Anyone planning a small business needs to know the folks at the Small Business Development Center in Kenai.
A 50-50 joint project of the Small Business Administration and the Kenai Peninsula Borough Economic Development District, the development center has a variety of resources to aid small businesses. Mark Gregory runs the program and spoke to Kenai business leaders at last week's Kenai Chamber of Commerce lunch.
'We help business find government contracts and understand government regulations. Our clients have been awarded $740.1 million in contracts.'
--Mark Gregory, Small Business Development Center director
"We offer free and confidential business counseling service over the course of months or years," Gregory said.
Some of that counseling includes business planning, pricing, marketing, Internet development, training and, most recently, a resource library, he said.
The development center also features a technology transfer center that has an engineer on hand for advice and helps businesses with procuring government contracts.
"We help business find government contracts and understand government regulations," Gregory said. "Our clients have been awarded $740.1 million in contracts."
The center has had 600 clients since Gregory joined the operation a year and a half ago. More than a thousand people have attended 74 different business workshops.
The center also participates in the Buy Alaska program, which encourages Alaska businesses to seek Alaska suppliers of goods and services.
"It's kind of unique, but it reminds me of the chamber of commerce," Gregory said.
There are 412 business listed with Buy Alaska, and 479 jobs have been created, with more than $18 million retained in-state because of it, he said.
"The center also hosts a women's round-table," Gregory said. "It's for business women dedicated to professional and personal growth and development. The round-table offers a forum where women can meet, support and educate each other."
Assisting businesses with securing loans is a speciality for Gregory, a former banker. The center has assisted with more than $4 million in loans, the creation of 25 new businesses and 49 new permanent jobs.
"We're going to need to grow this," he said. "We're seeing five people a day and are working with banks on this."
Gregory said he also wants to create a revolving loan fund to help businesses which only get part of what they need from the banks.
The Small Business Develop-ment Center is located in the Economic Development District building, on the Kenai Spur Highway, 3 miles north of Kenai.
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