Entrepreneurs win awards in Washington Coast Works Sustainable Small Business Competition

Budding businesses in Port Angeles, Forks and Westport won cash awards in the third annual Washington Coast Works Sustainable Small Business Competition.

Entrepreneurs who focus on sustainability and community were rewarded at the 2017 Coast Works awards ceremony Nov. 9 at Olympic Theatre Arts in Sequim.

The winners were part of a cohort of 12 entrepreneurs who participated in intensive training at the 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 on the Olympic Peninsula, organizers said.

Ann Rosecrants received the 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,” Rosecrants said. “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, Kerr 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,” Kerr said, “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.

Stanley, a member of the Quinault Indian Nation, operates the fishing vessel SV 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, Ore.

Stanley echoed 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 said.

He didn’t downplay the role of money.

“I appreciate how the award helps me acquire the asset I need to make money,” he said.

“The equity injection means I can expand my business sooner by adding employees.”

The 2017 Coast Works sponsors included title sponsor KeyBank Foundation, the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, the state Department of Commerce, Bank of the Pacific and those participating in the group’s crowdfunding campaign.

Washington Coast Works was established by The Nature Conservancy in collaboration with the Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship, the Taala Fund and the Olympic Natural Resources Center.

The program is designed to help develop small businesses in Jefferson, Clallam, Grays Harbor, Pacific and Wahkiakum counties.

Next year’s competition will get underway in late spring 2018. For updates, see www.wacoastworks.org.

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