The Starke County Economic Development Foundation and Starke County Government proudly present Starke Tank – The Countywide Business Pitch Competition. A total of 10 small businesses are vying for prize money to establish, grow or expand in Starke County.
They will each have five minutes to present their plans to an audience and three judges on Saturday, September 17 at North Judson-San Pierre High School. Admission to the 6 p.m. event is free, but nonperishable food donations to the Community Services of Starke County Food Pantry are encouraged.
“We are thrilled at the response by business owners and entrepreneurs to this year’s event, and we hope to have a strong audience showing as well,” SCEDF Executive Director Lisa Dan said. “We have a diverse group of contestants, and their pitches should all be entertaining.”
This is the first year Starke Tank has been a countywide event. The first pitch competition in 2020 was limited to businesses looking to move or expand in North Judson. That competition took place during the Covid-19 pandemic in front of a small audience at the North Judson Town Hall. Indie game designers Abrams Studios won the inaugural event, and their business is continuing to prosper.
North Judson native Kirt Verhagen and his wife, Elizabeth, put up the prize money for the inaugural competition. They live in the Indianapolis suburbs but worked with SCEDF and the Indiana Small Business Development Center to revitalize Kirt’s hometown.
Last year’s event was moved to North Judson-San Pierre High School, and the prize pool was expanded to include sponsorships from local businesses. The Point Drive In won and used the prize money to add a Flavorburst ice cream machine and additional outdoor seating. Event venue Five Buds Farm was last year’s runner up.
“Starke Tank was so successful last year that our board decided it should be expanded to a countywide event,” Dan said. “This in turn has boosted our sponsor and contestant participation.”
Legendary sportscaster Harold Welter will be the master of ceremonies. He recently hung up his headset to focus full time on running the Cheryl Lyn Welter Family Charitable Foundation, which he established in memory of his late daughter. Her dream of teaching was cut short when she was killed in a car accident the night before homecoming her senior year of high school. Her giving spirit lives on through her namesake nonprofit foundation, which provides grants to public and private schools throughout Indiana to help underprivileged children.
“Harold Welter is the embodiment of Starke County, and we are thrilled to have him as the voice of our event,” Dan said. “As he said many times during sports broadcasts, we’re hoping for an ‘UNBELIEVABLE’ night.”
In addition to monetary sponsorships, several local businesses have also donated door prizes, which will be given away throughout the evening. Each audience member will get five free prize tickets and can put them in the drawing for the prize or prizes they most want to win.
“The support from our sponsors has once again exceeded our expectations,” Dan said. “Thanks to their generosity we are able to award record prize amounts to our first and second-place winners and also give some nice gifts to our audience members.”
SCEDF’s new marketing video “Starke County – Live Here, Work Here, Play Here” will also debut at Starke Tank. It was funded by grants from the Starke County Convention and Visitors Commission and Starke County Government.
2022 Starke Tank Sponsors Include
Starke County Government
Kankakee Valley REMC
City of Knox
1st Source Bank
OTES Signs and Graphics
North Judson Ace Hardware Keepsakes and Gifts
DeMotte State Bank
First Farmers Bank and Trust
First National Bank of Monterey
Kersting’s Cycle Center
McKesson Title Company
Osborne Advantage Real Estate
Professional Employment Partners
1st Choice Insurance
Starke County Chamber of Commerce
Door Prize Sponsors
Christo’s Family Dining
Imagine That Design Studio
Coop de Chick
Poppin’ Off Popcorn
Silver Leaf Florist
Palmer Wood Products