Gila Valley's first Shark Tank will take place Nov. 1 thanks to funding from the Freeport-McMoRan Foundation.

May 31, 2018
Eastern Arizona Courier

The Gila Valley’s first Shark Tank will take place Nov. 1 at the David M. Player Center for the Arts, thanks to funding from Freeport-McMoRan through its cohort program.

The local program is based on the television show “Shark Tank,” in which entrepreneurs seek investment in a business from millionare business owners. With local business owners portraying the sharks, contestants are given the chance to enter the tank with a business plan and possibly come out with the know-how and prize money.


The sharks will reward the winner of the competition roughly $20,000 in cash rewards throughout the night. Some additional prizes will be in-kind awards such as advertising, rentals and other businessoriented fees pre-paid.

The concept of the tank is to give potential business owners who lack the funds to get their business off the ground a chance to flourish. Also, business owners who already have a business but want to add onto the business and lack the money to do so can present their ideas to the sharks to possibly win the money to sponsor the growth.

To participate, contestants must complete several steps to qualify for the contest. All applicants must complete training at the Small Business Center at Eastern Arizona College or the Dreambuilders program. These requirements are to ensure that the participants have honed and rehearsed their business pitch. Also, there is a $40 dollar application fee per applicant.

“At the Center for the Arts, out front in the patio area, we’ll have food and water, and we’ll have a meet and greet with the contestants and our equivalent of sharks. Then we’ll move inside and have presentations and shark decisions,” said Patrick O'Donnell, executive director of the Graham County Chamber of Commerce and a member of the cohort committee. “(The sharks) are local community people who are successful in the business world and or work with successful businesses.”


O’Donnell told the Courier that even contestants who may not win are eligible to apply for a microloan program. The microloan program will include five individual applications to review on a quarterly basis to potentially receive funding.


Joe Goodman, Graham County planning and zoning director and a member of the cohort committee, told the Courier that the microloans would be based on individual business needs.

“Local First Arizona is a nonprofit organization (that) will receive a grant from Freeport, and then Local First Arizona has a microloan component of what they do to extend loans to for-profit entities,” Goodman said.

 

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