By Meg Olson
A newly created position with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Western Washington University was tailor-made for communities like Point Roberts, and business advisor Asche Rider is spreading that message personally.
“I was hired to do outreach in greater Whatcom County,” Rider said at the September 11 meeting of the Point Roberts Community Advisory Committee (PRCAC). “If you’re a small business owner often you don’t have time to do anything except keep your business going. We can expand the services we can bring to local economies by having me go out and meet with people.”
Business advisors from the SBDC have served a handful of Point Roberts businesses over the years, Rider said. She hopes to boost that level of participation.
“We provide free, confidential, one on one technical assistance,” she said. “We can help a business with everything a business does.”
Rider has worked with established businesses and startups, aiding different areas such as marketing, strategic planning, international trade, human resources, securing capital or just basic business management training. “There might be a business you would love to do but you don’t really know how to run a business,” she said.
In the five months she’s been with the SBDC, Rider has discovered many businesses are having difficulty finding labor. Audience members agreed this was a perennial problem on the Point, with a small pool of working-age people compared to its population and two border crossings separating it from the larger pool of workers on the mainland. The center can help businesses improve their job descriptions to add flexibility and make jobs more attractive to more applicants, Rider said.
To sign up for SBDC services and make an appointment, visit sbdc.wwu.edu/ and click the “becoming a client” link at the bottom of the page or call 360/778-1762.
In other PRCAC business, the committee deferred their review of the White Dog storage project on Tyee Drive until its October meeting. Committee chair Jeff Christopher said the business owner had “worked hard to bring it into compliance” as had the storage facility adjacent to Nielson’s Building Center. Other code compliance issues are arising for other RV businesses on the Point, he added, and would also be addressed by PRCAC in coming meetings.
The committee has also voted to send a recommendation to the county to use gas tax funds for a sidewalk extension on the east side of Tyee Drive and the completion of a walking path along Marine Drive near Lighthouse Marine Park.