2020 Alaska Small Business Owners Honored by SBA Alaska District as Part of National Small Business Week
The US Small Business Administration (SBA) Alaska District announces the winners of its annual awards program as part of National Small Business Week, September 20-26.
Typically held during the first week of May every year since 1963, National Small Business Week award announcements and celebrations were postponed this year due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
“National Small Business Week is a time to recognize the impact entrepreneurs and small businesses have on our economy and in our local communities,” SBA Pacific Northwest Regional Administrator Jeremy Field said. “Like many things in 2020, the journeys of this year’s award winners took a turn most didn’t anticipate. However, themes of ingenuity and tenacity remain the same as small business owners continue to inspire us in new and meaningful ways.”
Small Business Person of the Year winners from fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam will virtually converge in Washington, DC September 22-24, when one of them will be selected as the National Small Business Person of the Year.
2020 Winners from Alaska
Alaska Small Business Person of the Year
Christy NaMee Eriksen, Owner of Kindred Post
Located in the heart of downtown Juneau, the Kindred Post office is rooted in connection. Eriksen is a multidisciplinary poet, teaching artist, and organizer whose work is grounded in social justice and community engagement. She is passionate about the power of art to tell stories, bring people together, and activate positive social change.
8(a) Graduate of the Year
Sharon Elizabeth Athas Coté, Owner of SBH Services
As a woman-owned general contracting company in a predominately male-dominated industry, Coté has faced numerous obstacles in business. She attributes her success to be “the Nordstrom of general contractors.” Coté is the founder of the EVA Foundation, a nonprofit that supports survivors of domestic violence in Alaska.
Pacific Northwest Region SBDC Excellence and Innovation Award
Cliff Cochran, Director of Kenai Peninsula Center
Last year, wildfires closed highways and forced many local businesses to temporarily shut their doors. Soldotna SBDC Director Cliff Cochran was instrumental in economic recovery for small businesses on the peninsula.
Champion of the Year
Ron Perry, President of National 8(a) Association
For years he has provided strong leadership not only nationally with the 8(a) Association but with hundreds of Alaska businesses. He has guided these companies, many of them socially and economically disadvantaged, through the complex and competitive government marketplace. His assistance and expertise has resulted in billions of dollars awarded for private, local, state, and federal contracts.
Veteran-Owned Small Business of the Year
Rod Young, Owner of Think Office
Think Office is a veteran-owned and operated business furniture dealership based in Anchorage serving all of Alaska. Think Office is actively involved in the community, participating in projects and local events such as Alaska Barefoot Mile, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, Building Healthy Kids Toy Drive, Anchorage Wine & Food Festival, Anchorage Economic Development Corporation, American Society of Interior Designers, and American Cancer Society.
Woman-Owned Business of the Year
Shannon Oelkers, Owner of Integrity Environmental
Eagle River, Alaska
Integrity Environmental is an Alaskan based environmental permitting consultancy group that serves the bulk fuel storage and handling industry. In 2010 Integrity’s founder, Shannon Oelkers, built a flexible business model that successfully allows all her team members to pursue their careers while making space and time for their families. Integrity is active in supporting the Anchorage School District Science Fair. Shannon is a graduate of the 2019 SBA Emerging Leaders Program and uses the business tools she learned there to strengthen and grow her business.
“Starting a small business takes so much sacrifice and hard work and to be able to recognize those who give it their all and reach the top of their game during this pandemic is unprecedented,” SBA Alaska District Director Steve Brown said. “This year’s National Small Business Week winners represent the best and most resilient entrepreneurs our district has to offer.”
For more information about National Small Business Week, visit sba.gov/nsbw.
In This Issue
Triumphant Journeys: The Alaska Business 2020 Top 49ers
One factor that contributes to successful business operations is the ability to adapt to new situations; rare is the organization that flourishes without changing at all. This year, as we are all acutely aware by now, will go down in history for many, many things including the wide range of methods implemented by businesses as they adapted to the new landscape presented to them by COVID-19.