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Entrepreneurs with a sustainability pitch could win $20,000 in Kitsap Bank contest

By Tim Kelly

Today on Earth Day, Kitsap Bank is announcing a competition called Edg3 Fund that will highlight sustainability initiatives by small businesses, and will include community input in selecting one business to receive a $20,000 award. 

 “It’s for entrepreneurs who are dedicated to growing our community economically, socially and environmentally,” explained Shannon Childs, the bank’s marketing director.

Those are the three aspects represented by the numeral that looks like a backward “E” in Edg3 Fund (yes, it rhymes with hedge fund — intentionally). The aim of the contest is not just to pick a winner, but to discover and promote unique and creative ideas that small businesses are developing. 

Part of Edg3 Fund’s appeal for the bank is that “it reaches a different demographic than maybe we currently reach,” Kitsap Bank president and chief operating officer Tony George said. “I anticipate we’re going get (applications from) all kinds of different companies that we don’t even know are out there.”

A six-week application period for businesses will open in June, and after that an independent panel of evaluators will review the applications and select a group of 10 to 15 semifinalists. Those businesses will have a video presentation of their Edg3 Fund proposal posted on Kitsap Bank’s website and social media sites, and public comments will help determine the finalists, Childs said.

The contest will conclude in September with an award ceremony — tentatively scheduled for Islandwood on Bainbridge Island — where finalists will make an in-person presentation in front of judges and a live audience. The judges will convene after the final presentations and then announce the winner of the $20,000 cash prize.

“It is going to be subjective. The winner may not be truly the best idea, it might just be the best pitch, and that’s part of the deal,” George said. “It’s all about telling your story.”

The prize amount is in the neighborhood of what entrepreneurs typically hope to raise through an online crowdfunding campaign, and that’s by design.

“We want to target those (businesses) that don’t normally qualify for commercial bank financing — the guy doing it on a shoestring,” CEO Steve Politakis said.

“We realize that one of biggest barriers for entrepreneurs can be lack of funding, and we want to be able to help fund some of those great ideas that are in our back yard,” Childs said.

Any for-profit business operating in a community served by Kitsap Bank is eligible to enter. The company has branches in Kitsap, Jefferson, Clallam, Mason, Pierce and King counties in Western Washington.

There are no restrictions on number of employees, annual sales or other such criteria for Edg3 Fund applicants. Childs said they expect potential entrants will “self-select” and that applicants will be businesses for which a $20,000 infusion would be a significant amount of money.

Only one will collect the prize money, but executive vice president and chief financial officer Alan Crain noted that the contest will provide valuable exposure to other businesses that enter.

“We also think not just whoever’s the winner, but for the other participants, it will give them visibility that might give them access to funding” in the future, he said.


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