The North Slope Marketplace (“NSM”) is a business plan competition open to Arctic Slope Regional Corporation Shareholders residing on the North Slope and provides winners with vital grants funds of up to $25,000 and technical training. Awarded funds go towards the creation or growth of locally owned and operated small businesses and provide much needed capital to individuals that may not otherwise have options. The mission of the North Slope Marketplace is to provide financial and technical resources that support and encourage adaptive, entrepreneurial activity for sustainable North Slope communities.
To date, the NSM has funded and supported 47 shareholder businesses and provided countless trainings to new and existing entrepreneurs. In 2017, AGC assumed sole sponsorship and administration of the NSM, reaffirming the company’s commitment to shareholders and to sustainable North Slope communities. In 2017, AGC awarded NSM awards to five shareholder owned businesses on the North Slope. The 2017 NSM awardees are excellent examples of shareholders utilizing the resources made available to them and taking a chance at success through entrepreneurship.
Arnold Arey, of Utqiagvik was awarded $11,013 for his business, Arey’s Northern Outfit & Cargo, LLC. that provides safe reliable cargo delivery to residents and businesses across the North Slope. Arnold delivers a necessary community service, transporting vital gear like vehicles, snow machines, ATVs and cargo to local residents. He was originally awarded $12,000 in 2014 to open his business. He reapplied this year for the remaining $13,000 available, Mr. Arey’s second award was used to replace equipment. Mr. Arey is an exemplary shareholder that has managed a successful business, employing three locals to meet the needs of North Slope residents, while also making time for a subsistence lifestyle.
Tariek Oviuk is a prime example of a shareholders drive to succeed. Mr. Oviuk’s award is representative of the NSM’s belief in an individual’s power to change. As an individual with a criminal background, Mr. Oviuk was unable to access traditional and even nontraditional sources of financing. Because of Tariek’s involvement in the community, as a whaling captain and dance group leader, the NSM committee granted him a partial award of $10,000, allowing him to order inventory and buy necessary equipment to open his store, learn the ins and outs of his new business and apply for additional funding based on a strong business track record in the future. From this award, Point Hope welcomed a new store, AK2K Store, solely owned and operated by Tariek Oviuk.
Price and Bobby Itta purchased Alaska Fur Cache in August of 2016, with financing from Alaska Growth Capital. While Alaska Fur Cache operated for over 30 years in Anchorage, in September 2017 the Itta’s relocated the business to Utqiagvik returning an age old traditional industry (i.e. fur trading and manufacturing) back to the Slope, making them eligible for NSM funding. The NSM approved a partial award to cover expenses related to relocating and buying furs from hunters and trappers on the North Slope. The Itta’s award was a special exception, as the NSM is geared towards new businesses or businesses that do not have access to capital. However, the NSM committee saw great value in the Itta’s work and approved funds for relocating the business; believing it would stimulate broad based economic activity across the region.
Robert and Pauline Bowers returned home to the village of Nuiqsut in 2016 and immediately saw a need for an additional store in the community. They both had experience managing stores, with both of their parents owning separate stores in Nuiqsut during their youth. The Bowers applied and were approved $25,000 to purchase and build a small structure to house their new store. They sell convenience items out of their home and are looking to complete the buildout of the new store structure in the summer of 2018. The Bowers have big plans for their store, the NSM committee is eager to support the Bowers progress and the community economic development of Nuiqsut.
Brian Gordon, with the help of Petrostar, applied for a NSM award to start Chief Gordon’s Pizzeria in Anaktuvuk Pass. As a community leader and Anaktuvuk Pass’ Fire Chief for a number of years, the NSM committee has confidence in Mr. Gordon’s character. Mr. Gordon’s previous pizzeria management experience and new business plan make the NSM committee confident in his ability to succeed as an entrepreneur. He was awarded the full $25,000 in December of 2017 and is scheduled to open his business in the summer 2018. Mr. Gordon will have the closest pizza place within 300 miles of Anaktuvuk Pass and one of the only operational restaurants in the community.