The U.S. Department of Energy recently held its fifth Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) Innovation Summit—an annual event that brings together academics, entrepreneurs, innovators, and thought-leaders to discuss our most pressing energy issues, the technologies being developed to address them, and the market potential of innovative energy technologies.
A central message of the three-day summit was the importance of entrepreneurship. Keynote speakers like U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Thomas Friedman stressed the importance of commercializing new technologies. Their message was clear: it’s one thing to develop a breakthrough technology. It’s another thing to turn that brilliant technology into something commercially viable. If you want to advance energy innovation and solve our energy crises, you have to think and act like an entrepreneur.
For the past five years, the UW Environmental Innovation Challenge (EIC) has been delivering that same message to innovative and entrepreneurial students from colleges and universities throughout the Pacific Northwest. Each year, interdisciplinary student teams are challenged to define an environmental problem, develop a solution, produce a prototype, and create a business summary that demonstrates market potential. The quarter-long process culminates in a large, DemoDay-like event where a select group of teams pitch to a group of 150+ judges—investors, entrepreneurs, policy-makers, and experts from across sectors. The top teams are awarded up to $10,000 in prize money, and everyone comes away with valuable feedback and experience to help them realize the market potential of their innovations.
The 23 teams selected for this year’s UW EIC run the gamut of clean technology and environmental innovation: Loopool is addressing waste in the garment industry by creating a closed-loop supply chain that transforms reclaimed cotton garments and textiles into high quality, bio-based fiber; NOVA Solar Window combines the power-producing capabilities of a solar panel with the utility of a traditional window, providing renewable energy where traditional solar panels cannot. Korvata, in response to the harmful environmental effects of greenhouse gas emissions, has created a mixture of proprietary gasses to replace the use of nitrous oxide as a whipped cream propellant.
For the next month, these competitors, along with 20 others, will refine their prototypes, perform market analyses, hone their pitches, and prepare to prove that their innovation has the potential to succeed in the marketplace—and transform our world.
Follow the progress of the 2014 UW Environmental Innovation Challenge:
“GSEC gets to the noble purpose of business.” – Dean James Jiambalvo
Every year, the UW Foster School of Business holds the Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition (GSEC), an international social enterprise competition at which students from around the world present business solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges—poverty, health and development. The 10th annual GSEC brought in more than 160 entries from university teams spanning 37 counties.
The competition, hosted by the Foster School’s Global Business Center, featured 19 semi-finalist teams from Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Rwanda, Uganda and the U.S.—including two UW teams—competing in Seattle for $40,000 in prizes. This year’s winners were announced at a celebration dinner on February 27, 2014.
Grand Prize, Fargreen- Colorado State University, USA
Fargreen uses zero waste farming technology to convert rice straw waste into a product that can be used for mushroom farming and the production of bio fertilizers in Vietnam. This model prevents farmers from burning waste and releasing greenhouse gases into the air while also allowing farmers to diversify their crop yields and gain additional income from mushroom farming. (Sponsored by Microsoft and Seattle International Foundation)
2nd Place Prize, Bhitti, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh
Bhitti utilizes sugarcane bagasse, an agricultural by-product, to manufacture environmentally friendly, affordable and sustainable materials for construction. These materials can be used to build sturdier housing options in Bangladesh that may offer protection from natural disasters. Bhitti products require less energy consumption and leave a zero carbon footprint. (Sponsored by Global Business Center)
Global Health Prize, AYUDA Food Aid, Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines
AYUDA Food Aid is a nutrition-dense ready to eat compressed food bar that is intended for victims of natural disaster in the Philippines. AYUDA is a good source of energy, protein, carbohydrates and other essential nutrients typically lacking in most disaster relief goods such as instant noodles and canned foods. AYUDA Food Aid focuses on sustainable development by sourcing raw materials from local growers while compensating them at fair trade prices. (Sponsored by UW Department of Global Health)
The National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA) E-Team Award went to Nanaoly Bioscience of University of Colorado. Nanoly Bioscience aims to eliminate the need for vaccine refrigeration with a nano-sized polymer that stabilizes vaccines and other temperature sensitive medicines so that vaccines may be safely and effectively delivered at a low cost anywhere in the world. This prize provides up to $5,000 in travel support to a three-day E-Team program workshop. Sponsored by The National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA)
Seattle Rotary and University District Rotary awarded $2,500 in prize money to AYUDA Food Aid for receiving the highest Social Impact score from preliminary round judges.
At the Celebration Dinner and Awards Banquet, the room buzzed with excitement and passion. Arun Gore, keynote speaker and CEO of Gray Ghost Ventures, noted the infectious spirit in the room. He commended each of the teams for their hard work and encouraged them to continue to pursue their dream.
Grand Prize Winner, Fargreen, has no plans to let grass grow under their mushroom farmers’ feet. “We plan to use the prize money to build our first mushroom facilities for ten farmers who already signed up to be in our network,” said Tran. “The construction and production will happen this summer.”
Impact HUB Seattle makes a great first impression. It has that industrial chic thing down to a T: exposed brick, grand staircase, rustic wooden beams. There are Herman Miller chairs and 24” monitors at every desk, state-of-the-art meeting rooms, hot showers for bike commuters, and blazing fast internet, of course. But the HUB is more than just a pretty face. It’s a space where entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and innovative start-up companies work side by side with the shared goal of making the world a better place.
“That’s Mark,” says HUB Seattle founder Brian Howe, waving at a young man through the glass walls of a sleek conference room. “He’s the CEO of Moving World. It’s a for-profit start-up that connects professionals with vacation volunteer projects that match their skill sets.” He turns and gestures in the other direction. “Two offices down,” he continues, “is the Seattle Good Business Network. They promote the benefits of buying and thinking local.” The HUB is filled with start-ups and nonprofits like these – organizations committed to treating contribution to the common good with the same reverence as financial gain.
Howe’s fascination with entrepreneurship began in law school, when he and an MBA student were assigned to help entrepreneurs in underserved communities with their business plans and legal issues. “It turned out I enjoyed the business side more than the legal side,” says Howe. So after getting his law degree, he set out to build his entrepreneurial expertise and earn what he calls a “poor man’s MBA,” competing in the UW Business Plan Competition with Safety Innovation, a company that produced protective garments for hospitals.
As Howe became more confident of his start-up skills and his law firm found its niche serving impact entrepreneurs, he found himself spending more time helping clients with introductions to investors, writing business plans, and polishing pitch decks. He was passionate about the work, but it did not match the billable hour model of a law firm. Howe asked himself, “Is there a business model that allows me to do the work that I love doing?” His answer: Yes, start an incubator.
Howe went looking for inspiration and came across the global HUB network, an ecosystem for social entrepreneurs. Started in London in 2004, the HUB network had grown to about 40 outposts worldwide, and one had just opened in San Francisco. “I fell in love with the energy of the space,” says Howe, of his visit, “and thought, this is it. I don’t need to reinvent the wheel. I need to bring this to Seattle.”
Roughly a year later, HUB Seattle has 500 members who use the space to work on their start-ups, hold meetings and workshops, and share ideas with a community of like-minded entrepreneurs. The HUB’s “everything under one roof” model means that members can help each other with just about every aspect of running a start-up, from accounting to web design. HUB Seattle has built partnerships with organizations like Social Venture Partners and Bainbridge Graduate Institute, aopens its space up for community events like Startup Weekend, film screenings, and Tech Meetups.
So what’s next for HUB Seattle? Howe is thinking globally. “The HUB is arguably the largest network of impact entrepreneurs in the world,” he says. He plans to develop a globally dispersed consulting network made up of HUB members who can share their talents, collaborate on ideas, and help each other change the world.
Looking for a challenge? How about trying to cut total emissions from the global commercial aviation fleet in half—even as it doubles from 20,000 to a projected 40,000 planes—by 2050.
That tall order is the very real pledge of the world’s aviation industry.
And leading the quixotic charge is the Boeing Company, whose Bill Glover provided the keynote for the 2013 Foster Idea Lab, a kind of high-level sustainability brainstorming session hosted by Net Impact at the University of Washington Foster School of Business.
Glover, the vice president of global business development and policy at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, offered a portal into his firm’s efforts to produce more efficient, lower-emitting aircraft through innovative on-board technologies, smarter materials and an all-out push to develop a jet-worthy renewable fuel.
He recounted Boeing’s catalytic effort to drive the first successful biofuel-powered commercial airplane flight, and its legacy in thousands of subsequent test, demonstration and commercial biofueled flights in the past few years.
“Now we need to industrialize it,” Glover said. “Make this work on an industry-wide scale to drive down the carbon footprint of aviation. That’s one of the great opportunities that we have. We’re at the beginning, and we have a long way to go.”
Facing the big challenges of sustainability was the theme of the Idea Lab. Some 40 senior sustainability officers from a wide range of companies huddled with each other and with Foster MBA students to cross-pollinate solutions to the challenges of their organizations to operate more sustainably. Among the organizations participating were Microsoft (the Idea Lab sponsor), Boeing, Starbucks, Amazon, T-Mobile, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and many others.
The event was organized by the Foster School’s chapter of Net Impact, the international MBA organization devoted to inspiring a new generation to use their careers to tackle the world’s toughest social and environmental problems.
Foster MBAs won the national Net Impact Case Competition in 2011 and 2013, and reached the finals in 2012. At the Idea Lab, Gabe Jones, Ryan Scott and Chris Walker of the winning team reported on the school’s most recent victory this past February at the University of Colorado.
The case challenged student teams to navigate Newmont Mining’s efforts to begin mining gold in a fictional African nation. The Foster team’s winning solution was centered on the creation of a Trusted Partners Program—a kind of independent escrow account managed by Newmont executives, stakeholders from local and national government, and NGO partners—that would manage profit sharing to benefit both company shareholders and local residents in the areas of environmental, social and educational.
The plan was simple, feasible and implementable. Said Scott: “The question we kept asking ourselves was, what will the board do next week? After we finish our presentation, can the board actually act on this? I think that’s what earned us the win.”
Water, plastics, and dirty data
Foster Net Impact’s faculty advisor Elizabeth Stearns closed the event with a bracing reminder of our rampant overuse of water, plastics and “dirty” data.
The senior lecturer pointed out the tens of gallons of water it takes to produce a cup of coffee or glass of wine, the hundreds of gallons to produce a t-shirt or can of beer, and the thousands to produce a pair of blue jeans or a bar of chocolate.
And she challenged anyone who produces packaging to consider the effect of plastics—300 million tons produced annually, 90 percent of which can be recycled but only 10 percent that is recycled.
Stearns called for a new paradigm. “It’s not enough to recycle,” she said. “We should be focusing on upcycling—the cradle-to-cradle creation of something for the expressed purpose of later being reused, perhaps as something else.”
As for dirty data, Stearns reported that the computing industry and the “cloud” are consuming 623 billion kilowatts of energy and 5.5 billion gallons of water annually, producing 50 million tons of toxic e-waste, and emitting 680 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions—2-3 percent of the world’s total emissions.
“We have to start rethinking our business processes in every industry,” she said. “If we don’t, we won’t have a business.”
But Stearns also pointed out that there are “lots of wonderful solutions out there.” As exemplars, she cited Singapore’s successful gray-water-to-drinking-water company NEWater, the collapsible, upcyclable container used by Japan’s I LOHAS, and the comprehensively sustainable Belgium-based cleaning products company Ecover.
“When you work in sustainability, it’s easy to feel that there isn’t a way out, that the situation is hopeless,” Stearns said. “But the people in the room are already convinced that we have to do things more sustainably. We just have to know that we can do things more sustainably.
May 23, 2013 – Seattle’s Bell Harbor buzzed with energy as a record $68,220 in seed funding was awarded to winners of the 2013 UW Business Plan Competition.
Over 250 Judges, coaches, and team members gathered at the 16th annual Business Plan Competition Awards Dinner. After a celebration of Artie and Sue Buerk’s $5.2 million naming gift for the Center, Kabir Shahani, CEO of Appature, gave a funny and heartfelt keynote speech, offering these words of wisdom: “Entrepreneurship is a platform for your life, and that platform lets you do anything you want to do. If you want to change the world, you can do it. The only question is ‘how many times over?’”
Shahani’s words were taken to heart, especially by the winning teams, who will be using their seed funding to move their business a few steps closer to reality.
The UW Business Plan Competition is produced by the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship at the Foster School of Business.
$25,000 Grand Prize – Pure Blue Technologies (UW) Fossil fuel production generates 882 billion gallons of contaminated “produced water” per year in the US alone. On average, for every barrel of oil extracted in the US, 8 barrels of contaminated water are extracted to the surface. Pure Blue Technologies has developed a contaminated water treatment system that uses visible light photo disinfection technology to produce disinfected water for beneficial reuse.
Pure Blue Technologies won second place at this year’s UW Environmental Innovation Challenge.
Team:Jaffer Alali, MS Environmental Engineering; Adam Greenberg, BA Finance and Entrepreneurship; Michael Lee, MS Mechanical Engineering; Alan Luo, PhD Physics; Sep Makhous, PhD Electrical Engineering; Ryan Vogel, BA Finance and Entrepreneurship; Ian Tan, BA Finance; Nicholas Wang, BA Chemical Engineering
$13,220 Second Place Prize – Z Girls (UW) Studies show that adolescent girls who participate in sports are more self-confident, get better grades, are less likely to engage in at-risk behaviors, and are more likely to go to college. Unfortunately, by age 14, girls drop out of sports at twice the rate of boys. Z Girls has developed a sports-based curriculum that gives girls ages 11-14 the opportunity to develop skills like goal-setting, positive self-image, and healthy nutrition habits through team programs and summer camps.
Final Round Judge Steve Singh, CEO of Concur, remarked, “Z Girls is an inspiring business lead by some amazing founders that could be doing anything in life. Incredible.”
Team: Libby Ludlow, JD and Technology Entrepreneurship Certificate; Jacob Dudek; Jilyne Higgins
$5,000 Finalist Prize – Poly Drop (UW)
Conductive coating is used to move electrostatic charge across a surface (like the surface of an aircraft), so that it does not accumulate and interfere with electronic equipment or cause sparks that can lead to fire. PolyDrop has created a conductive polymer additive for paints, primers and coatings that is lighter, more affordable, longer lasting, and has better adhesion than other products on the market.
Team: Michele Chaffee, MBA; Olga Hrechka, BS Chemical Engineering; Heather Milligan, BS Chemical Engineering
$5,000 Finalist Prize – NIA Wheel (SPU) NIA Wheel found that 5,596,000 people in the US are paralyzed. 360,000 of those are quadriplegic – confined to a wheelchair with very limited control over their mobility. The NIA (Neurological Impulse Actuator) wheelchair is activated and controlled by the brain function of the user, eliminating the disconnect between mental capability and physical disability of quadriplegics and others who have lost mobility.
Team: Sergey Kisel, BS Electrical Engineering; Clarence Rieu, BS Electrical Engineering; Aryn Schatz, BA Business Administration; Jessica Way, BA Economics
Best Idea Prizes
$2,500 Best Technology Idea – PolyDrop (UW) PolyDrop offers conductive polymer additives for paints, primers and coatings with a significantly lower level of particle loading. Integration of PolyDrop into current production lines of existing formulations is simple and dramatically improves usage lifetime, adhesion and mechanical properties of your product. Team: Michele Chaffee, MBA; Olga Hrechka, BS Chemical Engineering; Heather Milligan, BS Chemical Engineering
$2,500 Best Service/Retail Idea – Z Girls (UW) Z Girlsmeasurably improves girls’ participation rates in sports by teaching young female athletes skills like positive self-talk, goal-setting, and body image through coaching and camps. Team: Libby Ludlow, JD Law; Jacob Dudek; Jilyne Higgins
$2,500 Best Sustainable Advantage – Pure Blue Technologies (UW) Pure Blue Technologiesis developing a novel industrial water treatment solution that’s more efficient at a lower cost. Team: Jaffer Alali, MS Environmental Engineering; Adam Greenberg, BA Finance and Entrepreneurship; Michael Lee, MS Mechanical Engineering; Alan Luo, PhD Physics; Sep Makhous, PhD Electrical Engineering; Ryan Vogel, BA Finance and Entrepreneurship; Ian Tan, BA Finance; Nicholas Wang, BA Chemical Engineering
$2,500 Best Innovation Idea – InsuLenz (UW) InsuLenz is developing a “smart” polymer contact lens to provide a bio-responsive and needle-free insulin delivery platform for diabetics. Team: Nick Au, PhD Medicinal Chemistry; Karen Eaton, PhD Bioengineering; Caleb Gerig, MBA; Craig McNary, MBA; Mohammed Minhaj, MBA; Renuka Ramanathan, PhD Bioengineering
$2,500 Best Consumer Product Idea – iHome3D (UW) iHome3Dis a mobile app that allows realtors to create a virtual tour and floor plan of a property, in minutes. Team: Nelson Haung, MBA; Aditya Sankar, PhD Computer Science/Engineering
$2,500 Best Cleantech Idea – Biomethane (BGI/WWU/UW) Biomethanecreates greenhouse-gas-negative vehicle fuel from dairy waste. Team: Jessica Anundson, MBA; Branden Audet, MA Policy Studies; Kathlyn Kinney, MBA; Colby Ochsner, MBA
$5,000 AARP Prize for low-income senior service – NIA Wheel (SPU) NIA Wheelproduces and sells a brain wave controlled power wheelchair.Team: Sergey Kisel, BS Electrical Engineering; Clarence Rieu, BS Electrical Engineering; Aryn Schatz, BA Business; Jessica Way, BA Economics
Saturday April 13th was an eventful day. The Global Business Center hosted its 15th annual undergraduate Global Business Case Competition – where twelve teams representing ten different countries competed for the title of Champion.
Each of the GBCC teams spent 48 hours analyzing a business case on Frog’s Leap Winery, which is known for its commitment to sustainability. The winery produces high quality wines using organically-grown grapes and was a leader in adopting an environmental management system for production. The teams, who are outside consultants, were asked to make recommendations in three areas: (1) the next sustainability initiative that Frog’s Leap should undertake, (2) identification of two potential markets outside the US, and (3) marketing plans for those new markets.
After a competitive preliminary round, four teams were selected to move on to the final round: Concordia University, National University of Singapore, University of Arizona, and University of Hong Kong. With over 100 people in attendance, the final round presentations were exciting to watch. In the end, the judges chose Concordia University (Montreal, Canada) as this year’s Champion.
Concordia University students had a four pronged strategy for Frog’s Leap Winery. They recommended that for Frog’s Leap to increase sales but remain small and committed to sustainability initiatives, they should take the following actions:
Increase presence in Japanese market following a product development strategy
Enter the Chinese market following a market penetration strategy
Use recycled bottles
Plan the succession process
We would like to acknowledge the hard work of our GBCC Student Leadership Team who spent countless hours organizing this big event. Nicole Winjum and Brandon Upton led their group of six student managers and over 30 volunteers to a successful 15th annual GBCC.
And finally, GBCC would not be possible without our major sponsors: The Boeing Company, Costco Wholesale, F5 Networks, Russell Investments, Starbucks Coffee International, T-Mobile and Wells Fargo.
On April 4, twenty student teams from colleges and universities throughout the Pacific Northwest pitched their innovations at the UW Environmental Innovation Challenge. Now in its fifth year, the UW EIC challenges students to develop prototypes that solve today’s biggest environmental problems. Teams address today’s energy, urban agriculture, recycling, built environment and water-related problems with novel solutions that have market potential. Each year, five teams are awarded prizes ranging from $2,500 to $10,000. Congratulations to this year’s winners:
$10,000 Grand Prize: PolyDrop (University of Washington)
PolyDrop manufactures additives that transform regular coatings (think paint) into conductive coatings that open up a world of opportunity for carbon fiber composites in transportation industries. The transportation industry is looking to move towards using light-weight carbon fiber materials to reduce fuel consumption and decrease carbon dioxide emissions. However, carbon fiber composites accumulate a static charge that will interfere with a vehicle’s sensitive electronics. PolyDrop solves this problem by providing a means to dissipate static electricity with a viable conductive technology.
The $10,000 Grand Prize was sponsored by the UW Center for Commercialization.
$5,000 Second Place Prize: Pure Blue Technologies (University of Washington)
One barrel of extracted or spilled oil generate an average of seven barrels of contaminated water, or produced water. Produced water must be disinfected to meet EPA regulations, even if it is just going to be disposed. In the U.S. alone, 353 billion gallons of highly contaminated produced water are treated and disposed each year – that’s enough water to fill Lake Washington 4 1/2 times! Pure Blue Technologies has developed a unique water disinfection technology that is safer, smaller, and more cost-effective than existing solutions.
The $5,000 Second Place Prize was sponsored by Puget Sound Energy.
Three $2,500 Honorable Mention Awards
Sunscroll (Western Washington University)
Sunscroll is a solar charged LED light and USB charging station.
EcoMembrane (University of Washington) EcoMembrane is developing a new technology for preventing scaling and fouling of desalination and wastewater treatment membranes using ultrasound.
Upcycle (University of Washington) Upcycle has an enhanced version of a bio-briquette maker that transforms bio-waste into fuel for cook stoves.
Guest post from Bob Ness, Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition (GSEC) Advisory Committee member. As we prepare for GSEC at UW next week, Bob reflects on what keeps him coming back each year, and you should too.
I’ve been involved with GSEC since 2006 as one of the first Advisory Board members. My friend and GSEC sponsor, Howard Behar, suggested I get involved. I started out judging and moved through various roles, including mentoring. Then we invented the trade show, and I did that. As a trustee of the Peg and Rick Young Foundation (another GSEC sponsor), I have also participated in supporting the competition financially.
The energy of the teams and the excitement of seeing innovation has kept me involved, and over the years I have gotten to know some of the teams. The Mongolian presentation (Radio Mongolia) of a product to provide radios in the Gobi resulted in a personal connection with the presenter. I’ve become friends with Lumana founders (winners in 2009) and have appreciated watching their organization bloom in Ghana. Our foundation provided Wello, a technology for rolling water from place to place, with seed money to pilot their work in northern India. Ruby Cup, a winner this past year from Denmark was also memorable in its efforts to provide a new feminine hygiene product in an international context.
I find the judge role most difficult. Giving direct and useful feedback the team can use requires finesse and good judgment. The other judges have many different skills, so finding a common language and method of coming to decisions as well as giving feedback is challenging. There is a lot of learning going on for the judges—the perspectives of the other judges hones your own ability to assess a social enterprise and the teams provide lots of opportunities for you to ask yourself hard questions. I think I’ve honed some of my own business and social enterprise skills in the process, and hopefully provided useful feedback to the teams as they attempt to improve their plans and innovations.
Seattle is a nexus for social entrepreneurship. GSEC has contributed to that movement in the international sphere as well as locally. Many of the social entrepreneurial leaders in Seattle have been involved in some aspect of GSEC. The idea that business can change the world by providing a social benefit and a return to investors is a strong concept that is finding favor in business schools across the world and, increasingly, investor interest. Students are excited to see and participate in social purpose organizations, and business schools that provide these opportunities are on the leading edge. GSEC is a great way for business leaders to become more familiar with the needs of the developing world and our increasingly challenged global natural environment.
Want to change the world? And use the free market system to do so? Check out the potential for innovation, new products and services, opportunities for investment, and a terrific educational opportunity for the teams and educational institutions involved…you’ll be glad you did!
This month’s innovation blog focuses on an organization: Craft3. Craft3 is an old organization with a new name. Once known as Enterprise Cascadia, Craft3 is a financial institution that operates as a non-profit, lending capital to help businesses, communities, and consumers unable to secure regular financing.
Since 1995, Craft3 has invested $233 million in over 2,800 business and individuals in Pacific Northwest communities. Based in Ilwaco, Craft3 also has offices in downtown Seattle, Port Angeles, Astoria and Portland. In 2013, Craft3 will open new offices east of the mountains in both Washington and Oregon.
“This means that Craft3 can more effectively serve both rural and urban customers,” says Sue Taoka, Craft3’s Executive Vice President in Seattle. “In urban areas, we are more focused in helping targeted areas, like depressed neighborhoods and communities of color. With our strategy to expand in rural, regional centers, Craft3 will serve broader areas that have a potential for growth.”
As a “triple bottom line” organization, Craft3 measures its success in terms of economic, social and environmental outcomes. Its mission, to “strengthen economic, ecological and family resilience in Pacific Northwest communities,” is great news for those who have suffered during this economic downturn.
Craft3 fulfills this mission by offering loans to entrepreneurs to start or grow their business, and conservation organizations to acquire sensitive lands and restore habitat. It also makes loans to individually-owned tribal businesses, tribal enterprises, tribal government and non-profit organizations. Energy efficiency retrofit loans are available to homeowners and small businesses in Seattle and Portland.
And it doesn’t stop there. Craft3 also provides support to its customers by referring them to other sources, and making connections. For example, Craft3 was able to help a Quinault fisherman connect his caviar products with an urban store that also benefits from Craft3 services. Craft3 financed an Oregon organic creamery so that it could place its products in urban markets. Craft3’s loans to The Freshwater Trust, helped to plant trees along the Rogue River, to cool industrial effluent.
“We make loans to innovators of all kinds, to those who have difficulty getting loans from a for-profit financial institution,” says Sue. One of her favorite success stories? In the late 1990’s few babies were being born in the Shoalwater Bay Tribe. Most were stillborn. Craft3 helped fund a new health clinic, and when Sue visited 18 months ago, a healthy baby had just been born.
Small business entrepreneurs, small industry, human service agencies and farmers have all benefited from Craft3. And so has the environment, the community, and our future. For more information, go to www.craft3.org.
Rita Brogan is the CEO of PRR, a public affairs and communications firm based in Seattle, one of Washington’s 50 largest minority-owned businesses. Brogan was a recipient of the Foster School’s Business and Economic Development Center Asian/Pacific Islander Business Leadership Award. She writes the BEDC Brogan blog series monthly. Previously, she covered green economy issues with an emphasis on ways that businesses owned by people of color or women can create a competitive advantage.
Since the South Park Bridge closed for renovation in 2010, Raymundo Olivas has felt shut off from the surrounding city, as if on an island. But he’s not on an island. Olivas does business in the South Park neighborhood of Seattle, a sliver of commercial and residential land wedged between the Duwamish River, I-509 and a green bluff rising to Highland Park.
The South Park bridge provided the primary access to the neighborhood’s commercial district. Since its closure, businesses have suffered.
Something had to be done. Olivas, a member of the South Park Retail Merchants Association (SPRMA), decided that the association needed to do more outreach to community businesses and customers. He contacted the UW Business and Economic Development Center and requested a team of student consultants to come up with a plan to bring customers and businesses to South Park.
The BEDC Student Consulting Program helps small businesses grow while providing hands on consulting experience to students. All under the guidance of expert advisors like Parker Montgomery, a 2005 graduate of the Foster School and current candidate in the UW Masters in Public Administration program. While an undergrad, Parker was a student consultant with BEDC. He has mentored student teams for the past four years.
“I’ve learned a ton from the program about small businesses in the community,” he says.
Beginning in January 2012, Parker offered this experience to the student consulting group tasked with reviving small businesses in South Park.
The students developed a neighborhood plan to attract new businesses to South Park. They identified the area’s needs, zoning issues, and market power to encourage potential business investors to consider it a viable location for their businesses.
Among the neighborhood’s unmet needs was for a grocery store. Through their research, the BEDC students met the founders of Stockbox Neighborhood Grocery, second-place winners at the 2011 UW Business Plan Competition, who were considering opening their first permanent location in South Park.
In August Stockbox opened its store in South Park. Business has been good and the community has appreciated having access to fresh, healthy food in their neighborhood.
While businesses and customers are starting to come to South Park, the neighborhood is looking forward to the bridge reopening in early 2014. Until then, Olivas and the Retail Merchants Association will continue to encourage economic development in South Park.
Parker says an ideal career for him, after finishing his MPA, would be working in economic development in the community. It’s a virtuous cycle.
– Faculty perspectives, alumni happenings, student experiences, Seattle and Pacific Northwest community connections, and a taste of life around the Foster School.