Pre-Accelerator Program for Local Entrepreneurs Now Accepting Applications

Posted on September 1, 2021
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Pre-Accelerator Program for Local Entrepreneurs Now Accepting Applications

2021 Spark! to focus on sales and marketing for local entrepreneurs

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. September 1, 2021 – The Venture Center, the Little Rock Regional Chamber, Arvest Bank, and the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center (ASBTDC) will team up to host the third year of Spark!, a local small business pre-accelerator program. Applications are open now through September 21, 2021.

For the third year, the program will mentor up to ten local small businesses. Led by The Venture Center, the Little Rock Regional Chamber, Arvest Bank, and the ASBTDC, this year’s program will focus on honing sales and marketing skills and providing expertise in areas including storytelling, sales, public relations, marketing, pitching, and more.

The Spark! Selection Committee will accept applications until Tuesday, September 21, 2021, and participants will be revealed on September 29. The program will run from Wednesday, Sept. 29 through Wednesday, Dec. 8.

“We’re excited about this year’s Spark! program, which will focus on growing specific skills for our local small businesses,” said Wayne Miller, Executive Director of The Venture Center.  “Beyond program structure and curriculum, strengthening the entrepreneurial community is key as entrepreneurs and small businesses communities continue to face challenges beyond the norm due to the pandemic. We know that education and collaboration are key to thriving while overcoming those challenges, and we’re thrilled to work with so many amazing partners who believe the same.”

“We look forward to seeing a new cohort of small businesses in Little Rock benefit from participating in the 2021 Spark! pre-accelerator program,” stated Jay Chesshir, President and CEO of the Little Rock Regional Chamber. “Building strong, sustainable companies begins with a solid foundation that this program equips entrepreneurs to establish. Our experienced team is excited to get started.”

“Arvest is proud to be a partner with these great organizations to help accelerate the success of the small businesses that are the backbone of those communities,” said Jim Cargill, president and CEO of Arvest Northeast, Central and Southwest Arkansas. “We know these entrepreneurs will make positive impacts on the places where they do business and the people who live there.”

Whitney Horton of the ASBTDC shared, “The ASBTDC is thrilled to collaborate with other entrepreneurial thought leaders in the community to bring the Spark! Cohort back for a third year. The skills learned and the opportunity for collaboration are just what our small businesses need as we continue navigating the impact of Covid-19 and to grow the Arkansas economy.”

Qualifying applicants will be full-time founders/CEO of startup companies with verifiable annual recurring revenue between $25,000 and $100,000, operating between one to five years, and will be central Arkansas residents. Benefits of the program include matching founders with industry-specific mentors and the opportunity to win thousands of dollars in prizes by pitching at Pitch ‘N Pint on November 11. To learn more about Spark!, or to apply to be a program participant, please visit


About The Venture Center
The Venture Center is a globally recognized Arkansas-based Entrepreneurial Support Organization (ESO) that helps entrepreneurs turn their start-ups into viable, high-growth businesses. By leveraging the expertise of a world-class team of mentors, intensive programming, and introductions to the investor community, The Venture Center serves as an engine for economic growth in Arkansas and beyond.

About The Little Rock Regional Chamber
The Little Rock Regional Chamber is the principal business-driven leadership organization responsible for fostering the economic growth and development of the Little Rock region to ensure that business and industry may operate profitably and enhance the earning opportunities and quality of life for every citizen.

The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center is a higher-education-based economic development program that assists entrepreneurs, both new and seasoned. As the state’s premier business assistance provider, the ASBTDC is dedicated to helping small businesses achieve success and to promoting economic development throughout the state. Unique among Arkansas economic development organizations, ASBTDC serves businesses from any county in Arkansas, in any industry sector, at any stage of business development.

About Arvest
Arvest Bank operates more than 230 bank branches in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas through a group of 14 locally managed banks, each with its own board and management team. These banks serve customers in more than 130 communities, with extended weekday banking hours at many locations. Arvest provides a wide range of banking services including loans, deposits, treasury management, credit cards, mortgage loans and mortgage servicing. Arvest also is one of a select few banks in the nation to have its mobile app – Arvest Go – certified by J.D. Power for providing an outstanding mobile banking experience. Arvest is an Equal Housing Lender and Member FDIC.