Washington Coast Works Sustainable Small Business Competition Launches

WASHINGTON COAST–Budding tribal and rural entrepreneurs on the Washington Coast will get a boost in developing small-scale sustainable businesses through a new competition funded in part by the US Department of Agriculture.

The competition, Washington Coast Works, is being sponsored by The Nature Conservancy in partnership with the Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship at Pinchot University (formerly Bainbridge Graduate Institute) and the Taala Fund. USDA has granted $74,600 through its Rural Business Opportunity Grants to help launch the competition.

The goal is to launch sustainable local businesses that will increase local employment and have positive social, ecological, and economic impacts on their rural communities.

“We have a wealth of natural resources, and the talent to develop new, sustainable ways to use them,” said Rod Fleck, Forks city attorney/planner.  “This is a great opportunity for our community’s entrepreneurs to develop new businesses or improve existing ones.”

“I applaud the Nature Conservancy and its partners for establishing the Washington Coast Works Sustainable Small Business competition, and am proud to support this initiative to launch innovative entrepreneurial opportunities in our state’s rural and tribal communities,” said Sen. Patty Murray, D-WA.

“This competition provides entrepreneurs in tribal and rural areas with the chance to turn an idea into a business that will create jobs and economic opportunity,” said Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-WA. “This is an investment in often under-served communities that will pay dividends for years to come on the Olympic Peninsula. I extend my thanks to the Nature Conservancy and its partners for developing the Sustainable Small Business Competition.”

“The Olympic Peninsula is chock-full of budding entrepreneurs looking to improve their communities – the Sustainable Small Business Competition can help provide that extra nudge needed to help them take off,” said Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-6th District. “Tribal and rural communities alike will benefit from this terrific opportunity to jump start local employment and catalyze private business innovation in sustainability and conservation. I applaud the Nature Conservancy and the Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship for taking the lead on bringing this great support system to folks in our area.”

After an open application period, 10 semifinalists will be chosen to participate in an intensive business development training with the Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship (CIE). From the 10 semi-finalists, winners will receive $10,000 in seed funding.

CIE will continue to work one-on-one with all 10 semi-finalists who complete the training, to help successfully launch their businesses, including assistance with business model development, accessing capital, developing business skills, and connecting to networks of support.

The competition will be open to applicants starting new businesses in Grays Harbor, Jefferson and Clallam Counties, including the tribal communities of Neah Bay, La Push, Hoh, Queets and Tahola, as well as other rural communities, and the cities of Forks, Ocean Shores, Aberdeen, Hoquiam, Montesano, Cosmopolis and Westport.

Visit Washington Coast Works on the web at wacoastworks.org or contact Mike Skinner with CIE, (206) 780-6228, for more information.

Pinchot University is a pioneer in sustainable business and transformational leadership. Housed under Pinchot are the Bainbridge Graduate Institute, the Professional Development program of continuing education and the Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship. Visit Pinchot on the Web at Pinchot.edu.

Taala Fund is a certified Native Community Development Financial Institution (Native CDFI) that has a mission to promote private business development and build assets on the Quinault Indian Reservation and among Quinault Tribal members, improving the quality of life for its people and communities. Visit the Taala Fund on the Web at taalafund.org

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working in Washington and around the world to protect the lands and waters on which all life depends. Visit The Nature Conservancy in Washington on the Web at WashingtonNature.org.