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Nick Martinelli pitches his startup, Marty's Local, at Lever's 2017 Demo Day. The finalists in the North Adams Arts Enterprise Challenge will also have a chance to pitch their ideas.

Applications Open for North Adams Arts Enterprise Challenge

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NORTH ADAMS, Mass.  —  There's still time for local cultural entrepreneurs to vie for a $25,000 award and four months of help to get them started. 

The North Adams Arts Enterprise Challenge is accepting applications through April 30, with four finalists to be announced May 9.
 
The winning concept will be chosen by a panel of business experts to receive funding and mentoring through Lever's resource network. A "Shark Tank" style pitch day for the four finalists will be held on Aug. 9 at Greylock Works and will be open to the public.   
 
The goal of the challenge is to attract and develop new arts enterprises to join the Northern Berkshire cultural economy. The successful applicants will show that they can leverage existing cultural assets in the region and have the potential to attract investment. 
 
The entrepreneurial competition is being run by Lever Inc., a startup incubator that has helped run similar challenges at local colleges.
 
"As Lever looks to strengthen the region's economy by attracting young businesses with great potential, we expect the challenge's focus on arts assets will give entrepreneurs a running start," said Jeffrey Thomas, Lever's founder and executive director.
 
Startups selected as finalists will meet three key criteria:
  • The business model must relate to the arts.
  • A wide range of arts-related businesses will be considered, including companies in the fine arts, performing
  • arts, arts-experiences, arts-related services such as sales and merchandising, suppliers of arts-related goods
  • and services, and other art-derived concepts.
  • The business model must have high-growth potential.
  • Business models should be able to attract investment capital, serve regional, national, and/or international
  • customers and create jobs in the region.
  • The business model must leverage Northern Berkshire arts assets.
Pre-existing assets include, but are not limited to, museums, galleries, manufacturers, printers, publishers, studios, workspaces, and theaters. A partial inventory of such assets can be found on Lever's website.   
 
"Our region is resplendent with arts and cultural assets — but we believe those assets are underleveraged," said Brent Filson, Lever's director of programs and operations, and lead organizer of the challenge. "By highlighting the arts-related entrepreneurial opportunities here, the North Adams Arts Enterprise Challenge will attract entrepreneurs whose companies will create more jobs.”
 
North Adams Arts Enterprise Challenge details and application are available now on the Lever website here.

Tags: arts initiatives,   business competition,   business development,   lever,   startup,   

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Be Alert for Opportunities When Preparing for College Costs

Now that summer is winding down, it will soon be "back-to-school" time. When children are young, your logistics for the new academic year may involve little more than a trip to buy school supplies.

But if you would like to send your kids (or grandkids) to college someday, you need to plan far ahead to meet the financial demands. And, as part of your planning, you also need to be on the lookout for all opportunities to help pay those sizable college bills.

Specifically, you will need to be ready to take action in these areas:

Financial aid:
You should start thinking about financial aid at least a year before your child heads off to college. For example, you can begin submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on Oct. 1, 2019, for the 2020-21 academic year. And if the past is any guide, you will always need to remember that Oct. 1 date for the next school year. The FAFSA helps colleges and the U.S. Department of Education evaluate your financial need and determine how much financial support your child requires. And since a lot of financial aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, it's a good idea to submit your forms as soon as possible once the application period opens.

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