Entrepreneur Competitions & Support Programs Help Arkansas Companies Grow
3 Feb 2022
Arkansas provides the ideal environment for startups to grow. Entrepreneurs benefit from support provided by organizations, like the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, local incubators and educational institutions, along with our low cost of doing business and talented workforce. “Arkansas is an incredible place to start a business because everything an entrepreneur needs is right here, but at a price that is affordable. Essentially, your startup capital can stretch further while you are building,” said J.D. Lowery, Manager, Community and Economic Development for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas.
Support for Arkansas Entrepreneurs
Organizations like Innovate Arkansas provide support for entrepreneurs looking to launch or grow their businesses. Through Innovate Arkansas, over $410 million in investment has been raised, $577 million in revenue and 1,600 jobs created. “We have talented entrepreneurs in Arkansas that need support in raising capital or accelerating their growth. Fortunately we have the organizations in place to provide this and the results are phenomenal,” said Lowery.
More support is coming. In 2021, two entrepreneur support organizations received funding through the SBA’s 2021 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition. These organizations will now have additional resources to help Arkansas entrepreneurs. The Conductor and Science Venture Studio is one of them. Located in Conway, the Conductor is a public-private partnership between Startup Junkie and the University of Central Arkansas. "The Conductor team is thrilled to receive the GAFC prize funding in order to bolster our work with our Health Entrepreneurship Boot Camp programming,” said Jeff Standridge, Managing Director of the Conductor. "The award will allow us to expand access to the program to additional participants and regions, so that we can promote healthcare entrepreneurship opportunities.”
Arkansas Entrepreneur Competitions
Within Arkansas there are several competitions and programs designed to increase the number of startups and help to spur their growth. They bring awareness to companies, create opportunities to connect with other entrepreneurs and funders, and often come with cash prizes or incentives for those participating. Here are a few that every entrepreneur should check out.
#1 Global Entrepreneurship Week Pitch Competition
“The Central Arkansas pitch competition was a collaboration between The Venture Center, Conductor, Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center and Innovate Arkansas, which formed a selection committee and selected pitch participants from a pool of regional applicants.” Three businesses won awards but each participant received one-on-one coaching from a mentor and was able to work with other entrepreneurs on their pitch. Through the event, entrepreneurs became better prepared to pitch their ideas to investors, while making strong connections with local organizations who support entrepreneurship.
#2 Heartland Challenge Startup Competition
The Heartland Challenge is the first global student entrepreneurship competition held in Arkansas and it attracts entrepreneurs from around the world. This year’s winners included people from Arkansas, California, and Oklahoma. The Heartland Challenge helps entrepreneurs by simulating the process of raising venture capital, creating networking opportunities and connecting entrepreneurs with educational and support opportunities.
#3 Arkansas Governor’s Cup Collegiate Business Plan Competition
The Governor’s Cup is an exciting competition with winning entrepreneurs receiving part of a $100,000 prize. In 2021, Nivera Solutions, a company looking to use nanotechnology to create a coat to keep ice off of surfaces to reduce danger, won first place in the high growth sector. Where Simple + Sweet Creamery, an artisanal, high-quality ice cream sourced from local farmers that serves the Northwest Arkansas community through philanthropic, food-insecurity-focused priorities, won in the small business division. This competition brings awareness to ideas, provides funding and learning opportunities for student entrepreneurs.
Electric Cooperatives Provide Additional Support
At the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, we are committed to helping existing business to grow and new businesses to gain a footing and put down roots. Our professional staff can help match your business to loan and grant programs, incentives, and other community-based opportunities to help your business thrive. Business incentives can be found here. Additional support is offered by J.D. Lowery, Manager, Community and Economic Development for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas.