Competition to Award $40,000 to Delta Entrepreneurs

The Delta Bridge Project in Phillips County launched a business plan competition Monday for entrepreneurs willing to start businesses in Helena-West Helena, the Phillips County seat.

A first-place winner will receive a prize of $25,000 and second place will receive $15,000. Both winners must agree to use the prize money to convert their winning ideas into startup businesses in Helena.

The Delta Bridge Project will accept competition applications at HelenaStartupChallenge.com until March 31. To help entrepreneurs refine their ideas, the application contains much of the information included in a business plan. Applicants need not be residents of Helena.

Local business leaders will judge contest applications, choosing up to six finalists to submit full business plans and compete for the prize money.

Judges will consider entries' likelihood of success and overall fit for the community, as well as commercial potential, market factors, teams' management capability and financial strength.

"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 startup funding," said Bev Hargraves, a judge for the competition, in a news release. "Small business creation is a vital part of reviving the local economy and a source of pride for residents in Phillips County."

Hargraves is owner and president of Hargraves Insurance Agency Inc. of Helena.

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. The leadership of Southern Bancorp of Arkadelphia, in partnership with the Walton Family Foundation in Bentonville, began developing the Delta Bridge Project in 2003.