West End entrepreneurs in final round of sustainable small-business competition

The finalists will present their ideas to a panel of judges in mid-September, and the winners will be announced in October.

LA PUSH — Four West End entrepreneurs have advanced to the finals of a sustainable small-business competition.

Anna Sablan and Earla Penn of La Push and Carrie and Jonas Merrill of Beaver are vying for $10,000 in startup funds and another $10,000 in runner-up awards.

The Washington Coast Works Sustainable Small Business Competition encourages “triple-bottom-line” businesses from coastal communities of Clallam, Jefferson and Grays Harbor counties to generate profits with social and environmental benefits, officials said.

Each of the 13 finalists took part in an eight-week business development program provided by Enterprise for Equity and a two-day entrepreneurship summit led by the Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship, according to a Washington Coast Works news release.

At the July summit in Forks, the finalists attended workshops and focused on the entrepreneur’s mindset, startup techniques, sustainability, business finance and pitch presentations, officials said.

The eco-entrepreneurs were connected with experienced business professionals who will help them refine their plans and pitches.

The finalists will present their ideas to a panel of judges in mid-September, and the winners will be announced in October.

Sablan is focusing her project on solar-powered tiny houses.

Penn’s project involves cultural eco-tours of the Quileute reservation.

Carrie and Jonas Merrill are focused on a beekeeping farm, officials said.

Other projects in the competition include a pig farm using sustainable agriculture, homemade candies using fair trade chocolate and a bio-diesel stump-grinding and wood-chip-recycling operation.

Washington Coast Works officials said the competition is designed to build leadership and diversify the coastal economy through small-businesses development.

The idea is to encourage conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources, officials said.

“Ultimately it is seeking entrepreneurs who will contribute to a new vision of sustainable community and economic development on the Washington Coast,” according to a news release.

The Quinault tribe is the title sponsor of this year’s Sustainable Small Business Competition.

Other sponsors include the state Department of Commerce and Bank of the Pacific.

Washington Coast Works was established by the Nature Conservancy and is funded in part by a U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Business Development grant.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@ peninsuladailynews.com.

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