By Michael Burke, MTA CEO
It’s the talk of the town, an event unmatched in scale – the Slippery Salmon Olympics, held annually at the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce’s Bear Paw Festival, draws a significant crowd. And rightfully so – it takes a lot of skills to navigate an obstacle course, let alone while carrying a dinner tray, an empty can and a slippery salmon.
This unique event puts a quirky yet competitive flair on the Bear Paw Festival, an annual community summer celebration. Along the way of 34 years of Bear Paw Festivals, MTA has proudly served as a sponsor, carrying the torch of community support so all of us can get together, look back on the proud history of Eagle River, and celebrate its strength, resilience and independence.
As a 100% locally-owned and operated co-operative, we live in and share the communities alongside our members, and we have a genuine interest in their success. Investing in our communities and growing alongside them is vital to our values and who we are as a company, and we hope to demonstrate this to the Eagle River community with our continued support of the Bear Paw Festival.
While we stretch our salmon-carrying muscles in preparation for this year’s festival, which will be held on July 10-14 with a theme of “Shake, Rattle and Rebuild,” we’re highlighting our continued investment in Eagle River and the surrounding areas throughout the years. In looking back, we can see where we’ve been and continue looking forward with an even better focus.
MTA’s commitment to Eagle River and the communities we serve flows back to our earliest days of providing phone service to Eagle River to this year, where we are once again returning to support the Bear Paw Festival. Shawn Osbourne, MTA’s Marketing Events Specialist, has been closely involved with our Bear Paw celebrations over the years, noting that “participating in the Bear Paw Festival is always the highlight of our year, and it’s something our whole team gets excited about.”
Since those early days and into today, the momentum has built as we’ve continued investing in Eagle River’s residents to help the community grow and thrive in a variety of ways:
Our AlCan ONE network, operated by our wholly-owned subsidiary MTA Fiber Holdings, is the first and only all-terrestrial fiber route connecting Alaska to the contiguous United States. It will provide MTA’s members in Eagle River, as well as the rest of Alaska, with a robust internet transport connection for decades to come. It will be a major win for all Alaskans, strongly supporting business, job growth, and ultimately, our local economies.
Additionally, our MTA Foundation offers a range of scholarships specifically intended to help youth pursue education in technology or telecommunications, and we’re proud to have awarded 27 scholarships to recipients in 2019. Empowering students in Eagle River and throughout the Mat-Su Valley to pursue further education, these scholarships meaningfully support our youth in achieving their goals and dreams.
We’ve also regularly been welcoming Eagle River residents at our educational workshops, aimed at helping them live a more connected life, meeting their changing needs and being a better partner to each individual community member. We know times are changing fast in terms of technology, and we want to be there for our community each step of the way to make sure they’re aware of all the great streaming and internet options available.
These are all, of course, just a small sample of MTA’s work to shape our incredible communities. From this year’s Bear Paw Festival to the rest of 2019 and beyond, we will carry our mission and momentum forward and continue to find ways to invest in the great people, businesses and history of Eagle River.
MTA: Life. Technology. Together.
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