By Jessica Tuggle
TREASURE COAST - The four-county area of Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin and Okeechobee has been nicknamed "The Research Coast," a happening place for entrepreneurs to get their start in the world.
Those business-minded individuals will have a big chance to network, potentially find investors and make their names and ideas known in an upcoming business plan competition.
A not-for-profit group, the Research Coast Principium Foundation, is dedicated to developing economic opportunity by facilitating interaction between professionals, investors supporting organizations and the emerging regional business community, according to a press release.
Michael Corbit, regional talent acquisition manager at Workforce Solutions, an organization that analyzes labor market needs to build an integrated workforce development system for jobseekers and employers, is among the board of directors. He is excited about the business plan competition, a first for the region.
The idea behind the competition is to help entrepreneurs and local businesses gain exposure and compete for cash prizes, Mr. Corbit said.
At the same time entrepreneurs are putting themselves forward, the foundation is also looking for mentors in the community, retired or semi-retired professionals who could help guide, direct or even become involved in the new businesses, he said.
"We are exposing these companies to successful business leaders who reside in the region to potentially become mentors to these companies," Mr. Corbit said.
Kevin Barry, a partner in the Vero Beach law firm of Rossway, Moore, Taylor and Swan, is also on the foundation's board of directors.
Young and emerging businesses will find great benefits working with mentors in their industries, and the potential for getting angel investors or venture capitalists is quite great, he said.
"It brings all the elements of the community together," Mr. Barry said.
For 20 years, Mr. Barry worked in international law firms in New York and Boston, has had previous experience with business plan competitions and is glad to bring that mindset to the Research Coast.
The competition is open to companies in all four counties, however, bonus points could apply to companies that are considered "qualified target industries." According to Enterprise Florida, a public-private organization working to facilitate job growth statewide, the areas are: clean tech, life sciences, information technology, aviation/aerospace, logistics and distribution, defense and homeland security, financial/professional services and manufacturing.
All companies will be asked to prepare a submission package, which includes a PowerPoint presentation, an executive summary and a simple financial summary.
The deadline to submit an application is Jan. 7, and the date of the final competition is March 21 at Indian River State College in Vero Beach, a press release said.
For more information, visit www.rcbiznovation.com.