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Indigenous Entrepreneurs Win $75,000 to Grow Their Small Businesses

Jan 31, 2024 | Alaska Native, News, Small Business

Since 2009, McKinley Alaska Growth Capital has awarded more than $1 million to fifty businesses through the North Slope Marketplace program.

McKinley Alaska Growth Capital

McKinley Alaska Growth Capital recently announced that three Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC) shareholders were selected as the winners of the 2023 North Slope Marketplace competition. As winners of the competition, they will be awarded up to $25,000 each to start or grow their businesses. To commemorate their achievements, each will be recognized at the closing luncheon of the Rural Small Business Conference on February 15 at the Sheraton Anchorage Hotel Anchorage.

Business Boot Camp Alums

The three winners are providing services and tangible benefits to their communities and are passionate about doing so. Inu-IT, owned and operated by Anton Edwardson and based in Utqiaġvik, provides IT services to other small businesses and larger clients like ASRC and Ukpeaġvik Iñupiat Corporation. Edwardson says he wants to empower smaller businesses by giving them the tools to be able to utilize their system and run it on their own.

Blue Goose Hauling, owned and operated by Jocelyn and Zach Pili, is based in Utqiaġvik and provides transportation services throughout Alaska. They specialize in transportation to and from North Slope communities using the Community Winter Access Trails. The name of their business was inspired by their great-grandfather, who was recognized by the “Blue Goose,” call sign and whose personality was largely rooted in serving his community. They say they are proud to carry on his legacy.

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Alaska Business June 2024 Cover

June 2024

Hank’s 48 Store is a startup business owned and conceptualized by Aqquilluk Hank, and will be located in Point Hope. It will be the only store in the community to provide the necessary tools, supplies, firearms, and ammunition for local Iñupiaq people to sustain a subsistence lifestyle. The community of Point Hope depends on subsistence whaling. Hank, an entrepreneur and also a whaling captain, knows firsthand how important the supplies are.

The three winners were chosen from an impressive cohort of ten finalists who participated in the North Slope Marketplace’s three-day Business Boot Camp held in August in Utqiaġvik. At the Business Boot Camp, the entrepreneurs learned about triple-bottom-line principles, worked with a network of successful business and community mentors, and received one-on-one consulting to develop their business models and plans. Following this intensive business training week, the finalists spent three months working with mentors and business coaches to create thorough business plans and financial projections to be submitted to the business plan judges. The winners were selected based on the feasibility, community impact, and the sustainability of their businesses.

The North Slope Marketplace is a program developed and provided by McKinley Alaska Growth Capital, along with its collaborative and key partner Spruce Root which provides facilitation, training, and business coaching for the participants. Other program partners and supporters include the University of Alaska Center for Economic Development, Anchorage Community Land Trust, Arctic Education Foundation, Arctic Slope Community Foundation, and ASRC.

Applications for the 2024 North Slope Marketplace competition are expected to open in April. To learn more about the North Slope Marketplace, please visit the website, alaskagrowth.com, and follow McKinley’s social media accounts, Facebook and LinkedIn @McKinley Alaska Growth Capital, for updates.

Alaska Business June 2024 cover
In This Issue
Delivering Anchorage's Promise
June 2024
Welcome to the June 2024 issue, which features our annual Transportation Special Section. We've paired it this year with a focus on the Pacific Northwest and Hawai'i, as Alaska has close ties to both that reach far beyond lines of transportation. Even further out past our Pacific Ocean compatriots and our Canadian neighbors to the east, Alaska's reach extends to India and Singapore. Enjoy this issue that explores many of Alaska's far-flung business dealings.
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