Last year's Business Challenge winners will soon be joined a new crop for 2017. From left

Young entrepreneurs can win prizes in northwestern B.C.

ThriveNorth Business Challenge returns; now in its third year

A northwest competition to encourage and help finance younger entrepreneurs is back for its third year.

As in its first two years, the business challenge organized by ThriveNorth offers a chance for young entrepreneurs to make business pitches before a panel of judges with the prospect of taking home top prizes of $10,000.

This year, the final pitch competition will be held in Prince Rupert and there’s now an option to vote online.

And there won’t be any runners up, only prizes for the winners, elevating the stakes.

There’s a best new business category for any business that has yet to launch and is open to people between the ages of 18 and 28 and a similar category for people between the ages of 29 and 39.

And there’s a best growth category for a business now operating and looking to expand that’s open to people between the ages of 18 and 29. The first category was divided into two age groups to recognize different levels of experience and knowledge based on age, said Megan te Boekvorst.

She’s from Futurpreneur Canada, a national business development organization that’s responsible for ThriveNorth.

The top prize in each category as chosen by a panel of judges is $10,000. There is also one award for $5,000 as voted by the audience at the final event.

Aside from the competition, ThriveNorth also organizes workshops where young entrepreneurs can learn from those who have established businesses.

To date ThriveNorth has provided an estimated $700,000 in the region which includes money for 49 young entrepreneurs resulting in 79 jobs, indicates information provided by Futurpreneur Canada.

The deadline to enter this year’s competition is March 31. Applicants receive online training to develop their sales pitches and there is a two-day semi final event in both Terrace and in Prince Rupert leading to the final Prince Rupert event.

ThriveNorth had its start in late 2014 and was intended as a five-year program worth $5 million to be provided by the BG Group, the original promoter of the Prince Rupert LNG project.

But with BG Group’s new owner, Shell, now having canceled the LNG project, the continued existence of ThriveNorth is undecided.

“We have a commitment to the end of 2017 but we cannot confirm anything after that,” said te Boekvorst.

She did say Futurreneur itself is committed to continuing to help young businesspeople in the northwest region.

 

 

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