Chenega Corp. gets $300 million contract

Posted: Tuesday, August 27, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Chenega Corp. has won a 300 (m) million dollar federal contract to help run an Army installation in New Jersey.

Chenega will maintain the U.S. Army Garrison at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey for the next eight years.

It is the latest in a string of giant federal contracts Alaska Native companies are winning to handle federal work in the United States and overseas.

Chenega is the Native village corporation for the village of Chenega in Prince William Sound. The company will maintain more than 700 buildings as well as roads and grounds for the U.S. Army Garrison in Fort Monmouth, N.J., said Jeff Hueners, the company's chief operating officer.

The company also may provide hazardous waste removal, air traffic control, scheduling for senior officers and other tasks, he said. The work will be performed for six months, with nine one-year options. The contract ends in September 2010.

The contract is a coup for the village corporation with about 110 shareholders who have ties to the Prince William Sound region, Hueners said.

''We've been working on this opportunity for years. It's a landmark for us,'' Hueners said.

Alaska Native-owned companies have used their minority status to gain millions of dollars in federal contracts in recent years.

Earlier this summer, Anchorage-based Calista Corp. signed a $1.1 billion contract with the government to provide aerospace engineering and prototype manufacture to the military.

''It's huge,'' John Voth, president of Calista subsidiary Yulista Management Services, said of the 10-year contract.

Last year, Chenega, in partnership with Barrow-based Arctic Slope Regional Corp., won a $2 billion sole-source contract to provide defense mapping to the government, the largest federal contract ever awarded to an Alaska Native company.

Many of the contracts are being won through a Small Business Administration program that sets aside a slice of government work for socially and economically disadvantaged firms, usually owned by blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Chenega Technology Services Corp., a subsidiary of the parent company, will employ about 230 people on the New Jersey contract, Hueners said. Many will come from the firm that previously held the contract, he said.

Chenega vied with two other companies for the work, Hueners said.

Government contracting can be a good fit for Native corporations, Hueners said, though it has some pitfalls. One key to success is having ''sufficient capital to market on the front end,'' he said.

Many Native corporations and their subsidiaries have scouts that keep track of upcoming federal contracts and work to market the Alaska companies' services.

Most shareholders don't actually do the government contracting because most of it takes place in the Lower 48, Hueners said. It often also entails highly specialized work. But the corporations try to provide internships to shareholders to introduce them to the work.

Perhaps more important than direct employment is the cash that government contracting brings back to Alaska, Hueners said.

''A big part of our approach is to grow these operating companies to bring money back to the owners,'' he said.

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