Southeast Alaska Businesses Win $50,000 for Sustainability
JUNEAU,AK—Every year, the Path to Prosperity program provides small businesses across Southeast Alaska with an opportunity to network, grow their business knowledge, and compete for $50,000. The 2018 Path to Prosperity winners are Mud Bay Lumber Company and Juneau Composts, were formally announced at Mid-Session Summit hosted by Southeast Conference on February 12 in Juneau.
In the first round of the competition, Spruce Root, Inc. solicited applications from small businesses and entrepreneurs around the region. From that initial pool of applicants, twelve finalists were selected to attend a two-day Business Boot Camp in Juneau. Following this intensive business training weekend, the entrepreneurs spent two months working with Spruce Root businesses coaches creating thorough business plans to be submitted to the judges. After careful deliberation, the judges selected two winning businesses to be awarded $25,000 each to be used for consulting and technical assistance.
Mud Bay Lumber Company, is run by wife-and-husband team Sylvia Heinz Bieberich and Chad Bieberich. They manufacture and sell local hand-picked, quality trees in the form of rough cut boards, slabs, and other added-value wood products with a focus on community collaboration, environmental integrity, and self-reliance. They promote the responsible use of natural resources through a zero log-waste goal, operating within the limits of the State Forest Management Plan, and by using each tree to its opportune use. By making local timber products accessible and affordable to the Haines community, Mud Bay Lumber Company is also helping to eliminate the fuel and plastic packaging used in long-distance transportation of lumber. They are invested in making local resources accessible and affordable to their community and growing the Haines timber industry into a stable part of the economy.
Juneau Composts performs natural alchemy, packages it, and resells it, all while reducing the noxious waste in our landfill. Juneau Composts takes kitchen scraps, cooks them with thermophilic microorganisms and turns them into rich soil ready for the garden. So far they have diverted more than 111,900 lbs of material from the landfill, turning it into earthy-smelling nutritious soil. They also provide compost education and technical support. They are currently the only composting service available in Juneau and they serve households and businesses of all kinds.
The Path to Prosperity program is facilitated by Spruce Root, Inc. through a partnership with The Nature Conservancy and the Sustainable Southeast Partnership. Since 2013, the Path to Prosperity has received over 200 applications, provided business development support to more than 76 entrepreneurs at its “Business Boot Camp” weekends, and awarded $460,000 in technical assistance to 13 competition winners. In 2015, the Path to Prosperity received a Silver Award from the International Economic Development Council.
Spruce Root, Inc. assists Southeast Alaska’s people, businesses, and communities in reaching their full potential and long-term economic, social, and environmental resilience by providing capital investments, and technical support. It serves rural communities by deploying loans to small businesses, and by providing technical assistance that will improve the economic well being of rural communities.
Applications for the 2019 Path to Prosperity competition will open April 1, 2019, and will close May 31, 2019. For more information please sign up for competition updates at https://www.spruceroot.org/path-to-prosperity/
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Spreading the Word
When Bristol Bay Native Corporation (BBNC) first aired TV commercials featuring the tagline, “A Place That’s Always Been,” the reaction was surprising. Not only because they received numerous accolades and marketing awards for the campaign but because, at the time, it was rare for Alaska Native corporations to market themselves through the media.