The Juneau Economic Development Council (JEDC) was created in 1987 as a private non-profit corporation with assistance from the City and Borough of Juneau (CBJ) and the Juneau Chamber of Commerce. JEDC is an economic development agency that provides direct benefits to Juneau and the Southeast Alaska region.
JEDC leverages its annual funding from the CBJ and additional funds through strategic alliances with community groups and government agencies to create and retain quality jobs in Southeast Alaska.
In 1994, the JEDC created the Business Assistance Center (BAC) by hosting three of the Small Business Administration's programs: the Small Southeast Alaska Business Development Center, the Microenterprise Program and the Procurement Technical Assistance Center. Each of these programs was very successful in helping teach people with ideas for small businesses how to make their dreams a reality.
Today, the BAC concentrates on providing free business counseling through the Microenterprise Program and low-cost services to established business people through the BAC. Some of our current projects include the Inmate Business Education Program, co-sponsored by the Alaska Native Brotherhood, and the Job Creation Grant, funded through the State of Alaska's Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.
The BAC has collaborated in the past with communities by writing their Overall Economic Development Plans and stepped in to assist the State of Alaska Department of Labor by co-funding the Ketchikan Business Assistance Center.
JEDC's Wood Products Development Service has provided technical assistance to Alaska wood products manufacturers since 1998, is based in Sitka and serves as the hub of an information and skills network.
Recognizing that a serious shortage in early-stage and expansion funding was hampering ground-breaking businesses and viable plans in Alaska, the JEDC stepped up to the plate with two innovative programs designed to meet these needs. First to appear was the Alaska InvestNet program, Alaska's first and only statewide capital-matching service. Next came the Southeast Alaska Revolving Loan Fund, our financial "bridge" program.
There has never been a lack of good businesses, innovative entrepreneurs or viable plans in Alaska. However, Alaska lacked a sophisticated venture capital market, both in terms of capitalists and investor-savvy entrepreneurs. Our answer to this came in the form of Alaska InvestNet, formed in 1994.
The InvestNet system has been described as a "dating service" because we provide a neutral third party screening service for both investors and entrepreneurs. Investors know that registered entrepreneurs have a written business plan; entrepreneurs know that they have a safe way to gain access to certified investors. The program truly came into its own in 1998 when the JEDC joined forces with Alaska Science and Technology Foundation, cementing ties with the State of Alaska's program for inventors.
The JEDC launched the Southeast Alaska Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) in 1997 to help business owners create jobs in communities hard hit by reductions in the timber industry. The RLF provides direct business loans throughout the region for projects that will create or retain jobs. To date the RLF has committed over $4.4 million for projects in Juneau, Sitka, Wrangell, Metlakatla, Haines, Hydaburg and Ketchikan.
A sample of the projects JEDC has financed include:
- 2009 Arctic Innovation Competition, a contest of ideas to address real-world cold-climate challenges.
- Startup operating costs for the Inter Island Ferry Authority
- Broadcasting equipment upgrades to help Capital Community Communications (KTOO) meet FCC regulations, insuring continued public radio broadcasting to nearly thirty remote rural communities
- Construction costs and working capital to build Spruce Meadow RV Park, doubling Juneau's accommodations for this prime segment of independent travelers
- Financing the greenhouse at Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure, which serves as a staging area for tour groups and a working greenhouse for the company's wholesale and retail plant and landscaping business during the winter season
- Equipment and working capital to launch Southeast Alaska's first on screen advertising company, Alaska Grafix
- Real estate purchase and working capital for Hillside House, in Wrangell, an assisted living facility started to enable frail and elderly residents stay in their home town