Three Nome businesses have been awarded tens of thousands of dollars by the Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation (NSEDC), including an up-and-coming laundromat.
Colby Engstrom, the owner of Sea Laundry, aims to use the $50,000 in funds from the Small Business Initiative program to provide basic laundry services for Nome residents and perhaps the region in the near future:
“I want everyone to be able to have clean laundry. I mean, it’s a pretty simple, basic thing of life, and it’s kind of sad that our city doesn’t have one [laundromat]. So we are excited about doing that, and then, we’ve also talked to several construction companies and some different entities that work outside the City of Nome about shipping their laundry into here, since it’s such a hub. So we are talking about doing a pickup service and a laundry-by-the-pound service.”
Engstrom and the other grant recipients, Howard Farley, Jr., with Farley Mobile Sales and Repair, and Jesse Blandford with JB Enterprises, have two years to use the NSEDC money and implement their business plans.
Within those two years, Engstrom says he hopes to eventually install at least seven washers and dryers, provide dry cleaning service as well as put in a shower facility. He adds:
“And we’d like to increase the size of the washers and dryers all the way up to the biggest ones, that you can get a mattress in, so that people can wash their camp stuff and boating stuff and all those kinds of things.”
Even though other laundromat businesses have come and gone in Nome, Engstrom believes using new technology, including renewable energy sources, will be the key to make Sea Laundry successful in the long-run:
“The technology has really increased to the point where the water and electrical usage is a lot less than it used to be. So the cost of offering the service is a lot more cost effective than it used to be, just because of the benefits of the new technology and the way the stuff is actually put together, and the cycles run. It’s nice that all the new stuff, you can actually fine tune the cycles as far as heat and longevity and what cycle runs longer so you can fine tune to what needs the people want.”
19 business proposals were submitted to NSEDC from individuals throughout the Norton Sound region. An independent panel of five judges narrowed the applicant pool down to six finalists, and then selected the three winners.
NSEDC’s Community Benefits Director, Paul Ivanoff III, says there were some changes made to the small business grants this year, such as how frequently they will be given out:
“The biggest change is that we will be holding the small business initiative every other year now instead of every year. The change was made in hopes that we could get more interest within the region, and in the hopes that we see better quality of grant applications that come in.”
Due to the new guidelines put in place, NSEDC’s next Small Business Initiative program will give out three awards in 2019 instead of next year.
Engstrom hopes to get Sea Laundry off the ground next summer, after the first barge arrives with their machines.
Image at top: file photo: Paul Ivanoff III and Dora Hughes of Opiq Adventures at a past NSEDC’s Small Business Initiative Event in Nome. Photo credit: KNOM file.