Alex Vrabec recently began as the new director of Juneau’s Downtown Business Association. (Courtesy photo / Alex Vrabec)

Alex Vrabec recently began as the new director of Juneau’s Downtown Business Association. (Courtesy photo / Alex Vrabec)

Downtown Business Association gets new director in time for busy season

She’s arrived just in time to help organize the newly resuscitated Gallery Walk.

For the Downtown Business Association, the changes of the new year came a little early as the organization hired Alex Vrabec as its new director.

Vrabec, previously with the Brewer’s Guild of Alaska, has worked with the DBA before and is familiar with the landscape, she said.

“Both my parents are small business owners. I’ve seen the devastating effects that have occurred with the pandemic,” Vrabec said in a phone interview. “To be in a position where I can help and provide resources and connect people and help people collaborate, it feels good.”

The DBA, which exists to promote businesses and the culture of downtown Juneau, works with wide-ranging establishments from restaurants to mom-and-pop shops to the arts and culture organizations that exist in downtown Juneau, Vrabec said.

[Statter Harbor float damaged by high winds]

“I’m familiar with how these associations run and their overall goals. This is nice because it’s hyper-local, all downtown Juneau,” Vrabec said. “The major goal of the DBA is to promote downtown. They want to make it this environment people want to go and shop and hang out.”

DBA has been responsible for helping to organize events like Juneau’s Gallery Walk along with other organizations like the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council, Vrabec said.

“We’re so, so excited. It’s kind of like a Juneau staple, and with missing it last year I think everyone’s excited to have it back,” Vrabec said. “We wanted to encourage people to get outside and spread out. That’s my focus this year, while still having the holiday spirit.”

For Vrabec, who came onboard earlier in November, it’s been a rapid learning curve.

“The good thing is that the infrastructure is already there,” Vrabec said. “We have things in the works currently that I think are really cool and I’m excited to jump in on.”

Among those things in the works include projects to improve lighting around the downtown area, Vrabec said, as well as a partnership with Eaglecrest to turn retired chairlift chairs into benches around downtown.

“I think we have 12 benches that will ultimately go up around town,” Vrabec said. “It’s really about showing off what the community is, and what makes it different.”

For Vrabec, it’s the people she gets to work with that make the job exciting, innovators and up-and-comers that make Juneau unique.

“What I was most excited about is the relationships I would get to rebuild and the new relationships I would get to make,” Vrabec said. “Being gone for a few years, I’ve missed a lot of people here.”

With the long term on the horizon, Vrabec’s short-term goal (after executing Gallery Walk with panache) is to promote late-game Christmas shopping in stores downtown, where there’s no shipping and no wait.

“A lot of people don’t realize that after Gallery Walk, things simmer down for a little bit,” Vrabec said. “My goal is to drive holiday traffic.”

Another goal of hers is to emphasize the family-friendliness of the downtown area, Vrabec said. Mother of a young daughter, Vrabec said there’s lots of options for families downtown.

“Coming back to Juneau — I’m a mom, I have a family,” Vrabec said. “(We’re) showing people downtown is family friendly and everyone can enjoy.”

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

More in News

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Dec. 3

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
Teachers and school board members talk during the Juneau Board of Education and Juneau Education Association’s annual meet and greet in mid November. JEA contract negotiation team declared impasse last Friday and are in the process of filing for federal mediation.
Juneau teachers union declares impasse amid drawn-out negotiations

Still, the teachers union and district express optimism about working toward agreement.

This photo shows an Alaska State Trooper patrol vehicle (Juneau Empire File)
Troopers: Man killed raven, consumed its tongue

No arrests or citations made at this time, but investigation is underway.

Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Man sentenced to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to sex abuse of a minor

DNA and sex offender registration required as part of sentence.

t
Writers’ Weir: A window into the sea

A nonfiction story by Rodger Painter.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Thursday, Dec. 8

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Kéet and Oscar wait patiently to play on the beach in winter in Wrangell. (Vivian Faith Prescott / For the Capital City Weekly)
Planet Alaska: Winter words

Phrases and words to use to create a Lingít language immersion outing in the winter.

Most Read