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Accelerating Innovation and Business Success at the Port of Seattle

The Port of Seattle and Business Impact NW have joined forces for the third annual Port of Seattle Business Accelerator Program. This 10-week initiative is designed to empower entrepreneurs, particularly women- and minority-owned businesses, in the transportation and maritime sectors by providing them with intensive training, mentorship, and insight into contracting opportunities. The program offers personalized mentoring, comprehensive training, panel discussions with industry experts, and networking opportunities, all tailored to meet the unique needs of each business.

The program covers a range of topics essential for business growth, focusing on both working on and working in your small business. Here are some key areas of emphasis:

Working On Your Business:

The program caters to each business's specific needs, offering participants personalized mentoring from industry professionals and empowering them with:

  • Strategies for identifying growth opportunities and creating a roadmap for scaling
  • Guidance on setting financial goals and effective management of business finances
  • Development of a growth mindset, embracing innovation and continuous improvement
  • Networking strategies and relationship-building techniques to expand professional connections

Working In Your Business:

The program also provides comprehensive training through a mix of self-paced lectures and live discussions, helping participants understand important business concepts such as:

  • Navigating the public work procurement system for contracting opportunities
  • Forecasting cash flow and sales for better financial planning
  • Developing essential project management skills for contract execution and efficient business operations
  • Focusing on marketing and branding strategies to enhance visibility and attract customers

Stories of Success from 2022 Graduates:

Over the past two years, the program has made a significant positive impact on women-owned and minority-owned businesses, and small businesses, helping them overcome challenges, tap into growth potential, and achieve impressive success. By providing targeted support and fostering an inclusive environment, the program actively builds out the Port of Seattle’s bench of business partners while ensuring all communities benefit from Port projects.

The program has produced 25 graduates to date—and these success stories serve as inspiration for future participants and demonstrate the positive impact of the program on the region's economy:

Bratton Construction Company has operated for over two decades in Oregon, Washington, Southern California, and Tennessee. Their mission is to empower women and communities of color with valuable skills and opportunities to grow in the general construction industry. Their motto: we build people, that build communities, who build cities.

“We want to thank the Port of Seattle, the commissioners, Diversity Department, and team for this wonderful opportunity to engage with the Port's Staff. The Port’s team, workshop speakers and cohort members all have shared a wealth of experience. It is good to gain knowledge to refine our processes and build our network. We are looking forward to opportunities to work with the Port's Staff on future projects.”

-Sharon Maxwell

OpConnect is an international minority and veteran-owned leader in electric vehicle (EV) charging station technology. They specialize in fleet, multi-family, workplace, and private-label EV charging solutions. They combine charging stations with their software platform to offer easy-to-use and easy-to-manage EV fueling solutions.

"I joined the program seeking tips and education to compete in larger state and federal procurement opportunities—and the lessons are already being implemented. We also established a valuable corporate connection with McKinstry. As a CEO of color, I often feel isolated, surrounded mostly by white CEOs who may not understand our unique challenges. The program allowed me to connect with fellow founders of color, exchange stories and contribute to a supportive community.

-Dexter Turner

Point North Consulting is a minority women-owned small business. They're focused on strategic communications solutions that build trust, amplify voices, and empower people. Based in Vancouver, Washington, Point North Consulting specializes in storytelling, strategy development, and community engagement.

“I am honored to have been included in the Business Accelerator program. I have learned valuable insight and connected with industry experts I could never have met without this program. I am grateful for the experience and the connections. I have no doubt my

-Lisa Keohokalole Schauer

Apex Electrical Group is a minority-owned, veteran-owned, and unionized electrical company based in Auburn, Washington. They bring more than 60 years and guarantee quality and professionalism that exceeds expectations for all your electrical needs.

“I am so thankful to be a part of the PortGen Accelerator. Every presentation hit on bits of information that I was missing in my business. From business finance, all the way to business psychology of selling our services, I am blessed to learn from many of the talented and professionals that presented. I look forward to applying these principles in the future as my company continues to develop and scale up.”

-Marcus Cola

The Port of Seattle Business Accelerator Program empowers diverse entrepreneurs with knowledge, skills, and resources to thrive. The program plays a vital role in driving economic growth and empowering women- and minority-owned businesses. Furthermore, it fosters innovation, builds relationships, and prepares participants for contracting opportunities.

The Port of Seattle Business Accelerator Program is accepting applications through August 1, 2023. Self-identified WMBE businesses and businesses in South King County are highly encouraged to apply. Interested entrepreneurs can apply here.

Need more information? Join Port of Seattle Program Manager Emily Ho and Business Impact NW Chief Program Officer Domonique Juleon for a virtual Q&A session on July 18th at 2 pm. To attend register here.

About the author

Janelle is a storyteller through and through. She was raised in a family of entrepreneurs who owned and managed a series of small businesses, including a Hawaiian restaurant, a video store, and several real estate properties. Growing up in a low-income community but attending schools as a minority in affluent areas, she struggled with the inequities she faced each day.

Janelle graduated with a degree in Creative Writing, specializing in screenwriting and playwriting. She has worked for a number of nonprofits and has remained steadfast in her commitment to using her craft to support the missions of each organization, and uplift underserved communities throughout the Bay Area.

Posted in BIPOC Owners, Business Impact NW, Business Resources, Veteran Owners, Women Owners

Janelle Bonifacio View posts by Janelle Bonifacio

Janelle is a storyteller through and through. She was raised in a family of entrepreneurs who owned and managed a series of small businesses, including a Hawaiian restaurant, a video store, and several real estate properties. Growing up in a low-income community but attending schools as a minority in affluent areas, she struggled with the inequities she faced each day. Janelle graduated with a degree in Creative Writing, specializing in screenwriting and playwriting. She has worked for a number of nonprofits and has remained steadfast in her commitment to using her craft to support the missions of each organization, and uplift underserved communities throughout the Bay Area.
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