83 Arizona small businesses taking part in national competition

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

There’s the Carefree company that puts veterans to work building homes. The Glendale inventor who creates tricked-out wheelchairs for the disabled. And the Chandler man who sells $2 stickers reminding parents not to forget their child in a hot car.

Eighty-three small businesses in Arizona are taking part in a national competition for up to $25,000 in grant money that could take their work to the next level – and they need your help.

The online vote in the 5th annual FedEx Small Business Grant Contest ends Wednesday. The public vote is one of 11 factors the judges consider when winnowing the field to the top 100 businesses April 13.

FedEx will award prize packages to 10 businesses April 25, ranging from $7,500 to the grand prize of $25,000. Winners also receive up to $7,500 in print and business services from FedEx Office.

“Over the past five years, we’ve seen winners take their business to the next level with the help of a FedEx grant, and that’s what this contest is all about – being able to give small businesses the boost they need, while staying on as a trusted advisor through the lifecycle of those businesses,” said Bonnie Voldeng, director of go-to-market and content strategy at FedEx, in a statement.

Small businesses from Nogales to Mohave Valley to Flagstaff are taking part in the contest. Voters may cast an online ballot once every 24 hours. The full list of Arizona companies is available here.

Here are a few of reporter Derek Staahl’s favorites, in alphabetical order:

  • BabySav
    • BabySav sells a $2 sticker that reminds parents about the dangers of heatstroke in cars. CBS 5 News featured the Chandler-based company and its founder, Lou Molinari, in a report last month. The company says it would use the grant money to build inventory, create “a more technological solution,” and spread the word about the product at more conferences.
  • Greathouse Labs
    • Founder Lance Greathouse started building custom wheelchairs when his brother was diagnosed with a rare form of Parkinson’s disease. Some of his wild designs include wheelchairs with flamethrowers. Glendale-based Greathouse Labs says it would use the grant money to “expand our wheelchair program so that we could get more chairs to more people in need.”
  • Rising Tycoons
    • Rising Tycoon hosts keynotes, workshops, and an academy to teach teenagers entrepreneurship and leadership skills. The Scottsdale-based company says all of the grant money will be used to cover 180 scholarships for underprivileged teens to the Rising Tycoons Academy, where teens are mentored by CEOs and learn how to launch a business.
  • VETSBuilt Contracting
    • Launched by brothers Bob and DJ Jenkins in November 2014, this Carefree company puts veterans to work building or remodeling homes and commercial properties. The company says 70 percent of its sub-contractors are veterans or veteran-owned businesses. VETSBuilt says it would use the FedEx grant money to hire a Navy veteran and “free up time to focus on homeless vets and housing/creating jobs,” among other things.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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