Sealaska Corp.'s board of directors approved a total dividend payout of about $17.5 million to about 18,300 individual shareholders and 10 village corporations last week.
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That includes a $10.90 per-share dividend payment to its urban and at-large shareholders, or $1,090 to its average shareholder, and $3.35 per-share dividend to village shareholders. The average shareholder owns 100 shares, but individual holdings may vary depending on inheritances.
The total payout includes a $3.3 million payment at $7.55 per share to 10 village corporations.
The dividends will be paid on Dec. 6.
The payout came as good news to 78-year-old Lillian Collier, who was born in Juneau and now lives in Seattle.
"What it does is it gives a person a positive identity and pride in their inheritance, and their people," she said. "It gives them self-esteem, and a positive self-identity."
She's going to use her dividend to pay off her own funeral expenses ahead of time.
The Native corporation more than doubled its net income between 2004 and 2006, from $18.7 million to $40.9 million, according to its financial statements. The company primarily focuses on timber, manufacturing, investments, and federal and commercial contract services. The payout is also based on the positive performance of its permanent investment fund.
Timber and investments brought in the most income, at $16 million and $34 million, respectively.
Sealaska spokesman Todd Antioquia said dividends have been increasing over the past few years because of the success of the company's mix of services.
"The focus of the board management has really been to operate strategically placed businesses that are in a variety of industries, that aren't overly reliant on federal contracting or commercial contracting," Antioquia said. "It's that product mix and services mix that's been working well for the corporation."
The federal government and commercial businesses are continuing to look into investing in minority-owned businesses, he said.
This summer, shareholders voted to open enrollment to eligible descendants born after 1971 and to those who were eligible to enroll for shares during the original sign-up period but did not, called leftouts. The original sign-up period lasted from 1971 to 1973.
The number of shareholders has jumped by about 1,000 since the vote went through.
"We had to open the rolls because it's slowly getting smaller," Collier said. "As time goes on, people have passed away, so the number of shareholders gets smaller. We have to open the door for the rest of our people."