Alaska Small Business Development Center

Export Growth Opportunities: Your Questions Answered

Are you wondering where to start in taking your business to the next level by exporting?  This is an excellent opportunity to hear from several experts at helping businesses in Alaska begin exporting.  During this one-hour on demand workshop, you will learn about the basics of exporting for small businesses in Alaska.  Each expert presenter offers specific resources, helpful hints, and can help answer your questions.


Jon Bittner, Executive Director, Alaska SBDC:  As Executive Director of the Alaska SBDC, Jon Bittner oversees seven regional centers to ensure that the Alaska SBDC provides accessible, high-quality business assistance services to individuals and existing businesses. In his role, he provides program management, advocacy, and fundraising in addition to serving as the Lead Investigator for the various grant programs that are run through Alaska SBDC. He formerly served as vice president of Anchorage Economic Development Center (AEDC). Jon also served as the Deputy Commissioner for the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development.

John Brislin, Export Finance Manager for Washington, Alaska & Idaho, Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of International Trade:  John Brislin is SBA’s International Trade & Finance Specialist for Washington State, Alaska and Idaho.  He has over 23 years of private-sector international banking and trade finance experience and over 10 years of public-sector export trade finance and risk mitigation experience.  John has supported Alaska Exporters for over six years.  He looks forward to working with Alaskan Small Businesses so they can turn their export opportunities into actual sales and to achieve the ultimate goal of getting paid—especially on time—for those sales.

Abby Martinez, Regional Director – Western Region, Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM):  Abby is responsible for business development and outreach efforts. She is based out of Seattle and handles the states of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Washington and Wyoming. Abby has over 25 years of experience as a Trade Specialist in the banking industry working with both global and regional banks. During her career, she specialized in various Trade Finance products and has worked directly with EXIM’s programs in the past.

Debbie Franklin, Office Director, U.S. Commercial Service Alaska:  Debbie was appointed to her position in October 2015 as the Director for U.S. Export Assistance Center – Alaska where she currently serves on the agency’s Global Teams: Energy, Travel and Tourism, Maritime Technology, Aerospace and Defense, Rural, and China as well as the Arctic Affinity and US Field Safety Groups. Debbie previously established and directed the International Trade Center with Iowa Small Business Development Center where she trained and counseled small businesses on international finance, marketing, compliance, and global logistics. Her hands-on international business experiences come from 10 years department store retailing, 19 years in wholesale manufacturing, sales and marketing where she was a President’s Club award winner, and her own consulting business of export representation and documentation preparation. She also spent 7 seasons as a personal and small business federal tax preparer. Debbie holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington.  She holds a Certificate in Global Oil & Gas Management from Thunderbird Executive Education. She is an inactive EA and NASBITE CGBP. 

Video Content Note: During the recording of the live webinar, there was a question asked about exporting hemp products.  The answer given was that the U.S. does not recognize hemp products for export or for SBA programs. This is incorrect and SBA SOP 50 10 06 does allow for hemp businesses to qualify for SBA grants and loan programs.  If you have further questions about this topic (or anything else) please don’t hesitate to reach out to the panelists and reference the specific SOP concerning hemp products. 

The link above will take you to our client portal, where you will be able to register for access to this training video.