Fiber Co-op, Sustainable Seafood, and U-Pick Farm are winners of 2017 Washington Coast Works Competition

The third annual 2017 Coast Works Sustainable Small Business Competition rewarded entrepreneurs who focus on sustainability and community at the 2017 Coast Works Awards Ceremony on November 9, 2017 at Olympic Theatre Arts in Sequim.

The winners were part of a cohort of 12 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 competition has created the Coast Works Alliance, which was launched at the 2017 Awards Ceremony. The Alliance will create a mechanism for ongoing entrepreneurial support in the Olympic Peninsula.

Twisted Strait founder Ann Rosecratz presents her final fast pitch for her fiber co-op. Photo © Jackson Blalock / TNC

Ann Rosecrants received this year's Community Award of $10,000 to build an online market for Twisted Strait Fibers, a Port Angeles-based cooperative for Northwest natural fiber producers and artisans who will work together to bring their sustainable Washington produced wool and wool products to customers around the world.

Rosecrants noted that during the intensive workshop at Olympic Natural Resources Center, one of the participants coined the term "Dream Warriors" during a discussion about 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" Roscrants said. "We are the Dream Warriors."

A visual representation of how this business competition creates a sustainable economy and community. Photo © Jackson Blalock / TNC

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 toward 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."

From left, winners Jim Stanley, Ann Rosecratz and Lauren Kerr with 2016 winner Jessica Ellis and Garrett Dalan of The Nature Conservancy, who emceed the award event. Photo © Jackson Blalock / TNC

Read more about participants here.

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 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 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.”

Watch a Replay of
the Washington Coast Works Ceremony:

Members of the Coast Works community gather before the awards celebration at Olympic Theatre Arts in Sequim. Photo ©Jackson Blalock / TNC

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 the crowd-funding campaign. 

Eric Delvin is the director of The Nature Conservancy's Emerald Edge program, which is partnering with leaders in local communities throughout the largest temperate rainforest in the world, stretching from Washington's Olympic Peninsula through British Columbia and into Southeast Alaska. Local entrepreneurship and sustainable development are vital for thriving nature and thriving communities in this region.

“Businesses that are committed to sustainable use of our natural resources are fundamental to long term conservation, and we are pleased to continue our support of Washington Coast Works,” said Delvin.

Next year’s competition will get underway in late spring 2018. Visit updates.

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