This year, there are more happy Calista shareholders than ever as the holiday season begins.
“We’re getting a lot of very positive comments,” said shareholder and Calista Communications Manager Thom Leonard.
Leonard says that the number of people receiving corporation dividends this year is more than twice as high as last year. The reason? A decision shareholders made to open enrollment to people who had not been born before 1971, when enrollment closed originally, and also to people who failed to enroll by that deadline.
This problem of those left out of the ranks of shareholders plagues all of the state’s Native Regional Corporations. Calista shareholders took the most generous approach, giving each new shareholder 100 shares, the same amount each individual received when the corporation was first formed.
“One thing we heard over and over again,” said Leonard, “is they wanted the descendants and new enrollees to have the same rights in terms of voting, and also the same benefits in terms of dividends.”
The result of that decision is that last year there were 13,000 shareholders and now there are 28,000.
“So the number of shareholders have more than doubled since just a year ago. It’s very exciting,” said Leonard.
The increase in the number of shares means that each share individually earns a smaller dividend. Last year, the winter dividend totaled $2.4 million. When that was divided between 13,000 shareholders, each share’s dividend was worth $1.75. This year, the total value of the winter dividends grew by about 10 percent, with a total value of $2.6 million.
“It's more money in total,” explained Leonard,” but looked at per share, it's less.”
About 60 percent of Calista’s shareholders live in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. That means that Calista's winter dividend is pumping about $1.7 million into the region.