Delta Regional Authority launches third annual Delta Challenge to spur entrepreneurial ecosystem

September 06, 2016

Competitions to identify dozens of budding entrepreneurs and ideas to grow Delta Entrepreneurship Network 

Winners receive $40,000 in small business development training and access to national investors

MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA – Entrepreneurs from across the Delta region will have the opportunity to win $40,000 in small business training – and access to national and international investors – as part of the Delta Regional Authority’s third annual Delta Challenge pitch competition.

The entrepreneurial competition, which will begin the second week of September and run through November, will select twenty entrepreneurs and sixteen support organizations to be a part of the DRA’s Delta Entrepreneurship Network. A full schedule of the pitch competitions is provided below. The winners will have the opportunity to pitch investors during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (March 2017).

“Our message today is simple: if you’re an entrepreneur in the Delta – or you are someone with an idea of launching a start-up – sign up for the Delta Challenge and give your dream a shot,” said DRA Chairman Chris Masingill. “We created the Delta Challenge and the Delta Entrepreneurship Network because we dream of a day when our part of the world, like Silicon Valley, is synonymous with entrepreneurship. Our region has low taxes and low energy costs, we have access to ports and natural resources – all essential components for attracting and growing businesses. Now we need our hard-working people to step up and test their ideas.”

“Entrepreneurs need to know they don’t have to leave home to find funding or assistance – we will provide them with the funding, the support, and the mentorship they need to grow their business right here in the Delta,” Chairman Masingill added.

Entrepreneurs interested in competing can register for each competition at, where they must submit a business summary at least a week before the competition they plan to attend. 


September 13, 2016 - North Little Rock, AR - Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub

September 20, 2016 - Cape Girardeau, MO - Codefi

September 28, 2016 - Jackson, TN - Lane College

September 29, 2016 - Oxford, MS - University of Mississippi

October 11, 2016 - Livingston, AL - University of West Alabama

November 1, 2016 - Ruston, LA - Louisiana Technical University

The Delta Challenge kicks off with a full-day kickoff event in North Little Rock, AR and over the course of the six competitions will identify up to twenty entrepreneurs and sixteen entrepreneurship support organizations (ESOs).

If selected, entrepreneurs will receive:

  • A fellowship in technical assistance and training to enhance their entrepreneurship capacity and opportunities 
  • An invitation to participate in special investor meetings in New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW)
  • Access to engaging workshops and mentorship from panelists and other industry experts.

“We are thrilled to once again partner with the Delta Regional Authority on the Delta Challenge to support entrepreneurship and innovative thinking in New Orleans and across the region,” said Emily Madero, Acting CEO of The Idea Village. “Our work focuses on the power of entrepreneurship to strengthen our local economy and transform our community, and the Delta Entrepreneurship Network helps apply this principle across the entire Delta Region. We look forward to meeting this year’s cohort when they join us at the 9th annual New Orleans Entrepreneur Week.”

“The Delta Regional Authority has been a steadfast catalyst in expanding access to the types of services and resources that founders from the Delta need to successfully launch new companies,” said Codefi Founder Dr. James Stapleton. “Increasingly, entrepreneurs in the Delta and those we are attracting to our region find resources and talent that rival anywhere in the U.S. The Delta Challenge is another example of an amazing opportunity for local entrepreneurs to connect to individuals and resources that may make the difference between failure and success, or success and giant success.”

The regional pitch competitions will identify two types of entrepreneurs, those that are in their “idea” or pre-revenue phase, and those entrepreneurs that have highly scalable, investable ventures throughout the region, or are in the “post revenue” phase. The deadline for ESOs will be midnight on November 1.

Entrepreneurship support organizations that serve communities and entrepreneurs in the 252 counties and parishes within the DRA’s footprint must submit an application online at outlining the current services they provide and their expectations for utilizing DEN technical assistance and programming.

About the Delta Regional Authority 

The Delta Regional Authority is a federal-state partnership created by Congress in 2000 to help create jobs, build communities, and improve lives through strategic investments in economic development in 252 counties and parishes across eight states. Through its Small Business and Entrepreneurship Initiative, the DRA has invested $9.4 million in small businesses and entrepreneurship in the Delta—creating and retaining 1,340 jobs, training more than 1,400 entrepreneurs, and leveraging $17 million in other public and private investment. Learn more at

About The Idea Village 

In 2000, The Idea Village was formed by a group of New Orleans citizens who believed entrepreneurship is a catalyst for positive change. The Idea Village formalized in 2002 as an independent 501(c)3 non-profit organization with a mission to identify, support, and retain entrepreneurial talent in New Orleans by providing direct service to high impact entrepreneurs, educating the broader community, and supporting initiatives that strengthen our entrepreneurial infrastructure. Since 2000, The Idea Village has provided direct support to over 4,653 New Orleans entrepreneurs by engaging well over 2,600 professionals to allocate 82,000+ consulting hours and $2.8 million in seed capital. In addition, The Idea Village hosts New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, a business festival that has become the platform for the New Orleans entrepreneurial ecosystem. The Idea Village received the Gold Excellence award from the International Economic Development Council for our Entrepreneur Season model in 2012 and we were recognized as a top-three entrepreneurship ecosystem developer in 2014 by the Global Innovation Summit. The Idea Village has also been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Time, USA Today, The New York Times, Business Week, CNN,, Forbes, and Japan’s Nikkei Times, among others. Learn more at


Media Contact: John Collins,