If you’re planning to open a small business, the Silver City Business Plan Competition might be for you. The winner will be awarded a cash prize of $5,000, free initial rent and free professional services from several small business advisors.
So far, eight entrepreneurs have sent letters saying they intend to submit business plans.
“While we are enjoying the plans that we’ve seen so far, we welcome more people to apply to take full advantage of this opportunity,” said Natanael Martinez, economic development manager at Layton Boulevard West Neighbors (LBWN), which created the competition. LBWN is accepting letters of intent to submit a plan through May 31.
Silver City is located near the Urban Ecology Center, Hank Aaron State Trail, Mitchell Park Domes, and Miller Park. The neighborhood also boasts international restaurants and markets, high-achieving schools, job centers and local and national retailers, according to materials published by the competition’s sponsors.
“The whole idea behind the competition is to generate a lot of excitement about the neighborhood and let other people know about what’s going on in Silver City and why it’s a great neighborhood to invest in,” Martinez noted.
LBWN designed the competition to attract an entrepreneur “with a unique and compelling business plan” to the vacant storefront at 3519 W. National Ave. It is part of a $5.8 million project to renovate 24 foreclosed properties in the Silver City, Burnham Park, Layton Park, Clarke Square and Muskego Way neighborhoods. Two of the properties are commercial and the rest are single-family houses that will be developed as rent-to-own homes. LBWN and its partners unveiled the project recently at a construction kick-off in the store.
Renovation of the nearly 2,000-square-foot store will begin in May. New windows and floor, bathroom restoration and fresh paint throughout will bring the building into compliance with city building codes and prepare it for the competition winner to add design elements.
Among the applicants who have expressed intentions to compete are retail clothing stores, a day care business and businesses catering to pet needs, according to Martinez.
Development partner and property manager Impact Seven, Inc., a community development corporation, is offering a rent package that will include initial rent-free months and then reduced rent during the first year, depending on the length of the lease.
“We are also a small business lender so there is a potential that we may be able to provide a small business loan to the entity that comes in,” said Todd Hutchison, Impact Seven’s real estate development director.
Marketing company Multicultural Entrepreneurial Institute (MEI) another competition sponsor, will offer the winner help with Web design; marketing materials such as business cards, flyers, posters and brochures; and licenses or permits, according to Account Manager Araceli Santoyo.
Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC) volunteers are providing legal and accounting services to the winner of the competition, Martinez said.
WWBIC volunteer Terri Kuhlmann, owner of Kuhlmann Small Business Solutions, will help the new Silver City business set up its accounting and bookkeeping.
“I am very passionate about entrepreneurism. Any time I can help someone get started on the right foot, I am happy to do so,” said Kuhlmann, who began creating businesses when she was a child.
The Silver City Business District is also a partner in the project. The Zilber Family Foundation contributed $5,000 for start-up costs.
The deadline for final plan submission is June 30. Finalists will be announced on July 15 and invited to make a presentation to a panel of judges in late July or August. The winner will be announced on Aug. 30.