Sixty-six finalists from across Alaska have been selected to advance to the next round of the 2007 Alaska Marketplace competition, where they will vie for a portion of nearly $1 million in award money for small business projects. Last year’s highly successful competition awarded $500,000 to more than 20 entrepreneurs with the best ideas for stimulating Alaska’s rural economies.
Sixty-two assessors from the business, government, nonprofit and education sectors met on July 26 at the BP Energy Center in Anchorage to review the more than 300 eligible business idea applications. This year’s assessors were faced with the daunting task of eliminating more than 200 applications, selecting the most promising ideas to advance to the competition’s next phase.
“BP is very pleased to continue its investment in the Alaska Marketplace project as it goes into year two,” commented Carla Beam of BP Alaska. “We see this project as a way to focus human energy to create sustainable economic opportunity in rural Alaska.”
Alaska Marketplace received 306 eligible business idea applications from across the state. 37 percent were from Southcentral Alaska, 32 percent from Western Alaska, 11 percent from the Southeast, 8 percent from the Arctic region, 9 percent from the Interior and 3percent from the Aleutian Islands. Nearly equal numbers of men and women applied. Alaska Natives submitted 63 percent of the applications, with 37 percent coming in from non-Native Alaskans.
“The tremendous response we’ve received from across Alaska further proves that there is a wealth of untapped entrepreneurial potential in our great state,” said AFN President Julie Kitka. “We look forward to seeing more of what each of these finalists has to offer at the Alaska Marketplace competition at this year’s AFN Convention in Fairbanks.”
Finalists have until October 1 to write more comprehensive business plans with the help of entrepreneurial coaches.
The Alaska Marketplace is supported by a growing list of partners, including BP, ConocoPhillips Alaska, Denali Commission, Rasmuson Foundation, Telecommunications Development Fund, Chugach Alaska Corporation, Doyon Limited, National Cooperative Bank, Wells Fargo and Alaska Manufacturing Extension Partnership. For more information on the Alaska Marketplace initiative, visit the Web site at www.alaskamarketplace.org.