Business Sense | Lots of opportunities for North Coast entrepreneurs – Times-Standard

Business Sense | Lots of opportunities for North Coast entrepreneurs – Times-Standard #Business #Sense #Lots #opportunities #North #Coast #entrepreneurs #TimesStandard Welcome to GistFeed

Happy Fogust! In San Francisco, last week, I watched a local news piece about businesses trying to survive the pandemic, supply chain challenges, employee hiring and retention, inflation, outrageous real estate costs, and climate disruption-fueled wildfires and sea level rise. I would add demographic change of large numbers of owners getting ready to retire who don’t yet have a strong exit plan. They reported some big companies are leaving the state. Smaller businesses — like most of ours on the North Coast — are sticking it out.

This state of affairs feels dire. It is dire. To sweeten the news, here’s a little riff on squeezing lemonade out of this moment in history.

There are extraordinary business opportunities arising along the Redwood Coast. And there are people exploring regenerative economic strategies under our very noses. A group of volunteers from Lake, Mendocino, Humboldt, Del Norte and adjacent tribal lands look forward to exposing you to some of these stories and solutions during the fall 2022 Redwood Coast Region Economic Summit.

Given all the opportunities below (and more): what could our region’s seasoned business owners and bright minds do with a few months or years to launch or retool operations? Could we make room for innovators to test out new ideas in business model competitions before going live? Could we launch main street investors or targeted loan funds to help our entrepreneurs start or grow? Could we convince our counties and cities to set aside incentives and low-barrier funding for retiring business owners willing to sell to local employees who want to keep viable businesses locally owned? Is municipal broadband an option in some areas for those who want something different than the big monopoly internet service providers?

Here are some of the value chains arriving over the next fifteen years. Do you own — or want to found — an enterprise that could participate?

What installation, engineering, construction, and internet-based businesses should be preparing to take advantage of the Trans-Pacific fiber-optic Internet cable landing?

Could mechanical and electrical engineering, welding, transport and logistics, project management, and wind farm maintenance businesses launch or retool, and get procurement-ready to take advantage of the massive, mega-million-dollar Humboldt Bay Offshore Wind project?

Besides the construction, maintenance, engineering and other contractors needed, who is going to prepare their fertilizer or pet food manufacturing business to capture the Nordic Aquafarms fish farm byproducts into new product lines?

Are you a sustainable forestry expert, construction product engineer or manufacturer, commercial warehouse or factory owner, or builder? The CalForest WRX Alliance is looking for mass timber entrepreneurs and experts. Are you prepared to protect forest health and thin high-fire-risk brush and small timber from our forests? What would it take for your firm to get ready to process or manufacture that biomass into hardy, affordable building materials?

Are you a tourism or retail business owner keeping an eye on the complete transformation of Crescent City’s Beachfront Park as a draw for both residents and tourists?

Have you always wanted to start or grow your child care business to help us close our tremendous need-to-availability gap? Is the ARPA federal funding to Humboldt County for child care businesses right for you?

Are you in fishing, restaurants, or grocery retail? Did you know most of our local fish gets exported, and most fish bought for local consumption is imported; how ridiculous is that? What could the new Eureka and Fort Bragg Fishermans’ Dockside Markets do for your bottom line by connecting buyers and sellers directly, keeping catches and profits local?

Speaking of oceans and sea life: are you up to speed on the Noyo Ocean Collective’s Blue Economy projects aiming to help overhaul municipal ocean water intake and discharge infrastructure to support leading-edge aquariums, aquaculture and research?

Are you a small farmer or food maker? Have you heard about the food hub and food nodes coming to the region, aggregating services and bringing long-needed freezer and refrigeration space to help you stage and get your products to market affordably?

We can go beyond new opportunities for profit. I like to remind folks that the word economy comes from the ancient Greek “oikonomos,” merging the terms for “management” and “home”. Are you keeping an eye on the regeneration and cooperation happening to sustain and protect our region’s people, resources, and ecosystems?

Our region launched its first new worker cooperatives in 40 years this year, keeping ownership, governance, and profits in the hands of the folks delivering the products and services. Do you know how to start a cooperative or sell your business to your employees to help that trend grow?

We have the great fortune of having many community-minded business lenders. We have only a few scattered accredited (wealthy) or angel investors, though, which creates a business capital gap for some innovative or fast-growing entrepreneurs. I’m looking forward to bringing home lessons learned since I joined Angels of Main Street, a national main street investors group that helps regular folks with regular incomes learn how to put their money directly into main street businesses.

Have you been keeping an eye on the ingenuity and enterprise flowering on Native American Tribal Lands? The transformational “Klamath River Promise Neighborhoods” “cradle to career” education initiatives just launching on Yurok Tribe and Del Norte County lands. Tolowa Dee’Ni Nation and Yurok Tribe food sovereignty and food gardens programs eradicating long-standing food deserts. Yurok cultural and eco-tourism enterprises, from traditional canoe building and guided Klamath River tours to the return of Prey-go-neesh (the California Condor). The Wiyot Tribe’s Dishgamu Humboldt Community Land Trust initiative, combining workforce development and green building with land back and cultural sovereignty strategies that are drawing national attention. How the Karuk and Yurok Tribes finally broke through and got state and federal governments to recognize that cultural fire management, including controlled burns, are and always were effective. And never forget the Blue Lake Rancheria’s nationally-famous Low-Carbon Community Microgrid Project.

Our economy is changing. Some of the challenges we’re confronting are out of our control: gas prices, supply chain blocks, global climate disruption. Yet we can still grasp and direct some of the coming changes in a way that fits our values and keeps us thriving.

We, your neighbors, look forward to welcoming you to this fall’s Redwood Coast Region Economic Summit to brainstorm how we are going to manage our homes and resources together through this moment of crisis and opportunity. Join us for some economic lemonade at https://bit.ly/GrowingForward2022.

Leila Roberts is Director of the North Coast Small Business Development Center, an organization dedicated to helping our local businesses start, grow, and thrive. Learn more, sign up for a class, or apply for one-on-one business advising at www.northcoastsbdc.org.

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