Startup St. Bernard Now Accepting Entries for 2018 Pitch Competition

​Meraux Foundation and St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation Partner to Support Innovation, Growth in the Parish


St. Bernard Parish, La. (Dec. 6, 2017) – The entry period is open for the fourth annual Startup St. Bernard competition, presented by the Meraux Foundation and the St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation. Startup St. Bernard seeks out dedicated, enthusiastic entrepreneurs who want to grow their business to the next level. Entrepreneurs are invited to apply for the opportunity to pitch their business to a panel of judges during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week in March 2018. The entry period will close at midnight (Central Time) on February 1, 2018.

“We are excited to present the fourth year of Startup St. Bernard,” said Rita Gue, president of the Meraux Foundation. “This competition gets better every year, and it’s thrilling to meet the innovative, passionate entrepreneurs who enter.”

The “Shark Tank” style public event is open to any business that agrees to locate their base of operations to St. Bernard Parish, help improve St. Bernard Parish, and become part of the St. Bernard Parish entrepreneur ecosystem. Previous winners have included 40 Arpent Brewing Company, Christie’s Dreams Seafood, and Reactive Digital Systems, LLC.

“St. Bernard is a land of opportunity for businesses, especially startups,” said Andrew Jacques, the executive director of the St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation. “We’re minutes away from downtown New Orleans but the land, labor, and costs of doing business here are lower. Plus, the support network for businesses is strong – we’re a community that cares about each other.”

The prize package includes a mix of cash and in-kind donations. In the past, in-kind donations have included services ranging from legal and accounting to marketing and public relations.

The Startup St. Bernard Challenge is open to any startup business that will:

1.      Locate their base of operations to St. Bernard Parish for at least 2 years

2.     Improve St. Bernard Parish

3.     Become part of the St. Bernard Parish entrepreneur ecosystem

To qualify, entrants must be in business for 5 years or less or be an existing business creating a new division or entity; have yearly revenue under $1,000,000; have 5 employees or less; and cannot be a non-profit.

Judges will also score entries based on how the startups will improve St. Bernard by creating jobs, investing capital into the parish, improving the image of St. Bernard, and/or contributing to the growth of the core Startup St. Bernard sectors: creative digital media, cultural arts/cultural economy, arts/entertainment, advanced manufacturing/value-added manufacturing, logistics, and the seafood industry.

1.  Submit Your Business Plan Online
Entrepreneurs must complete the entry form and submit a business plan at by midnight on February 1, 2018.
2.  Judges Select Finalists
A panel of judges with business expertise will review the submissions and score the entries. The five highest-scoring businesses will be selected to “pitch” the judges at the Startup St. Bernard entrepreneur challenge.
3.  Finalists Pitch for a Chance to Win
Finalists will pitch their businesses to a panel of judges in a TED Talks-style presentation format. The live public event will take place during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week in March 2018.

About the Arlene and Joseph Meraux Charitable Foundation
The Meraux Foundation is a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was established by Arlene Meraux to benefit the community of St. Bernard Parish by leveraging its landholdings. Today, the Foundation’s board of directors is presided over by Arlene’s niece, Rita Gue, and consists of members Floyd Gue, Bill Haines, Chris Haines, and Sidney Torres, III. Guided by Arlene’s vision, the Board is implementing an innovative strategy to create lasting change and build a better St. Bernard. The Meraux Foundation is a founding sponsor and organizer of Startup St. Bernard.
About St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation
St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation is 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2005 to promote economic development and commercial growth of St. Bernard Parish and to lead the initiation of partnering organizations seeking to improve the quality of life for St. Bernard Parish citizens. To achieve this mission, SBEDF primarily engages in business attraction, retention, and expansion. Additionally, workforce development and policy development are pursued as key initiatives to drive economic development activities. The Board of Directors consists of 28 voting members and 8 non-voting honorary members and public officials, all of which serve as volunteers to the organization. SBEDF’s work is made possible through the general support of its investors, St. Bernard Parish Government, St. Bernard Port, Harbor and Terminal District, the Arlene and Joseph Meraux Charitable Foundation, Cox Communications, Gulf Coast Bank and Trust Company, Chalmette Refining, and Valero Energy at the Champion Level, the Law Offices of Sidney Torres, III, Associated Terminals and Atmos Energy at the Pillars Level, and Park Investments, Boasso Global, and Palmisano Group at the Community Leaders level.
About New Orleans Entrepreneur Week
New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW) is an annual festival celebrating the best of business innovation and entrepreneurship throughout the Southeast. Produced by The Idea Village, in partnership with Solomon Group, NOEW brings together a unique community of thought leaders, influencers, and rising talent to engage in a dialogue surrounding the future of business, technology, and 21st century skill set. One part conference and one part festival, NOEW’s keynote speakers, summits, panels, and hands-on workshops are designed to spark inspiration and new thinking.