Category Archives: News & Announcements

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.



Over 40 aspiring entrepreneurs, community leaders, business professionals and economic developers participated in one of six Ideation Events last week in Aberdeen, Taholah, Amanda Park, Forks, La Push, and Neah Bay.  Participants learned about the opportunity discovery process and how triple bottom line businesses can generate profit by contributing to conservation of local natural resources, local leadership, and the local economy.  Most of the participants plan to complete the trainings offered by Enterprise for Equity for the opportunity to vie for up to $20,000 in startup funding to move their business ideas forward.

If you missed the Ideation Events and are interested in participating in the training or the competition, it’s not too late to jump on board. Enterprise for Equity will be offering Information Sessions at the Timberland Library in Hoquiam on Thursday, March 1, 2016 from 5:30-7:00pm and at Peninsula College in Forks on Wednesday, March 16, 2016 from 5:30-7:00pm. Register today at 


WASHINGTON COAST–Do you have an idea for a small business that makes money, builds community, and protects the environment? Take a step to move your idea forward!

Washington Coast Works: Sustainable Small Business Competition ( offers budding entrepreneurs an opportunity to develop skills, get support and win cash to launch sustainable small businesses. The winner will receive $10,000 in startup funding, and two semifinalists will receive $5,000 each.

Last year, twelve contestants participated in the Coast Works Boot Camp and Pitch Clinic and three winners are now working to launch their new businesses.

This year, thanks to funding from USDA Rural Development, Coast Works is joined by Enterprise for Equity, a business development program with a 15-year track record of success in helping people start and grow small businesses in the region.

Enterprise for Equity will be providing a variety of ongoing business training programs and support services. Coast Works contestants will be selected from graduates of Enterprise for Equity’s Business Readiness Workshop and will participate in its Business Planning Program.

Coast Works kicks off with six community “ideation” events, to be held February 1-4 in Taholah, Aberdeen, Amanda Park, La Push, Forks and Neah Bay (click here for details on locations and dates). These three-hour workshops will:

• Answer all your questions about the competition and Enterprise for Equity, including how to apply, how the finalists and winners will be selected, what training and support will be provided, and more.

• Introduce you to the entrepreneur’s mindset, the opportunity discovery process, and sustainable “triple bottom line” businesses.

• Engage you in brainstorming activities designed to help generate ideas for new sustainable businesses that build leadership, contribute to conservation and keep money in the local economy.

Ideation Events are free and open to the general public. Not everyone wants to start and run a business. But we all have the potential to be entrepreneurial. Through chalk talks and group activities, we’ll help each other awaken our “inner entrepreneur” to brainstorm business ideas that transform problems and needs in our communities into profitable businesses that produce social and environmental benefits – and meet the criteria for the competition!

Coast Works contestants must attend an Ideation Event or make separate arrangements to complete an Enterprise for Equity Information Session. Non-contestants are encouraged to participate, too. 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.

The competition is being presented by The Nature Conservancy in partnership with Enterprise for Equity (with support from a USDA Rural Business Development Grant), Pinchot University’s Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship and the Taala Fund.  Click here for more information about the Coast Works partners.

Award Ceremony

The final submissions have been evaluated by an independent panel consisting of eight judges with deep local knowledge and expertise in entrepreneurship, business startups, business management, and sustainability. The scores have been compiled and analyzed. And the winners have been selected!

We are excited to bring the Coast Works finalists together at the Leaders Banquet this Friday, October 16, to celebrate the successful completion of the 2015 Coast Works competition and to announce the winners. The event will take place at the Quinault Beach Resort & Casino (78 State Route 115 – Ocean Shores, WA). Dinner and the Coast Works program starts at 7pm. To register for the event, contact Angela, Greater Grays Harbor Inc., at 360.532.1924 (

See you there!