- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 11, 2014

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A series of business pitch competitions in July will focus on minority entrepreneurs.

New Orleans CityBusiness reports (http://bit.ly/1cRqCHE ) PowerMoves.NOLA, an initiative of the New Orleans Startup Fund, is launching July 4 weekend during Essence Fest to connect minority entrepreneurs to a national network of investors and business mentors.

“By spurring innovation, building wealth and creating jobs in our city, this new initiative will become a national model and a catalyst to accelerating economic opportunity and growth for minority businesses,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a news release Tuesday.

There will be three pitch sessions throughout the competition, which is sponsored by Entergy and Chevron.

The first component of the program is the Chevron PowerMoves Pitch on July 5. The session will feature four minority women entrepreneurs. The winning pitch will receive a $25,000 cash prize. Attendees will also select an “audience favorite,” who will be awarded a $5,000 prize.

Two additional pitch sessions, sponsored by Entergy and the New Orleans Startup Fund, will be held July 4 at Mannings Restaurant. The winners of each event will also each receive a $25,000 prize and access to early-stage investors, mentors and advisers.

To participate, eligible businesses must be at least 25 percent owned by an under-represented minority and a minority team member must do the pitch. Winners also will get a relocation subsidy if necessary, technical assistance and office space.

PowerMoves also is offering a Risingstars Boot Camp that will extend startup opportunities to demographic groups that are currently underrepresented in the technology community. Up to 25 early-stage entrepreneurs will be selected to participate in an intense two-day program, July 4-5, to help them build viable companies.

Not only will one participant be selected to receive a $25,000 cash prize, Risingstars will also select up to five entrepreneurs to join the Risingstars mentorship program, and PowerMoves.NOLA will select one entrepreneur to receive a $50,000 fellowship.

Applications for the boot camp will be accepted through April 15.

Leslie Jacobs, CEO of the NOLA Startup Fund, said PowerMoves could grow to be a large-scale event that can level the entrepreneurial landscape in New Orleans.

“When we think about recovery in New Orleans and the startup community, you can’t help but see that it has been unequal,” she said. “This could be a mechanism to expand those opportunities to a greater variety of people.”

For more information about PowerMoves.NOLA, visit www.powermovesnola.org .

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Information from: New Orleans CityBusiness, http://www.neworleanscitybusiness.com

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