CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) will host its first Veteran and Heroes to Agriculture Pitch Competition in March of 2023. The competition aims to help Veteran and Heroes to Agriculture members by developing business plans and awarding funds for capital investments. The top prize will be $10,000 to build or expand an agribusiness. Applicants can start signing up this month on the WVDA website.
“The largest barrier to entry for any inspiring farmer is capital. We hope to utilize program dollars to invest in small business owners looking to make their mark on West Virginia agriculture. This is a great opportunity for someone to present a business plan and hopefully be rewarded for their effort,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt.
The “Shark Tank”-style competition gives members just five minutes to explain to a panel of judges how the prize money could build or improve their agribusiness. The winner will receive $10,000. Five runners-up will walk away with $5,000 each and ten others will receive $2,500.
The first round of the competition involves Vets and Heroes to Ag members filling out an application describing their operation and the plans they have for the business. From there, the finalists will be notified they have been selected to pitch their idea in front of the judges on March 11 at Cedar Lakes Conference Center. The finalists will have access to a “pitch coach” through the WVU Launch Lab to help them put together their presentation.
“What we are looking for is members to come up with a pitch on how to make their business into a successful venture that will impact the veterans and heroes community as well as the state of West Virginia. Whether the contestants are looking to build a new barn, buy equipment or install fencing, the prize money can be used for capital improvements to make their dreams come true,” said Veterans and Heroes to Agriculture Manager Sierra Cox.
The application and rules for the Veterans and Heroes to Ag Pitch Competition can be found on the WVDA website at https://agriculture.wv.gov/. The deadline to apply is January 16. The finalists will be notified in February. You must be a member of the West Virginia Veterans and Heroes to Agriculture program to compete.
If you have questions or would like to sign up for the program, contact Sierra Cox at 304-558-2210 or firstname.lastname@example.org.