Alaska Small Business Development Center

Small Business Owners from Alaska Honored by SBA Alaska District Office During National Small Business Week April 28 to May 4, 2024

May 8, 2024

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Alaska District Office announces the winners of its annual awards program, part of National Small Business Week April 28 to May 4, 2024.

“Small businesses are the heart and soul of America’s economic engine and the realization of the American Dream for millions of entrepreneurs. National Small Business Week is an opportunity to loudly and proudly celebrate their achievements and the essential contributions they make to communities across the country,” said SBA Administrator Isabella Guzman. “The Biden-Harris administration is committed to investing in America, and, at the SBA, that starts with providing critical supports for our entrepreneurs and small business owners. Since 2021, nearly 12 million Americans applied to start new businesses, with women and people of color doing so at the highest rate. The SBA is committed to creating a level playing field that gives these innovators and job creators the tools and opportunities they need to prosper.”

“The nominations we received from around the state this year are a witness of the ingenuity and tenacity of Alaska’s small businesses owners,” SBA Alaska District Director Steve Brown said. “They are the backbone of our economy. They create jobs, drive innovation, and contribute to our communities. We are proud to recognize their achievements and provide the support they need. Congratulations to all the award winners who embody the spirit of entrepreneurship and are a testament to the strength and diversity of Alaska’s small business community.”

Each year since 1963, the President has issued a proclamation calling for the celebration of National Small Business Week. SBA recognizes outstanding small business owners for their personal successes and contributions to our nation.

2024 winners from the SBA Alaska District Office include the following:

SBA Alaska Small Business Persons of the Year

Kali C Bennett, The Waterworks
Anchorage, Alaska

Growing up in the ski hamlet of Girdwood, Alaska, she came of age downhill skiing while learning about hot tubs in her family business.  Kali while in high school started her own business cleaning hot tubs.  Kali is now a second-generation owner, and under her leadership she has expanded to a new location, her workforce and spearheading The Waterworks into a digitally enabled sales and services. The Waterworks is on its 15th year sponsoring the Special Olympics Polar Bear Plunge, this event holds the prestigious acknowledgement of boasting the largest fundraiser in the nation.

Veteran Owned Business of the Year Award

Cuauhtemoc Rodriguez, Coldfoot Environmental Services, Inc
Anchorage, Alaska

Rod was born to working class immigrant parents from Mexico and was raised in Chula Vista, California.  Rod enlisted in the US Air Force in June 1992.  In 1994 he was transferred to Anchorage, Alaska where he served as Contract Specialist.  It was in this role that inspired him to develop a passion for this industry and decided to follow his dream and started his business.   Rod served as the past president for Associated General Contractors of Alaska (AGC) and inducted into AGC Life Board of Directors.  He is member of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce and president of the Anchorage Freestyle Wrestling Club.

SBA Alaska Woman in Business of the Year

Jill Shari Ramiel, Silverbow Inn
Juneau, Alaska

Jill was born in New York and moved to Juneau with her future husband in 1996 and purchased the Silverbow Inn located in the historic Messerschmidt Building. She restored the hotel and build. Silverbow Bakery, Alaska first New York style bagel shop.  She sold the bakery in 2015 and the building now hosts award winning In Bocca al Lupo restaurant.  The hotel has grown to a 16-room boutique property.   Jill is the former president of the Juneau Downtown Business Association and the Rotary Club.

Minority Small Business of the Year Award

Dacia Smith, Green Gorilla Movers
Anchorage, Alaska

Growing up in Queens, New York.  Dacia was an inspiring Tetris player and his interest in placing things in the most efficient way followed him into adulthood.  Dacia served in the US Navy.  In 2017 he moved to Ketchikan, Alaska where he worked as a logistics operator and then onto Alaska Native Industries Cooperative Association as a materials handler.   Dacia is a member of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce and sponsor of the University of Alaska Ski Team.

Exporter Small Business of the Year Award

Hans Vogel, Triverus, LLC
Palmer, Alaska

Hans founded Triverus in 2001 and has been at the forefront of every product designed and produced.  Hans broad base background in research, mechanical designs, materials, and computer aided designs has aided him in growing Triverus, LLC through three DOD funded research projects.  The company designs, manufactures, and exports high-efficiency outdoor cleaning equipment as well as providing cleaning services and surface pollution prevention for airports, municipalities, and dry dock operations.


About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit The Alaska District Office serves the state of Alaska with office locations in Anchorage and Fairbanks.

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