Entrepreneurs sought for competition

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A Wilson-based small business incubator is holding a “Shark Tank”-like contest and will award $18,500 in grants to help local entrepreneurs launch their new ventures.

The Upper Coastal Plain Development Corp. is planning its inaugural DreamFest for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 27 at the Edna Boykin Cultural Center. Contestants must register online by Nov. 30.

“The DreamFest event has been in the planning stage since July and we are officially promoting and marketing the event beginning today,” Upper Coastal Plain CEO Greg Godard said in a Thursday news release.

The contest is modeled after ABC’s “Shark Tank,” a reality show where entrepreneurs pitch their businesses to a panel of investors including Mark Cuban, the billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner.

DreamFest judges will award a $10,000 prize to the first-place winner, $5,000 for second place and $2,500 for third place. There is also a $1,000 award available for the best business plan written and submitted by a high school or college student.

Contestants should register at www.dreamfest2018.info by Nov. 30 to be eligible for DreamFest. Detailed business plans are due by Jan. 4 and can be emailed to Olga Abrams at oabrams@ucpcog.org or delivered to Abrams at the Upper Coastal Plain Business Development Center in downtown Wilson.

Organizers will select six finalists by Jan. 19, and those entrepreneurs will advance to the live competition where a panel of judges will determine the winners.

“The BDC (business development center) has been helping small businesses and entrepreneurs since November 2007 start up and grow their enterprises,” the news release states. “This event will help entrepreneurs finance their ventures.”

For more information, visit www.dreamfest2018.info.