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What IMPACT Pitch means to Harborstone Credit Union

Mark Minickiello, the VP of Community Development at Harborstone Credit Union, has a long history of advocating for small businesses. Through his role at Harborstone, the presenting partner of our upcoming IMPACT Pitch competition, he leads financial empowerment efforts and is dedicated to community development and small business education. Because of Harborstone and other sponsors’ support of the competition, we are able to award $30,000 in cash prizes to small businesses each year. Business Impact NW sat down with Mark to discover why Harborstone loves small businesses and what the IMPACT Pitch competition means to the credit union.

How does Harborstone work with partner organizations like Business Impact NW to serve small businesses?

“It gets right down to the core of making credit available to historically disadvantaged businesses, especially women, minority and veteran-owned businesses. They’re the lifeblood of our economy and of creating jobs. And working with Business Impact NW also really aligns with a couple of our core values at Harborstone, especially around equity, empathy and empowerment. We want to meet people where they are at. That doesn’t necessarily mean they have a great business plan or they have great credit, it’s easy to make those decisions, right? If you want to really be impactful, you have to reach out and meet people along the way and that’s what I love about Business Impact NW.”

What does it mean to Harborstone to sponsor IMPACT Pitch?

“We have been a presenting sponsor for a few years now and I know I’m speaking for others at Harborstone, that IMPACT Pitch is really putting into action everything that we support with Business Impact NW, financially and through volunteerism. It’s a great way to showcase what you guys do and the hard work that goes into the businesses. 

It’s a way for us to help put those businesses on display and to feature the good work that Business Impact NW has done and to feature the passion of all those businesses. We love to support that behind the scenes, and this is a way that we can support it out in front of the scenes and provide some prize money and some encouragement. Our Chief Lending Officer Michael Powell has been a judge a few times, and I know he loves doing that. It’s a culmination of our support and it really goes well with all the rest of the things we’re trying to do with Business Impact NW.

2018 IMPACT Pitch judges with Michael Powell in the center.

It’s also just such a great celebration and then there are prizes involved! So it’s even exciting and potentially really helpful to those businesses financially. I’m sure that the feedback they receive from the judges that evening, in addition to all the information that they get from Business Impact NW through the training, and getting through the process is helpful too. Even if they don’t win, I imagine they find it very valuable.”

What is it like to watch the business owners pitch their ideas?

“I feel nervous for them, but there have been so many unique ideas. It’s almost every year that I sit back in my chair thinking, what a great idea. And they had the energy to engage with Business Impact NW and really develop that business plan so that they can run that type of a business which I’ve never heard of before. Every year there are businesses out there that I’m thinking, wow that’s a great idea, and these folks are very passionate about it.”

What’s it like to be on stage and alongside the business owners when they win?

Mark Minickiello presenting the check to 2018 Best Startup Business, Positive Spin, with Joe-Sky Tucker, CEO of Business Impact NW.

“I’ll tell you, a lot of it I don’t remember. It’s just like the winners, you’re up on stage, you’re all smiles, you’re just excited about the result. The photos are being taken and the checks are being handed over and I’m just always amazed! It’s a privilege to be there and to be a part of that. I can see the passion in the business owners’ eyes when they’re delivering their pitch and obviously all the nerves around that, and just being able to be a small part of that, even just presenting an award or thanking them, is a real privilege.”

What is the significance of the cash awards to the businesses and their communities?

“We’re hopeful that the prize money can help be some seed money for their business and help that business grow. Or at least get on the right track so that they’ll be successful and then incent other businesses that didn’t win to chase that and get out in front. I think that the prize money is only a portion of what could potentially benefit the businesses that evening.”

For more information about the 4th annual live IMPACT Pitch competition on September 19th, or to purchase tickets, visit businessimpactnw.org/pitch.

About the author

Megan V. Torgerson

Megan is the founder of the storytelling initiative, Reframing Rural. She is an MFA candidate at Seattle University and holds a BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing from the University of Montana. Megan grew up on a farm and ranch in Montana and is inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit of rural communities.

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