Entrepreneurs with ties to Jefferson Parish have until Dec. 12 to apply to participate in a pitch competition sponsored by the Jefferson Parish Economic Development Commission in conjunction with First NBC Bank.

Finalists will be chosen in mid-January to allow two months for pitch preparation and business plan assistance.

Held during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week and produced by The Idea Village, the 2015 JEDCO Challenge will elevate opportunities for early-stage companies in the area.

The competition will be March 23 at Southport Hall in front of a panel of Jefferson Parish business leaders and an audience of peers. Finalists will be judged on a seven-minute pitch and a business plan, which must be submitted in advance. The audience will have an opportunity to cast votes for their favorite entrepreneur, contributing to the overall score.

The winning pitch will receive $20,000 in direct capital and additional in-kind business services to help grow the company locally.

In 2014, five finalists competed in front of 150 people. With sponsorships from 17 local companies, the 2014 winner, Terry Ancar, of PortaVision Medical, walked away from the competition with close to $80,000 in capital and in-kind services. Ancar used the prize package to continue developing the NeoRay, an X-ray system used to enhance the care of premature babies.

To apply, visit the JEDCO website at www.jedco.org.