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Competition Promotes Entrepreneurship in New Orleans

Mark Marich

States and localities are recognizing that business plan competitions can help generate local interest in entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship.

Idea Village, a New Orleans-based entrepreneurial network, has developed an interesting approach with its 504ward program (the name is a play on the New Orleans’ area code). This effort, which provides $200,000 in cash and resources to the winning entrant, asked businesses to provide a business plan or idea that would help create jobs and attract or retain talent in the New Orleans area. In effect, the competition sought to support a “double bottom line” by rewarding businesses that had good ideas that would also help support New Orleans rebirth and redevelopment.

This year’s winner was announced on April 18.

playNOLA is a sports and recreation company that plans to manage recreation leagues (e.g. softball, volleyball) targeting young professionals in the New Orleans area. The project is designed not only to make a profit, but to also help attract and retain young people in the community. It will receive an immediate infusion of $100,000 in cash and $100,000 in services and resources donated by the local business community.

Second place went to Launch Pad, a local co-working space, incubator, and provider of support services to entrepreneurs.

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