2012-06-14 / Front Page

Business plans are targeted by EDC

Competition offers prizes for local entrepreneurs

MANISTIQUE – The Schoolcraft County Economic Development Corporation is inviting anyone with a business idea to join their Business Plan Competition, now taking place. The competition is open to individuals or teams and boasts over $3,700 in prizes – both cash and services.

According to Dustin Denkins, co-organizer of the competition, the contest is being put on by the EDC with the goal of promoting economic development within the county.

“It’s a way of getting small business owners or just individuals who might want to start a business, but either don’t have the money or the encouragement or just might be afraid to do it,” he said. “We’re helping with education, with some workshops, as well as some cash prizes, and services from local attorneys and accountants.”

Contestants must submit a paper copy of a business plan by the Sept. 1 deadline, explained EDC Manager Laurie Jasmin. This plan should outline the contestant’s business idea, as well as why the business would be profitable. From there, a panel of judges will determine the top three plans and award prizes, she added.

“It’s one thing to give winners cash to start their business, but it’s even more to give them services that they need to start that business,” Denkins said. “Any new business owner would need to work with an accountant to set up their books and start their financials, as well as with attorneys to corporation paperwork and to set up the legal statuses that they need.”

As part of the first and second place prizes, the contestants will receive one hour each with both an accountant and attorney. The first place winner will receive more cash, as well as a free one year membership to the Schoolcraft County Chamber of Commerce if they launch their business. “Our goal is promoting economic development, so if we can foster that – economic gardening, if you will – and kind of grow those new businesses here, locally, we can help the county and the other residents of the county,” said Denkins.

Denkins, also a business owner, said he helped bring the competition to Schoolcraft after witnessing and taking part in a similar competition in another county.

“We struggled with challenges here with the Schoolcraft County EDC, with a limited budget, first of all, and then, second, ways to encourage economic development,” he explained.

New business owners, as well as existing owners with new ideas are welcome to join the competition. For those who may not know how to develop a business plan, free workshops on creating a plan, financing, and banking will be offered throughout the competition, Denkins said.

“Some people might already have a business plan, and they can just submit it … others might not know what a business plan is, so we have these workshops set up to help people grow their business plan and learn what they might need to do to enter and really make this thing useful,” he said.

Jasmin noted the workshops are open to anyone, whether or not they are participating in the competition.

“We hope to add additional classes down the road, outside of the business plan competition,” she said. “We have our eye on a couple different workshops that may benefit our small businesses as well.”

The EDC partners with the Michigan Works! Job Force Board and the Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center, explained Jasmin. The SBTDC, in particular, has been working with the EDC since 2001, providing numerous services for the area, she said.

“They provide a unique service to any small business,” she said. “It’s not only for start-ups, but it’s for businesses already in operation. They will go in and help them work with their financials, if they’re struggling, find their weaknesses, help them get ready to go back to the bank – and it’s all free.”

Local business owners can use SBTDC or other services via the EDC, which serves as a type of resource center, said Jasmin. In fact, from Jan.1 to June 1, the SBTDC has counseled 26 clients, providing 51 counseling sessions and 46 hours of counseling. From this, 18 local jobs were created, three businesses started and a total capital formation of $498,000 was realized, she explained.

The Business Plan Competition is just one more way the EDC is attempting to foster local growth, said Denkins.

“We just look at it as a great way to help people start businesses,” he explained. “We’ve learned that businesses tend not to move around, it’s very rare that we’ll get a large business moving into the community, what’s more likely to happen is we’ll grow these businesses from inside the community. This is one way we can encourage that.

The local statistics is 70 percent of all jobs are created by small businesses,” he continued. “The more shocking statistic is 100 percent of all net job growth in the United States comes from small businesses – large businesses provide zero net growth, they just shift jobs around, they don’t create any new jobs. The best way to create new jobs and raise the income level and lower the unemployment rate in Schoolcraft County is by creating new businesses.”

For more information on the competition, contact the EDC office at (906) 341-5126 or email edc@schoolcraftcounty.us.

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