Site Visit: Growing Businesses Adapt
By Apollo Fuhriman, Region 10 Advocate
Recently, staff from the Office of Advocacy along with local SBDC representatives and an official from the governor’s office visited a local business in Anchorage that is representative of one of the fastest growing segments of the Alaska business community, namely tourism. Salmonberry Tours is a success story of a women-owned business growing to fit the ever-changing demands of the consumer. Basically, the business started nearly 15 years ago as a downtown Anchorage walking tour and now has several vans, nearly a couple dozen employees and provides a variety of tour experiences in and around Anchorage. It is typically a first stop for those wishing to get a flavor of the city and learn more about what there is to do in Anchorage, with hints and suggestions for local events and night life. The business thrives due to the local knowledge and zeal the employees have for Alaska generally and, in particular, Anchorage. Enthusiasm is contagious and they love their city.
This business is heavily dependent upon the ease of access for international visitors. Specifically, if it is more difficult for foreigners (especially from the East) to come to Alaska, the industry sees dramatic negative impacts. Some additional challenges that the industry faces from a regulatory standpoint is in the permit process (going from a state to a federal forest to a national park might require multiple permit fees and application timelines, different regulations, different forms and levels of insurance and other issues) and the ever-increasing fees associated with these permits. With the permitting requirements and difficulties for international visitors, a major challenge becomes predicting how to best build the business (including purchasing equipment or creating partnerships) for not just the next season but for years to come.
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Apollo Fuhriman serves as the Region 10 Advocate for the SBA Office of Advocacy, representing small businesses in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. Fuhriman works with small business owners, state and local governments, and small business associations to bring the voice of Region 10 to Washington DC. He can be reached at email@example.com.