Alaska Small Business Development Center

March Update from the Alaska SBDC Executive Director

March 1, 2024

I’m always proud of the amazing work my team here at the Alaska SBDC does. It’s one of the benefits of managing such an awesome team of rockstars, but some months, they really go above and beyond. March was definitely one of those months!

The team did a fantastic job putting on Alaska’s first AI conference for small businesses, educators, government, and artists in the Hotel Captain Cook. Hundreds of participants listened to local and national experts talk about the pros and cons of AI technology in all aspects of our lives. The feedback has been excellent, and we’re looking forward to next year’s conference, which will be centered around healthcare innovation. Thanks to Northrim Bank, Wells Fargo, the Denali Commission, the UAA Business Enterprise Institute, and the Small Business Administration for their financial support!

At the conference, we made a big announcement: the Alaska SBDC is launching the nation’s first AI Business Resource Center. Building off the tools and training that our committed staff, Carlos Machuca, Ian Grant, Tyler Arnold, and Geoff Wright, have developed over the last year, the Alaska SBDC will develop a formalized AI program to help connect businesses and others with AI resources and opportunities. We will also deploy these resources nationwide through partnerships with other SBDCs and larger-scale business development organizations in the Lower 48.

On the State Small Business Credit Initiative front, the Alaska SBDC has managed to deploy around $20 million in SSBCI funds, leveraging $40 million in loans to small businesses in over a dozen communities around the state. That puts us at the fifth fastest deployment in the nation based on a percentage of funds available, thanks to the hard work of the SSBCI Loan Director Jay Halverson! We expect that deployment rate to go even faster now that we’ve hired Tyler Arnold as the new SSBCI Equity Program Manager.

Last but certainly not least, I want to give a massive shoutout to a long-standing business in Anchorage that recently won the 2024 National Small Business Week award for Alaska: Waterworks! Congratulations to Kali Bennett and her team for bringing home this prestigious award!

As we move from Winter to Spring, the Alaska SBDC will unveil even more new programs and initiatives and expand on some of our existing services. I hope you will reach out and either take advantage of these new opportunities or let us work with you on your initiatives. Now more than ever, it’s imperative that we collaborate as a team to try to grow Alaska’s small business resources and the overall economy.

There’s a lot here, so be sure to read all the way through for exciting workshop opportunities and updates from our partners across the state. Together, we can build a future not only for ourselves but for the next generation of Alaskans as well!

Jon Bittner
Alaska SBDC Executive Director

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