"We were all excited by the first sale," says Sealaska Corp. intern Crystal Rogers, who is living in Angoon this summer and helped to list works by local artists on Ebay.
The Center is a small version of a Silicon Valley business incubator that provides entrepreneurs office space, access to capital and introduction to partners. Getgood works with business experts statewide to offer help writing business plans. She puts on e-commerce seminars and helps artists display their work in the center's free retail space, and now, online.
photos courtesy of Angoon Business Center Angoon Business Center interns show off traditional regalia.
The Center is funded by a federal grant administered by the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. Angoon's village corporation Kootznoowoo Inc. pays its utility bills and gives it free space on the ground floor of its two-storey office building.
Angoon has no newspaper. In January the Center launched myangoon.org to help fill the information gap. It features everything from photos of local weddings and city council meetings to details on upcoming events at the Center. Getgood has trained about 20 residents including school staff and city officials on how to post information.
Jamie Daniels stands in high grass at the side of the Angoon Business Center. It's a stunning view overlooking the Chatham Strait and snowcapped mountains in the distance. Daniels is the Tlingit carver whose work was just sold over Ebay. He's collaborating with several other men on a canoe-carving project adjacent to the Center. The volunteers plan to build a shop and from there carve giant logs into canoes like the ones their ancestors once used to hunt and fish.
"It's a positive thing for the community, a place where we can come to hang out and carve and young people can learn to carve," says Daniels.
The new center will offer cultural and economic opportunities for the village of Angoon.The center was founded to help local entrepeneurs, and founders hope it will help young people stay in Angoon.
Many Alaskans believe that the skyrocketing cost of energy is forcing people to leave villages. The study found that a lack of educational and economic opportunities was the predominant force prompting people to depart.
Andrei Chakine, the Central Council's manager of business and economic development, set up the Angoon Business Center based on what he had learned working with the U.S. government in the former Soviet Union. He says it set up business centers to help people who had lived under Communism learn about starting companies. "In addition to offering training and support, the centers serve as a hub of social and artistic activity and the entrepreneurial community builds around it," he explains.
In June the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded Central Council 192 thousand dollars to start another center in Hydaberg and to support Angoon operations. Chakine says he hopes to have the Hydaberg Center up and running in October.