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Federal, state funds help JEDC kick-start businesses

Some of the money will go to a promotional brochure and a demographics project

Posted: Tuesday, October 02, 2001

The Juneau Economic Development Council recently received help from several government agencies to infuse more than $500,000 into the Southeast economy, with special help from the city of Juneau.

JEDC managed to boost the $145,000 in its 2002 budget from the city with another $559,000 in state and federal funds slated for business programs in Juneau, Southeast and the state through collaborations with other governmental agencies. The council also received an additional $30,000 from the city for Juneau efforts.

Lance Miller, executive director for the JEDC, said many of the programs were already in place but would have ended had the city and other agencies not helped with funding.

"Without a certain amount of money from the city, many federal government, foundation and nonprofit service agencies are unwilling to support many projects without the buy-in and support of local municipalities," Miller said. "We believe these programs further indicate the commitment of Juneau to the region and the state toward economic diversification."

The $30,000 allotted to Juneau efforts already has been funneled into a brochure the council will distribute later this month. The brochure will extol the virtues of doing business in Juneau, Miller said, and will include information on the school district and quality of life in Juneau.

The money also is going toward a project that will show how the city's demographics compare to those in the rest of the state, Miller said.

A collaboration of efforts between the council, the state, the timber industry and the U.S. Department of Agriculture resulted in more than $200,000 for a program to provide technical assistance to the wood products manufacturing industry. Miller said the program mainly affects other areas of Southeast Alaska, but benefits will be felt in Juneau.

"As we're all aware, all of the economies of Southeast are intertied," he said. "But when we get involved in projects that affect the region or are statewide it really helps to show Juneau is out there making a contribution. Those kinds of things help in these politically charged times."

The Alaska Investnet program, another council project, got $159,000 from the Alaska Science and Technology Foundation. The program is part of an ongoing partnership between the council and the foundation to improve the entrepreneurial climate for Alaska business people through networking with private investors and technical service providers.

"This is critical to building the economy of the entire state," said Jamie Kenworthy, executive director of the foundation. "Over 70 percent of the money coming in this state is from oil revenues and federal spending. We need to expand and diversify our economy with new business in order to provide for the next generation of Alaskans."

The JEDC also has received $200,000 from U.S. Small Business Development Administration for technical assistance, business counseling and projects that foster small business growth.

"This will mainly help Juneau," Miller said. "We need to add to the economy by bringing in business that will create a product for Juneau to produce and export so we can start bringing in some new money."

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Melanie Plenda can be reached at mplenda@juneauempire.com.



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