Competition for local aspiring entrepreneurs

MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - Calling all aspiring local entrepreneurs! That's the purpose for an upcoming "Shark Tank" inspired pitch competition. If you're like most people, over the years you've probably seen at least one episode of the hit ABC show.

A "Shark Tank" inspired competition will be held Tuesday, October 11th, and it's open to residents in Alabama and Mississippi.

The Delta Challenge is sponsored by the Delta Entrepreneurship Network. The competition in our area will be held on the University of West Alabama's campus in Livingston.

"We're targeting anyone who has an idea or a small business that wants to take that to the next level," says Donald Mills, who is the director for Small Business Development at the UWA.

"This is for the everyday person," says Gena Robbins, who works with the Division of Economic Development Outreach at UWA. "This competition is for you, for your cousins, your family, people you work with, and a group of people with an idea."

In classic "Shark Tank" style each competitor or group that's competing will be given an opportunity to make a three minute elevator pitch for their product or concept in front of a panel of three judges.

"The Pitch Competition incentive for this area is a $40,000 resource incentive package," says Mills. "It can help that small business owner develop their branding, their concept for their business and all, for marketing firms, advertising agents and all. Many times networking is the key to a business succeeding."

With a mission to help economically challenged areas with economic development, local organizers for the challenge say it's important for aspiring entrepreneurs within our area to take advantage of this opportunity.

"It is so important," says Robbins, "and we don't want people to think that they have to have a big business going already, or that it has to be some super laid out idea."

"In rural areas many of us may not be fortunate enough to get a Nissan plant or a Hyundai plant," says Mills, "but we do have opportunities for small businesses, and entrepreneurships, and a rising tide floats all ships. Who knows, they may be the next big thing!"

A Resource Fair will be held at 4 PM prior to the start of the actual pitch competition. All competitors must pre-register at DRA.gov/entrepreneur. The winner will advance to the regional competition in New Orleans to compete for a cash prize.