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The Port of Seattle Business Accelerator Program Graduation

On November 30th the Port of Seattle Business Accelerator Program concluded with a graduation ceremony at the renovated Pier 69, West Atrium. A diverse group of business owners, mentors, supporters, and industry leaders gathered to celebrate the months of hard work and dedication of our graduating cohort.

Highlights of the Evening

The event started with a reception where attendees talked and connected over light refreshments catered by Business Impact NW client Central Cafe & Juice Bar—an eco-conscious cafe located in Central District of Seattle.

The program included insightful remarks from key speakers. Mian Rice, Port of Seattle Director of Diversity in Contracting, took the stage to welcome the audience and set the tone for the evening. He introduced Port Commissioner Ryan Calkins, who praised the hard work of the small business owners and acknowledged the real struggles they face, speaking from personal experience. The Commissioner spoke about the need for innovation, the shift to a clean energy and green economy, and the crucial role of small businesses that can offer more flexibility and creativity than their larger counterparts. Calkins also addressed diversity in contracting, stating:

“Programs like this are a concrete way that we say there is upstream work that needs to happen. So that the dollars we spend in contracting will be truly representative of our community.” 

Port of Seattle Graduation SpeakerNext, Port of Seattle Executive Director, Steve Metruck highlighted the Port's commitment to the "triple bottom line": operating gateways successfully, ensuring sustainability, and creating economic opportunities equitably. The Executive Director reflected on the long-lasting impact of the Port’s projects and looked forward to “expand partnerships with women and minority-owned businesses.

CEO of Business Impact NW, Joe Sky-Tucker took the stage expressing gratitude to the Port of Seattle, mentors, and the organization’s staff. He spoke about the pride he feels working with small business owners, recognizing the inherent challenges they face, and the "irrational confidence" required to run a small business. Sky-Tucker invited business owners to feel the excitement that surrounds the various projects and contracting opportunities facilitated by the Port. He celebrated each business and rejected terms like “disadvantage,” stating:

“There's nothing disadvantaged about any of your businesses. They are amazing businesses doing amazing work for our community and we are better for it.”

Port of Seattle Graduation Audience 1Remarks concluded with Emily Ho, Community Engagement and Training Program Manager at the Port. Emily expressed deep gratitude to Joe Sky-Tucker and the entire Business Impact NW team for their partnership in making the program possible. She emphasized the role played by industry mentors - a unique aspect of the accelerator program, and individually recognized and appreciated them.

Emily praised the cohort, acknowledging the significant time investment from each participant, and expressed her gratitude for the trust placed in the program. She shared glimpses of each one of the incredible entrepreneurs, as they brought unique strengths and perspectives, from business strategy and advocacy for minority businesses, to collaboration, innovation, and community building.

Port of Seattle Graduation Diploma handedThe Graduates in the Spotlight

An integral part of the graduation ceremony was the presentation of videos - one for each entrepreneur. They provided insight into the journey of each business owner and showcased the diverse talents within the program.

As the videos concluded, the distribution of certificates began, and each graduate business owner ascended the stage to receive their diploma. This represented not only the conclusion of a program but the beginning of promising entrepreneurial journeys. There was a clear feeling of accomplishment Port of Seattle Graduation Networking 1and pride in the room.

After receiving their diplomas, the graduates, mentors and speakers gathered for some official photos on the stage. These pictures capture a special moment of all the graduates standing together.

Networking Opportunities and Connections

Post-ceremony, attendees had the opportunity to continue networking. The atmosphere was vibrant, filled with ideas being exchanged and congratulations being shared. The event was a celebration of accomplishments, connections made, and the power of collaboration.

Port of Seattle GraduatesLooking Ahead

As we reflect on this inspiring evening, we look forward to the continued success and growth of the businesses that have emerged from the Port of Seattle Business Accelerator Program.

Business Impact NW extends sincere gratitude to the Port of Seattle for their partnership. We are appreciative of the shared vision and commitment to cultivating a diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem and we look forward to continued work together.

About the author

Director of Marketing and Communications

Carolina is responsible for leading the Marketing and Communications department. She has a vast professional experience in marketing, market research and consulting, working with clients and organizations across many industries and in multiple Latin American countries. She earned her B.A. in Business Administration from Universidad Austral de Chile, a Master of Finance from Universidad de Chile, and a Certificate in Marketing from UC Berkeley. Outside of work she enjoys hiking, watching documentaries and volunteering.

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