Creating a more resilient “new-normal” local economy – Use of MOA Care Act Funding

Update – On December 11th we held a work session on the topic of innovation, entrepreneurship and digital transformation strategies in response to the pandemic.

Original Post – August, 2020 – Following is a message I’ve sent to the Municipality of Anchorage assembly members suggesting they allocate about 1% of the MOA share of the CARE act funding to helping existing businesses and entrepreneurs build a new-normal that is more resilient. Updated 12/7/20 – New resources and information has been added at the end.

MOA CARE Act Resilient Business Amendment

MOA Assembly Members,

I was asked after last Thursday’s town hall held by Assembly members LaFrance and Weddleton to provide a summary of potential projects for your current CARE act funding that would shift a very modest amount of the funding to efforts to help current businesses and entrepreneurs to work on building more resilient future business, rather than focus only on helping the current economy hang on a bit longer. I believe there is a “new-normal” to be created that is more resilient such that in the face of a future second wave or the next bug, we never to find our economy and community impacted so profoundly.

I had a fourth project related to placing UA education students with ASD teachers to assist with digital transformation of our delivery, but its apparent that the teachers and students are already struggling to be ready and adding a new resource now would only complicate their already nearly impossible task – perhaps later.

I’d be happy to answer questions or assist with program partnership development. Its not my intent to be managing or delivering any of these efforts – there are some great community partners already in place that could do this if supported by you and you agreed that some small portion of this funding should help us strengthen our economy and community rather that just prop it up a bit longer.

Amendment to CARE Act Funding – Resilient Business Grants

August 10, 2020

Contact: H. “Ky” Holland 907 7272735

The COVID19 Pandemic has created many challenges while also creating new opportunities.  This amendment seeks to allocate $1.4M, or just over 1% of the current round of funding allocation to focus on assisting businesses create a more resilient “new-normal” businesses to speed recovery from the current pandemic while leaving our community and economy more resilient in the face of future waves and new viruses.  There are three components of this proposal, one supporting innovations and digital transformations in current businesses, and two that support new ventures and job creation through entrepreneurship and open-innovation partnerships with existing businesses and healthcare organizations. 

The programs proposed would be managed by current organizations providing current services to the existing business community that would adapt to supporting COVID impacted businesses and opportunities. These include the MOA 49th State Angel Fund, UAA Business Enterprise institute (BEI) that houses the Small Business Development Center and Center for Economic Development, the UA Center ICE (innovation, commercialization and entrepreneurship), Launch Alaska business accelerator, the MOA 49th State Angel Fund, and the Health Tie (Testbed for innovation and entrepreneurship).   

The goal of this work is to stimulate economic opportunities and be a catalyst for thinking differently about the future, engaging students, and assisting existing and new ventures to create a more robust future “new-nornal” economy, rather than depend only efforts that bridge our economy to a return to the old-normal.  These are three related and separable activities that connect the past to the future.  

1)      Entrepreneurial Capacity Building and Pilots: Deliver training and grants to emerging entrepreneurs and startups seeking to address new COVID impacts and opportunities individually and in partnership with existing organizations, business and new needs.  This would include student and community programs to bring visibility to impacts and opportunities, training on entrepreneurship and open innovation strategies with existing organizations.  Entrepreneurs and businesses would receive mentorship and compete for grants for pilot projects. $500,000  

2)      Digital Transformation Capacity Building and Pilots – Deliver training and grants to existing organizations and entrepreneurs addressing the acceleration of the need to transform and respond to unprecedented change in customer behaviors and market risks. Critically considering our post COVID world and fact that there will likely be a slow or no return to business as usual. This work will provide training, resources, materials specific to targeted forms of pivots, assessments and one to one consulting / technical assistance delivery and grants to assist with pilot projects.  $500,000. 

3)      Challenge Sprints and Pilots– Guiding a process towards identifying solutions to some of our newly found COVID challenges (e.g. how to address air flow and air filtration needs in spaces from dentist offices to restaurants) and / or (e.g. how to address the childcare needs of parents that are now working and care for children) and / or (e.g. how to address food delivery needs).  Funding would facilitate challenge/problem development, hosting and promoting public contests and fostering partnership with sponsoring public and provide organizations to promote “open-innovation” strategies, and grants for pilot projects of winning proposals. $400,000

Some resources and examples:

2/28/21 Wisconsin state investment in recovery assisting businesses rather than only compensating businesses.

2/26/21 – A new proposal for innovation in recovery –

The Bloomburg Cities Mayor’s challenge offers an example of a challenge approach to stimulating and supporting innovation in communities.

The Kauffman Foundation Start Up Now Coalition has prepared the report, “Rebuilding Better“. This report and recommendations address how America’s entrepreneurs are at the frontlines in the battle to preserve and restore our economy. While policymakers have prioritized big business for years, these same policymakers are now realizing that huge corporations are not going to be the key to saving our economy; it’s the startups and small businesses that form the heart of every community.

2/5 McKinsey outline of how companies are building for a new normal.

12/7 ADN article on anchorage restaurant efforts to remain open during the current EO hunker-down restrictions.

12/7 – The Propane Guys are finding a new way to sell propane benefiting customers and existing propane business sales.

12/7 Hawaii’s effort to attract remote workers during the pandemic builds on capacity and problems with short term rental units.

11/24 late finding this… the feds are finally tossing a bone to the innovation community and funding $25m for innovation and entrepreneurship in their SPRINT program.

11/23 new castle county Delaware has a nice approach that is balance in response and opportunity. great Barrington is another addressing community marketing, a covid safety certification and poetry!

11/7 Added – McKinsey Rapid Revenue Recovery –

9/3 Added – a new French program was announced with funding for innovation and digital transformation that addresses the political concerns that too much focus on innovation and startups takes away from supporting existing businesses –

10/27/22 Update – 8/13 added – The German economic rescue plan includes $56 billion for start-ups that can digitize traditional industries, using artificial intelligence and other new technologies. Alongside France, Germany recently announced what its economics minister called a digital “moonshot,” which aims to create a European internet cloud to rival those of America and China.

The case for open-innovation now –

COVID Community Capacity Building –

Colorado Business Assistance and Mentorship-

Challenges… to many to list – here is a current google search –

University education students helping teachers –

McKinsey – COVID Digital Transformations –

EDA CARE funding for CORVID economic development assistance programs to help communities prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus in the SSTI newsletter


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