BRATTLEBORO — It’s been 15 years since the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation first introduced it business plan competition to the region.
In 2013, the Strolling of the Heifers adopted the competition, but it was only offered that year and has since been idle.
Now, the BDCC is restarting the competition, which is now funded by the Windham County Economic Development Program, which itself is funded with money provided by Entergy after it ceased operations at Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon.
The competition was originally started to help raise awareness in the community about small business and entrepreneurship, and to encourage new business development by helping interested community members develop viable business plans, gain public attention and earn financial rewards.
The new plan, said R.T. Brown, director of business acceleration and community capital development at BDCC, is focused on “scalable, growth-focused businesses.”
“It could be a new business or it could be an existing business that is looking to take advantage of a market opportunity,” he said. “They’re looking to grow or to pivot or to expand.”
The competition is an opportunity for eligible businesses to refine their business plans, hone their pitch, and receive an award that will assist their startup operations or growth plans, said Brown.
“Some organizations may not need a lot of help, but we are here to offer guidance,” he said.
The BDCC is now taking applications through Oct. 15 from businesses that wish to compete.
Jeff Lewis, who, as the former executive director of the BDCC, nurtured the growth of the original business plan with Kurt Issacson and Bruce Gardner, said he was excited to hear about the new program.
“I am glad to hear Adam [Grinold] and R.T. have restarted the program and are continuing the tradition of encouraging business development in Windham County,” said Lewis.
The winner will not only receive $20,000 in cash, but will also get $5,000 in Amazon web services credits, $3,000 worth of technical assistance and consulting from the BDCC and will have access to a streamlined process for BDCC’s loan programs.
To be eligible for the competition, a business must be located in Windham County but should be aiming to produce a product that will be sold primarily outside the region.
Brown said the idea is to expand the reach of local businesses to bring in revenue from outside the community.
“We want to spread the Vermont love,” said Brown. “We certainly want to help promote this region and Vermont as a whole. The generation of revenue and job creation is expanded when you are selling products and services outside our region.”
Once a business has been deemed eligible, it will receive assistance from the BDCC as well as access to a business planning tool called LivePlan.
“LivePlan is a universal template that helps to demystify the process,” said Brown.
Brown was quick to note that any person or business owner who comes to BDCC for guidance, and not just those competing for the $20,000 prize, can receive assistance, as well as access to LivePlan.
Business plans will be judged by a committee made up of at least five people who have not yet been named.