Three finalists were named for Walker County, Georgia's "Shark Tank"-style pitch competition to being held Thursday at the county's civic center.
Back Archers Farm, Tess de'Carlo and Battlefield Outdoors will pitch their outdoors-focused ideas to a panel of judges at 4 p.m. in an event that is free and open to the public. The winner will receive a $5,000 start-up grant funded by a partnership between the Walker County Chamber of Commerce and Peach State Federal Credit Union.
"I think it's encouraging people to think outside the box and showing them that we're willing to put these contests together to support small businesses," Walker County Chamber of Commerce President Lacey Wilson said.
The Walker Rocks Start-up Challenge is designed to help a recreational, travel or hospitality business get started or expand in Walker County. It is mirrored after the popular television series "Shark Tank," in which contestants pitch business ideas to a panel of multimillionaires in hopes of an investment.
Back Archers Farm is pitching a handicap-accessible playground and petting zoo for its property. Battlefield Outdoors will pitch a wrap for a church van it recently bought to help with transportation for outdoor events across the county and state. The wrap would advertise both Battlefield Outdoors and Walker Rocks. Resident Tess de'Carlo will demonstrate a portable ring that could be used for aerobics, exercise, acrobatics and aerodynamics. de'Carlo would take the ring to different events and festivals in the area.
The competition is part of Walker Rocks, an initiative focused on promoting the area's outdoor amenities. The county is home to renowned caving, rock climbing, kayaking, biking and cycling opportunities.
The campaign is a long-term effort by the chamber, county government and cities in the county to help recover from a difficult financial situation. Walker County was $62 million in debt as of September 2017 and has raised its property taxes to try to offset some of that debt. However, property taxes now make up a disproportionate amount of the county's revenue, county spokesman Joe Legge said.
Legge and others working with Walker Rocks are hopeful they can capitalize on the county's beauty and outdoor opportunities.
"We really feel like this is an area that is unmatched as far as the opportunities for outdoor adventures and the beauty in the county, as well," Legge said. "Whether you're looking to do adventure sports or something lower-impact like a hike, you really can't get much better than what we have here in Walker County."