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MCLA Innovation & Entrepreneurship Challenge Announces Three Winners

NORTH ADAMS, MA—The MCLA Innovation & Entrepreneurship Challenge, held virtually from May 3–May 7, 2021, saw the College community come together to view and vote for three winning pitches.

The finalists, who pitched their business ideas via video, were Lorenzo Cristofolini ’21, Cristo’s Consulting; Jake Ferrara ’21, Ferrara Lawn Care; Latisha Hargrett ’21, Strong Shoulders; Austin Miller ’21, Get Hooked Bait & Tackle; and Andrew Nygard ’21, Wheels Now!

MCLA President James F. Birge announced the winners in a video on Friday, May 7. Austin Miller’s Get Hooked Bait & Tackle won first place, which came with a $7,500 award. Latisha Hargrett’s Strong Shoulders placed second, for a $5,000 award, and Lorenzo Cristofolini’s Cristo’s Consulting won the $2,500 third-place award. The startup funding awards aim to cover inventory, equipment, and marketing costs for the three new businesses.

Judging was determined by three votes from North Adams Mayor Tom Bernard and Zoar Outdoor founder Bruce Lessels, and 332 votes from the MCLA community.

To watch the business pitch videos, visit

For more information, contact MCLA Entrepreneur-in-Residence Amy Shapiro at

About MCLA:   

At MCLA, we’re here for all — and focused on each — of our students. Classes are taught by educators who care deeply about teaching, and about seeing their students thrive on every level of their lives. In nearly every way possible, the experience at MCLA is designed to elevate our students as individuals, as leaders, communicators, fully empowered to make their impressions on the world. In addition to our 125-year commitment to public education we have fortified our commitment to equitable academic excellence. For eight of the last 10 years, MCLA has been named a Top Ten College by U.S. News and World Report. MCLA also appears on the organization’s list of top National Public Liberal Arts Colleges, as well as on the top 50 schools in U.S. News’ Social Mobility Ranking, which measures how well schools graduate students who receive Federal Pell Grants.

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