Category Archives: News & Announcements


March 12, 2018 (Sequim, WA) – Business owner Shaelee Evans announces the opening of the Goodness Tea House on Highway 101 near Sequim. For twelve years, Evans has been blending and growing herbal teas, first for her family’s personal use and then as a way to support her three young children after her marriage ended. Evans recalls feeling that “life was wild, I was at a place of extreme transition in my life; trying to hold onto farming, homeschooling, teaching and landscaping, while being the sole-caretaker for my family”.

Evans began selling Goodness Tea at the Port Angeles Farmer’s Market in 2014. The market became an ideal platform to solicit feedback from customers while she fine-tuned her recipes and learned how to legally license tea for resale through the Washington State Department of Agriculture. Her new tea house on the highway is a convenient place to showcase all Goodness Tea blends, as well as the organic, whole-food cookies, chocolates and treats her team developed during their years at the market.

Believing that business should contribute to the community and the economy, Evans creates recipes that highlight ingredients grown on the Olympic Peninsula. In addition to her teas, Evans obtains produce from local farms and through the Clallam county gleaning network to make fruit leathers and her innovative AdventureOn Chips, a combination of sprouted quinoa and seasonal vegetables.

In 2017, Evans joined a cohort of fifteen entrepreneurs from the Olympic Peninsula to compete in the Washington Coast Works Sustainable Business Plan Competition. All participants receive extensive training and business support to help them launch their start-ups. After this experience, Evans saw that Goodness Tea could support the greater community the way it was supporting her.

“Coast Works inspired me to share the hope, food-security and connection to community I’ve found through my business on another level.  But Coast Works didn’t stop at inspiration, their team is also giving me tools and training to make sure I succeed in getting there.”

The move to a brick-and-mortar shop means that Goodness Tea is a daily hub for connecting ideas and sharing products without having to build-the-walls every time. Goodness Tea House serves as a meeting space for groups, a mobile office, and for events like skill-shares, crafting parties and dancing. Longtime market patron’s still can look forward to a cup of coffee or tea at the Port Angeles and Sequim Farmers Markets, though Evans and team are taking the rest of the winter off from vending to focus on the tea house and wholesale clients.

For visitors who want to learn more about water-soluble plant compounds and the benefits of herbal tea, a visit to Goodness Tea will not disappoint.

Story Contacts:

Shaelee Evans, Owner, Goodness Tea  C: 360.670-1041 | E:

Jacob Cravey, Business Advisor, Washington Coast Works C: 904.705-9925 |  E:


2017 Coast Works Winners Announced

November 15, 2017 (SEQUIM, Wash.) — The third annual Washington Coast Works Sustainable Small Business Competition rewarded entrepreneurs who focus on sustainability and community at the 2017 Coast Works Awards Ceremony, November 9 at Olympic Theatre Arts.

The winners were part of a cohort of twelve entrepreneurs who participated in an intensive training at Olympic Natural Resources Center in June, then received four months of business training and support from the Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship and Enterprise for Equity.

Three winners received cash awards, but the collective impact of the three successive Coast Works competitions has yielded the formation of the Coast Works Alliance, which was launched at the 2017 Awards Ceremony and will create a mechanism for ongoing entrepreneurial support in the Olympic Peninsula.

Ann Rosecrants received this year’s Community Award of $10,000 to build an online market for Twisted Strait Fibers, a Port Angeles cooperative for natural fiber producers and artisans. Rosecrants noted that during the ONRC Intensive, one of the participants coined the term ‘Dream Warriors’ during a discussion about the concept of fighting for something worthy and believing in each vision as a useful and beneficial project.

“From an idea to a community, Coast Works armed me with the tools for success,” reflects Rosecrants. “We are the Dream Warriors.”

Lauren Kerr received the Leadership Award of $5,000 to launch Sol Duc Farms, a u-pick blueberry and flower farm near Forks. A former wildlife biologist, Lauren will provide apprenticeship and job opportunities for young women aimed at fostering knowledge about
sustainable farming, entrepreneurship, and leadership.

“This award will go a long way towards helping us launch our farm,” says Kerr, “but the most valuable part of this process has been the community and mentorship that comes with Coast Works.”

Jim Stanley received the Change Award of $5,000 to expand Wild Salish Seafood. Jim, a member of the Quinault Indian Nation, operates S/V Josie out of Westport. He plans to use the award to buy a refrigerated trailer and hire Quinault tribal members to increase distribution of Quinault-harvested seafood to his customers in Seattle and Portland.

Stanley echoes the sentiments from his co-winners about the significance of relationships. “The best part of the process has been meeting others who work to make their community better by combining passion with a business-based value proposition.” He doesn’t downplay the role of money. “I appreciate how the award helps me acquire the asset I need to make money. The equity injection means I can expand my business sooner by adding employees.”

The 2017 Coast Works sponsors included title sponsor Key Bank Foundation, the Jamestown-S’Klallam Tribe, the Washington State Department of Commerce, Bank of the Pacific, and a growing community of individuals participating in our crowd-funding campaign.

Next year’s competition will get underway in late spring 2018. Visit, for updates.

Story Contacts:

Mike Skinner, Coast Works Administrator P| 206.235.6029   E|

Robin Stanton, The Nature Conservancy  P|  206.436.6274                   E|





November 3, 2017 (Montesano, Wash.) —When Jessica Ellis moved her family from Olympia to a 53-acre family farm in Montesano to start a premium dog kenneling business that would use solar power, recycled building materials, non-toxic homemade cleaning product, and native landscaping, there were many naysayers. Today, eighteen months after opening the gates to Freedom Acres Dog Boarding, Ellis is booked 2 months in advance, and during high summer season she turns away four to five customers a week.

“You have to be more determined than the problem in front of you,” says Ellis, who has overcome more than just negative perceptions. Unforeseen land-use and zoning issues were among the more painful barriers. But Ellis also found that commercial lenders didn’t want to fund a fledgling entrepreneur with a non-traditional startup business idea.

“Organizations and lending institutions say they want to help rural small business,” notes Ellis, “and they say they’ll support women and veterans. But no one would loan me money. This is a huge disconnect in my mind.”

Then, in the spring of 2016, Ellis heard about Washington Coast Works Small Business Competition. Ellis had scraped together savings to build a four-kennel cabin and got the courage to quit a vet assistant job to devote herself fulltime to Freedom Acres. Now she needed to scale up and add another cabin with 6 kennels to make her venture viable.

The 5 months of preparation for the Coast Works Competition paid off and Ellis won the top prize of $10,000 to build a second “K9 Cabin.”

“Winning the award was such an honor,” says Ellis. “We not only got the funding to allow us to build our business, we were acknowledged for the social decisions and sustainable choices we were already making.”

On Thursday, November 9, at Olympic Theatre Arts in Sequim, Washington, ten of this year’s Coast Works finalists will compete for the 2017 award funding. The title sponsor is KeyBank and all competing businesses are “triple-bottom-line”, designed to generate profits with significant social and environmental benefits. The FastPitch presentations by the finalists are free and open to the public. Join us at OTA from 1:15 to 4:30 pm to be inspired.

Ellis will be there to cheer on her fellow entrepreneurs, and to present the awards at the evening banquet.

“I know what the award funding will mean to this year’s winner. I am looking forward to the event and sharing in the excitement and the celebration.”

To learn about Coast Works visit, or contact Mike Skinner at (206) 235-6029.

Story Contacts:

Mike Skinner, Administrator, Washington Coast Works

O: 425.243.7366  | C: 206.235-6029  |  E:

 Jessica Ellis, Freedom Acres Dog Boarding

P: 360.338.2010  E:



Coast Works Builds Sustainable Connections

Jean Ramos and Laurel Shearer met at the Coast Works Community Conversation in Aberdeen last March, and they came up with an idea.

Ramos is an elder member of the Quinault Indian Nation living in Queets, Washington. After winning the 2015 Coast Works business plan competition, she launched Tribal SovereigNDNTea, a local business selling Native medicinal tea made from sustainably foraged

Bog Labrador. Bog Labrador, a relative of the Rhododendron, grows abundantly in the rain forests of the Olympic Peninsula. “Native Americans are the original sustainable society,” says Ramos. “That’s why I chose Labrador tea.  We take some and we leave some.” Her business is taking off.

Shearer, a self-taught confectioner and chocolatier, is a Seattle transplant now living in Aberdeen, Washington. She participated in the 2016 Coast Works competition and is now working to launch laurieAnnie (one word, and the “l” in laurie is meant to be lower case), a business that will make locally crafted artisan candies.

“Another participant in last year’s Coast Works competition has been helping me develop my business and suggested making a lozenge,” says Ramos. “I thought it would be interesting to see if Laurel could make a candy using my tea. I didn’t expect Laurel to take the idea seriously, but she did.”

Shearer worked as an accountant for 30 years. She sees her new business as an opportunity to bring her creative side to her work. “Cooking has been my life-long joy,” says Shearer. “Experimenting with foods and flavors has become second nature.”

Shearer and Ramos traded products. A week later, Shearer sent samples of tea-infused chocolates to people in her network for feedback. The result was rave reviews. The chocolates were indescribably delicious and unique.

“Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups has nothing on Jean and Laurel,” exclaims Mike Skinner, who helps administer the Coast Works initiative. “What about sustainably harvested huckleberries, wild blueberries, even spruce tips? The possibilities for regionally flavored candies is limited only by Laurel’s imagination and Jean’s knowledge of traditional Native foods.”

What other regional flavors should Laurel and Jean consider? Our next Community Conversation will be on Tuesday, April 25, from 6:00pm to 7:30pm, at the Lincoln Center in Port Angeles, Washington. Come share your ideas, and explore other ways small businesses can work together to build community resilience and sustainable well-being on the Olympic Peninsula.

Have a business idea you’d like to explore? Coast Works is currently accepting applications for the 2017 round of the competition. The deadline is May 22, 2017. Download your application today at www.wacoastworks/apply. Help us spread the word!

Now Accepting Applications

Got an idea for a small business that builds leadership, keeps money local, and contributes to the conservation of local natural resources?

Coast Works is now accepting applications. Download an application form at  today! The deadline for applications is May 22, 2017.

Up to 15 finalists will be selected for intensive training, mentorship, network building and a chance to win up to $10,000 to move their business idea forward.

To learn more, and help build the network, attend our free Community Conversation in Port Angeles on April 25th. The event is free. You do not need to register. You bring the good ideas. We’ll provide the pizza. See details at

Key Bank Foundation Presents Sponsorship Check

We are very grateful for the support from our Title Sponsor, Key Bank Foundation. Key Bank’s Michael Fait (center) and Joshua King (far left) presented their check to the Coast Works team (CIE’s Mike Skinner on the far right next to Garrett Dalan of The Nature Conservancy) at our Community Conversation in Port Angeles last Saturday.

Coast Works 2016 Judges Selected

Photo by Bridget Besaw.
Photo by Bridget Besaw.

Coast Works 2016 Judges Selected

September 12, 2016 (Seattle, WA) – An independent panel consisting of 8 judges have been selected to evaluate the 2016 Washington Coast Works sustainable small business competition.

The distinguished panel of judges bring a wide diversity of relevant and local experience to the competition. For the names and bios of the judges, click here.

Winners will be announced at the 125th Annual Leaders Banquet to be held on October 14, 2016 at the Quinault Beach Resort and Casino in Ocean Shores. First place winner will receive $10,000 in startup funding, with several runner-up awards.

The 13 finalists have submitted their final written business plans and will be presenting to the judges and an emerging network of coastal impact angel investors at the inaugural Coast Works FASTPITCH event on Wednesday, September 14, 2016 hosted by the Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship at Impact HUB Seattle.

The 2016 Washington Coast Works finalists are:

  • Jessica Ellis (Montesano)- Solar powered dog boarding.
  • Jesse Foss (Amanda Park) – Bio-diesel stump grinding and wood chip recycling.
  • Mike Maki (Hoquiam) – Bio-Char based organic fertilizer.
  • Jeff Meeks (Montesano) – Sustainable production of boat kits and woodworking.
  • Carrie & Jonas Merrill (Beever) – Beekeeping farm.
  • Evan Mulvaney (Montesano) – Pig farm using sustainable agriculture and pastured pork.
  • Earla Penn (La Push) – Cultural eco-tours of the Quileute reservation.
  • Ceantanni Polm (Ocean Shores) – Community supported permaculture farm operating with closed loop systems.
  • Alan Richrod (Aberdeen) – Small manufacturing of unique art project holding systems.
  • Anna Sablan (La Push) – Solar powered tiny houses.
  • Laurel Shearer (Aberdeen) – Homemade candies using fair trade chocolate.

All are “triple-bottom-line” businesses from coastal communities in Grays Harbor, Jefferson and Clallam Counties and designed to generate profits with significant social and environmental benefits.

The finalists have completed a comprehensive eight-week comprehensive business plan development program, provided by Enterprise for Equity and a two-day Entrepreneurship Summit in Forks facilitated by the Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship.


Washington Coast Works was established by The Nature Conservancy, in collaboration with Enterprise for Equity, the Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship and the Ta’ala Fund, and funded in part by the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Business Development Grant. The program is designed to diversify the economies in Grays Harbor, Jefferson and Clallam Counties through the development of new small businesses, build business leadership in local communities, grow a constituency that supports conservation and sustainable natural resource use, and ultimately contribute to a new vision of sustainable community and economic development on the Washington Coast.

Last Chance to Enter WA Coast Works 2016 Sustainable Small Business Competition

The third and final opportunity to be considered for this year’s Washington Coast Works Sustainable Small Business Competition will take place at Enterprise for Equity’s (E4E) Business Readiness Workshop in Olympia on April 22 and 23. This workshop is free for entrepreneurs in Grays Harbor, Jefferson and Clallam Coastal Communities.

To participate in the business competition, graduates of the Business Readiness Workshop will be required to complete E4E’s Business Planning Program before the end of June.

E4E Business Readiness Workshop in Forks Rainforest Arts Center

Last year, fifteen emerging entrepreneurs completed the Coast Works competition with a wide range of “triple bottom line” business ideas including paper-crete landscaping materials, community food waste digesters, off-grid ecological learning centers, local food cooperatives, and sustainably harvested forest products. First-place winner Emily Foster, a Quileute tribal member from Forks, won $10,000 for equipment and supplies to launch Lonzo’s Seafood Company. Jean Ramos, a Queets tribal elder, won $5,000 to develop a business selling foraged bog Labrador tea. And Liz Ellis won $5,000 to build a community farm in East Aberdeen.

The goal of the Coast Works initiative is to provide the opportunity to start or expand a business that makes money, builds community, and conserves the environment.

“Coast Works will help folks like Emily, Jean and Liz diversify the local economy through the development of new small businesses, and ultimately contribute to a new vision of sustainable community and economic development on the Washington Coast,” says Eric Delvin, Emerald Edge Project Manager for The Nature Conservancy, a partnering organization with Coast Works.

A calendar of events leading up to the competition is available on the Coast Works website at Contact Enterprise for Equity at or email, or call 360-704-3375 for more information.

East Aberdeen Community Farm Prepares for Launch

Congratulations to East Aberdeen Community Farm, a runner up winner in last year’s Coast Works sustainable small business competition, for fully deploying its $5,000 award. Award funding was used for fencing, drainage, raised beds and an irrigation system.

The neighborhood is buzzing with anticipation. Liz Ellis, one of the Farm’s founders, recounts recently meeting20160229_151622_resized_1a neighbor who lives a block or so from the Farm and walks the alley to get to the nearby bus stop – a high school senior in head start taking classes at the college who said that she and her mom would love to have a garden spot. “I think word of mouth will work just fine to generate enough gardeners to start with this Spring,” says Ellis.

“The impact of East Aberdeen Community Farm will go far beyond revenue and jobs,” says Mike Skinner, who helps administer the Coast Works competition. “It will demonstrate how entrepreneurship and small business can inspire and lead sustainable community wealth-building in our coastal communities.”

Coast Works 2016 launched last January and registration is currently open. To register, complete Enterprise for Equity’s Business Plan Training registration form at Once you submit your registration form, a member of the Coast Works team will call you to discuss next steps. If you have any questions regarding the registration process, contact Enterprise for Equity by email at or by phone at (360) 704-3375. Contact the Coast Works team at if you have any questions or for more information about the competition.

Robin Fahle Ohlgren Joins the Coast Work Team to Lead Sponsorship Drive

Robin Ohlgren Head Shot

We are excited to announce that Robin Fahle Ohlgren has joined the Coast Works team to lead the sponsorship drive. Robin will be reaching out to businesses and organizations on the Olympic Peninsula to present opportunities to support and sponsor the initiative.

Robin Ohlgren is an organizational strategist and entrepreneur with a background in community-based economic development. She is the owner of Robin Ohlgren Consulting LLC and and COO of KeyLock Solutions, a data management system for land-use professionals. Robin currently serves on the board of Backyard Harvest, is a founding member of the Palouse-Clearwater Food Coalition and serves on the Inland Northwest Community Foundation’s Palouse Region/Pullman Community Advisory Committee. Robin has travelled extensively, having served in the Peace Corps (Paraguay); and lived abroad with her two children in Tonga, Nepal, Jamaica and Cambodia. She has been a resident of the Palouse since 1978.

“Our communities are attractive to newcomers when there is an engaged entrepreneurial culture,” Ohlgren said. “I get a great deal of satisfaction helping folks grow their business and especially enjoy creating connections between established business leaders and newly-minted entrepreneurs.“

Contact Ohlgren at to learn more about sponsorship, or if there are occasions to meet with key business leaders who would like to hear about opportunities to get involved.