Best in the West 2018 Winners

Photo by Greg Lincoln

by Laura Ellsworth

The UAF Kuskokwim Campus Yupiit Piciryarait Cultural Center, and the Best in the West (BITW) partners are pleased to announce the winners of the tenth annual small business competition for 2018.
This annual competition is a unique opportunity to build small businesses in the YK region, to promote jobs, and to provide economic stability. This is a true grassroots effort to support local entrepreneurs. The BITW 2018 winners are:
Christine Stone, Hooper Bay Fine Grass Basket Stitches, $3,000
Azara Mohammadi, Healthy History Media, $3000
Krystle Penaflor, Fireweed Craft Company, $4,000
Louise Russell, Jones Family Apiary, $5000
Tracey Wilbanks, The Windy Willow Salon, $4,000
Lucas Salzbrun, Rural Service Solutions, $4,000
Conor Burke, CW Burke Productions, $3,000
The awardees have put in months of hard work preparing their business plans. A grand total of $26,000 was awarded this year, with total awards over ten years of $248,970. Since 2009 there have been 64 small businesses started with the assistance of Best in the West. The YPCC will be offering workshops over the summer and fall for all entrepreneurs and small business.
The funding partnerships that support the competition include: KUC/YPCC, Bethel Community Services Foundation, First National Bank, Donlin Gold, Calista, GCI, Bethel Native Corporation, Kuskokwim Art Guild, Bethel Chamber of Commerce, BP Alaska, Coastal Villages Region Fund, and Conoco Phillips. The partners have joined in promoting local, YK delta entrepreneurs, with direct cash awards. All of the partners are committed to building small businesses in the YK region, promoting jobs and providing economic stability. The partners welcome the inclusion of other regional and statewide stakeholders and businesses to join the consortium.
The 2019 Best in the West competition will open for applications in December 1, 2018. We encourage anyone with a business idea to come talk to Reyne Athanas at the YPCC during regular business hours.