PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — A small business looking to locate or expand in West Virginia’s Mid-Ohio Valley could get a boost from the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council’s Launchpad Initiative, what’s billed as the first small business entrepreneur pitch contest there.

“We’re trying to grow entrepreneurial spirit, entrepreneurship here. We want to generate new business and this is primarily going to generate small business,” said Jody Murphy, executive director of the Pleasants Area Chamber of Commerce, of the contest.

The Launchpad Initiative is open to anyone with a new business that’s less than a year old or an idea for a business in the following eight counties represented by the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council: Calhoun, Jackson, Pleasants, Ritchie, Roane, Tyler, Wirt and Wood.

The grand prize is $5,000 for business expenses, but Murphy said he’s hoping the possible investments do not stop there.

“We like to think that the people who won’t win or even other people that apply, word will get out among the other areas where they’ve applied,” Murphy said.

“We think, maybe, investors might want to step up and invest or people may just need retail space or manufacturing space and we have a lot of that available in the region.”

An informational meeting for potential Launchpad Initiative applicants was scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 8 at the Parkersburg City Building. Applications are due on Aug. 15.

The pitch event itself will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 28 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Parkersburg Art Center in Downtown Parkersburg.

“They’re going to pitch in front of a live audience and a panel of judges,” Murphy said. “It’s like ‘Shark Tank,’ only we don’t plan on being mean at all.”

For more information about the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council Launchpad Initiative, contact the Pleasants County Area Chamber of Commerce by phone at 304-684-9909 or by e-mail at or click here.