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Kodiak Native Corporations Welcome SBA Administrator, Tout Benefits of Native 8(a) Program

June 24, 2010 (Kodiak, AK) – Koniag, Inc. and Afognak Native Corporation hosted Karen Mills, administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), on a visit to Kodiak and the village of Port Lions yesterday. The purpose of the trip was to demonstrate the success of the SBA’s Native 8(a) program and show how the program’s benefits are positively impacting the lives of Koniag and Afognak shareholders.

Administrator Mills had the chance to see how the 200 residents who live in the village of Port Lions depend primarily on commercial fishing and a subsistence lifestyle. For shareholders of Koniag, Inc. and Afognak Native Corporation, the benefits they receive from their corporations are important for them to carry on that lifestyle. 

Government contracting through the Native 8(a) program helps strengthen the corporations’ financial positions. In turn, shareholders in Alaska’s remote and isolated regions experience economic, cultural and educational benefits. “The 8(a) program has helped us not only become a thriving corporation, but allows us to fulfill a commitment to our people, our culture and our land,” Koniag President and CEO Will Anderson said. “We are proud of the exceptional value we provide to the federal government through our contacting services and we’re eager to demonstrate the benefits we bring home to our shareholders and our communities.”

In addition to paying annual dividends, “bringing home the benefits” was evident last month when Koniag celebrated the ribbon-cutting at its newly constructed corporate offices located on Near Island, overlooking the Kodiak harbor. The corporation also supports shareholder education through the Koniag Education Foundation. The foundation has distributed more than $2 million in scholarships and grants since its inception and established a $5 million education endowment for future scholarships.

Shareholders of Afognak Native Corporation receive dividends twice a year at a level that has remained strong despite the slumping economy. In addition, through its education programs, Afognak has provided 722 shareholders and descendents nearly $1.5 million in scholarships, focusing on higher education awards and career enhancement opportunities.

“The Native 8(a) Program has a direct benefit on the lives of our shareholders,” said Virginia Ward, Chair of the Afognak Native Corporation’s Board of Directors. “Our region is remote and isolated and economic opportunities are often scarce. The 8(a) program helps provide our shareholders with the chance to receive an education and start building businesses in the region that will boost prosperity for all.”

Administrator Mills travelled to Alaska to participate in the 2010 National 8(a) Conference held June 22 and 23 at the Anchorage Marriott Downtown in Anchorage, Alaska. Thanks to extensive public input and consultation with Native American tribes and Alaska Native organizations, the SBA is in the process of updating many of the rules and regulations associated with the program.

“8(a) contracting is so important for Alaska Native Corporation shareholders. These shareholders come from some of the poorest and most remote communities in the country,” Sarah Lukin, executive director of the Native American Contractors Association, said. “This is an exciting opportunity to show Administrator Mills a true Alaska village and demonstrate to her the many diverse benefits the 8(a) program delivers.”

For information about Koniag, Inc., visit www.koniag.com.

For information about Afognak Native Corporation, visit www.afognak.com.

For information about SBA Administrator Karen Mills, visit www.sba.gov/aboutsba/administrator.  

For information about the Native American Contractors Assn., visit www.nativecontractors.org.

For information about the Native 8(a) Program, visit www.Native8aWorks.org.

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