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Filling a Niche

Madison Main Street Program launches business startup contest

Group soliciting entries to win valuable prize package

 


 
(February 2016)
Read previous Don Ward columns!
Don Ward

Creating the right mix of businesses in a small town can be challenging. But one unique way to do it is by recruiting new business owners to come in and set up shop.
The Madison (Ind.) Main Street Program has been in the business of recruiting businesses for quite some time, but now the organization is taking it one step further by sponsoring a contest that will reward a new business – as long as it meets certain requirements, according to Valecia Crisafulli.

“The purpose of the contest is to enhance the downtown business mix.”
- Valecia Crisafulli, Madison Main Street Program

She heads the Main Street Program’s Business Recruitment Committee, whose mission is to find people to open businesses that are in demand in the historic downtown district. Her team is modeling this contest after other similar contests that have worked elsewhere, she said. Although it is not new, it is new to Madison.
“Last year, the committee focused on recruiting businesses in food and beverage and entertainment,” Crisafulli said. “Now we are seeking business owners in the areas of microbrewery, jewelry, toys, clothing boutique, kitchen and bath, outdoors sporting equipment, hardware or grocery, hospitality and technology-related, although we are not limited to these.”
The “Main Street Advantage” will award a $3,000 cash prize and other valuable incentives valued at more than $2,000 to one winning business that will open in the downtown by Aug. 15 of this year. This is a business start-up, an expansion or relocation.
The contest was announced Jan. 13 by Main Street Program member and contest director Margo Olson at the Madison Main Street Program’s second annual members’ wine and cheese party. The party, held at the Old Market on Main, included a cake auction fundraiser that generated nearly $3,000 for the organization, according to Main Street Program Director Whitney Wyatt.
At the meeting, Wyatt reported on the program’s many accomplishments last year. These included the annual events, such as Fourth Fridays, Music in the Park Series and the Holiday Open House. New events last year included the inaugural Wine and Cheese Party and the Loft Tour of upstairs vacant buildings in downtown Madison.
The Main Street Program also teamed with the City of Madison to complete the creation of the Alley Activation Project, which is a pedestrian path from Main Street to the Second Street parking lot located between Off Broadway Tap Room and Subway Sandwich Shop. Main Street members also participated in the city’s comprehensive planning process that led to Madison’s being selected as one of 15 semifinalists in the top 15 of “America’s Best Communities” contest. The contest continues in April when the group will be narrowed to eight finalists, who will in turn compete for the $3 million top prize.
“We had a great year in 2015 and look forward to another great year in 2016,” Wyatt told the group.
As for the Main Street Advantage business contest, concept submissions of up to two pages are now being accepted through March 16. A selection committee on April 1 will narrow the field to no more than four participants to advance to Phase II of the contest. Those four will then submit a full business plan by May 25. Applicants must also consult with the Southeast Indiana Small Business Development Center on developing this plan. The winner will be announced June 17. The winner must sign a lease in the targeted business district by July 15 and open the business no later than Aug. 15.
To be eligible for the contest, the applicants must be a legal U.S. resident or corporation, and be age 18 or older. The applicant can be a single person or a team.
The winning applicant must commit to a lease, submit to a credit check and agree to all decisions of sponsors and the selection jury. The applicant cannot be related to or employed by a Madison Main Street staff member or board member.
In addition to the cash prize, the reward includes more than $2,000 in additional benefits. These include:
• An advertising package in the Madison Courier valued at up to $1,000.
• An advertising and editorial package in the RoundAbout Entertainment Guide valued at up to $500.
• One year business membership in the Main Street Program.
• One year complimentary membership in the Madison Area Chamber of Commerce.
• A start-up legal consultation from Alcorn Sage Schwartz and Magrath LLP.
• Three months of free payroll services from Karin Hardin of The Accounting Firm, valued at more than $200.
• Photographic services.
• Three months of social media support as appropriate from Auxier Marketing.
• Business coaching from the Southeast Indiana Small Business Development Center.
“The purpose of the contest is to enhance the downtown business mix,” Crisafulli said. She added that the first year of a new entrepreneurial endeavor is usually the toughest. “This would give the business owner a head start.”
Crisafulli said many prospective business owners first stop at the chamber of commerce to discuss their plans. She said she hopes future entrepreneurs will also visit the Main Street Program to explore the benefits of locating in the downtown. “We would love the opportunity to discuss with them the benefits of operating in the downtown and utilize the network of existing business owners there. It’s one of the best things about being downtown.”
For contest entry information, email madisonmainstreetprogram@gmail.com or visit: www.MadisonMainStreet.com.

• Don Ward is the editor, publisher and owner of the RoundAbout. Call him at (812) 273-2259 or email: info@RoundAbout.bz.

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