quarter of the top 100 employers were nonprofits."

Frontier Community Services Interim Executive Director Cindy Derning said Wednesday that her company works to make life easier for people with disabilities.

"We provide services for people who experience disabilities from birth to death," she said.

The company also operates assisted living facilities on the central peninsula, as well as in Wasilla and Valdez.

Frontier Human Resources Director Clifford Smith said the company has made some significant advances over the past few years.

"We've grown quite a bit in the last five years," Smith said. "We've at least doubled in size."

Agrium's situation is a little different. It's unlikely the state's largest chemical manufacturing company will make next year's list. This spring, the company announced it was cutting its workforce by 65 positions.

The company said at the time it was making the cuts in order to improve efficiency and operating costs at its Nikiski nitrogen products facility.

Agrium also blamed a shortage of Cook Inlet natural gas which it uses to produce fertilizer and other chemical products for the cuts.

The state's annual list was published in its monthly publication, "Alaska Employment Scene." Topping the list was Providence Health System Alaska, which employed 3,417 people. Safeway-Carrs was second with 3,028.

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