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BRISTOL, Va. — Virginia Community Capital and Hard Rock Casino Bristol have narrowed the search for the top business pitch from minority business leaders to 10 finalists.

The contest was designed to connect the Hard Rock Casino in Bristol with businesses led by female business owners and owners who are Black, indigenous and people of color throughout Southwest Virginia.

Finalists include Alpha Lit (Washington County), Anne Vaughan Designs (Floyd County), Beagle Ridge (Wythe County), Clinch Life Outfitters (Wise County), Clinch Valley Printing (Tazewell County), Rising Sun Breads (Henry County), Stormbrew Farm (Washington County), The Orange Bandana (Montgomery County), The Pakalachian Truck (Washington County) and Virginia Mountain Vineyards (Botetourt County).

Winners of the contest will be announced Dec. 8. According to the release, an awards ceremony and reception will be hosted by the Hard Rock Casino in Bristol and in partnership with the Virginia Small Business Administration, the Friends of Southwest Virginia, the Virginia Tourism Corp., the Virginia Highlands Small Business Incubator and the SWVA Small Business Development Centers.

Judges and community partners will view the finalists’ three-minute pitch videos to determine which five winners will be selected to receive $10,000 each toward business expenses, along with the opportunity to partner with the Hard Rock Casino in providing locally made goods and services.

Sandy Ratliff, vice president for community innovation at Virginia Community Capital, said the contest stemmed from May’s Southwest Virginia Economic Forum at UVa-Wise, where Bristol entrepreneur Karen Hester told her story of becoming a candy supplier to Hard Rock operations in Florida, Ohio and Indiana after company officials visited Bristol.

Contest recognition could give the region’s businesses the chance to develop sustainable vendor relationships and promote their businesses, a release from VCC said. The winning businesses may be able to extend sales beyond the Bristol location to other Hard Rock venues and with other casinos under development throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia in Danville, Norfolk and Portsmouth.

All applicants who entered the pitch contest will be considered to become vendors at the casino.

For more information, go to

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