The deadline is fast approaching for the “Path to Prosperity” small business development competition. The program is sponsored by The Nature Conservancy and Haa Aani, the economic development subsidiary of Sealaska Corporation.
The P2P competition is for individuals, existing businesses and tribal entities in Southeast Alaska.
“If you are an existing business and want to break into a new market and need some assistance, this competition could be for you. Or if you have an idea for a business that you’ve always wanted to do, that you’re really passionate about, and you just need some of the structure that goes with or technical assistance that goes behind putting together a solid business plan…this competition could be for you as well.”
That’s Shawn Blumenshine of Haa Aani. He says entrepreneurs also need to illustrate what makes their idea different from others, and demonstrate need.
Paul Hackenmueller, also of Haa Aani, says ideas submitted should provide positive social and economic impacts to the community and promote sustainable use of local resources.
“How are you going to make good use of local, natural resources? How are you going to keep the dollars invested in this business within your local economy and promote leadership and good stewardship within your communities?”
Applications are scored by professional judges, and the top 12 ideas move on to round two. Finalists attend a three-day boot camp weekend in Juneau where they work with professionals and prepare a business plan.
“Some of the people who apply don’t have a business yet, so this boot camp is a terrific opportunity for these local entrepreneurs and business owners to interact with marketing professionals and accountants and attorneys and everybody who’s going to have advice in helping to structure a business plan. That’s actually the round two submission – a fully developed business plan. You connect with the Alaska Small Business Development Center. Once you make it into the final 12 – that would cost a tremendous amount of money if you were a small-scale entrepreneur trying to get started. In some sense, everybody who makes it to that second round is winning in that they will get some excellent assistance in developing a business plan.”
From the 12, two winners are selected. Hackenmuelller says each receives $40,000 in business consulting and technical assistance services. The award cannot be used for capital expenses, rent or labor, but can be used for things such as website development, training and professional development.
This is the third year of the competition. First-year winners were Icy Straight Lumber in Hoonah that used the winnings to diversify and add high value added products, and Raven’s Guitar, a startup business. Last year’s winners were Port Chilkoot Distillery and Fairweather Ski Works, both out of Haines.
Blumenshine and Hackenmuelller were in Ketchikan and Metlakatla earlier this month promoting the “Path to Prosperity” program. The deadline for the 2015 competition is Sunday, May 31st. Mailed entries must be postmarked by May 30th. You can also apply on-line. Links and a phone number for more information are posted with this story on our website.