Dalton Innovation Accelerator could help grow next big business

Matt Hamilton/Daily Citizen-News

Partners in the Dalton Innovation Accelerator discuss plans for a contest that will choose its first tenants.

DALTON, Ga. — Doing business across the Southeast, Dalton-based Inventure IT has worked with a number of business accelerators, programs that provide startup firms with office space, mentorship and support services.

"We saw those be successful in other communities and wanted to bring that model to Dalton," said Stacey Roach, chief operating officer of Inventure, a full-service technology company that provides services for companies and government.

He and his partners began putting together the Dalton Innovation Accelerator and soon they were joined by Advanced Insurance Strategies, Barrett Properties, Believe Greater Dalton, Dalton State College, the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce, Luna Design, the Minor Firm and the Morehouse Group.

The group is holding a contest to decide which firms will be the first to win office space and other services.

"We've got a website set up for people to submit their business ideas, and we will bring them in to actually pitch their ideas like in the TV show 'Shark Tank,'" Roach said. "We are working on the judges now."

The first place winner will get $5,000 as well as office space in the Landmark Building downtown, webhosting and technology consulting services, as well as accounting, legal and design services. There will also be prizes for second and third place.

"This is very important for Dalton," said former mayor David Pennington. "Dalton was built on entrepreneurial energy, but I think we have lost some of that drive. I hope this will help us get some of it back."

Barrett Properties owns the Landmark Building.

"We are excited about this contest and excited about the Dalton Innovation Accelerator, and we can think of no better home for it than downtown Dalton," said Barry Slaymaker, head of strategy at Barrett Properties.

Marilyn Helms, dean of the Wright School of Business at Dalton State College, says she believes that DSC students will be entering the contest and have a good shot at winning it.

"Out students have a lot of great ideas. They are familiar with new technology. They have ideas for new businesses. They just need a little help. It will help us keep those students here," she said.

Roach said that the contest is open to anyone, not just those in the Dalton area.

"They can apply online, so they can apply from anywhere. Obviously, this will give them an incentive to come to Dalton and start their business here," he said.

To apply, go to pitchdia.com. The deadline is March 1.

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