ALASKA’S ECONOMY FACING HEADWINDS
Starting in 2016, plunging global oil prices and reduced output from Alaska oil fields shrank state coffers and a massive budget deficit loomed over Alaska. Financial institutions, think tanks and the business community rallied to educate the public about this crisis, yet no one offered solutions to prepare for an economic downturn. While others were in a “wait and see” mentality, Northrim stepped forward as a true leader in the community — assessing and preparing the business community (not just its customers) to proactively weather this economic storm.
AN ENCUMBERED AUDIENCE
Deeply engrained in the local business community, Northrim knew small businesses were aware of the impending economic storm. “Doom and gloom” messages saturated the news, overwhelming people, creating both fear and “analysis paralysis.” Yet many concerned businesspeople, busy running day-to-day operations, couldn’t focus on developing a plan to succeed in the new economic climate. They needed someone to provide guidance, advice, tools and confidence.
CREATING PLANS TO THRIVE
Unlike other financial institutions in the market, Northrim is a true Alaskan bank, which allows it to respond quickly to local market challenges. By making it easy for business owners to assess strengths and weaknesses, Northrim could quickly help concerned business owners create a plan to weather the storm.
Northrim, itself, was founded on the heels of the 1980’s recession when numerous other financial institutions were failing. This first-hand experience could help Alaska businesses not just survive troubled economic times, but actually thrive.
ARE YOU PREPARED TO SURTHRIVE?
A SurThrival assessment tool let business owners gauge financial and business operations preparedness. Based on answers, they instantly received a customized report with expert advice from Northrim economists to help them improve readiness in areas like financial management, operations, human resources, inventory and marketing.
A “first aid kit” gave the same opportunity to attendees at Northrim’s annual economic forecast luncheon. After a business owner received the SurThrival report, a Northrim small business officer arranged a face-to-face meeting to help them create a SurThrival plan. If appropriate, the bank offered tools or services to help customers overcome challenges or seize opportunities in the tough economic climate. Northrim also hosted free “SurThrival Training” seminars once a month, led by subject matter experts in various areas of business operations.
FALL OUTREACH CAMPAIGN
After the initial launch, Northrim selected three business verticals predicted to either thrive – or would need help to survive tough economic times. A direct mail campaign was tailored to each of these targets, sent to business leaders and CFOs. It included tips on SurThriving, and was followed by in-person visits by a Northrim officer who delivered coffee, cookies, or pizza – something any busy business owner would appreciate. This promoted friendly discussion of the Alaska economy and how their business could be prepared, with the goal being a later meeting to further deepen the relationship.