Alaska Chamber 2023 Premier Business Awards
The Alaska Railroad Corporation received an award honoring businesses with more than 100 employees, presented by the Alaska Chamber at its Premier Business Awards gala.
To cap off its Fall Forum conference, the Alaska Chamber presented its Premier Business Awards to an outstanding Alaskan, two companies, and a fellow chamber of commerce.
The four awards were handed out last week at a gala held at the Anchorage Hilton Hotel.
The chamber’s oldest honor, the William A. Egan Outstanding Alaskan of the Year (established in 1964) went to Bob Berto of Ketchikan. Berto has been extensively involved with Alaska Marine Pilots, International Longshoremen Workers Union, the National Bank of Alaska (later Wells Fargo) regional board, Ketchikan General Hospital and Peace Health governing board, and the Resource Development Council of Alaska. Berto has spent his entire career supporting and building Alaska’s natural resources through tourism, mining, forestry, fishing, and oil and gas, and he previously received the Northstar Award from the Alaska Visitors Association.
Outstanding Alaskans don’t have to be business moguls. Past recipients of the Egan award include painter Fred Machetanz, journalist William Tobin, and university president William R. Wood.
The Alaska Chamber presented the Bill Bivin Small Business of the Year Award to Northern Alaska Tour Company of Fairbanks. Founded by three men in 1987, the company focuses on cooperative, grassroots tour programs to strengthen the economies of communities it visits and to help preserve the wisdom of local residents by incorporating their knowledge into tour programs.
The Bill Bivin Small Business award recognizes an Alaska-based company with fewer than 100 employees, in operation for at least three years, that shows community involvement and enjoys a strong business reputation.
The Rita Sholton Large Business of the Year award, named for the former president and CEO of Northern Air Cargo, was given to the Alaska Railroad Corporation, which celebrated its centennial anniversary over the summer. It employs 600 year-round employees, supports 400 nonprofit organizations, and is continually committed to safety, economic viability, and service to its guests. The Alaska Chamber also recognizes the railroad for its dedication to community and environmental sustainability.
The award is relatively new, first presented in 2018 to First National Bank Alaska. No awards were given for 2019 and 2020, and then the chamber awarded Hecla Greens Creek Mining Company in 2021 and GCI in 2022.
The Cordova Chamber of Commerce was honored as the Local Chamber of the Year for 2023, chosen for its commitment to its community through events such as the Shorebird and Fungus Festivals, as well as membership programming such as its Business Empowerment Summit to help grow local businesses and develop local workforces. The Seward Chamber of Commerce was given the award in 2022.
Premier Business Award nominations were received and reviewed by the executive committee of the Alaska Chamber, including professionals representing oil and gas, finance, fishing, Alaska Native corporations, energy, and transportation.