The MEDC, SBDC, city officials and others held an announcement ceremony Wednesday at UTPB’s Center for Energy and Economic Diversification in Midland County.

The MEDC and SBDC will partner on the Midland Entrepreneurial Challenge, which SBDC Regional Director Enrique Romero described as a “mini ‘Shark Tank,’” the popular TV show that allows entrepreneurs the opportunity to get investments for their businesses and ideas.

The MEDC is contributing $250,000 in the first year of the program. Businesses can compete for between $50,000 and $75,000 of funding and hands-on help from the SBDC. Businesses have to meet certain criteria,  which includes the requirement for half of all business to come from outside the Midland area after three years.

Mayor Jerry Morales said the project was “near and dear to my heart.” He said he wanted to establish a program like this when he was on the MEDC board in the past. “Today, we can say thank you to the MEDC and SBDC for a true living document,” he said.

Morales said he can relate to business upstarts. He’s a restaurateur and comes from a family of entrepreneurs, who have had insurance and law businesses, a beauty shop and record shop. All businesses start small, he said.

“Who’s going to come out of that garage, that bedroom, that little office and promote that product we didn’t even know we had in our back yard. How exciting is that?”

Romero said there already are three businesses that meet the Midland Entrepreneurial Challenge criteria, so the program has a head start.

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