Innovative competition rewards Alaska entrepreneurs with startup funds
ANCHORAGE, ALASKA — The Haa Aaní Community Development Fund and The Nature Conservancy in Alaska have received the 2015 International Economic Development Council Silver Award in recognition of their innovative Path to Prosperity business development competition. The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) is the world’s largest economic development organization. Each year, IEDC recognizes innovative, successful economic development programs that are having material impacts in their communities and region.
The annual award recognizes Path to Prosperity for its outstanding success in retaining businesses and helping expand economic opportunity since its founding in Southeast Alaska three years ago. The International Economic Development Council presented the award earlier this month at its annual convention, held this year in Anchorage.
“According to the State of Alaska, 19 out of 32 Southeast communities lost a cumulative of 750 jobs during the last ten years,” said Haa Aaní LLC Director Ed Davis. “During the first three years of P2P, we have seen a total 105 applications, so we know the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Southeast Alaska. With help from programs like ours, these entrepreneurs can have a significant impact on the economy of Southeast.”
The business contest targets the communities of Southeast Alaska, where there’s considerable knowhow and an array of valuable natural resources – but often less access to the expertise necessary to launch a successful business. Providing expertise for aspiring entrepreneurs is an important step as the region’s natural resource-based economy transitions away from boom-and-bust cycles of the past.
“The sustainable use of the wealth of natural resources in Southeast Alaska is important to The Nature Conservancy,” said Norm Cohen, Southeast Alaska Program Director. “In fact, we believe it’s an essential foundation for entrepreneurs to succeed financially. This is why The Nature Conservancy believes in Path to Prosperity: the future of our communities is inextricably linked to the sustainable use of our natural resources.”
Each year, the Path to Prosperity contest selects 12 semifinalists from among dozens of entries to attend a Boot Camp for Entrepreneurs. This three-day intensive event provides professional advice to participants from a wide array of academics, business owners, and consultants in key fields such as marketing, accounting and financial decision making. With assistance from boot camp experts, each of the 12 competition finalists has an opportunity to hone their business plans before submitting them for final judging at year’s end. Ultimately, two winning businesses will be awarded prizes of $40,000 in business startup services. Since launching three years ago, Path to Prosperity has awarded $280,000 prizes to seven winning entrepreneurs from across Southeast Alaska.
While Path to Prosperity aims to launch successful businesses in a region that’s in the midst of an economic transition, the contest sponsors, Haa Aaní and The Nature Conservancy, envision a clear long-term goal for Southeast Alaska. The competition aims to launch companies that will increase local employment, have a positive social and economic impact on their communities, promote sustainable use of local resources, and increase entrepreneurial know-how and business leadership in Southeast Alaska.
The 2015 Finalists are…
Columbine Farm (Spencer Douthit / Haines)
AlaskaSmart Biodiesel (Jeff Hastings / Hoonah)
Micki’s House (Micki O’Neil / Hydaburg)
Adapt North (Lindsay Hallvik / Juneau)
Norther Edge Craftworks (Reid Harris / Juneau)
Skya’ana Coffee Co. (Tina Steffen / Klawock)
Sandbar Bed and Breakfast (Karen Thompson / Metlakatla)
Petersburg Indian Association Sealife Compost (Marco Banda / Petersburg)
The Salty Pantry Market and Deli (Mindy Anderson / Petersburg)
Sitka Seedling Farms (Mathew Jackson / Sitka)
The Sawmill Farm (Bobbi Daniels / Sitka)
Wrangell Coop. Assoc. Shakes Island Tours (Aaron Angerman / Wrangell)