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Congratulations to the A N C H O R A G E D A I LY N E W S ACHIEVEMENT IN BUSINESS AWARD WINNERS At Northrim, we value exceptional customer service in all forms. We tip our hats to all the honorees who go above and beyond for their community. You deserve this award.


Lee Brown

Lee is on the front lines of high-growth and scalable software startups. From the early age of 11 years old, his interest in programming and internet technologies led him to build websites for local businesses. He boasts more than 20 years of computer programming experience particularly eight years experience with cloud architecture and six years experience with GOlang. Lee and his twin brother co-founded TUNE a decade ago to provide digital marketing technology as a service to marketers. Lee was the front lines of scalability and flexibility, spearheading API-driven data layers. As an early adopter of Amazon Web Services, his teams created new and innovative solutions that fueled business growth and established TUNE’s products as industry leading. After 10 years at TUNE, Lee refocused his energy on leveraging his experience building software-as-a-service (SaaS) to launch Geeks in the Woods. Geeks in the Woods partners with entrepreneurs to build scalable SaaS startups. As both software architect and engineer, Lee helps entrepreneurs in Alaska build tech as a strategic asset. While his twin focuses on the business aspect of each startup, Lee leads the engineering of software from prototype to production.

Lucas Brown

Lucas is focused on understanding the patterns and key components of building software-as-a-service companies that achieve both rapid growth and sustainability. Lucas and his twin brother Lee began their first businesses before starting high school. They quickly found themselves suited for the world of software and marketing - launching their first successful startup as sophomores in college. This became a decade long journey, co-founding TUNE and pioneering software-as-a-service (SaaS) technology for digital marketing. He led the company to profitability growth, bootstrapping it for the first three years while growing the company to 75 employees and later raised $35M from Tier 1 VCs, Accel Partners and Icon Ventures. Lucas was influential in growing their company to 360 employees worldwide. He developed an expertise for understanding client needs and translating them into product designs to achieve rapid product market fit. After 10 years at TUNE, Lucas and his twin brother transitioned to become bootstrapped entrepreneurs again co-founding Geeks in the Woods. Geeks in the Woods partners with entrepreneurs to build scalable SaaS startups. His expertise in SaaS business models, product development, and user experience coupled with his constant drive for innovation makes him a cornerstone of software startups.

Said of Lee and Lucas: ”They are advertising Alaska’s quality of life nationally and are recruiting highly talented technology entrepreneurs for their Alaska Software as a Service Incubator.” Anchorage Daily News | Sunday, June 2, 2019


Iuliia Chepurko

Iuliia moved to Alaska from St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2013, where she worked as a project manager and purchasing specialist for large international companies. Since arriving in Alaska, Iuliia spent two years working as a research economist at the Center for Economic Development. In this capacity, she prepared economic development plans, built financial models for small businesses and industries across the state, and worked with rural villages on a variety of projects. After receiving an MBA from University of Alaska Anchorage, she worked as a business analyst and a project manager in the IT sector. As a contractor at Computer Task Group, she was assigned to GCI, where she was part of a team that implemented a new billing system.She recently started working as a Senior It Project Manager at Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. In addition to her professional work, Iuliia conducted a research project to measure the effect of financial restatements on stock prices; the paper received an award for best research at a conference in Florida, and positive reviews at an international conference in Halifax, organized by the Administrative Sciences Association of Canada. This research was the basis for a paper developed alongside several professors at UAA’s College of Business and Public Policy, published in Global Finance Journal in February 2018. Leadership is one of Iuliia’s passions which she implements in all areas of her life, including her work place, education, research and different extracurricular activities. Said of Iuliia: “[Iuliaa] is very driven, extremely knowledgeable in her field, well respected among colleagues, and a wonderful and likeable person. She has a thirst for knowledge and desires to improve businesses in Alaska and their economic standings.”



Sam Combs

Sam is a lifelong Alaskan who has contributed to Alaska by providing the restoration planning of more than 60 projects in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, including the restoration of the first home and the first schoolhouse in Anchorage. Sam organized and was the first President of The Roadracing Association of Alaska from 1996-1998. This organization was formed by Sam to establish a multi-use roadracing track in Alaska. Sam road raced motorcycles at Tanacross from 1996-2013. As a lifelong motorcyclist, Sam saw the need for the invention of a motorcycle tire/wheel changing tool and began the process of obtaining a patent in 2006. This was an eight year process, finally obtaining the patent for the Moto-VaTir[e] (pronounced motovaytire) in 2014. Over the past four years, Sam has been working with machinists and most recently a machinist at the UAA Fab Lab to finalize a final prototype of the Moto-Va-Tir[e] to begin marketing the tool this year. Sam will be providing a valuable tool to motorcycle riders, home motorcycle mechanics, motorcycle shops and motorcycle racing teams throughout the world with the invention of his Moto-Va-Tir[e].

Brad Cunningham

Rob Cupples

Said of Brad: “Brad is an incredible hard worker, smart and especially kind human being. He represents leadership and pure kindness.”

Said of Rob: “Rob is a full time coveted structural designer who uses his additional time to build his business plan, restore his family home and forge an efficient internet presence to market his service. As a designer he has developed an eye catching logo with beautiful pictures of his property. Rob understands dynamic pricing and analytics. I marvel at Rob’s fast jump on the learning curve.”

As Network Architect at Alaska USA Federal Credit Union, Brad is responsible for planning, design and overall performance of Alaska Credit Union’s Local Area Network (LAN) and Wide Area Networks (WAN). He evaluates and recommends new technologies to the management team, and performs as well as directs the implementation of those network technologies and services. He also assists in the review and maintenance of network standards, documentation and change control. Additionally to these roles, Brad also provides fantastic leadership, direction and training for other technicians on the Credit Union Network team. When his network team can’t solve an issue, he is the point of contact at any time or day. He picks up the phone at 3 a.m. and finds a solution due to his technical competence. No matter the circumstances, he always has an open ear and is willing to help. Brad’s personally philosophy follows the golden rule, and to give others a hand where he can.

Rob was born and raised in Anchorage. In 1950, Rob’s grandfather purchased property in East Downtown Anchorage, where he raised his family, including Rob’s father. Over the past 35 years this property and neighborhood have fallen into disrepair. In January 2017, Rob was inspired to improve the community, and took over management of the property to develop Cupples Cottages Vacation Rentals. Rob is an innovator whose personal philosophy is to deal fairly and openly with real life problems toward practical solutions. His family ties and Alaskan roots have influenced his choice of taking on this project. Additionally, becoming involved with other business and property owners in the area has influenced his becoming active in the community. His personal goal is to build his business into a thriving tourism accommodation. Already with four successful Bed and Breakfast units in operation, Rob will restore the boarded up house of his grandparents into a showcase property and then add four additional units. His broader goal, like many of his neighbors, is to do his part to revitalize East Downtown through investing in his property and using his voice in collaboration with neighbors who want to see a safe and vibrant area in which to live, recreate and do business.

Anchorage Daily News | Sunday, June 2, 2019


Dustin Hofeling

Hezekiah “Ky” Holland

Said of Dustin: “Dustin often works early morning and after hours to schedule and implement software upgrades that benefit bank systems, employees and customers.

Said of Ky: “Ky is passionate about building a healthy environment for innovation and start up investment in the Alaskan economy. From his teaching at UAA and APU to his involvement with Launch Alaska and numerous local investment funds, Ky is unwavering in his pursuit of a healthy startup ecosystem in Alaska.”

As Senior Vice President and IT Systems and Support Director at First National Bank Alaska, Dustin Hofeling brings more than 20 years of IT experience, and 13 years of banking knowledge, to Alaska and the Anchorage community. Dustin has been an integral part of First National’s financial technology advancement. In charge of the bank’s core processing systems and technical support, he has played an essential role in the development of the bank’s online banking solutions. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in computer science, Dustin worked in banking and completed his M.B.A. at the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS). Now in Anchorage, Dustin has provided time to UAS as an adjunct professor of business administration. Dustin meets the challenging task of managing support of the core banking platform as well as all software applications throughout the bank. He plays a leading role in cross-divisional project teams, where his good nature and problem-solving skills make him stand out from the crowd. Dustin strongly believes that the best leader is one who will never ask someone to do something that they won’t or can’t do themselves. By so doing, the leader draws people together and helps foster mutual trust and confidence. Dustin tries to live these principles in his personal and professional lives. By combining leadership skills with a strong corporate culture and capable staff, he feels that First National is able to provide real synergies and benefits for Alaskan consumers and businesses. He feels very fortunate to work for a company and to live in a community which share these same values.



Ky Holland is the technology commercialization officer for the University of Alaska Fairbanks, assisting faculty, staff and students with the commercializing of their innovations. Ky is also a founding partner of Alyeska Venture Management, which created and manages Alaska’s first seed fund for startup ventures, the Alaska Accelerator Fund; and he is a founding board member of Launch Alaska, an energy business accelerator. Ky grew up in Alaska and pursued a career in industrial product design, manufacturing and operations with breaks for teaching at University of Alaska Anchorage and Alaska Pacific University, including a position as the Hickel Professor of Strategic Leadership and Entrepreneurship. Recent business ventures include manufacturing industrial automated x-ray systems, ruggedized swiftwater rescue boats, sidewalk snow melt systems and industrial IoT control systems.


Dustin Hofeling has been at the forefront of First National Bank Alaska’s efforts to provide Alaskans secure and convenient online and mobile banking tools they need to succeed. Congratulations to Dustin and all the Congratulation Achievement in Business Award winners, leading the way to Alaska’s bright future. DUSTIN HOFELING SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT IT SYSTEMS & SUPPORT DIRECTOR

NMLS #640297


Building Alaska’s Entre “It’s your right to be uncommon if you can. You seek opportunity to compete. You desire to take calculated risk, to dream, to build, yes, even to fail, and to succeed.” - Ewing Marion Kauffman By Gretchen Fauske and Katherine Jernstrom Piper Foster Wilder had an idea. She’d been thinking about software to improve operations and maintenance in Alaska’s remote powerhouses, and wanted to explore it with other creative, entrepreneurially minded people, so she signed up for Startup Weekend. After two days of research and work, she stood in front of a crowd with her newly formed team and pitched Pinga, a culturally-informed Computerized Maintenance Management System designed for isolated microgrid operators in Alaska or the developing world. Pinga was chosen as the winning startup, and as Piper thought about how to reduce energy expenses in rural Alaska she folded the idea within a broader context, and started 60Hertz, a microgrid services company. 60Hertz solves three pain-points in the global microgrid market: 1) lack of investor access to the microgrid space and therefore a deficit of project finance capital; 2) lack of efficient site origination and aggregation; and 3) lack of effective operations & maintenance. During the winter, Piper pitched elements of Pinga and 60Hertz for investment and won prizes at the Juneau Innovation Summit, the Online Business Model contest, and the Alaska Seed Fund contest. She continued re-working her idea, meeting with mentors, investors, and industry experts. Next, she entered the Alaska Business Plan Competition, and won first place and $2,000 toward her tuition at the University of Alaska Anchorage. She continued refining her idea and building her team, and was recently accepted into Launch Alaska’s 2017 cohort, which offers an intensive, 120-day process for companies to improve their operations, identify their market and product fit, learn how to innovate and iterate quickly, and become investment ready scalable ventures. Through Launch Alaska, Piper’s company also received a $75,000 equity investment, access to corpo8


rate connections and mentors, and a team office at The Boardroom in downtown Anchorage. 60Hertz has already created seven jobs, and the team is sprinting to demonstrate market demand for the software, and find sites that want project finance capital for renewable-diesel microgrids in village and commercial sites statewide. Piper’s plans for the future including growing 60Hertz from startup to established brand, and adding value to the energy sector. Each of the events or organizations listed — Startup Weekend, the Juneau Innovation Summit, the Online Business Model Contest, the Alaska Seed Fund, the Alaska Business Plan Competition, UAA, Launch Alaska, and The Boardroom — are part of Alaska’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. According to the Kauffman Foundation’s ESHIP Summit Program and Playbook, Entrepreneurial ecosystems “allow for the fast flow of talent, information, and resources so that entrepreneurs can easily find what they need at each stage of growth, resulting in a whole greater than the sum of its separate parts.” Of course, the most important part of an entrepreneurial ecosystem is the people: talented, intellectually curious, creative people who contribute as entrepreneurs, mentors, developers, policy makers, investors, designers, local leaders, and more. In Alaska, many people have been working for years to build momentum around entrepreneurship. Recently, efforts are starting to yield results, with a cohesive Year of Innovation pipeline, Alaska’s first accelerator, multiple venture funds, community building coworking spaces, entrepreneur development workshops, and new mentorship programs. Companies like Heather’s Choice, Attently Inc., Pandere Shoes, Vertical Harvest Hydroponics, and iA3 are capitalizing on our newly robust ecosystem and are blazing a new path forward in the Alaska startup scene. Their existence and that of companies like them is essential to our economy: startups, aged 0-5 years,

epreneurial Ecosystem account for all new net job creation, making a compelling reason for why supporting high-growth entrepreneurship in Alaska matters. Despite current momentum and cohesiveness, there is still work to be done. According to the Kauffman Foundation, a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem includes: 1. Entrepreneurs who aspire to start and grow new businesses, and the people who support those entrepreneurs. 2. Talent that can help companies grow. 3. People and institutions with knowledge and resources to help entrepreneurs. 4. Individuals and institutions that champion entrepreneurs and the ecosystem. 5. On-ramps (or access points) to the ecosystem so that anyone and everyone can participate. 6. Intersections that facilitate the interaction of people, ideas, and resources. 7. Stories that people tell about themselves and their ecosystems. 8. Culture that is rich in social capital - collaboration, cooperation, trust, reciprocity, and a focus on the common good. Alaska’s entrepreneurial ecosystem touches on the eight elements, but it’s essential that we strengthen each one and the connections between them. As ecosystem builders work to create an entrepreneur led, densely connected network where innovation thrives and a culture of vibrancy, trust, and social cohesion lives, we will be looking to you for help...you are all invited to join us. Gretchen Fauske is a marketing minded economic developer fueled by a passion for entrepreneurship, innovation, and small business. She is the associate director for the University of Alaska Center for Economic Development, which promotes economic diversity through entrepreneurship, community building, and action oriented strategy. Gretchen is on the board of Launch Alaska and blogs at www.GretchenLovesAnchorage.com. Gretchen Fauske

60Hertz Energy Founder Piper Foster Wilder. The company produces a computerized maintenance management system for power plant operators and energy professionals. (Courtesy Photo)

Katherine Jernstrom is an entrepreneur and a venture fund manager. She cofounded The Boardroom, a coworking space and entrepreneur hub located in downtown Anchorage. She is also managing partner at Alyeska Venture Management, a firm focused Katherine Jernstrom on building, funding, and supporting local startups. She is currently the board chair of Launch Alaska, the state’s first compressed, mentor focused accelerator program.

Anchorage Daily News | Sunday, June 2, 2019


David Jones

Zoi Maroudas

Said of David: “David’s efforts deserve to be recognized, as his determination shows what employees can do for a company when they are given an opportunity make an idea into a reality.”

Said of Zoi: “Alaska has one of the best foundations for clean soil and eating and Zoi just really wants to showcase the amazing abundance of healthy, clean, good for you food, we have here in alaska. With her innovative mind, this led her to the creation of her baby food company Banbino’s Baby Food.”

David brings more than a decade of experience as a civil technician to Lounsbury & Associates Inc. engineering firm. He works directly with engineers to generate Building Information Models, complex construction documentation and manage software standards and workflows. David took the lead on implementation and training for a company-wide file management system for the multidisciplinary engineering and surveying company, which has offices across Alaska. He recently led Lousbury’s implementation and rollout of Bently’s Projectwise software, a sophisticated Computer Aided Drafting and Design management tool that is streamlining the firm’s design and delivery process. The new system has virtually eliminate document version control issues, and created a more seamless way to work across offices in the company, and with sub-consultants. David also controlled documentation for projects such as the reconstruction of the Dowling Road-Seward Highway Interchange, the lane widening of the Sterling Highway and the Alaska Gasline Development Coropration’s realignment of the Kenai Spur Highway. As documentation lead, he manages documentation conformance to diverse client standards, including the Municipality of Anchorage, Alaska Department of Transit, Anchorage Water and Wastewater and Utility and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.



Zoi is President and CEO of Bambino’s Baby Food, a leading baby food company dedicated to addressing infant development and nutritional needs with pure nutrient rich meals. She founded Bambino’s in Alaska in 2013, with a mission to inspire and support a healthier generation with clean eating and rich meals. After many years of dietary research and medical experience, she combined Alaska’s pure organic vegetables and seafood with the Mediterranean diet to create a brand parents, allergists and pediatricians can stand beside. The food she makes helps support small farms right here in Alaska as that’s where she gets her ingredients to make these delicious meals. Bambino’s products are enjoyed by children over 4 months and by adults with digestive or swallowing challenges, such as stroke and Alzheimer’s patients. Her innovation and vision for a healthier generation continues to revolutionize the long-since stagnate baby food industry. Her mission is to motivate the food industry to create healthier manufacturing practices and for USDA food supplement programs such as Woman Infant and Children (WIC) programs to offer healthier, well balanced natural and organic fresh foods in infant category.

Sean McLaughlin

Eileen Reilly

Said of Sean: “He gets especially excited about building companies which others say shouldn’t be located in Alaska.”

Eileen’s career goal: “To advance train controls in order to increase rail safety and derive operational efficiencies from the data.”

Sean has had a long career of technological success, including time as a White House Fellow, where he worked on various technical programs for the U.S. Treasury. Following his fellowship, Sean also continued a career in public service as Chief of Operations Support for the American Red Cross. In this role, he guided essential support groups including Human Resources and Diversity, Finance and Information Technology through a restructuring effort focused on reducing the organization’s operating deficit. Instead of relaxing, he recently became a private investor in the Alaskan construction and aviation industries, among others. At the beginning of 2018, Sean launched Flyntlok, a cloud-based software development company. Currently employing nine people with 12 customers (2/3 of which are in the Lower 48), Flyntlok provides a cloud-based software solution to large equipment dealers and manufacturers. The company uses the latest engineering and technology to support two industries which have been left in the dust of the current cloudbased computing wave. Sean serves as an advisor and board member to various Alaska-based organizations whose missions align with their interests in wildlife conservation and helping the most vulnerable members of their community.

Eileen grew up in Long Island, New York, where she developed a passion for technology. She moved to Kodiak when she was 21, where she helped manage the Kodiak Island Borough migration from older IBM equipment, which included modifying many programs, and assisted the city of Kodiak with various upgrades to its accounting systems and the Kodiak Island Borough School District. In her spare time, she taught at the community college structured programming. Later, Eileen worked for IBM, providing support to many of Alaska’s state and local government technology leaders during the dawn of the internet. While at IBM, Eileen was contracted to the Alaska Railroad, where she made an immediate impact to the technological development of the company. In 1995, Eileen started her illustrious railroad career that lasted until she retired in 2018. At the Alaska Railroad, Eileen quickly moved to VP, where she developed cutting-edge technological solutions for the industry while simultaneously overseeing $500 million through grants for the Alaska Railroad. Since Eileen’s retirement, she has launched a railroad technology firm, Global Train Services LLC, that has been successful, implementing each project that the company has taken on, and is now building a software development team to take advantage of unique opportunities in the industry. Eileen will continue to lead this firm into the future and hopes to sell these software solutions worldwide.

Anchorage Daily News | Sunday, June 2, 2019


Joshua Travis

Josh works tirelessly to serve Chugach Electric business units and members by providing both technical expertise and business knowledge to the process of selecting, implementing and maintaining technologies that Chugach Electric uses to provide the Anchorage bowl area with power. He believes in building effective teams “in the trenches” with technical staff, working with functional business units to make appropriate technology decisions that solve business problems and putting in the necessary facetime with technical staff and business decision-makers to achieve buy-in and consensus for IT project success.

Kym Van-Arsdale

Kym joined Sundog Media in 2008 and has played a key role as lead developer for the company through the past decade. She has had the opportunity to build hundreds of custom websites with a broad range of designs and functionality. Kym has led Sundog Media’s development process through the evolution of websites over the last 11 years, from static HTML pages to content management systems, responsive design, changing search engine optimization algorithms, website accessibility requirements, compatibility with new and updated browsers and a burst of handheld devices. Sundog Media now hosts and maintains almost 200 websites for a variety of businesses and organizations throughout Alaska, including many nonprofits, educational institutes and Alaska Native Corporations and their subsidiaries. In the fast-paced, ever-evolving world of online technology, Kym values the logical principle of Occam’s razor: “The simplest solution is always the best.” One of the most satisfying things she can do is find an elegant and effective solution to a complicated challenge. Kym has the amazing balance of coding skills but a pragmatic sense of good use of technology, and has a great sense of design.

Said of Kym: “I have worked with many developers in my 20 + years of designing websites for Alaska companies and have never worked with someone who has her skills.” 12


Keith Williams

Tracy Roesch-Williams

Said of Keith: “Keith Williams always finds a way to be helpful and active in his community. I am constantly amazed and encouraged by his willingness to actively solve problems, not just identify them and leave them for others to fix.”

Said of Tracy: “Her laser-sharp insights into multimedia, her unbounded energy, her relentless drive to simplify, clarify and take the next action all come together in one powerful package.”

Keith is the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Cybersecurity Mission Director. He is a dedicated leader, always looking for opportunities to grow his people and help them better themselves. Keith is also an active volunteer in the community, on several advisory boards, and is one of the very few people who not only contributes to community forums, but can be counted on to do work. Keith is a thought leader in cybersecurity, keeps our Anchorage military assets secure and is passionate about providing education and opportunities for Alaska’s technology students.

Tracy Roesch Williams, known best as Alaska Tracy, brings more than 22 years of business experience and has transformed professional social media in Alaska. After beginning her entrepreneurial experience in Alaska working in radio as an account executive, Tracy held positions in many industries, including launching a mobile dog wash and selling residential real estate. Gaining years of familiarity with numerous types of businesses, Tracy discovered her passion revolved around helping others in business, thus creating her own business: Alaska Tracy. Through classes, lectures and speaking engagements since 2012, Tracy has helped countless Alaskans understand how to use social media to their benefits, from those seeking to improve their career futures at the Anchorage Daily News Job Fairs to businesses wanting to meet their goals. In 2017, Tracy’s business shifted, after discovering a need during her coaching, to help business create a defined vision, focus and plan to help guide them into achieving their goals. Today, Tracy helps small business owners, CEOs and organizations increase their profit margins through one-on-one coaching; presentations at conventions, conferences and community events; online courses; and two Women’s Business Rejuvenation Retreats. Her mission is to heighten and brighten her clients’ businesses as they face profit loss, lack of growth, or are just plain confused as to where to start.

Anchorage Daily News | Sunday, June 2, 2019


Entrepreneurs inventing Alaska’s future By Nolan Klouda Like so many kids, Ben Kellie wanted to be an astronaut. He may not be going to outer space himself anytime soon, but Kellie knows more than a few things about launching rockets into orbit. Nolan Klouda As co-founder of The Launch Company, an Anchorage-based startup, he thinks Alaska could become a leader in the commercial space industry. Working for Elon Musk’s SpaceX after college, Kellie was part of the engineering team for several commercial launches. He noted that each launch pad had to be built almost from scratch for each company sending a rocket into space. “Imagine if every airline had to build its own airport, the cost to fly anywhere would be astronomical,” he says. Much of this young industry focuses on creating newer and better rockets but overlooks the inefficiency and complexity of the launch itself. That’s where The Launch Company comes in. Kellie and team use a standard set of operating principles gained from past experience helping design and build multiple sites to simplify the process. As an example, the company designed fueling fittings (now built in Palmer) that can be used across many different sizes and types of rocket. They are robust, reliable, and prevent the companies from having to design their own custom hardware, saving

time and money. He likens these to USB chargers for phones as an improvement over the first generation of cell phones that had a bewildering array of different cord types. As I write these words, entrepreneurs like Kellie are working on the next Alaska economy. In addition to commercial space, Alaskans are developing marine and aviation technologies, renewable energy systems, virtual reality and augmented reality startups, innovative food and drink businesses, and products used in outdoor recreation — to name just a few. We have a community of specialized investors who understand the risks and dynamics of putting cash into startup companies. Our ecosystem of support organizations includes an engaged university system, all levels of government, and — most importantly — entrepreneurs who help other entrepreneurs through collaboration and mentorship. Fortunately, Alaskans are a very entrepreneurial group. In 2017, Alaska ranked third among the states for the number of businesses launched per capita, according to the Kauffman Foundation. We also lead the way in closing the gender gap in business ownership, traditionally a male-dominated pursuit: Alaska has the highest percentage of womenowned firms of any state. Altogether, startups in Alaska create 4,000 to 6,000 jobs each year, accounting for the overwhelming majority of net private sector employment growth during most years. There is still work to be done to empower Alaska’s entrepreneurs, however. Workforce shortages in key

Altogether, startups in Alaska create 4,000 to 6,000 jobs each year



Ben Kellie of the Launch Company

(Courtesy Photo)

areas like software development limit the growth potential for high tech startups. The state ranks near the bottom for knowledge jobs, as defined by the New Economy Index. Despite being a national leader in launching companies, Kauffman ranks Alaska fourth from the bottom in scaling up, defined as growing to 50 employees within 10 years. We start plenty of businesses, but they tend to stay small. Yet Kellie sees unrealized potential in the Alaskan spirit of adaptability and ingenuity. His father ran an air cargo business throughout Bush Alaska, and he learned early to adapt and improvise, to patch things together with proverbial duct tape. The same kind of on-the-fly critical thinking helps him resolve some of the complex engineering problems that arise in planning for a rocket launch. “I’d like to catch that in a bottle,” Kellie says of the Alaskan entrepreneurial mentality. We rely on entrepreneurs to glimpse over the horizon and see what’s next. How might self-driving cars change the way we get to work and run our er-

rands? How will virtual reality-based training change the way we learn? What jobs will the new high-tech industries bring? We may not know exactly what that next economy will look like, but we can be reasonably sure that entrepreneurs will be the ones who usher it in. Nolan Klouda is the Executive Director for the University of Alaska Center for Economic Development. Nolan’s areas of professional interest include feasibility analysis, rural economic development, entrepreneurship and innovation policy, and engagement between the public and private sectors. He is a Certified Economic Developer through the International Economic Development Council, is a board member for the University Economic Development Association, and serves on the Municipality of Anchorage Budget Advisory Commission.

Anchorage Daily News | Sunday, June 2, 2019