The Helena Start-Up Challenge!

helenastartupchallengeI’m honored to have been asked to serve as one of the judges in the upcoming Helena Start-Up Challenge that awards winning entrepreneurs with seed capital to turn their business concepts into start-ups in my hometown of Helena-West Helena, Arkansas. The winner of the challenge will receive $25,000 and the runner-up will receive $15,000 to start their businesses in Helena-West Helena.

The best part is that anyone with an idea for a business is welcome to apply. Existing businesses with less than $10,000 revenue may also participate in the challenge. For more information about the contest and it’s rules, please visit the official website. Also, see the official press release below:

HELENA-WEST HELENA, Ark., Feb. 4, 2013 – The Helena Start-Up Challenge is a business plan competition, launching today, that will provide two entrepreneurs with the opportunity to make their business ideas into reality in Helena-West Helena. The first-place winner will be awarded $25,000 and second place will receive $15,000. As a stipulation of the competition, both winners will agree to use the prize money to convert their winning ideas into a start-up business in Helena-West Helena.

Applications for the Delta Bridge Project competition will be accepted through March 31 at HelenaStartupChallenge.com. Applicants are not required to be residents of Helena to participate; however, winning entrepreneurs will agree to start businesses in Helena-West Helena. The application contains much of the key information included in a business plan, which should help entrepreneurs refine their ideas. Applications and additional information about the Challenge are available online at HelenaStartupChallenge.com.

“The Helena Start-Up Challenge builds upon the idea that people with great business ideas will succeed in our community with some technical assistance and start-up funding,” said Bev Hargraves, owner and president of Hargraves Insurance Agency, Inc. and a judge for the Challenge. “Small business creation is a vital part of reviving the local economy and a source of pride for residents of Phillips County.”

The Challenge is broken into an open round and finals. In the open round, local business leaders will serve as judges. They will review all applications received by the deadline and select up to six finalists.

Finalists will be invited to submit full business plans to compete for prize money and the opportunity to start their business. Entries will be judged on their likelihood of success and overall fit in the community. A complete list of judging criteria is available on the Challenge webpage.

The Helena Start-Up Challenge is made possible by a $1.9 million Rural Innovation Fund grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The grant also funds several other economic development incentives in Helena-West Helena that will launch in the coming months. The success of the Delta Bridge Project, input provided by the Delta Bridge Project’s economic development goal team, and participation with other organizations in the community all contributed to the grant application.

To learn more about the Helena Start-Up Challenge and to apply today, visit HelenaStartupChallenge.com. Please contact Dustin Choate with any questions about the competition at dustinchoate@southernpartners.org or (870) 816-1117. For more information about the Delta Bridge Project contact Kimberly Clement at kimberlyclement@southernpartners.org or (870) 816-1121.

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The Delta Bridge Project is a community-led revitalization effort focused on improving the quality of life for Phillips County residents through education, health, housing, leadership and economic development. For more information visit deltabridgeproject.com.

In case you missed it, there was also a great post on Innovate Arkansas‘s website this past week promoting the event. You can find that post here…

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