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Small business development center reopens after hiatus

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Posted: Sunday, December 9, 2012 12:18 am

FAIRBANKS — The Alaska Small Business Development Center, which abruptly closed its doors last year, reopened last week with a new part-time director.

The center had been in limbo since March 2011, when former director Heather Heineken left the job. The center, which is managed through the University of Alaska Anchorage, announced three months later that it wouldn’t be filling the position and planned to shutter the Fairbanks office.

Program spokesman Isaac Vanderburg said the local Alaska Small Business Development Center office needed to make “emergency repairs” amid a tight budget. Gathering a sponsorship from Northrim Bank to reopen the center was a key to its revival, he said.

Maintaining a Fairbanks office with a part-time director costs about $75,000. Northrim and the UAA program will split those costs going forward.

UAA operates seven Alaska Small Business Development Centers throughout the state. The offices — located in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Wasilla, Bethel, Ketchikan and the Kenai Peninsula — all rely at least partly on local support to remain open, Vanderburg said. The Fairbanks office had operated since 1987.

“The intention was always to reopen the center,” he said.

Russell Talvi will be the new director at the Fairbanks center. He has a long background in the hospitality industry, including work as the former owner of two restaurants in Hawaii.

He is also part of a family ownership group of a seasonal fishing lodge in Prince William Sound.

The centers offer confidential one-on-one help for both existing and start-up businesses. They provide advice to new businesses and work to help established businesses grow and overcome challenges. The program also maintains a website at

The Fairbanks center is at 3750 Bonita St., where it will be located in the same office as its partner program, the Procurement Technical Assistance Center of Alaska.

Contact staff writer Jeff Richardson at 459-7518. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMbusiness.

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