Business ideas to enter in a local competition | News, Sports, Jobs

WELLSBURG — Several individuals or groups with ideas for new business ventures will compete for several thousand dollars to help them achieve their goals in a competition to be held at Brooke High School on Tuesday.

The Ohio Valley Business Alliance Corp. will hold its first business pitch competition at 5:30 p.m. in the school auditorium.

Admission is free for the event, which OVBAC member David Klick expects to be very interesting.

“We have a lot of people who have put a lot of time and thought into their projects,” Klick said, noting the seven competitors from Brooke and Hancock counties with ambitions for a wide range of businesses.

Klick co-chairs the event with Dr. Heather Stone and Joan Simonetti.

He is one of several alliance members with past ties to the Wellsburg Chamber of Commerce and the former Brooke County Economic Development Authority, which had partnered for several years to run business pitch competitions.

“This year I would say we have the best candidates since I have been involved in the field. And that’s the biggest pot for the winners,” he said.

Klick said that through the generosity of local businesses and other organizations, the group will split $8,000 between the two winners, with the largest amount going to whoever places first.

He noted that prize money will be paid out as the two business concepts are developed.

Klick said the competition’s format was similar to television’s “Shark Tank,” with contestants having a limited time to pitch their entries to a five-judge panel.

The five are: Luke Diserio, general manager of American Muscle Docks and Fabrication; Kelly Jeffers, winner of the latest business pitch; Ingrid Loy, marketing trainer at West Liberty University; Jay McLaughlin, vice president of accounting and finance at Wheeling-Nippon Steel; and Weirton’s attorney, Michael Simon.

Each of the candidates was tasked with preparing a presentation that included their estimated business costs, their target market, and their vision for the business in two to five years.

“We have a lot of people who have put a lot of time and thought into their projects,” Klick said.

To help candidates prepare, the Ohio Valley Business Alliance invited them to the West Virginia Small Business Development Center’s Inspiring You Seminar Series and referred them to other resources.

Held at the Brooke County Public Library, the free seminars offer guidance to aspiring and existing business owners on topics ranging from developing a business plan to marketing their goods and services to potential clients to understanding financial statements.

In addition to event sponsors, Klick expressed thanks to the Weirton, Follansbee, and Wellsburg Chambers of Commerce, who also provided support; and Brooke County school officials for making the auditorium available to the group.

He said the group hopes to drive economic growth across the Northern Panhandle and sees events like the contest as a way to support that.

“We think that could really be enough to move the needle for someone,” Klick said.

(Scott can be contacted at [email protected])

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