The Major League Baseball regular season officially wraps up this weekend. In the business world, however, a local company still will be pitching next week.
Pueblo-based ActivArmor uses three-dimensional printing technology to create medical splints and casts. Next Thursday, ActivArmor will be one of seven finalists competing for $130,000 in grant funding from the Nationwide insurance company and BlueVine, a capital investment firm.
The finalists were selected from about 3,000 companies seeking funding to grow their businesses. Each finalist will give a pitch to a panel of judges at Nationwide’s headquarters in Columbus, Ohio. Following the presentations, the judges will determine which of the companies has the best plan for putting the grant funding to use.
The top applicant will receive the $100,000 grand prize. The runner up will receive $20,000 and the third place finisher will get $10,000. The grant recipients will be announced following the judging.
Naturally, we’re rooting for ActivArmor in this one. As the old saying goes, it’s an honor just to be nominated. And that’s especially true when there are so many other competitors in the running.
It’s also worth noting that ActivArmor is carrying water for the whole western half of the United States. No other company headquartered west of the Mississippi River made the final cutdown list.
As great as all that sounds, the objective here is to get ActivArmor some much needed funding to grow its business operations. That won’t happen unless the company’s pitch is determined to be among the top three.
A $10,000 or $20,000 grant would be nice. But $100,000 sounds much nicer. ActivArmor was founded five years ago, so it remains in its corporate infancy. A six-figure boost to its operating funding couldn’t help but have a significant impact on its short-term plans.
When we talk about bringing more economic development to Pueblo, there’s a tendency to focus on efforts to bring new businesses here. That’s a quick fix, since established companies can bring with them substantial numbers of jobs.
And there’s nothing wrong with growing our economy that way, when business relocation opportunities present themselves. Yet it’s important not to overlook another way to add new jobs, which is to support the community’s start-up businesses.
As is the case with ActivArmor, those types of businesses often are founded by people with strong ties to the community. Which means that as they grow, they’re less likely to forget their roots and move to greener pastures.
Could Pueblo be the future home of a Fortune 500 company? It may seem like a longshot, but there’s no reason why it can’t happen here. Even corporate giants like Apple and Microsoft had to start somewhere.
So, by all means, let’s wish ActivArmor the best of luck in next week’s competition. The local company’s fortunes can have a positive impact on our community. Particularly if they serve as inspiration for other would-be entrepreneurs who one day could bring more jobs and capital investment to Pueblo.