Two Bears Environmental Consulting: Building global resilience – one community at a time
In 2021, the Federal Emergency Management Agency added a new major factor that influences the impact of a disaster on an area: social vulnerability. For Alaska and its strong cultural heritage, this was an important decision. For Two Bears Environmental Consulting, Inc. (TBEC), FEMA’s policy change reinforced their vision statement: to increase environmental, economic, social, and cultural climate resilience, empowering communities to move from reactive to proactive climate resilient strategies.
TBEC focuses on how environmental factors impact infrastructures, with a specific focus on cultural influence. For example: building a dam on a river system. How would future climate change impact the long-term stability of the project? What are the potential impacts to communities both up and down the river?
TBEC has developed a niche using their Integrated Climate Adaptation & Resilience Impact Statements (ICARIS) to help companies, organizations, and governments make better informed decisions about the projects to pursue. After years as a research scientist with the federal government, Ronni Wilcox, founder of TBEC, jumped at the chance to apply her knowledge and expertise as a bridge between the communities affected and the interdisciplinary science that could assist them. Ronni ensures that all stakeholders have a voice in the process. Ronni says, “Our work assists environmentally threatened villages plan for the future, including obtaining the funds to support climate resilience activities and helping engineers build climate-proof infrastructures.”
TBEC first came to the SBDC for startup assistance in 2015. Their business advisor, Allan Carraway, assisted them with startup projections, strategies, and projections to help make them as successful as possible. They also received 8a status assistance from SBDC’s sister program, the Alaska Procurement & Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). “Alaska SBDC has assisted us with setting up our business, working with government grants, and obtaining 8(a) and DBE status, including writing a business plan. Allan Carraway has been particularly supportive, as well as Shelly Berna [SBA Alaska District Office] and Jody King [Alaska PTAC].”
Thousands of businesses were hit hard in 2020 by the COVID Pandemic. TBEC was no exception. Due to COVID restrictions, TBEC was prevented from collecting data in the field and much of the work relied on the data collected. Ronni’s dream business was in danger of becoming a nightmare. Ronnie returned to the SBDC and attended workshops on pandemic assistance. Allan assisted Ronni in gaining capital funds from the federal programs available and guidance for moving forward in unclear times.
In January 2021, Allan assisted Ronni with updating her business plan and final review in preparation for submission to the National Science Foundation (NSF). TBEC successfully received SBIR Phase II NSF funds to continue work on streamlining processes for developing Ecological Archetypes. These Archetypes will aid in determining baseline and first estimates of any changes which may affect future climates. TBEC states, “By recognizing a diverse knowledge system, we generate new insights into the real-time effects of risks, creating an enhanced understanding and a starting point for further knowledge generation.”
Alaska is on the forefront of climate driven change and TBEC is guiding the way forward with a fully integrated approach to community engagement and technological knowledge.