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Fueling Growth: Kristine McRae’s Mission to Help Small Businesses in Rural Alaska

Kristine McRae speaks to an audience at a recent small business workshop held at the UAF NW Campus. Sarah Swartz photo.

Creating a business from the ground up can be daunting for anyone just starting out. Kristine McRae is a business advisor with the Alaska Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and she wants to help anyone dreaming of having their own thriving business. McRae grew up in Fairbanks and worked alongside her parents in their retail ski shop and formerly owned and operated  Bering Tea in Nome. Those experiences combined with being a lifelong Alaskan have fueled her passion to help small businesses thrive in rural communities.

“We work with people all over the state, providing one-on-one service in business advising,” McRae said. “We also have tools and resources for people who are starting a business or wanting to expand their current business.”

Limited resources and decreased accessibility can be a major deterrents that prevent dreamers from starting their own business. The SBDC offers services to help businesses secure financing, obtain licenses, and navigate local politics. 

“Having established businesses come and get more information was energizing for me because you’re talking about people who have already put in a lot of hard work and who are keeping their businesses going,” McRae shared. 

The port expansion and mining operations underway present new avenues to expand the local economy. Entrepreneurs and small business owners in rural Alaska have the opportunity to overcome challenges like financial planning, accounting, and tax management with services the SBDC provides. 

McRae is excited to see the potential growth in Nome and surrounding villages through her assistance with the SBDC. Future workshops are planned for this summer and early fall. McRae hopes that future events will offer a great benefit to the community and beyond.

“I think that having periodic workshops and getting the word out is going to generate people's interest, new interest and also sort of remind people who've been sitting on their ideas for a while to kind of try and make it happen."

The next workshop will be held at Kawerak on Thursday, June 20th. Interested participants can register by calling or texting Barb Nichols at (907) 434-1833.

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