Entrepreneurs drive the economy much more than people think; the Kauffman Foundation noted that startups create over 3 million jobs in the United States yearly. Successful entrepreneurs rely on a culture and environment (we call it an ecosystem) where they can gather inspiration, ideas, and resources to launch their businesses. We know in the Chippewa Valley that our economy’s future lies in their ability to be successful. Every day, the Chippewa Economic Development Corporation (CEDC) works to strengthen the Chippewa Valley entrepreneurial ecosystem. One way we do this is by spending the month of November celebrating National Entrepreneur Month and partnering with other local organizations to highlight our entrepreneurs. This year, the CEDC joined Eau Claire, Menomonie, and Altoona to bring the community Startup Chippewa Valley Week, happening November 16-20, 2022.
Startup Chippewa Valley Week, the largest entrepreneurship event in the region, is a weeklong series of in-person and virtual events to increase awareness surrounding the local startup ecosystem as well as inspire and equip the community to celebrate and support the entrepreneurial spirit that exists in the area. Startup Chippewa Valley Week will feature over 20, largely free, in-person and virtual events focused on connecting, educating, and celebrating entrepreneurs of all types throughout the region. More than a dozen community partner organizations are leading the workshops, panels, networking events, and discussions that will provide training, skills, and development opportunities for participants.
The cornerstone of Startup Chippewa Valley Week is the Chippewa HATCH an Idea Pitch Competition. A competition similar to Shark Tank, six entrepreneurs from all over the Chippewa Valley will present their latest and greatest business ideas to a panel of judges and a live audience. The judges comprise of some of the Chippewa Valley’s most successful financial and business leaders, and the entrepreneur that they choose wins $3,000. Audience members of all ages, including middle and high-school age children, will be able to vote for their favorite pitch via an internet poll. By contributing their feedback on the pitches, the HATCH event plants the seed for the next generation to be inspired and motivated by the entrepreneurs who pitch, and encourage them to think about running a business of their own.