Bryan Zak, south west regional director of Alaska Small Business Development Center, received the State Star award from Debi Folwer, state director of the Alaska SBDC, and C.E. “Tee” Rowe, president and CEO of America’s SBDC Association.-Photo provided

Bryan Zak, south west regional director of Alaska Small Business Development Center, received the State Star award from Debi Folwer, state director of the Alaska SBDC, and C.E. “Tee” Rowe, president and CEO of America’s SBDC Association.-Photo provided

Zak wins recognition for work with SBDC

Bryan Zak, southwest regional director of the Alaska Small Business Development Center, has been awarded the “State Star,” the highest honor for the state in America’s Small Business Development Centers. The Alaska SBDC is part of the nationwide association.

“I cannot tell you how proud we are, how grateful we are and how fortunate we feel that Bryan decided to work with the SBDC,” said Debi Fowler, director of the Alaska SBDC.

Each year, state SBDCs are asked to nominate an individual from the state that best demonstrates leadership traits and has done the most for the statewide program. That could include getting information out about the SBDC; increasing SBDC’s visibility; serving as a leader not only in the SBDC program, but as a mentor of program staff; being highly respected; and accomplishing set goals for job creation, business start-ups and capital infusion. In Alaska, nominations are received from the 22 statewide employees in six centers. Nominations include the nominee’s name, as well as reasons for the nomination.

“We at the state level make sure the nominations fit the criteria and select from who we believe has demonstrated leadership and the true spirit of SBDC,” said Fowler.

“This year we believe it was Bryan Zak.”

Since 2009, Zak has served as the southwest regional director of the Alaska Small Business Development Center, a position held previously by Mark Gregory. The area Zak serves includes the Kenai Peninsula, Tyonek, Kodiak and all the way to the end of the Aleutians. Quarterly, Zak provides services to an estimated 200 different businesses. Traveling on a regular basis between Seward, Soldotna and Homer, with occasional trips to other locations in his area, he teaches an average of 80 classes a year on a wide range of topics focused on helping businesses be successful. Most recently, he taught a two-day course in profit mastery in Seward.    

“I enjoy meeting and serving the different business owners, and using the tools the Alaska SBDC has trained me in,” said Zak. “A lot of business owners don’t realize the wonderful tools that there are to help them understand how to operate and run a business.”

After one year as director, Zak received an SBDC state leadership award for his efforts. It is one of three awards offered within the state, the other two being a team member award and a business advisor award.

“He would have won both the leadership and business advisor awards, but we wanted to focus on the leadership part because he had not only just begun working for SBDC, but he picked up where Mark Gregory left off and did a seamless transition,” said Fowler. “He immediately started to get to know the individuals in Homer, Seward and Soldotna. He makes the Homer-Soldotna circuit on a weekly basis and the Seward route twice a quarter.”

Zak also has been appointed to the 2010, 2011 and 2012 Board of Examiners for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. As an examiner, Zak is responsible for reviewing and evaluating applications submitted for the award. The board is composed of about 500 experts selected from industry, professional and trade organizations, education and health care organizations, and nonprofits. 

For the past year and a half, Zak has participated in daily teleconferences with other Alaska SBDC directors, “helping lead us in improving our operations and the way we do business so we are doing the best we can,” said Fowler. 

For more information about the Alaska Small Business Development Center, visit

“There are a lot of tools right there on the website,” said Zak. “If you want to sign up as a client, it’s free. We’re federally funded, state and borough supported, and the Homer Chamber of Commerce provides in-kind office space.”

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at

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