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Five Alaska Organizations receive Governor’s North Star Awards for International Excellence


May 5, 2011, Juneau, Alaska - Governor Sean Parnell announced the five winners of the 2011 Governor's North Star Awards for International Excellence. Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development Commissioner Susan Bell presented the awards at the annual Export Alaska luncheon in Anchorage.

The recipients are:

·         Teck Resources Limited for export and foreign investment;

·         PolyEarth Construction International for export of services;

·         HAI Shirokuma Tours, LLC for visitor industry promotion;

·         Affinity Films for cultural exchange; and

·         Turnagain Elementary School Russian Immersion Program for education.

"The North Star awards turn the spotlight on those who export services, who attract visitors, who prepare today's students for international opportunities tomorrow, and who understand the importance of one-to-one cultural exchange," Governor Parnell said. "Alaskans know the importance of international connections and how to make those connections work for the benefit of our communities."

Teck Resources Limited and its important operations at the Red Dog Mine earned a Governor's North Star Award for Excellence in both trade and foreign investment.

An Alaska Native corporation and a Canadian company have built what has become the largest zinc mine in the world, which currently represents over 55 percent of the mining value in Alaska. This joint venture between Teck Resources Limited and NANA Native Corporation has created significant benefits to the Northwest Arctic Borough in revenue to the local governments, royalty payments to NANA, and more than 500 year-round jobs - with special initiatives to maximize local hire, training, and education with NANA shareholders.

PolyEarth Construction International earned a Governor's North Star Award for International Excellence in export of services.

The company began with a construction project in Iraq in 2004. By 2007, PolyEarth had created a business model that would introduce Alaska construction technologies across the Middle East and Mediterranean countries. These Alaska construction professionals and tradesmen have now continued this pursuit in markets in Southeast Asia and North Africa. They have brought U.S quality, project management, and safety standards to new international construction markets. And more importantly, PolyEarth has taken its work experience in rural Alaska and the North Slope to generate new training and mentoring in construction technology in new, often challenging environments. 

HAI Shirokuma Tours LLC earned a Governor's North Star Award for International Excellence in visitor industry promotion. 

Founded 15 years ago, the small but dynamic HAI Shirokuma Tours LLC focused its efforts solely on the Japanese market. HAI Shirokuma Tours LLC provides customized and escorted small group tours to Alaska - from Barrow to Denali to Sitka. HAI Shirokuma Tours works with more than 200 Alaska business, and 20 Japan tour wholesalers. Alaska benefits from packages that not only showcase Alaska in the summer but also the beauty of the state's winter experience.

Affinity Films earned a Governor's North Star Award for International Excellence in cultural exchange.

Executive Director Mary Katzke is known for her many Alaska films. Partnering with her son, Corin, they conducted and captured on film a unique and innovative educational project that spans the globe. In the last eight months Corin, age 11, travelled to 27 countries, reaching out to more than 250 families, one at a time. Corin gave up to six Alaska-themed presentations in each of those countries. This unique person-to-person effort promoted cultural exchange, Alaska tourism, and education about our state and geography.

Turnagain Elementary School Russian Immersion Program earned a Governor's North Star Award for International Excellence in education.

Six years ago, Turnagain Elementary School became one of the first public elementary schools in the United States to teach a Russian language immersion program.  Students begin language studies in kindergarten and first grade and continue to the sixth grade. Half of the school day is taught in Russian; the other half is in English. Students continue a modified program in middle school and high school. The program currently has 292 students with eight teachers native to Russia. The first class of Russian Immersion students are currently in the seventh grade. With a new partnership with UAA, students can continue a specialized program into their post-secondary education. 

For more information about the Governor's North Star Awards for International Excellence, please contact Patricia Eckert at (907) 269-8118.
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