Fall is in full swing in Alaska with the air getting crisper, the days getting shorter and the bears putting on those last few pounds before their long winter sleep. Before I get to the business happenings around the state I wanted to give a shout out to bear 747 who was officially named Katmai National Park’s fattest bear earlier this month. If your quarantine diet and exercise regimen has been anything like mine, you may have appreciated seeing something that made you look fit by comparison.
On a more serious note, October has seen some of the highest numbers of COVID-19 cases to date with the state setting a one-day and seven-day record for the number of new cases. The Anchorage School District delayed its in-person school reopening based on new numbers and Fairbanks has shown a high per capita number of cases over the last few weeks. All of this has led to significant concerns among the business community regarding potential shutdowns and limitations on operations as we head into the traditionally slower winter season.
On a federal level, the vast majority of CARES Act funding for small businesses has been expended. At this time, the House and Senate have yet to come to a compromise bill and the election will likely impact the timing of negotiations. It is likely that another round of small business support may not become available until December or January.
On a state and local level, most of the CARES funds allocated towards businesses have been distributed with a few exceptions. The State’s Alaska CARES fund has seen an amazing number of applications and is rapidly distributing the last of the $270 million allocated to the program. Dozens of local governments have distributed their business funds or will be distributing them over the next few weeks as well. The Alaska SBDC is collecting the data for all of the various business-related funding deployed across the state and plans on releasing that information soon to show where the funding has been deployed.
I hope that all of you took the opportunity to observe Indigenous Peoples Day on October 12th to learn more about the First Alaskans and their culture. This year I spent the day learning more about the groundbreaking innovations and techniques that Alaska’s indigenous people developed to survive and thrive here. From sunglasses to kayaks, fishing gear to extreme weather clothing, indigenous engineers used the materials they had on hand to create some of the most amazing inventions you could imagine. I think we’re going to need more of that ingenuity if we’re going to survive and thrive in the months to come while we wait for the post COVID “new normal” to take hold.
Until then, the Alaska SBDC is here to help in any way we can. Through one-on-one business advising, online training, research, and many other ways we are dedicated to helping you and your business launch or grow even in times like these. I also encourage you to check out our newly launched BuyAlaska program. With partnerships with ACS, FedEx, Made In Alaska, and many more, BuyAlaska can help your business find new customers, access new opportunities, and get noticed when you need it most. If there’s anything else the Alaska SBDC can do to help you and your business please don’t hesitate to reach out and let me know!
Alaska SBDC Executive Director