Since its fiscal year began in October 2013, the Juneau branch of the Alaska Small Business Development Center has seen nearly $1 million in investment in pre-existing local businesses, regional director Ian Grant said in a presentation to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce on Thursday. This means Juneau business owners are putting money into their operations to grow them, he said.
Through the Juneau center, Grant offers free counseling to people who own or would like to start a business, as well as low-cost business workshops. So far in the new fiscal year, Grant has spent 131 hours advising Juneau small business owners and owners to-be, he said. Centers in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Ketchikan, the Kenai Peninsula and Wasilla offer the same services.
On top of his local duties, Grant was recently hired as the assistant state director of the Alaska Small Business Development Center. He has been tasked with growing the program’s distance-learning options.
“We’re moving toward webinars as we see those needs changing,” he said.
Making workshops accessible online 24/7 will help the centers reach business owners in rural Alaska, and other areas that don’t have a center of their own.
Through the program’s website, www.aksbdc.org, business owners and hopefuls can choose the appropriate stage in their business’ lifecycle — “think,” “launch,” “grow,” “reinvent” or “exit” — and get tailored help, tools and resources. Grant said Juneau saw 13 new businesses in 2012 and 15 in 2013. In 2012, the Juneau center created one job for every 9.49 hours spent with a client, Grant said. About half of the people he works with are in the preliminary “think” stage, in which the business model gets hashed out.
Grant touched on some of the success stories he had a hand in, including the Rookery Cafe, V’s Cellar Door and Juneau’s Curves location.
Also at the Chamber meeting, The HUB After School Program’s Helen Trout and Conan Vandel spoke about the program’s goals and what it’s accomplished since it got its start in 2010.
The HUB ASB, located across from Fred Meyer at 8001 Glacier Highway, provides a free, safe place for middle schoolers from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, program director Vandel said. Kids can work on homework and play video games, pool, ping pong and dodgeball — the goal is to keep them away from drugs and alcohol, he said.
About 30 students, most from Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School, come to the HUB each day, Vandel said. He’s the only staff member, and the organization is currently trying to raise money for another staff position.
“Our other goal is to get the word out to the kids,” Vandel said.
He’s trying to expand the program to reach high schoolers, and more middle school students. The HUB holds monthly dances to get more students in the door and away from the “party atmosphere” that can exist for teens, he said.
To find out more information or to enroll your child, visit www.thehubasp.org or call 789-0504.
• Contact reporter Katie Moritz at 523-2294 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @katecmoritz.