EDD's new director sees bright future

Posted: Tuesday, December 18, 2001

Jim Carter will officially accept his new position as the director of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Economic Development District Thursday, but he already has big plans for the organization.

"We are going to continue the success that Betsy (Arbelovsky) started. I am honored that they asked me to fill the shoes that Betsy so professionally filled," said Carter who was offered the position Dec. 4 and will not accept it in writing until Thursday because he was out-of-state on vacation.

The 16-member board first began searching for a replacement Oct. 18 when Arbelovsky, the current director, put in notification she was taking over as director of the Boys and Girls Club of the Kenai Peninsula. The board voted to search in-house for a replacement, said Carter, who has been with EDD for a little more than a year.

While he has lived on the peninsula for a short time, he is a 21-year Alaska resident who earned his degree in accounting from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Carter's background is primarily in

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banking, which has helped him in counseling entrepreneurs on the peninsula.

As an employee of EDD, Carter works with small businesses that need assistance starting or developing in communities around the peninsula.

"I've been working with the little guy. I've had a lot of success working with entrepreneurs in the community, those that have interest in adding to a sustainable economy," he said.

According to Carter, the economy on the peninsula is distinguished as being in a distressed state based on unemployment. EDD is able to go to the communities and put the various needs of the community into a plan that the state recognizes.

"What we do is we have people come in and give them the technical assistance to grow and to add jobs, sustainable jobs that will add to these people's quality of life," said Carter, who added he hopes to help peninsula businesses beat the statistics.

As an accountant and banker, Carter said he can best help business owners who apply for loans or need other financial advice.

"I try to point them in the right direction. We are a nonprofit open to the public office; everything is confidential."

EDD serves a function similar to that of the Small Business Development Center run by Mark Gregory.

"We try to do basically the same thing. I encourage them to see Mark and use his resources first. Once the business plan is developed, then they come to see me," said Carter.

He plans to keep the EDD charted on the course Arbelovsky set.

However, he also has some ideas for a more developed EDD.

"My vision is to use the resources we have, which are limited by a staff of four, to really build a foundation that people can come down and see the quality of people here."

His plans include building a rapport with the Native associations that will bring EDD into communities like Port Graham.

"We really need to focus on the outlying areas. We have worked with Port Graham and would love to do it again. We have to find out what their needs are to promote long-term employment."

Additionally, Carter wants to work with the small business association to bring in programs that would bring more money to small business owners.

Before Carter joined EDD, the organization had not made a single loan in more than three years, but since then, three businesses have received loans.

He also has started a micro-loan program that lends $1,000 to home-based arts and crafts business owners with zero-percent interest.

Carter said he is enthusiastic about putting his new visions into action.

"It has been a lot of fun being a banker and being on the other side of the desk, so to speak."

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