The third annual Washington Coast Works Sustainable Small Business Competition rewarded entrepreneurs who focus on sustainability and community at the 2017 Coast Works Awards Ceremony, November 9 at Olympic Theatre Arts.
The winners were part of a cohort of twelve entrepreneurs who participated in an intensive training at Olympic Natural Resources Center in June, then received four months of business training and support from the Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship and Enterprise for Equity.
Three winners received cash awards, but the collective impact of the three successive Coast Works competitions has yielded the formation of the Coast Works Alliance, which was launched at the 2017 Awards Ceremony and will create a mechanism for ongoing entrepreneurial support in the Olympic Peninsula.
Ann Rosecrants received this year’s Community Award of $10,000 to build an online market for Twisted Strait Fibers, a Port Angeles cooperative for natural fiber producers and artisans. Rosecrants noted that during the ONRC Intensive, one of the participants coined the term ‘Dream Warriors’ during a discussion about the concept of fighting for something worthy and believing in each vision as a useful and beneficial project.
“From an idea to a community, Coast Works armed me with the tools for success,” reflects Rosecrants. “We are the Dream Warriors.”
Lauren Kerr received the Leadership Award of $5,000 to launch Sol Duc Farms, a u-pick blueberry and flower farm near Forks. A former wildlife biologist, Lauren will provide apprenticeship and job opportunities for young women aimed at fostering knowledge about sustainable farming, entrepreneurship, and leadership.
“This award will go a long way towards helping us launch our farm,” says Kerr, “but the most valuable part of this process has been the community and mentorship that comes with Coast Works.”
Jim Stanley received the Change Award of $5,000 to expand Wild Salish Seafood. Jim, a member of the Quinault Indian Nation, operates S/V Josie out of Westport. He plans to use the award to buy a refrigerated trailer and hire Quinault tribal members to increase distribution of Quinault-harvested seafood to his customers in Seattle and Portland.
Stanley echoes the sentiments from his co-winners about the significance of relationships. “The best part of the process has been meeting others who work to make their community better by combining passion with a business-based value proposition.” He doesn’t downplay the role of money. “I appreciate how the award helps me acquire the asset I need to make money. The equity injection means I can expand my business sooner by adding employees.”
The 2017 Coast Works sponsors included title sponsor the Key Bank Foundation, the Jamestown-S’Klallam Tribe, the Washington State Department of Commerce, Bank of the Pacific, and a growing community of individuals participating in our crowd-funding campaign.
Next year’s competition will get underway in late spring 2018. Visit www.wacoastworks.org, for updates.