Path to Prosperity (P2P) Brings Entrepreneurs and Experts Together

“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.”

Entrepreneurs from across Southeast Alaska converged in Juneau recently for three days of “business boot camp.” The group of 12 are semifinalists in the region’s innovative Path to Prosperity contest. Though they live in many communities, all of them have a common dream: running a business that makes a difference in the lives of their communities. The Path to Prosperity business contest aims to make these dreams come true.


At its heart, Path to Prosperity works to make aspiring entrepreneurs successful in communities across Southeast Alaska. The annual boot camp is a highlight of the year for Path to Prosperity contestants because it offers professional advice from a panel of experts in key fields such as marketing, accounting and financial decision making. With assistance from boot camp experts, each contestant 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.


The inspiration for the business contest comes from 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. Bringing this expertise to aspiring entrepreneurs is an important step as the region’s economy recovers from undergoing a significant shift.


“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 Path to Prosperity mission emphasizes building businesses that can earn a profit while also offering benefits to the local community and the local environment.


Entrepreneurs in the 2015 P2P contest are finding that it’s an incredibly enriching learning opportunity. I feel like I’ve already won just by being at the boot camp,” said Spencer Douthit, a 2015 semifinalist and owner of Columbine Farm in Haines, Alaska. 


The boot camp links contest semifinalists with a supportive network of consultants, academics and business experts. In addition, each semifinalist is receiving a 3-credit scholarship to the University Of Alaska Southeast School of Management.


Path to Prosperity is collaboration between The Nature Conservancy and Haa Aaní LLC. “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.”


“This year’s cohort was intent on taking as much away from this weekend as possible,” said Paul Hackenmueller, P2P competition administrator and Haa Aaní LLC economic development coordinator. “They were very engaged and focused on integrating sustainability concepts into their business plans.”


The boot camp weekend was held at the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska Vocational Training and Resource Center

2015 Finalists

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)

 

Winners
A panel of five independent judges will select two business plans as finalists. Each will be awarded up to $40,000 in seed funding for consulting and technical services to develop the business.  Winners will be announced at Innovation Summit in Juneau, Alaska, February 8-9, 2016.

Why Path to Prosperity?
Southeast Alaska’s rural communities are suffering from high unemployment rates, the loss of traditional jobs and a stagnant economy. Many residents leave their home communities in search of opportunities in urban areas. This outmigration threatens the very fiber of rural community health and well-being.

P2P officials encourage entrepreneurs interested in applying for the 2016 P2P competition to fill out the contact form on the competition website at www.p2pweb.org.

Contact Path to Prosperity Administrators
For questions or more information, please email Shawn Blumenshine or Paul Hackenmueller at P2P@Sealaska.com or call 907.586.9251.

Learn more at www.p2pweb.org.

News Type: