Alaska Businesses Win SBA Honors for 2023
Jennifer Loofbourrow’s Alpine Fit stands out among Alaska apparel brands for being manufactured in the state.
An apparel manufacturer, an environmental engineer, and a construction firm are the Alaska winners of annual awards from the US Small Business Administration (SBA).
Fit and Finish
Announced earlier this month to coincide with National Small Business Week, the honors include the Alaska Woman in Business of the Year, the Prime Contractor of the Year for the Pacific Northwest Region, and the Alaska Small Business Persons of the Year.
Making and selling her own brand of outdoor clothing, Jennifer Loofbourrow is the Alaska Woman in Business for 2023. Loofbourrow is the founder and owner of Alpine Fit, which operates a small outlet inside the Cycle Chic shop in Midtown Anchorage.
Alpine Fit secured an SBA guaranteed business capital loan in 2022 to support its growth. Alpine Fit develops fabrics directly with a Lower 48 fabric mill and assembles leggings, tops, and headwear at a Midtown workshop.
“It’s an incredible honor to receive this award,” Loofbourrow says. “Myself and my team work really hard on making outdoor products for Alaskans, in Alaska.”
Two women are recognized as the Pacific Northwest Region Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year: ChemTrack Alaska president Carrie Jokiel and vice president Jenith Ziegler. ChemTrack Alaska specializes in remediation services, spill management, emergency response, and construction. As a woman-owned small business, it is able to take advantage of 8(a) contracts.
Amie and John Sommer, owners of Tutka LLC, were named Alaska Small Business Persons of the Year.
Providing a similar suite of services, Tutka, LLC and its owners were named Alaska Small Business Persons of the Year in March. Amie and John Sommer provide environmental cleanup and heavy civil construction, such as building roads and bridges on the Kenai Peninsula. The Wasilla-based company was originally funded by an SBA guaranteed business capital loan.
“This year’s nominees, received from around the state, are a true reflection of the Alaskan entrepreneurial spirit,” says SBA Alaska District Director Steve Brown. “Their stories of resiliency, perseverance and determination from this year’s winners are truly remarkable and inspiring.”
Northrim Bank approved $9 million worth of SBA 7a loans in fiscal year 2022 and $10.7 million worth of SBA 504 loans, earning double honors from the agency.
The SBA Alaska District Office also honored the top lenders of the SBA loan program for fiscal year 2022 in three categories: Lender of the Year, Community Lender of the Year, and 504 Third Party Lender of the Year.
Brown explains, “The SBA relies on a critical partnership with our lenders to finance the startup and growth of Alaska’s small businesses. Their efforts continue to play an instrumental role to businesses who have pivoted from the challenges of this past year.”
Evergreen Business Capital is the SBA Alaska Lender of the Year for approving twenty-eight SBA 504 loans totaling $26.6 million in 2022.
“We certainly couldn’t reach the number of small businesses throughout the state without the dedicated partnership of the various lending partners,” says Evergreen Business Capital CEO Pattie Kibbe. “We are dedicated to continuing to support small businesses throughout the State and look forward to the partnership of the lending community and the SBA for 2023 and beyond.”
One single institution is both the SBA Alaska Community Lender of the Year and SBA Alaska 504 Third Party Lender of the Year: Northrim Bank. The bank approved twenty-three SBA 7a loans totaling $9 million and nine 504 loans totaling $10.7 million in the last fiscal year.
“At Northrim, our local lenders assist small businesses throughout the state by being responsive to their needs and providing flexible and customized solutions,” says Northrim Bank president Mike Huston. “We understand the unique opportunities and challenges of living and working in Alaska and remain focused on adding value to the small business community through our work with the SBA Alaska office.”
SBA Administrator Isabella Guzman notes that nearly 12 million Americans applied to start a new business since 2021, with women and people of color doing so at the highest rate. “The SBA is committed to creating a level playing field that gives these innovators and job creators the tools and opportunities they need to prosper,” Guzman says.
Architecture & Engineering Special Section + Small Business
In the February 2024 issue of Alaska Business, we engineered a special section that inspects the many ways architecture and engineering enrich our lives, from creating beautiful and functional spaces to crafting functional and safe transportation corridors. In addition to the built world in which we live, this issue celebrates small businesses and the many functions they provide, whether they're developing tools in the healthcare industry or opening new dining locations.