JEDCO Launches 2015 Entrepreneur Challenge

(FAIRFIELD, LA) – The Jefferson Parish Economic Development Commission (JEDCO), in conjunction with First NBC Bank, announced the launch of its 3rd annual pitch competition for entrepreneurs with ties to Jefferson Parish. Held during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, an event produced by The Idea Village, the 2015 JEDCO Challenge will elevate opportunities for early-stage companies in the area.

         The competition will be held on Monday, March 23, at Southport Hall, located at 200 Monticello Ave., in front of a panel of Jefferson Parish business leaders and an audience of their peers. Finalists will be judged on a seven-minute pitch and a business plan, which must be submitted in advance of the competition. The crowd will have an opportunity to cast their vote for their favorite entrepreneur, contributing to the overall scoring process of the competition. The winning pitch will receive $20,000 in direct capital and additional in-kind business services to help grow the company locally.

         For the first time ever, entrepreneurs chosen to pitch in the 2015 JEDCO Challenge will also be eligible to participate in the 2015 Big Idea pitch competition. The Big Idea is the world's largest crowd driven pitch event that closes out New Orleans Entrepreneur Week as local entrepreneurs vie for the public's support to propel them into the final round of the competition, where $25,000 is on the table.

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         The application will be live on JEDCO's website until December 12, 2014. Applicants will be narrowed down through a rigorous review process. Finalists will be chosen in mid-January to provide two months for pitch preparation and business plan assistance.

         JEDCO is looking for entrepreneurs with unique ideas that have the high potential to grow and positively impact Jefferson Parish. Entrepreneurs are urged to apply for the challenge on JEDCO's website. They must meet the following criteria to be eligible:

         Must live, work or have a strong presence in Jefferson Parish

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         Must generate less than $500,000 in revenue

         Must have less than 5 employees

         Must be a for-profit company

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         "Entrepreneurs are the future of Jefferson Parish and we will do everything we can to best assist them as they grow," says JEDCO Executive Director Jerry Bologna. "This entrepreneur challenge provides us with a platform to better connect with the future leaders of our Jefferson Parish business community. It is exciting for JEDCO to play a role in helping these companies find success in Jefferson Parish and we look forward to providing a continuous support system in the future."

         "It is a priority of First NBC Bank to positively impact communities where we do business," says Ashton J. Ryan, Jr., President and CEO of First NBC Bank, the presenting sponsor of the 2015 JEDCO Challenge. "The entrepreneurial spirit has always played a major role in thriving economies and we see that infusion of new ideas and products taking hold throughout Jefferson Parish and the remainder of the River Region. Through the JEDCO Challenge, we are furthering our role within the entrepreneurial community and finding new ways to engage and assist companies as they journey toward growth and sustainability. This is a wonderful partnership and we are proud to be a part of this event."

         In 2013, the pitch competition was born out of a challenge posed by Jefferson Parish start-up, Cordina New Orleans Cocktails. The company, which creates on-the-go adult drinks and the Slush Puppie/ICEE pouches, asked JEDCO to host a pitch competition for local entrepreneurs. Not only did the event showcase the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Jefferson Parish, but it also connected our up-and-comers with today's business leaders through direct capital, business resources and mentorship.

         In the competition's second year, five finalists competed in front of an audience of 150 people. With sponsorships from seventeen local companies, the 2014 winner, Terry Ancar of PortaVision Medical, walked away from the competition with close to $80,000 in direct capital and in-kind services. Terry used the prize package to continue developing the NeoRay, an x-ray system used to enhance the care of premature babies.

         The entrepreneur challenge will be held during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW) for the third year in a row. NOEW is the annual festival celebrating business, innovation and advanced thinking in New Orleans. The event engages a dynamic global network of entrepreneurs, investors, corporations, non-profits, students and professionals to support growing companies and elevate entrepreneurial successes through eight days of discussion, debate, education, competition and celebration.

         The deadline to apply for The JEDCO Challenge is Dec. 12, 2014.

         For more information

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