1st annual Harlan County Shark Tank: An event sure to inspire

Special to Civitas Media

Life in a struggling economy is difficult. Individuals, families, businesses, and schools-we are all affected. As businesses close, families relocate for more promising job opportunities, we see an increase in empty storefronts or yet another home put on the market; it can be hard to remain hopeful. Having the vision and foresight necessary to find a way out of the decline is a daunting task to say the least. But, we are a resilient people who love our homes and want to see our region flourish again. We have overcome adversity in our past and with the right ideas, opportunities and creative thinking we can find a way out again.

As a community bank, The Bank of Harlan, strives to encourage and uplift those living in our area. Not only do they work and do business in this community, but live here as well. They share with families, attend school functions and church events, and participate in our local communities. The bank wants to see our economy thrive. In an effort to encourage the type of creativity and ingenuity that can pull our region out of its decline Rayburn Doss, a director at the bank and local businessman, suggested a forum that would showcase and promote ideas for economic growth.

The Bank of Harlan will host the first annual Harlan County Shark Tank beginning at 7 p.m. on Saturday in the auditorium on Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College’s Harlan campus.

In the summer of 2015, Doss presented this idea to the Marketing Committee of The Bank of Harlan. He wanted to develop an event in which our youth could utilize their knowledge of technology and creativity to develop products or services that can bring jobs to Harlan County. This event would challenge our area youth to develop innovative solutions to our region’s economic struggles.

Inspired by the successes and failures of contestants on ABCs hit show Shark Tank, Doss suggested the bank host a similar event to feature students from Harlan County High School and Harlan High School. With the help of teachers and coaches, the students have worked to prepare and present original ideas for economic development. These ideas will be presented to a panel of judges or “sharks” who will determine the winner of the competition. The Bank of Harlan will provide a monetary award to the winners of the competition. In addition to the monetary award, the students may have the opportunity to partner with local business leaders who want to take their idea to the next level.

While competitions are exciting and a great source of motivation, the bank’s sincere hope with this event is to inspire ideas and spark conversations to uplift our region. They realize that we must look to our future to find the solutions necessary for change. The creativity and ingenuity of our youth have great potential to propel our region forward.

The event is free and open to the public. The bank hopes you’ll walk away inspired about our future.

Special to Civitas Media

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