18 Alaska Business Monthly | May 2015 www.akbizmag.com
Alaska’s Innovative Entrepreneurs Walk
the ‘Path to Prosperity’
Business competition awards two Haines businesses
for their commitment to community
By Bethany Goodrich
Vibrant local businesses are pumping new life into the his- toric buildings of Haines, Alas-
ka. Home to 1,800 residents, Haines
is a unique community located at the
end of the Inside Passage in the south-
east of the state. With 46 percent of
its population unemployed, accord-
ing to the Department of Commerce,
Community and Economic Develop-
ment, Haines joins most rural Alaska
communities on a quest for economic
stimulation. However, Haines is rich in
entrepreneurial opportunity and busi-
ness leadership. This spring, the com-
munity celebrated two local enterprises
in particular: Port Chilkoot Distillery
and Fairweather Ski Works.
Both businesses were awarded
$40,000 in seed funding for technical
services through Path to Prosperity
(P2P), an innovative business plan competition. The Nature Conservancy and
Haa Aaní LLC founded P2P to identify
innovative entrepreneurs in Southeast
Alaska and connect them with the resources they need to succeed.
“Innovative local businesses are at the
core of a vibrant local economy. Path to
Prosperity, through intensive entrepre-
neur training and business development
funding, is helping to develop the next
generation of creative small business own-
ers in Southeast Alaska,” explains Nor-
man Cohen, director of Southeast Alaska
Programs for The Nature Conservancy.
Thriving local businesses are central to
healthy communities, and Haa Aaní LLC
and The Nature Conservancy also recognize business as a valuable tool for spreading positive social and environmental impacts across rural communities.
A tour of this year’s winners reveals
how innovative entrepreneurs are revitalizing Alaska’s neighborhoods.
The community crowds the tiny tasting room at Port Chilkoot Distillery to soak in the
communal atmosphere, sip spirits infused with local ingredients, and catch up with neighbors.
Photo by Bethany Goodrich