New Mat-Su Econ Director, Farmer, Entrepreneur
MAT-SU—Just three days into the job as the new Matanuska-Susitna Borough Economic Development Director, Don Dyer is on the phone connecting with the owner of a high-tech company who was considering leaving the Borough. Dyer walks the owner over his obstacles of talent pool and logistics and drafts out a new business plan. The high-tech business owner’s anxiety vaporizes. He scraps any plans of relocating. On to day four.
Dyer, age 50, comes to the Borough with energy and experience in developing businesses. Straight out of high school he worked in the aerospace industry in Los Angeles. Before he could graduate from university, he earned his way to managing a national account as a software consultant entrepreneur. His desk began as a door across two file cabinets. Within four years the business approached $1 million in revenues and 18 employees. In 2001, Dyer worked as a business systems consultant for Modus Media International, a third party logistics provider for high tech companies. From Utah, Dyer managed teams worldwide in places as far-flung as San Francisco, Singapore, Japan, the Netherlands, and Scotland.
“When a market doesn’t exist, I know how to create one,” Dyer said.
When he arrived in Juneau in 2006, the real estate industry told him there was no way he could make it as a mortgage broker in a tight market. No one would give him business, they said. Dyer began his own real estate radio show in the capitol city, earning trust and making a market. Within eight months Dyer captured 15 percent of the market share.
Dyer’s confidence is well-rounded with a taste of success and failure. Having worked in the diverse fields of high-tech, financial services, and real estate, Dyer’s been through several business cycles including the stock market plunge of 1987, the dot-com, dot-bomb era, and most recently the real estate market collapse. A dot-com company he began didn’t evolve into a Google. That Juneau branch office was sold by the parent company out of Alaska.
Most recently, the entrepreneur within turned a low into a high. Dyer regained quality time with his five children and wife from years of burning the midnight oil. He got straight to work on something that had motivated him to move to the Mat-Su in the first place: growing food. Last season in a large greenhouse, Dyer and family grew 5,000 pounds of tomatoes and peppers, and on acreage they grew 2,000 pounds of potatoes, carrots, and cabbage, and sold them. Add 500 chickens sold to the list as well. “I sold everything. There was no inventory left. My wife was mad that I didn’t leave her enough tomatoes to can.” Not bad for a hot and cold summer when many hobby growers barely harvested a dozen red tomatoes. This summer the goal is to grow 24,000 pounds of vegetables and 2,000 chickens. “It will be my son’s work and his college money,” Dyer said.
Among the first goals he’s set at the Borough:
• working through the data of all the potential businesses that could move here and methodically looking at existing businesses that could expand.
• organizing a marketing campaign, drawing medical and technology businesses here and industrial businesses to the port
• identifying the infrastructure projects that need to be done to make the Borough a business capable environment. “Do we have the power, the utilities, the internet necessary? You can’t become the technology focused community if you have slow internet,” he said.
• spreading the word on the 371 jobs coming soon to the opening Goose Creek Correctional Center
“The 10- to 20-year growth curve for the Mat-Su Borough is very steep. That opportunity will create an enormous amount of wealth for those who participate. We need to manage that growth with a bias toward a sustainable and retainable outcome, while preserving the high quality of life that we enjoy here for future generations,” Dyer said.
For more information call Economic Development Director Don Dyer at 907.745.9508 or firstname.lastname@example.org