Looking for a silver bullet to heal Rhode Island’s jobs picture? Don’t bother, one doesn’t exist.
But if you want evidence that good things are happening in the Ocean State, look no further than the 2014 Rhode Island Business Plan Competition.
This year’s version, the 11th since its founding in 2000, has been holding its standard free workshops leading up to the awarding of winning prizes in May.
The seven-month program, which includes an elevator-pitch contest in addition to the three workshops, attracts aspiring entrepreneurs from across a broad region, although if you reach the semifinals, you are required to commit to use any prize winnings to start or continue operations in Rhode Island. Among previous winners that are going strong in the region are FarSounder Inc., ShapeUp, Newport Biodiesel and ProThera Biologics.
As for the prizes, this year’s competition is awarding $200,000 in cash and services to winners and finalists, with the top winner of the three tracks – entrepreneur, student and technology – eligible to receive up to $50,000 in cash. It could be more than that, however.
A little more than three years ago, Ximedica co-founder Stephen Lane famously challenged the business community at the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce annual dinner to increase the prize pool to $500,000. His goal was to turn Rhode Island into the “Startup State.”
It was a great idea then and it still is. All it needs is for the community to come forward (as opposed to sit back) and support the entrepreneurial talent that is here. •