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Businesses in Covington, Florence are Finalists in Cincinnati Pitch Competition

ArtWorks has named its eight finalists to be accepted in the 2015 Big Pitch program presented by U.S. Bank -- and three of the businesses are from Northern Kentucky.

The finalists represent the creative small businesses that will participate in ArtWorks' 10-week mentorship program and business pitch competition to win up to $20,000 in business grants. 

Among the finalists are Grateful Grahams, the Covington-based maker of graham crackers and other awesome things; Roebling Point Books & Coffee, the Covington-based cafe/bookstore where you can always find meetings of various minds -- and soon, a Red Bike station, too; and Florence-based Butcher Betties Meats & Sweets, the Friendly Market's female veteran-owned butcher shop specializing in local, natural, organic, grass-fed meats. 

The other five finalists from Cincinnati are Brush Factory, Hazel Brown Photography, Original Thought Required, We Have Become Vikings, and Cut and Sewn.

As part of the ten-week mentorship program, each finalist will be paired with a business mentor and U.S. Bank Small Business Specialist to help them strategically develop their next stage of growth, refine their business plan, and craft their five-minute pitch. The program will culminate in a public event on August 27 when, after submitting their final business plans, each entrepreneur will deliver their final pitch to an expert panel of judges.

The top business, based on their pitch and business plan, will be awarded a $15,000 business grant. The audience will also have an opportunity to vote for the recipient of an additional $5,000 grant based on the pitch. 

“This is an amazing group,” says Caroline Creaghead, Director of ArtWorks Creative Enterprise, “and the diversity of businesses that applied attests to Cincinnati’s growing need for small business support for working creatives. Our hope is that Big Pitch can connect these eight businesses with the support they need to grow and thrive. This is the type of creative talent that we want to retain and support.”  

While ArtWorks’ entrepreneurship initiatives have focused on education and business training through CO.STARTERS and their summer apprentice programs, ArtWorks developed Big Pitch in 2014 in partnership with U.S. Bank to provide in-depth mentorship, exposure, and funding opportunities for more established creative businesses.  
"The eight finalists are a true representation of our city's vibrant and creative entrepreneurial talent," U.S. Bank Business Banking Specialist Michael Howard says. "In partnering with ArtWorks, U.S. Bank has been given the opportunity to help equip creative small businesses with the financial training and tools that may support their continued success. We are excited to work with this year's finalists."

Noble Denim owner Chris Sutton won the $15,000 grant in 2014. The small-batch denim company leveraged the grant and business plan support from U.S. Bank to expand its line of American-made jeans and launch a sister company called Victor. First runner-up Matt Madison of Madisono’s Gelato gained invaluable support from his Big Pitch mentor, Roger David, who helped Madison to expand distribution of his product to 39 new Kroger locations. 

Regarding his Big Pitch experience, Madison says, “Being part of the Big Pitch program gave me the courage to take necessary steps to get to that place in the future where I wanted my business to be. I really discovered a vision for Madisono’s Gelato through the process.”\

-Staff report

Photo via Roebling Point Books & Coffee