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Alaska Center for Natural Medicine - SBA AK Success Story
Alaska Center for Natural Medicine is a physical therapeutic natural health clinic that is composed of practitioners with a variety of specialties. Practitioners use Naturopathic primary care medicine, acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, counseling, and other modalities to treat health problems.
The health professionals at Alaska Center for Natural Medicine utilize laboratory test findings and physical exams in addition to a wide array of diagnostic tools to address and treat patients’ health issues. Once identified, their team works together to create a treatment plan directed toward specific healthcare needs to help patients reach their full health potential.
Heather Carmichael has been involved in natural medicine, primarily acupuncture, since 1993. She was the Clinic Director at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine from 1997 to 2000 and headed its acupuncture program. Carmichael moved to Fairbanks in 2000 to start a natural health practice. She became co-owner of the Holistic Medical Clinic. In 2003 Scott Luper and Carmichael sold their portion of the clinic and opened Alaska Center for Natural Medicine. Since that time they have more than doubled their employees from 10 to 23. The business revenues increased 73 percent the first year, 12 percent the second year and have continued on a solid growth pattern since.
Heather's strong relationship with her banker and business community combined with their ACNM's success earned her the SBA's Small Business Woman of the Year award in 2007.
Scott Luper, MD, worked in restaurants as a youth and during college. After college he taught science and health at a junior high school for two years. After medical school he taught histology, anatomy, embryology and laboratory diagnosis before becoming the Chairman of Diagnostics at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona. In 2000 Scott moved to Fairbanks seeking to own his own clinic in a place where he could make a difference. Doctor Luper started as a general practitioner, but now treats patients with autoimmune disease, cancer, heart disease, allergies, depression, and endocrine disease. Scott's true expertise is in finding and treating the underlying cause of the illness. “I trust in the ability of people to heal once the true cause of an illness is found and overcome. My job as a physician is to find the cause and supply the treatment and the knowledge that will remove or compensate for the cause. True healing is in our nature,” said Scott Luper.
In 2009 Scott and Heather realized they had hit the ceiling for growth in their current building and began looking for a new location to expand. Shortly after the search began, they found the perfect property, but due to DEC issues and lender requirements and improvements needed to the building, it wasn't until September 2010 that they actually completed the project and could move in.
“First National Bank of Alaska has been fabulous to work with since the beginning. We have worked with a few different loan officers while at First National and all of them have been a tremendous help,” said Heather Carmichael. Buying and renovating the new building was a huge expense and commitment; however, First National Bank of Alaska partnered with Evergreen Business Capital and the U.S. Small Business Administration's 504 Community Development Loan Program to seal the deal.
The SBA 504 Loan program is a powerful economic development loan program that offers small businesses another avenue for business financing while promoting business growth and job creation. As of February 15, 2012, $50 billion in 504 loans has created over 2 million jobs. This program is a proven success and win-win-win for small businesses, the community and participating lenders. The 504 Loan Program provides approved small businesses with long-term, fixed-rate financing used to acquire fixed assets for expansion or modernization. 504 loans are made available through Certified Development Companies (CDCs) such as Evergreen Business Capitol, SBA's community based partners for providing 504 Loans.
Scott and Heather's vision for the new larger facility was realized in 2010 as it ushered in a new level of efficiency, team work and an overall healthy place to work and treat patients. In December 2012 the team enjoyed their record day ever of accounts receivables, although both owners agree that the best days are when patients get better and receive a clean bill of health. In a town that sees temperatures dipping below -40 much of the winter accompanied by several months of darkness, it is truly wonderful to have such a great natural healing team and facility here to help.