AIDEA, a public corporation
Created in 1967, the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) is a public corporation of the State of Alaska with a mission “to provide financing for Alaska’s business community, to expand the economy of the state, and to provide jobs for Alaskans.” AIDEA was created as “a public corporation of the state and a body corporate and politic constituting a political subdivision within the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development, but with separate and independent legal existence.” AIDEA’s authorizing statutes are central to AIDEA’s approach of increasingly limited legislative and public oversight as AIDEA has asserted repeatedly that no legislative approval is needed to finance or engage in “economic development.”
AIDEA’s structure as a separate, though public, corporation allows it to operate entirely through its governor-appointed Board and their decisions within their interpreted scope of its statutes. In reality, Alaskans are offered a blackbox of decision-making and out-of-touch investment priorities for the state’s increasingly broken economy, malleable for political football on local and federal levels in the name of Alaskan “independence” and acceptably interbred private sector and outside industry interests.
Though AIDEA and its activities may not be common knowledge for every Alaskan, Alaskans have not sat idly. Numerous AIDEA board meetings have drawn droves of Alaskan public comments in spite of significant obstacles due to severely lacking public process and stakeholder engagement on projects by AIDEA. Yet, with its public but separate mantel and dense innerworkings, AIDEA has amassed a long track record of misallocated and often secretive investments in principally extractive industries across our state while Alaskans have pleaded for information, explanation, involvement, and foresight for the generations of Alaskans to come. It is clear that while AIDEA claims to act in the best interests of the Alaskan public, its lack of transparency and past disregard of public process prevents AIDEA from fully achieving its mission of economic prosperity–resulting in outcomes that are often actually at odds with both long term growth and public opinion.
AIDEA Board & Executive Team
Membership of the AIDEA board is limited to seven (7) members, all appointed by the Governor.
The AIDEA board consists of two (2) state executive department heads–the Commissioner of Revenue and Commissioner of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development. These commissioners can in turn designate an assistant, if necessary, to act in the commissioner’s place at a meeting.
Current AIDEA board member Julie Anderson is the Commission of the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development. Anna MacKinnon serves as Special Assistant to the Commissioner of the Department of Revenue and has served as a full AIDEA board member (in contrast to a designee for particular meetings as per AS 44.88.030) in place of Commissioner Lucinda Mahoney of the Alaska Department of Revenue.
Alan Weitzner is the public face of AIDEA as its executive director. He was appointed to this position in August 2020 after serving in the role of chief investment officer since 2018.
Finally, the AIDEA board also includes five (5) public members appointed by the governor, each of whom is to have private sector expertise and demonstrated leadership skills. Right now there are only 4 public members as Julie Sande’s seat has yet to be filled.
AIDEA’s current public members include J. Dana Pruhs (AIDEA board chair), Bill Vivlamore, (AIDEA board vice chair), Albert Fogle, Bill Kendig, and Julie Sande.
J. Dana Pruhs, of Anchorage, is the owner of Pruhs Construction, Quality Sand and Gravel, and Meridian Investments. While currently serving as a board member on the Associated General Contract of Alaska Board, Pruhs has also previously served on the Alaska Board of Game, the Alaska Royalty Oil and Gas Advisory Board, the Anchorage Planning and Zoning Commission Board, and the Anchorage Community Development Board. He is a Contractor Trustee: Locals 302/612 of the International Union of Operating Engineers Construction Industry Trust Funds. Pruhs was appointed to the AIDEA board on August 15, 2013.
During a board meeting in 2020, Pruhs reportedly ended public testimony of people opposing the Ambler Road Project, which would provide a right-of-way through Gates of the Arctic National Preserve to access the mining district, by saying, “I don’t give a shit.” [March 2020 AIDEA board meetings, Facebook, 3/26/20]
Albert Fogle was previously in the US Army before joining the private sector with RISQ Consulting as an employee benefits and business consultant and a member of the executive team. Fogle left RISQ Consulting in 2018 to run unsuccessfully for the Alaska State House. In 2019, Fogle joined the Alaska Chamber as vice president. He is a board member and past Treasurer of Health eConnect, past board member of Alaskan AIDS Assistance Association, and a past two-time president of the Alaska Association of Health Underwriters. He was appointed to the AIDEA board on January 7, 2019.
Bill Kending has worked in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley in real estate lending. He has served on the Knik-Fairview Community Council for over 20 years and is now the current president. He also served as the vice chair on the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Planning Commission for three years and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Matanuska Electric Association. Kendig was appointed to the AIDEA board on November 28, 2018.
Bill Vivlamore is the president of Vivlamore Companies in Fairbanks and is the Secretary of the Greater Fairbanks Community Hospital Foundation and Foundation Health Partners. He wrote this op-ed in 2020 about businesses and covid
Commissioner Julie Anderson most recently served as the chair of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce and is the owner of Denali Management Solutions. Prior to that she worked at Alyeska Pipeline as a technical business strategy manager. She was appointed on January 3, 2019.
Anna MacKinnon was previously elected as an Anchorage Assembly member, an Alaska State Representative, and most recently as an Alaska State Senator. She was appointed to the AIDEA board on March 4, 2019.
Former Public Members
Bernie Karl, of Fairbanks, is the owner of Chena Hot Springs Resort, LLC. He was appointed to the AIDEA board on November 15, 2017. His last board meeting was in the fall of 2021
Julie A. Sande, of Ketchikan, is an owner of Marble Construction, White Rock Development, White Rock Holdings, Hump Island Oyster Company, and Marble Seafoods. Sande has also served as the director of the Ketchikan Pioneer Home since her appointment by then Governor Murkowski in 2002. Sande was nominated to the Ketchikan General Hospital Governing Board in 2006 and has continued serving the board of Peace Health Ketchikan Medical Center since that time in multiple committee roles including as the Board Chair from 2014-2016. She was appointed to the AIDEA board on January 7, 2019. Her last board meeting was winter 2022