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Admiralty Westside Lodge - William (Bill) Brent

William (Bill) Brent is a man who loves the beauty and peacefulness of the natural outdoors in Alaska. He bought property on the west side of Admiralty Island, which has the largest concentration of brown bear in the world. Mr. Brent's property is rare private acreage within the Admiralty Island National Monument. He raised his children on the property for several years and developed his homestead and land.

Bill had a hard working career as a worker on the gas pipeline and later with the Alaska Marine Highway. During his job with the Alaska Marine Highway, he experienced a life changing work injury that excluded him from continuing in this line of work. Bill began to explore other career options and thought the time was right to consider self-employment. He went to the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to explore the possibility of starting a business at his wilderness lodge, since he has a real passion for the land and a desire to share his experience with others.

Bill was assisted in writing a business plan, which he took to the Department of Economic Development for a loan. Unfortunately, he was turned down for the loan, and he "let go" of his dream of a having a wilderness lodge for residents and tourists. Bill then attended Alaska Vocational Institute to update his limited computer skills and see if this could lead to a new career.

Mr. Brent was referred to Start Up/AK and Alaska Division of Vocational Rehabilitation to explore his options and pursue self-employment one more time. Discovery was completed to explore Bill's strengths, contributions, and ideal work conditions. A business team was assembled, which met monthly, consisting of Start Up/AK, Alaska Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR), JJC Veterans Representative, Small Business Development Center, Small Business Administration and a local business in the tourist business. These monthly meetings were held to pull together as a team and to see the timeline and deadlines for a seasonal/tourist business were being met. The team would discuss the marketing plan, operating plan, actual physical readiness of the lodge, and other business related issues. This gave Bill the feeling that he was not alone trying to start a new business but had support and teammates that were also vested in the success.

Bill also received mentoring from another business owner who has been in the tourist industry for a while. Bill benefitted from his mentor's experiences and learning curve. The mentor was able to guide him in many of the areas that were specific to the visitor industry in Southeast Alaska.

A business plan was developed and presented to DVR and the Microenterprise Grant Fund, which approved the plan and supported Bill with a grant for start-up costs to open Admiralty Westside Lodge. Bill applied for a business license in June 2007 and had his first paying customer during September 2007. While the 2008 summer season has been slow, Bill is preparing for a bigger turnout in his second season.

Mr. Brent has received technical assistance from the Start Up/USA staff, as well as the business consultant for Start Up/AK. Bill has made some revisions in his marketing strategy and has recently updated his webpage. He is closing down the lodge for this season, and preparing for the 2009 season by advertising in the Alaska Tourism Industry Booklet, as well as the Juneau Travel Guide. If you are interested in visiting Southeast Alaska, and staying in a wonderfully unique lodge, set in the pristine wilderness, please contact Bill Brent at 907-780-6512 or visit his website at www.admiraltywestsidelodge.com

He will help you arrange the vacation of a lifetime!