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The Drive: Business Pitch Competition is Returning

The Drive, a business pitch competition presented by Inventrek Technology Park, will return in September to award $10,000 in seed money to a local entrepreneur.

An initiative of the Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance, the contest is open to those with a startup idea or expansion of an existing business located within Howard County. Expansion could include increasing square footage, adding a product line, and increasing geographical reach.

Businesses with 100 or fewer employees are eligible to participate.

The competition will take place during a “Shark Tank”-style event at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15 in Ivy Tech’s Hingst Hall. That evening, contestants will pitch their business idea to a panel of judges.

The event will be open to the public, and there’s no cost to attend.

Those wishing to compete, however, must fill out an entry form in advance. The deadline to enter is July 22, with forms available at greaterkokomo.com/thedrive.

The inaugural competition was held in 2019 at Inventrek. A total of 21 local entrepreneurs submitted applications for the contest, with seven selected as finalists.

The judges awarded a total of $10,000 to three pitches, including software development, a solar power storage solution and a door-locking system for schools.

This year, organizers plan to award the entire $10,000 to a single business pitch.

“The Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance is excited to announce the next generation of our business pitch competition,” Lori Dukes, manager of economic development for the Alliance. “It is great timing with the momentum in our community of economic growth and expansion. We are happy to continue to promote the spirit of entrepreneurship and our Inventrek Tech Park.”

All those selected as finalists will receive a one-year membership to the Greater Kokomo Chamber of Commerce to further their access to needed resources and connections to help them grow their business ventures.

This year’s event is sponsored by Purdue University Polytechnic Institute Kokomo, Community First Bank of Indiana, NIPSO, Duke Energy, City of Kokomo, Howard County and Ivy Tech Community College.

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