TEXARKANA, Ark. (KTAL/KMSS) – Initial pitches are set for March 31 in the inaugural “Pitch It Texarkana!” entrepreneurial competition aimed at drawing great business ideas and talent to the area.

The competition, organized by a group of current and former graduates of Leadership Texarkana, is an opportunity for eligible contestants to make their “Shark Tank-like” pitch to a panel of judges in hopes of winning a cash prize. Eligible entrants must be at least 18 years old and have a product, service, or technology that is their own creation.

The program aims to inspire current and future startup companies in the area and promote a community of collaboration. Mason White is hopeful that the competition’s success will help grow business in Texarkana.

“Imagine if Texarkana USA was a magnet for talent and entrepreneurship,” organizer Mason White said. “Graduating seniors would be more compelled to stay and pursue their dreams locally, startup businesses would thrive with a higher quality applicant pool and a wealth of resources, and Texarkana would be known throughout our region as a hub of innovation and opportunity.”

The idea of the best and brightest that Texarkana has to offer not leaving is a welcome one according to Texarkana USA Chamber of Commerce.

“We want to grow businesses here in Texarkana, we want to see new businesses formed with our own talent, and with that, we can hire more people in our area,” Robbin Bass, Director of Business Retention and Expansion at the chamber said. “So, you know, high school students coming right out of school, some may be going to college, some may not, some may want to stay right here and go to work.

The highest scoring idea will earn a $5,000 cash prize, while second and third-place winners will be awarded $2,500 and $1,000 respectively. The goal is for applicants to think outside the box, harness their talent and creativity, pitch an innovative idea, and see a path to entrepreneurial success in Texarkana USA.

For more information about “Pitch It Texarkana!” rules, to get an entry form or register to attend visit pitchittexarkana.com