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 WW Small Business Development Center gets fresh start, Port adds to new funding

   After an absence of more than a year, the Walla Walla Area Small Business Development Center is “back in business.”
   The SBDC was closed in April, 2010 after 17 years when state budget cutbacks took
money away from supporting agencies who were forced to withdraw fi nancial aid.
    Now, with pledges from Walla Walla area businesses and fi nancial institutions and assistance from Brett Rogers, director for Washington’s Small Business Development
Center network, in fi nding federal matching funds, the new local offi ce will be in full operation by 2012.
   Among supporters, initial funding includes $5,000 from the Port of Walla Walla for 2011 and another $10,000 for the next year.
    Elio Agostini, Downtown Walla Walla Foundation Executive Director, whose agency will serve as fi scal agent for the business center, said that as many as seven locations, including the WW Regional Airport, have offered offi ce space as an “in kind” contribution to the SBDC. “That counts,” he said, “and will make the difference in meeting local share funding needs.”
    Agostini says decisions relating to staffing and location for the SBDC office are pending, but should be announced before 2011 ends.

    Another small business initiative is the Port’s special web site entitled “Tools for Business Success.” This site provides an array of information on loan and fi nancing programs, operations manuals, business plans, employee relations tips, marketing ideas, laws and regulations and much more.
    Visit www.portwallawalla.com and click on Walla Walla Small Business Tools.

Port becomes air travel “myth-buster,” promotion helps build local boardings

    Port Commissioner Paul Schneidmiller is enthused about the response to the “cumulative effort” to build passenger counts on Alaska Airlines flights between Walla Walla and Seattle.
    As operators of the Walla Walla Regional Airport, the Port is taking the lead with a newspaper/web site advertising campaign based on a “fly Walla Walla...it works” theme that addresses advantages of choosing to depart from Walla Walla as opposed to Pasco.
    Among other things, the “mythbusters” message addresses competitive fares and free services including parking, wi-fi and coffee.
    The goal, according to Airport Manager Jennifer Skoglund, is to build Alaska emplanements at WW Regional Airport to a 70% load factor. At mid-year, that meant an additional six passengers per flight per day. Schneidmiller, who owns World Wide Travel Service, says that counts have increased to record highs every month this year.
    “We still have a bit to grow to meet Alaska’s objective,” said Schneidmiller, “but I’m really optimistic about achieving that.”
    He emphasized that Alaska isn’t suggesting plans to change Walla Walla service. “They just want to achieve a level of use that generates a necessary return on investment.”

   “It works great to catch the early morning flight out of Walla Walla to zip over to Seattle for the meetings,” Sharon Shaver wrote in her Facebook post. “It only takes a few minutes to get to the airport, check-in goes quickly, and the parking is free. The rates are very reasonable too. In fact, it costs my school more than twice as much to pay for my car mileage to drive to Seattle than it does to fl y me to Seattle -- and they also don’t have to pay for a hotel when I fly!...” One of two ticket winners in WW Airport Facebook contest.

Historic planes and cars highlight Wings & Wheels celebration

The Port and its WW Regional Airport hosted hundreds of participants during a mid-year 2011 celebration of aircraft history and ground transportation.
    The June 25th and 26th event included an appearance by “Maid in the Shade,” a restored WWII B-25 Mitchell from the Commemorative Air Force Arizona Wing Aviation Museum. In addition rides were available in Captain Mac’s 1929 TravelAir Biplane and the Mercedes Car and Mooney Aircraft Club added fl ying and driving excitement for visitors.
    In addition, the B-25 extended its stay to give more people an opportunity to tour the plane and, for some, to purchase rides.

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