December Update from the Executive Director

The holidays are finally upon us and this year I think we could all use a little extra cheer, so I’ll start out with some good news. For starters, 2020 is finally limping its way to the finish line and while there are no guarantees that 2021 won’t throw us some curveballs, all indications so far are that it’s going to be significantly better than this year has been. I think we all got our holiday wish with the announcement of several new COVID-19 vaccines that will be deployed in Alaska starting this month! We’re not back to normal yet, but there’s definitely light at the end of the tunnel.

There also seems to be hope that Congress will pass another round of federal relief to help businesses and individuals make it through the last few months before the vaccine can be widely distributed. We are hopeful that the House and Senate can come together in a holiday miracle and pass something before the end of the year, but if not January seems likely.

That relief would come on top of over $3 billion in federal funding from the CARES Act that has been deployed to individuals, small businesses, nonprofits, and governments across the state over the last six months. Tens of thousands of businesses received around $2 billion in funding supporting over 100,000 jobs during this pandemic. That is an unprecedented amount of relief funding helping to keep the state’s economy and our people afloat.

The Alaska SBDC is proud to have been a part of helping get those funds and other support to businesses across the state. Through our COVID-19 assistance, our partnerships with the State of Alaska, various local governments, and dozens of economic development organizations across the state, we were able to work with thousands of businesses and entrepreneurs. The businesses we worked with raised capital, preserved jobs, and kept their businesses open in the face of the worst economic recession we’ve seen.

But we’re not out of the woods yet. With COVID-19 cases rising across the state and more communities forced to enact restrictions on commerce, small businesses need your help now more than ever. If you plan on buying gifts, please buy local. You can use the amazing Holiday Gift Guide put together by the BuyAlaska program. Reach out to your favorite restaurants and order a special treat for you and your loved ones to help keep them going. If nothing else, think about buying gift cards for your favorite businesses and holding onto them for when things get back to normal.

Most importantly, remember that we’re all in this together and that there is hope on the horizon. If we can come together these next few months and help support our neighbors and the businesses that make our communities so unique and vibrant. I believe that it will pay dividends when we turn the corner on this pandemic.

From the Alaska SBDC family to all of you and yours: Happy Holidays and an amazing New Year!

Jon Bittner
Alaska SBDC Executive Director
COVID-19 Resource Center