PUBLISHED: 4:59 PM on Wednesday, May 4, 2005
Southeast Alaska businesses get dividends from CHARR
Business owners throughout Southeast Alaska continue to see the benefits of an innovative workers compensation program that pays dividends when the insurance program is profitable.

The program, offered through membership in the Alaska Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant and Retailers Association (CHARR), pays dividends to Southeast businesses for the second year in a row this year. The average dividend was $1138.

Businesses from all over Southeast received money back from the CHARR program. The largest payment made in Alaska went to Reecia Wilson at the Hangar on the Wharf in Juneau, who received a $4856 return on her premiums. But large check amounts don't just go to large businesses in bigger communities: in Haines, Mike Ward of Outfitter Liquor got a check for $3052. In Ketchikan, Ketchikan Entertainment Center got $2,539 back and the Bayview Restaurant in Sitka got $1106.

CHARR's workers compensation program pools the amount program participants pay in premiums for state-mandated workers comp insurance coverage. After workers comp claims against the businesses are settled, the difference is returned to business owners in the form of a dividend check.

While most participants statewide didn't get dividends quite as large as those seen in Southeast, with the cost of membership in CHARR just $300 per year, the dividends at least paid for their membership in the statewide trade association.

Dale Fox, executive director of CHARR, said that in a business environment in which bars and restaurants are closing their doors due to the rapidly escalating cost of workers comp insurance, it is refreshing to be able to return a dividend.

"Our members are primarily small businesses, and for them, every dollar counts," Fox said. "I love my job. To hundreds of Alaskan business owners, I'm the guy who sends them money."