$50K competition calls for business plans


More than 450 organizations in the Mason County area are part of the Ludington & Scottville Area Chamber of Commerce. Photo via fb.com

A county in the region is building on recent entrepreneurial momentum with a business plan pitch competition.

The Momentum Business Plan Competition is accepting applications through July 31 from independent for profit or nonprofit early stage ventures to compete in a pitch competition on Aug. 20 for $50,000 to start or relocate a business to Mason County.

The competition

Entrepreneurs with a viable business idea or an existing organization with less than $100,000 in annual sales are eligible to apply to compete to become one of five finalists selected to pitch their ideas before an audience and panel of judges from 6-8 p.m., Aug. 20, at West Shore Community College in Scottville.

Kathy Maclean, president and CEO at the Ludington & Scottville Area Chamber of Commerce, said entrepreneurs can download business plan and financial templates from the Momentum website for their submissions.

Each business plan, idea or invention will be evaluated upon submission by the Momentum Business Plan Competition board, based on a number of criteria: use of market research data; scalability; clear and logical business plan for launch or expansion; demonstration of competitive advantage; and explanation of how funds will be used.

One winner will receive $50,000, but not all at once.

“They will receive a portion of it, and we will provide them with some mentors in any way they need to make sure their business is successful. And there will be some benchmarks they need to meet to be successful,” Maclean said. “The hope is we can have other people in the audience — whether angel investors or people looking to get involved or help other businesses be successful — to help several businesses get started.”

County-wide effort

Designed to support business development in Mason County by providing financial resources and mentoring to entrepreneurs, the Momentum Business Plan Competition is a collaborative effort among several organizations: Ludington & Scottville Area Chamber of Commerce; Pennies from Heaven Foundation; Floracraft; Ludington Daily News; Ludington SCORE; Metalworks; West Shore Community College; and West Shore Bank.

John Wilson, board chair for the program and founder of Pennies from Heaven, said the contest is an incredible opportunity.

“This contest provides enough funding to truly help the winner successfully launch a business,” Wilson said. “In addition to providing financial resources, the program offers invaluable mentoring to expedite the startup phase and increase the likelihood of success.”

The Pennies from Heaven Foundation is providing the funding for the $50,000 prize, while the Ludington & Scottville Area Chamber of Commerce is administering the business competition.

"New businesses"

“I think this is something maybe unique for a rural community likes ours and am grateful we had the money put up for it,” Maclean said. “We are excited by what this will bring to our community, not only attention, but also new businesses and new, cool ideas we haven’t had.”

Although the competition is in its first year, the hope is the contest will turn into an annual event with past winners supporting new entrepreneurs.

“We really want to foster the whole entrepreneurial spirit," Maclean said. "We have had new small businesses open in this past year, and we want to keep that momentum going and draw attention to Mason County. Not only is it beautiful here, but also West Michigan is a great place to start a business, especially in a small town.”

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