NCW — The mission of the Supernova Business Launch Competition is to create and expand small businesses throughout North Central Washington while focusing on barriers to employment and the social determinants of health in our region.

On Aug. 20, one rising star will receive a $10,000 cash prize, along with in-kind products and services currently valued at more than $8,500.

The North Central Washington Economic Development District has partnered with a number of the local chambers of commerce to sponsor and support the competition. Two rounds of public voting will take place in July and early August, which will help determine the overall winner.

Applicants receive additional business points if they are or are willing to hire someone with barriers to employment, which include veterans, justice-served individuals, those with language barriers, disabilities, no high school diploma, or GED, women and underserved minorities.

Bonus points are also given to those in opportunity zones, have a business that focuses on transportation, access to healthy, affordable foods, workforce housing, or sustainable tourism.

Currently, we have 30 applicants from all over the region; we will accept applications and business plans until June 15.

Our applicants come from all backgrounds and each with a unique story and business plan. We have one applicant looking to start a business for her blind son. Two applicants are from Western Washington looking to relocate to the area, and several federally recognized tribal members have submitted applications.

Not only does the competition focus on barriers and social determinants on health, but we also focus on the applicants — making free courses, workshops and events available to them. We recently put 23 applicants through the WVC Center for Entrepreneurship Startup Business Bootcamp, a six-week online program that helped our applicants work on their business plans.

Applicants will have the ability to participate in a social media/marketing course and a QuickBooks class, as well as learn from the Washington State Microenterprise Association’s alternative lending options from traditional banking. We plan to host a cultural sensitivity class in August and a question-and-answer online event on hiring individuals with disabilities.

Applicants will continue to benefit from being a participant in Supernova long after the event ends through the connections they are making. Once the event is over, all of our community sponsors will have access to the vetted business plans to connect with the applicants after the competition. The goal in doing this to help our smaller, rural communities connect with potential new businesses that make sense for their communities.

Supernova is in its first year, and the NCWEDD could not be happier with the quality of applicants we are seeing and the engagement from our partners in supporting the success of small businesses in our region.

For information, go to supernovablc.com. The NCWEDD also is offering a series of workshops for applicants and other businesses. For details, visit ncwedd.com.

Alyce Brown is executive director of the NCW Economic Development District. She can be reached at 509-899-9321 or director@ncwedd.com.

Nevonne McDaniels: 664-7151

mcdaniels@wenatcheeworld.com