The 3M Open’s “Golf That Matters” motto was on full display Monday afternoon at the TPC Twin Cities Golf Course in Blaine as three local entrepreneurs pitched their businesses at the “Get Down to Business” Accelerator. Selected from 50 entrants, the three finalists will receive mentorship, resources and a share of $100,000 in unrestricted grants to help grow their business.

Houston White, a local serial entrepreneur and community leader who founded The Get Down Coffee Co., was one of three expert panelists, alongside Wendy Nelson of the Carlson Family Foundation and businessman Mike Sweeney .

Winners will receive a share of a $100,000 prize package.

This is the first time there has been a pitch competition at the 3M Open, which runs from July 18-24 this year. An avid golfer himself, White said it made perfect sense to hold the “Shark Tank” style accelerator event at a golf tournament.

“There’s a lot of money in the golf world, and golf is a great way to build relationships,” White said. “It’s important that these entrepreneurs get exposure to this community of people.”

The event was a joint effort of Fargo-based Bell Bank, The Get Down Coffee Co. and the Neighborhood Development Center. Bell Bank has worked with The Get Down Coffee in the past. Earlier this year, the bank announced a multi-year financial services partnership with the coffee company.

Through initiatives such as the Get Down to Business Accelerator, the Neighborhood Development Center aims to empower residents of inner-city inner-city neighborhoods to use their entrepreneurial talent and energy to help revitalize their communities. The accelerator is part of the center’s goal to use entrepreneurship as a force for good.

“We want to help these entrepreneurs take it to the next level,” said Renay Dossman, president of the Neighborhood Development Center.

Participants in the pitch competition included Larry Fitzgerald of the NFL, Rebekkah Brunson of the Minnesota Lynx and Gopher head basketball coach Ben Johnson. Sports journalist Marney Gellner was the host of the event.

White and the Neighborhood Development Center were convinced there should be money and mentorship tied to winning the contest. Finalist Essence Shabazz, founder of E.Bazz Beauty Supply, was grateful for the grants, which were funded by Bell Bank and the 3M Open Fund, a nonprofit arm established in 2019. Her company, whose slogan is ” where beauty and community meet”. is now looking to open a second storefront thanks to the funding his company received from the accelerator.

“People of color don’t always have these opportunities to grow our businesses,” she said.

Annie Qaiser received the top prize of $40,000 to take the next step in expanding her business, Silk Road Wellness. His company bills itself as the first halal-certified wellness brand in the United States. Qaiser, who immigrated from Pakistan at a young age, hopes to spread awareness of halal principles through the expansion of the product line.

“Events like these are important for raising awareness about halal products,” she said.

The third runner-up was Code White, a cosmetic oral care company with a storefront at Eden Prairie Center. Cartier Banks founder and COO David Hicks told the story of their first investment to start the business.

“We started with $500 and a dream,” Banks retracted. “Now our goal is to become the No. 1 cosmetic oral care company in the world.”