The Delta Regional Authority is working to identify and nurture entrepreneurs from the Delta and the so-called “Alabama Black Belt” through The Delta Challenge, a series of entrepreneurship pitch competitions, and by offering support to organizations that foster entrepreneurship.
Up to 16 Entrepreneurship Network Fellows will be named through Delta Challenge pitch competitions that will take place in five cities across the Delta, including one in Jonesboro on Feb. 28. Others will be held in Cape Girardeau, Missouri; Ruston, Louisiana; Jackson, Mississippi; and Linden, Alabama.
The Challenge is part of the Authority’s new DRA Entrepreneurship Network, which is meant to strengthen the Delta’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and increase cultural understanding about entrepreneurship. It seeks to address deficiencies in capital, training, and best practices by connecting support organizations, investors, and educators.
“The DRA’s Entrepreneurship Network will provide regional entrepreneurs and support organizations with the additional connections, access, and tools they need to achieve entrepreneurial success and support their local communities,” DRA Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill said in a press release. “Our region’s entrepreneurs have the innovation and creativity to develop highly successful and scalable products and ideas to grow our regional economy as well as identify solutions to our region’s greatest challenges.”
DRA also is accepting applications from individuals and non-profit organizations that support entrepreneurs and provide educational services. Representatives from up to 16 support organizations will join the network. The winners of the Delta Challenge competitions and those 16 support organizations will be designated as Entrepreneurship Network Fellows and will participate in New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW) March 20-27, the news release said.
The Delta Challenge winners will pitch their ideas to investors, connect with fellow entrepreneurs and industry experts, and participate in workshops. The support organizations will have access to emerging entrepreneurs and gain knowledge and training.
NOEW is produced by The Idea Village, which was created in 2000 by a group of New Orleans residents seeking change through entrepreneurship. The Delta Regional Authority is a federal-state partnership created by Congress in 2000 to develop the economies of 252 counties and parishes across eight states.
Instructions for interested entrepreneurs and support organizations can be found at dra.gov/entrepreneur. Applications for both Delta Challenge competitors and the entrepreneurship support organizations open January 15. The entrepreneurship support organizations must submit their applications by midnight Feb. 15. Webinars explaining application guidelines will be hosted on January 27 and February 3.