This letter to the editor originally appeared in the April 12th edition of the St. Bernard Voice.
Often times, the work of economic developers involve non-disclosure agreements, confidential business plans, and proprietary information of expanding businesses.
Because of the regularly quiet nature of our work, “Startup St. Bernard” is especially rewarding. Each year, the St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation partners with the Meraux Foundation and The Idea Village to help propel entrepreneurs’ concepts by holding a “shark-tank” style pitch competition. Instead of closely guarding prospective projects, this event allows us to publicly celebrate startups, their innovative concepts, and the business-friendly nature of St. Bernard Parish.
Congratulations to this year’s winner, Schmelly’s Dirt Farm! Schmelly’s is a compost and collection startup that shows the capacity for scalability all while serving a public interest of reducing pollution. Our two runner ups, Breathing Waters and Da Parish Kayaks, both have promising futures.
Finally, this competition would not be possible without the staggering generosity of our donors. This year’s winner walked away with $40,000 in cash and over $43,000 in in-kind services designed to scale their business. And new this year, both runner ups left with $5,000 in seed money to help develop their startups thanks to the support of our deep bench of prize package donors.
Please join me in congratulating Schmelly’s, Breathing Waters, and Da Parish Kayaks on their aspirational presentations and futures!
Andrew P. Jacques
St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation