Business briefly

Posted: Tuesday, May 23, 2000

Gottschalks announces plans

Gottschalks, the California-based department store purchasing most of Lamonts Apparel chain, announced its plans for the stores following U.S. Bankruptcy Court approval of the sale last week.

Gottschalks initially said that it had acquired 36 of the 38 Lamonts' locations, but revised that figured to 37, including the store in the Nugget Mall in Juneau. The company paid $20.1 million.

Gottschalks will take possession of the sites on July 24, after the current liquidation sales have concluded. The stores will reopen under the Gottschalks name in stages, beginning in late August, with all 37 reopened by September, the company said in a news release.

``Gottschalks hopes to improve the sales volume and profitability of the stores through the introduction of cosmetics, fragrances and major apparel brands not previously carried by Lamonts, as well as through the expansion of key departments such as housewares, home textiles and shoes,'' the news release said. ``Customers can expect an improved shopping experience, with new signage and re-designed store layouts.''

New chamber committee organizing

The Juneau Chamber of Commerce is soliciting members for a committee to review issues associated with the University of Alaska Southeast.

A possible chamber scholarship fund is under consideration, according to George Davidson, chamber executive director. The committee also would look at ways to stress the importance of the university to Juneau.

``The university is a major economic component in our community, and we need to find ways to support it and to help it grow,'' Davidson said in a recent solicitation letter. Committee members must be chamber members in good standing.

Shee Atika reports earnings up

President and CEO Bob Loiselle reported that Shee Atika realized a net income of $1.7 million for 1999, up from $800,000 in 1998.

Loiselle also said the Shee Atika Fund Endowment, which pays most shareholder dividends, gained $6.5 million from investments, up by $2.6 million from a year earlier. A distribution of $9 per unit will be made from the endowment on June 12.

On-line remodeling help

Alaskans can log on to this month to ask a panel of experts questions on remodeling their homes.

The Anchorage Home Builders Association is providing the special informational forum as part of National Remodeling Month.

``Consumers are unknowingly taking a huge risk when hiring non-licensed contractors,'' said Elaine Taylor, chairwoman of the AHBA remodelers' council. ``We would like to prevent the shoddy and unsafe work we are often called upon to correct.''

The Web site will take questions through June 15. Replies will be made within 24 hours. Phone calls also can be taken at 522-3605.

Small business bill targets Natives

Alaska Sens. Ted Stevens and Frank Murkowski have proposed relaxed requirements in a demonstration program for small business that would make it easier for Alaska Native corporations to win government contracts.

``Given the unemployment levels in the Bush, there is no question that more needs to be done to try to increase economic development and employment opportunities in rural Alaska,'' Murkowski said.

Last year, Congress created an economic development designation called a HUBZone, for Historically Underutilized Business Areas. HUBZones have bidding incentives for federal contracts. Murkowski says the pending legislation would expand eligibility to maximize the number of Native corporations that could participate.

``We hope to see more contracting dollars flow to the state and to distressed communities,'' Stevens said.

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