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PA Women Pitch Business Plans in Competition

Pennsylvania women have the opportunity to take part in the commonwealth’s first Business Plan Competition for women, where they will make pitches in front of a panel of judges for a cash prize.

Women own about 7.8 million businesses in the United States, according to the National Women’s Business council.

“They play a really integral role in our economy at the local, state and national level,” Ashley Mostek, executive director of the Pennsylvania Commission for Women, said. “They’re job creators; they’re an important part of our economy on all levels.”

That’s why the Pennsylvania Commission for Women and the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) are hosting the competition.

“We sort of view it as sort of an opportunity for them to gain the experience to really pitch to investors,” Mostek said. “And even for the women who are attending that day, to see what it really takes to develop a business plan and to go through the steps of doing that.”

The competition is open to women who started their businesses on or after January 1st, 2012.

They will undergo an application and interview process, and the NAWBO chapters in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Northeast Pennsylvania will each pick a finalist who will compete at the 2014 Women’s Mentorship Symposium September 30th at Pittsburgh’s Westin Convention Center Hotel.

The finalist who presents the best “fast-pitch” business plan will receive a $10,000 cash prize to help them implement their proposal.

“At that competition there will be a panel of judges, including Lori Greiner, who is the “warm blooded shark” on the hit entrepreneurial business show 'Shark Tank,' and they will decide the winner of the competition,” Mostek said.

Other judges include Julia Hearthway, the secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, and Renee Amoore, the founder and president of the Amoore Group, Inc., which offers consultation and management services to various agencies and businesses.

“I think for anyone starting a business, it’s certainly challenging, especially in the first few years,” Mostek said. “And so our goal is really to provide a really unique opportunity that will empower women and really not only the finalists, but also anyone who is even applying.”

Interested women business owners must submit an “Intent to Compete” form, which can be found on NAWBO’s website, by August 14th.

Jess is from Elizabeth Borough, PA and is a junior at Duquesne University with a double major in journalism and public relations. She was named as a fellow in the WESA newsroom in May 2013.