Virginia to hold business plan competition next year

Virginia will host a world business plan competition next year.

Overseen by the Office of the Secretary of Commerce and Trade, the competition will judge business plans in five “strategic growth sectors,” including agriculture, bio-life sciences, cyber security, energy and social entreprenuerism.

Brian Coy, Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s press secretary, said the business plan competition is part of an effort to diversify Virginia’s economy.

“In light of a decline in federal spending, Virginia needs to find new ways to develop industries that are not reliant on federal dollars,” Coy said Friday. “Currently, we are extremely reliant on the defense industry.”

Coy added, “In this competition, we are looking at sectors that are in the state, can thrive here and cannot be affected by a decline in federal spending. Agriculture is our biggest industry. That’s an industry that relies on Virginia dirt and cannot be outsourced.”

According to Coy, small businesses are a part of McAuliffe’s plan to “build a new Virginia economy.”

“All these small start ups, whether they are social media oriented or agricultural in nature, create jobs for our citizens,” Coy said.

In a news release, Maurice Jones, secretary of Commerce and Trade, echoed Coy’s sentiment.

“Entrepreneurs create jobs, they generate wages for our residents and they help our communities grow, prosper and raise their children,” Jones stated.

All companies, whether domestic or international, are eligible for the competition. Finalists will be announced early in the summer of 2015 and will be partnered with mentors to help finalize their pitches to a panel of independent judges.

Winners will be awarded $1 million in prizes and must be willing to locate or do business in Virginia or use intellectual property from a Virginia university or research lab.

Contact staff writer Henry Culvyhouse at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or hculvyhouse@nvdaily.com