Goldbelt, Incorporated is an urban, Alaska Native, for-profit corporation located in Juneau, Alaska. Its primary purpose is to manage assets and to conduct business for the benefit of its shareholders, approximately 3,600 people, almost all of Alaska Native heritage.
Shareholders collectively hold the entire 272,200 shares of Goldbelt stock, representing assets in excess of $90 million plus over 32,000 acres of land in the vicinity of Juneau, Alaska. The company is named after a richly mineralized zone in Southeast Alaska that stretches along the mainland from Frederick Sound on the south to Berners Bay on the north – an area encompassing Goldbelt’s land holdings.
Founded in 1973 and incorporated on January 4, 1974, Goldbelt was organized under the terms of the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), the largest single federal settlement of Native American claims. Through ANCSA, descendants of Alaska’s original inhabitants received 44 million acres of land and $966 million in cash. This was divided among more than 200 community corporations and 13 regional corporations.
Each ANCSA Corporation distributed stock in 100 share blocks as a birthright to its shareholders. Any Alaska Native born on or before December 18, 1971 (the day President Richard Nixon signed ANCSA) was eligible to enroll in a Native corporation. All original Goldbelt shareholders were issued 100 shares of Goldbelt stock and 100 shares of Sealaska, the regional corporation for Southeast Alaska.
Southeast Alaska was to have 13 ANCSA corporations: a regional corporation, and 12 community corporations, of which there were to be two urban and 10 village corporations. Each of the Southeast community corporations was allowed to choose only 23,040 acres (one township), without regard to shareholder populations. The community corporations for the rest of the state were given selection rights to land based on a per capita share of the total land settlement.
Goldbelt, as an urban corporation received none of the orginal $966 million at settlement and yet Goldbelt had the largest number of shareholders for a community corporation. Goldbelt also has a larger shareholder base than two of the Regional corporations. The corporation was challenged funding startup and initiating land selections. Once land selections were complete Goldbelt owned property in Hobart Bay, West Douglas and Echo Cove.
Goldbelt’s principal business during the first 20 years was the harvest of timber from its land at Hobart Bay. Turning its valuable timber assets to cash allowed the corporation to invest in real estate, operating companies and the stock markets. In the 1980’s Goldbelt shareholders received periodic dividends based on the corporation’s timber profits.
In the mid-90s the Board of Directors and management recognized that the company’s timber resources would soon be depleted. A strategic plan was developed called Vision 2000 creating a road map for the corporation to exit the timber industry and enter tourism, which was the most rapidly growing industry within Southeast Alaska.
However, success in tourism was mixed, and after some failed ventures in the small cruise ship industry, Goldbelt’s Board of Directors realized the inherent weakness of being invested solely in tourism, which was seasonal, providing jobs and income primarily during the Spring/Summer season. With limited resources, the Company aggressively expanded into the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) program, where it currently has twelve separate companies engaged in governmental contracting. Primary business activities include construction, vehicle and IT equipment leasing, military training, facilities management, personnel placement, logistical support and aerospace engineering. Total employment is in excess of 900 people spread through 20 states.
As a major economic force in Southeast Alaska, Goldbelt will continue to maintain its tourism business, develop it lands and work to preserve the rich culture and heritage of its 3,600 shareholders.