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Lowe’s offers small businesses the ‘Shark Tank’ treatment

By Anne D’Innocenzio, AP Retail Writer

Lowe’s is offering small businesses, particularly those owned by minorities, the “Shark Tank” treatment.

The home improvement chain is teaming up with Daymond John, star of ABC’s “Shark Tank” and a New York Times best-selling author, to give potential suppliers the chance to pitch their products to a Fortune 500 company through the Making it . . . With Lowe’s program.

That will allow a small number of entrepreneurs to pitch their products directly to Lowe’s, sidestepping a traditionally arduous process of getting their goods sold in 2,200 stores run by the Mooresville, North Carolina-based company as well as on lowes.com.

Small business owners can apply through Sept. 25. Lowe’s is putting an emphasis on businesses owned by the disabled, people of color, people in the LGBT community, veterans and women. Candidates will be narrowed down to 75, who will then be allowed to submit more in-depth pitches via video.

Five finalists will make a live virtual pitch, hosted by John, to Lowe’s CEO Marvin Ellison and other executives. Lowe’s will also help suppliers with tips on manufacturing their goods and other topics.

In July, the home improvement retailer more than doubled its small business grant program to $55 million, providing financial relief to minority-, women-owned and rural small businesses.

Ellison, one of only a few black CEOs to run a Fortune 500 company, declined to say what percentage of its vendor base is minority-owned.

“We are on a mission to increase that number as much as we can,” he said in an interview Tuesday.

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