News from: The City of Coachella
On last week Thursday July 15, 2021 the Opportunity Coachella challenge came to a close via a live virtual event. Mayor Steven Hernandez welcomed the companies, judging panel, and guests stating, “We are a City on the move, a City of Opportunity and I look forward to seeing your presentations. I want to thank you for participating and even if you don’t win the City of Coachella is your friend…” Mayor Hernandez continued, “Know that the City of Coachella and the Eastern Coachella Valley wants to see you participate in our economy, wants to see you become a part of our community, and ultimately wants to see you have success and growth in our greater Coachella Valley.”
The judging panel consisted of guests from both the public and private sectors including Mastercard’s City Possible division, Accelerator for America, Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce, Coachella Valley SBDC, ONE i/e, and the Riverside County Office of Economic Development, alongside City staff.
Six companies were selected as semi-finalists from applications received. Applicants hailed from Palm Desert, Palm Springs, Los Angeles, Tampa, FL and Atlanta, GA. Two proposals received were feasibility study concepts in the launch category, two in beta testing pre-launch, and two currently in the market looking to expand.
○ Lokele | Palm Springs, CA | Recreation Category
○ Lokele is a local information guide…with a twist.
○ Kitchenery | Tampa, FL | Advanced Manufacturing Category
■ Wireless Power Transfer technology and IoT solutions for small kitchen appliances.
○ Apsy | Los Angeles, CA | Advanced Manufacturing Category
■ AI powered mobile/web app design studios.
○ Dreamhouse | Atlanta, GA | Lodging Category
■ IoT +Proptech + Property Management company.
○ Coachella Studios | Palm Desert, CA | Recreation Category
■ Hollywood-adjacent, best-in-class film production studio in the heart of Coachella.
■ Feasibility study proposal
○ Coachella Arts Foundation | Palm Desert, CA | Recreation Category
■ Museum of Music Festivals and adjacent entertainment amphitheater.
■ Feasibility study proposal
Each company presented their vision and potential impact for Coachella residents in a 5 minute presentation, following which judges asked questions for 5 minutes. Judges met in a virtual breakout room for 10 minutes to deliberate before returning to announce the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners.
During deliberations, the event moderator and Managing Director of the venture development firm co-designing the challenge, Stacy Cumberbatch shared some background and early stats on the overall challenge in a short slide presentation.
She noted, this challenge was made possible by grant funding the City received specifically for the benefit of residents and businesses in the Opportunity Zones, which carried three requirements; 1) to foster entrepreneurship and business attraction 2) to engage the community and 3) to educate all on the Opportunity Zones and development incentives.
In this respect, the initiative was a success. During the 4-week challenge, over 2,000 web views were tracked on the pages from all over the country, as well as internationally which led to great reach in the business community to make them aware of the benefits and opportunities in Coachella and the adjacent unincorporated areas of North Shore, Thermal, and Mecca.
Multiple local business and community organizations also partnered to share the word with residents in newsletters and social media posts, alongside the English and Spanish radio ads the City used to push out the word. As a result, there were 75 qualified entrants completing the Community Input Survey that was also a part of the initiative, and they each will receive a $50 prepaid Mastercard courtesy of the City. A list of winners and redemption instructions have been posted on the website at OpportunityCoachella.com
Residents also engaged in the Community Vote portion of the business challenge, with a total of 163 votes over a 4 day period after semi-finalists were announced. Lokele was chosen as the Community Choice winner with a total of 77 votes, winning the $1,000 Community Choice prize.
Once the judges returned from deliberations, City Manager Gabriel Martin joined to announce and congratulate the winners. The selected winners are:
1st Place: Apsy ($5,000 award) Apsy intends to expand within less than 6 months to open a storefront app design studio and training location for its AI powered app building software.
2nd Place: Kitchenery ($3,000 award) Kitchenery intends to expand in the next 6-12 months seeking a local hardware manufacturing partner and integration with local kitchen design studios, kitchen remodelers and home builders.
3rd Place: Lokele ($2,000 award) intends to expand in the next 6-12 months into office space while working with Chambers of Commerces on marketing services for its businesses
The City, County, and partners congratulate all winners and will continue to work with all selected semi-finalists on how they can succeed in the region and bring more services and jobs to the residents.
The City stresses, even though this challenge and cash incentives portion was time limited, these services are available to all businesses, developers, and residents at all times and welcomes new conversations.
“If a business wants to expand and fits within the three categories of the competition which include clean technology/clean energy, recreation/lodging or manufacturing/advance manufacturing, the City is prepared to work with you if the fit is right for both the business and the City.” stated City Manager Gabriel Martin.
Recordings of the event and a list of all winners can be seen on the website at OpportunityCoachella.com.
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The City of Coachella was incorporated in 1946 and is a 29-square mile municipality of approximately 46,351 residents located in eastern Riverside County, in a region collectively known as the Coachella Valley in Southern California. Coachella is about 97 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border and about 1.5 hours from Los Angeles. For more information, please visit the City’s website: www.coachella.org.