Wrangell Prosperity candidates showcase sustainability

At least two prospective local business owners have submitted entries to this year’s Paths to Prosperity sustainable business competition.

Last year’s competition saw Wrangell guitar maker Steve Helgesen and soon-to-be Wrangellite Kevin Skeek win the first iteration of the competition with a plan to make guitars from locally harvested Sitka Spruce.

The deadline for this year’s competition was Monday, and it wasn’t immediately clear how many Wrangell entrepreneurs had submitted business plans for the competition, which aims to encourage sustainable small business ideas by providing training and seed money.

One of this year’s entrants said her idea revolved around the hybridization of local natural materials with art. Kris Reed and daughter Sydney Reed jointly submitted an idea for the Squid & Magpie glass specialty shop. The Reeds would use glass powder to create imprints of local natural materials, like sea shells, ferns, and other things, to build keepsakes, according to Kris Reed.

“It has to do with fused glass,” she said. “It’s an idea that uses fused glass and glass powders to highlight local flora and fauna.”

The elder Reed laughed when asked if she and her daughter – who plans to open a stained glass studio in the near future – were “glass people.”

“More or less,” she said. “Glass artists. It’s basically a partnership between she and I. She works best working with stained glass. I actually like to work more with the slumped and the fused glass.”

The pair intend to use the seed money to obtain training, though the elder Reed said even making the contest’s semi-finalist round would be a boost.

“Even to be selected as one of the 12 finalists would be outstanding, because at that point they give you a lot of resources,” she said. “It’s just the business end of it where we need help.”

The elder Reed discovered the idea for integrating natural resources into her glasswork online. While she admits the part of the plan she’s willing to discuss has a limited appeal beyond curio shops, another part of her proposal, which she declined to discuss publicly, is on a grander scale.

“The first part was getting Squid and Magpie and this

particular form for us off the ground,” she said. “A second part of this that would be more inclusive of other types of art and artists.”

Another contestant,

economic development committee member James Edens, was even more reticent about the details of his plan, beyond naming the specific industry – fishing – which it affects.

“It is trying to turn a waste stream from a local industry into jobs and income,” he said. “It has to do with the fishing industry.”

Edens isn’t a commercial fisherman but got the idea from a general interest in aquaculture and firsthand observation. He’s carried a small notebook around with him for six years which now holds more than 150 potential entrepreneurship opportunities.

“I’m actually an entrepreneur at heart,” he said. “I

actually had to narrow it down to one for the competition. I definitely keep a notebook, and I’m slow in committing to one that I want to unleash.”

“I thought the idea was the best for the community,” Edens added.

For now he’s going to keep the other ideas confidential as well.

“Those are all top secret,” he joked.

He wrote down the one idea he’s submitting for the

competition about a year ago. He estimates, tentatively, that if successfully implemented, his idea could create a few jobs.

“I think I could employ five individuals in Wrangell on

family wages,” he said. “I don’t know what family wages are. I know what I need to support my family.”


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