Flint native W. David Tarver, founder and president of the Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative, has announced details of two new business challenge competitions that will be held in conjunction with the third annual Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium in Flint, October 19 through 21. According to a press statement, the symposium brings entrepreneurs and leaders in business, academia, community organizations and government, together to come up with business solutions that bring economic opportunity and quality of life improvements to urban communities.
Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation offering programming and resources that encourage, facilitate and enable the development of for-profit businesses that explicitly and intentionally address the needs of urban communities.
“Urban entrepreneurship isn’t a social program; it’s business innovation that produces needed products and services for urban communities, or makes a significant number of jobs available to urban residents,” Tarver explained in the press statement. “The business challenge competitions represent urban entrepreneurship in action and address specific areas of concern for Flint and other cities.”
The two challenges are the 2016 Urban Infrastructure Challenge and the 2016 Urban Jobs Challenge. In the first challenge, participants must develop a business model that will address an important infrastructure need experienced by Flint and other communities that have similar issues. It can represent a product or a service, but must offer a new solution that embodies significant innovation. Entries must address one of three infrastructure elements: transportation, telecommunication, or civic engagement. Participants must be high school graduates, 18 years of age or older. The competition is for individuals or new teams, not established companies. The winning entry will receive a $2,500 cash award and an advisory session on strategy, funding, marketing, and more with SkyPoint Ventures of Flint and also with the U-M Center of Entrepreneurship.
The 2016 Urban Jobs Challenge seeks to identify innovative business startups that will result in a significant number of entry-level jobs in places like Flint. The business model may represent a product or service but must take into account the actual circumstances of the Flint community and describe a profitable, sustainable, scalable business that embodies significant innovation. Participation requirements and prizes are similar to those of the Urban Infrastructure Challenge. Deadline for submission is October 4. Andrew R. Highsmith, author of Demolition Means Progress, will speak at the event on October 20.
Tarver has undergraduate and graduate degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan. At age 30, he launched Telecom Analysis Systems, Inc. which sold in 1995 for $30 million. Working as group president for the company’s buyer, Tarver then spearheaded development of a telecommunications group with a market value of more than $2 billion. He left that business in 1999 to devote more time to family and community service.
“To be viable in the long run, the Flint community must change its story from crisis and despair to entrepreneurial innovation and economic revitalization,” Tarver said.
Registration information and event details can be found at www.urbanei.org. For corporate sponsorship information, call the Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative at 313.457.2050 or e-mail email@example.com.
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