First National Bank to sponsor new award for Pirate Challenge finalist

Ashby Tarkington, FNB vice president, at the first round of the Pirate Challenge, held Oct.17, 2023.

The seventh annual Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge will feature a new sponsorship designed to impact successful entrepreneurs in rural North Carolina.

Beginning April 2024, First National Bank (FNB) will sponsor the Rural Community Impact Award, a $10,000 prize that will go to a Pirate Challenge final participant to help them start or grow a business in rural North Carolina.

Representatives from FNB wanted to move forward with the sponsorship because they say, “with nearly 30 branches in eastern North Carolina, we see the impact successful entrepreneurs have in this region every day.”

“Our Bank is committed to providing our communities with the education and tools to succeed, just as ECU does, so this is an ideal opportunity to support that mission,” according to FNB. “Ultimately, we want to see all teams develop unique pitches that inspire students to be bold and think of ways to best benefit the places they call home. We can’t wait to see what the teams come up with.”

Ashby Tarkington, an FNB vice president and Greenville market executive, will participate in the judging during the third and final round on April 10.

The Pirate Challenge is the Miller School’s signature business pitch competition. It’s open to all entrepreneurship teams that have at least one enrolled ECU student.

Since 2018 the Pirate Challenge has awarded more than $700,000 in cash and prizes, making the PEC the richest entrepreneurship pitch competition in North Carolina.

“A special prize to support entrepreneurship in our rural communities has been a goal for several years,” says David Mayo, Pirate Challenge organizer. “We are appreciative of First National Bank’s leadership for its investment in helping grow the lifeblood of our rural areas, small businesses and entrepreneurship.”

First National Bank is the largest subsidiary of F.N.B. Corporation, which is headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The company has regional headquarters at FNB Tower in Raleigh, North Carolina, as well as branches in ECU’s Pitt County and Martin, Beaufort, Craven and Lenoir counties.

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