Brussels 'Win This Space' attracts 12 hopefuls - Sept. 21, 2017
BY DENNY SCOTT
Huron East Economic Development Officer Jan Hawley has found a dozen applicants for the Brussels version of her successful “Win This Space” business competition this year.
The event, which was originally held across the municipality and then in Vanastra last year, was moved to Brussels to focus on bringing a business to the community’s downtown.
Hawley said this year there are several great potential companies involved including several that would work well together.
“We have 12 contestants in total,” she said. “There was some really good synergy between them as well. There is someone looking at an upholstery business, which is new, and like several of the other applicants, he is considering a teaching component to it.”
Hawley also said one applicant was looking at opening a yoga and wellness centre and said the applicant is already teaching in the community.
“She came to the community six months ago from Belleville and saw potential in Brussels,” Hawley said.
Two proposals have come forward with organic products in which Hawley said she saw synergy as well. She said there was also someone interested in opening a bakery in Brussels.
“We have attracted entrants from the Kitchener, Goderich and Listowel area as well as some local contestants,” she said.
Each applicant is required to attend three mandatory training sessions which will be held after the International Plowing Match has concluded, Hawley said.
“We’re looking at the end of September or early October,” she said. “Alison Lobb, who has her own business and was an educator, will be running the courses. She does really relate to these young entrepreneurs.”
Hawley said the first training session would focus on the mechanics of the business plan, the second on financial planning and the final on marketing.
“After all three sessions, the applicants should be able to develop a full-fledged business plan,” she said.
The competition is set to finish with a Dragon’s Den-style finale at the Seaforth Golf and Country Club on Oct. 27.
While there had been plans to host the finale at the Four Winds Barn in Brussels, Hawley said the site won’t be ready until at least next spring.
The winner of the competition will receive a prize package worth more than $25,000, and that value could continue to rise.
“We’re not just going to leave them after the contest,” Hawley said. “It can be daunting running a business, even after the first year, and we want to work with them.”
The prize includes $9,000 in rent for space on Brussels’ main street as well as assistance from local businesses and educational opportunities.
The applicants have until Oct. 13 to submit business plans at which point the six judges, who are either in business or have histories in business or economic development, will narrow the field to the top five for the Oct. 27 finale.
While there will be only one winner, Hawley said the competition, now in its third year, could result in multiple new businesses opening in Brussels.
“All the applicants will be winners, as they are receiving the training for free and I expect there will be more than one business start-up,” she said.
The finale is open to the public and will give each of the five finalists a chance to speak about their business. The judges will deliberate that evening and, before the night is finished, choose a winner.
For more information, visit www.huroneast.com.