Business Proposal Competitions: A New Strategy for America’s Rural Economic Development

Colorado rural businesses will soon be competing in a unique competition. Business owners will present their ideas, with the best winning funding for the implementation of their vision.

Think Shark Tank meets rural America.

The Greater Colorado Pitch Series allows any company located in rural Colorado to apply for a funding range of $ 50,000 to $ 1 million in available investment. Proponents of the competition say it is a viable way to get people interested in entrepreneurship, especially young people who may have left their communities and are interested in returning and starting a business.

This year’s event will include an audience engagement platform that allows attendees, both live and virtual, to participate in the event. During field presentations, audience members can use the app to provide feedback on the field, make connections for the founders, and engage with each other.

Don Albrecht, director of the Western Center for Rural Development at Utah State University, said the idea was a good one.

“There are still limited opportunities for a farmer on his tractor who gets a good idea,” he told The Daily Yonder. “But there are also established companies that have a number of doctors looking for such funds, and yet it is really difficult for a farmer on his tractor to compete for such things. If this is something where you can go directly to potential investors, it sounds great to me. ”

Meanwhile, Don Make with e2 Entrepreneurial Ecosystems, hosted by NetWork Kansas, a non-profit organization dedicated to the development of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, said such economic development activities facilitate the return of young people to rural communities who may have left.

“These [pitch competitions] “It’s kind of a broader comprehensive strategy that if you’re doing business or presentation competitions, you also have the opportunity to have these bigger conversations, either on a personal level or on a community level with young people,” he said in an interview with The Daily Yonder, adding that this may involve finding out what they are passionate about and want to do with their lives. “If you then start building some of these other parts around it, the community can optimize the positive results for both young people and the community.

At NetWork Kansas, the organization created the Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge series, said Amara Knipp of NetWork Kansas in an interview with The Daily Yonder. This year, NetWork Kansas had more than 1,000 students competing in more than 50 competitions nationwide, she said.

“This is an opportunity to engage with young people, depending on the target age,” Make said. “It’s really important. There is a connection between the engagement and in the end maybe the decision to stay or return. So this is important. This kind of activity can be a great role in building community in terms of engaging several generations in fun activities. “

He said this also opens up the idea that entrepreneurship can be a career path. Therefore, people may choose to return to their rural roots.

“Now that I’m working for someone, I’m ready to buy a business or start a business, and you can start seeing these long-term results,” he said. “You look so promising that this is not an immediate solution for the economy, but it is a really smart long-term investment.

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