- Associated Press - Thursday, June 30, 2016

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Southeast Alaska’s largest tribal organization is looking to boost its revenue with the acquisition of an international maintenance contracting company.

The Central Council of Tlingit-Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska purchased Colorado-based KIRA Inc. earlier this month. Documents show the company has racked up more than $1 billion in federal contracts.

President Richard Peterson said the acquisition is intended to fund services for all the tribe’s members, and not just those in southeast Alaska.

“It feels somewhat disingenuous to repeatedly say, ‘I’m sorry you live outside of service area, but hey you’re a citizen, thank you,’” Peterson told KTOO-FM (https://bit.ly/297lN66).

The grant money that Central Council receives mostly limits its services, such as educational and employment, to its members in southeast Alaska. But half of the tribe’s more than 33,000 members live elsewhere in the state or Seattle, according to Peterson.

“There’s a misconception out there that we generate funds based on our general enrollment, and we don’t,” Peterson said. “We only generate funds based on the service area enrollment.”

The tribe has sought to gain access to unrestricted funds by creating the Tlingit Haida Tribal Business Corp., or THTBC. The company was certified last year for special government contracting status under the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) program.

Congress created the 8(a) certification decades ago to help small and minority-owned businesses win federal contracts.

Central Council’s acquisition of KIRA comes after a year of negotiations. The company had actually been looking for an Alaska Native corporation partner prior to the deal, according to company documents from 2014.

But KIRA founder and President Carlos Garcia said he decided to turn to Central Council instead to ensure the profits directly benefit shareholders.

“The money that we make is going to go straight to their tribal members. Many of these large ANCs (Alaska Native corporations) have enormous bureaucracy in Anchorage and the money goes to those executives,” Garcia said. “And there doesn’t seem to be a lot of profit put forth to the Native programs.”

THTBC’s CEO Richard Rinehart declined to disclose the price of the acquisition and did not provide an estimate on the projected revenue from the purchase. He did say that there are plans for KIRA to become a key player in Alaska’s market.

“KIRA has not competed a lot in Alaska because there’s so many Alaska-based corporations that have an advantage,” Rinehart said. “Well now they’ll be able to.”

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Information from: KTOO-FM, https://www.ktoo.org

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