Business Briefs

Posted: Thursday, August 16, 2001

Popular home loan program returns

The Alaska Housing Finance Corp. has reinstated its popular Taxable First-Time Home Buyer Program, which offers attractive market-based rates to Alaskans who have not owned a home for at least three years.

AHFC started the program in late 1999 to complement its Tax-Exempt First-Time Home Buyer Program, which, because of its income and acquisition-cost restrictions, is not available to buyers in many parts of Alaska. However, it suspended the taxable program in April because funds used to subsidize the program were rapidly diminishing. "Taxable" and "tax-exempt" refer to the bonds AHFC sells to finance the loans.

"Now, I'm happy to announce that, through AHFC's strong credit rating, we were able to issue bonds at a favorable rate and again offer a program to help even more Alaskans buy their first home," said Dan Fauske, AHFC chief executive.

Seafair rodeo promotes marine safety

The Homer Chamber of Commerce sponsors Seafair, a safety rodeo to promote safe boating, on Sept. 3. Events begin with a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter rescue demonstration at 2 p.m. on the beach by the Coast Guard cutter Sedge, near the entrance to the Homer harbor.

Following the rescue demonstration, there will be competitions on the beach, including immersion suit relay and damage control trainer operations. The entry fee is $100 per boat, but there is no fee for individual entries. The grand prize for the winning boat is a survival raft repack. The grand prize for the winning crew is a "winner takes all" of the entry fees. Entry forms and guidelines are available at the Homer Chamber of Commerce, the harbormaster's office, Helly Hansen, Kachemak Gear Shed, Nomar, Eagle Enterprises, Coal Point Trading and the fuel dock.

There also will be a Big Boy Toy Show -- a trade show of boats, recreational gear, safety gear and equipment -- in the parking lot by the beach.

The public can watch the rodeo for free. Sponsors are the chamber, the Coast Guard and the North Pacific Fisheries Association. For information, call the chamber at 235-7740.

Foothills appoints executive vice president

Foothills Pipe Lines Ltd. has appointed John Ellwood its executive vice president and chief operating officer.

"John will assume leadership for the prebuild assets and operations and will continue with his responsibility for the completion of the Alaska Natural Gas Transportation System," said Dennis McConaghy, co-chief executive officer of Foothills and executive vice president of TransCanada Pipelines Ltd.

Foothills holds Canadian permits to build a pipeline paralleling the Alaska Highway to move Alaska North Slope natural gas to markets in the Lower 48 and has been promoting a pipeline along that route. The major producers of North Slope gas also are considering a route across the Beaufort Sea and down the Mackenzie River valley, and are studying the feasibility of a pipeline to Nikiski or Valdez, where the gas could be liquefied for transport aboard tanker ships to Pacific Rim buyers.

Construction law is conference topic

The Seminar Group, of Vashon Island, Wash., offers a conference on Alaska construction law Sept. 13-14 at the Marriott-Downtown in Anchorage. Participants will learn how to deal with state and federal regulations, how to bid for public and private contracts and how to avoid costly construction disputes. The program is designed for attorneys and legal workers, contractors, developers, planners, project managers, real estate workers and insurance workers. Cost is $595, with discounts for some groups. For information, call (800) 574-4852.

Firm distributes oil spill cleanup products

Anchorage-based Fortyniner Remediation & Oilspill Group has signed an exclusive contract to distribute cleanup products made by BICO Inc. of Pittsburgh, Penn. Its base product is sprayed as a powder on open-water spills and bonds with the oil, preventing it from sinking or contaminating wildlife and plants. BICO incorporates the same product in bilge cleaners and booms.

Tobacco settlement builds Alaska schools

The Northern Tobacco Securitization Corp., a subsidiary of Alaska Housing Finance Corp., will issue up to $135 million in bonds on behalf of the state of Alaska. The NTSC board also approved an underwriting group comprised of the firms Bear Stearns, Goldman Sachs, Solomon Smith Barney, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter and First Albany.

Different states have different strategies for spending money from a settlement with the four largest cigarette manufacturers. Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles proposed to the 2000 Alaska Legislature that Alaska pursue issuing bonds for schools and other capital projects. The Legislature passed House Bill 281 authorizing NTSC to buy 40 percent of the state's right to proceeds from the tobacco settlement and issue bonds to finance the purchase. NTSC issued $116 million in bonds for that purpose in October 2000. Using proceeds from the sale of settlement revenues to NTSC, the state funded $93 million in school construction.

The 22nd Legislature passed HB234, authorizing NTSC to issue bonds to purchase another 40 percent of the state's revenue from the tobacco settlement. That is what led to NTSC's coming issue of up to $135 million in bonds.

Award to help first-time home buyers

The Federal Home Loan Bank in Seattle recently awarded Wells Fargo Bank Alaska $20,000 for the 2001 Home$tart Savings program, which helps low- and moderate-income first-time home buyers accumulate money for down payment and closing costs. It matches every $1 the prospective buyer saves with $3, to a maximum of $5,000 toward the purchase of a first home. For information, visit any Wells Fargo home mortgage loan office.

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