The Fostoria Area Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Fostoria Economic Development Corporation (FEDC), is excited to announce the second annual Launch Fostoria Business Competition. Launch Fostoria is a three-part business competition consisting of an initial application, semi-finals, and finals.
Launch Fostoria officially kicks off Monday, March 21 with applications available at FostoriaChamber.com/Launch until May 5. Eligible applicants must be a for-profit business, that has not earned more than $250,000 in revenue in the past year and interested in opening or growing a business in Fostoria. Qualifying applications will be reviewed, and 6-8 applicant businesses will be invited to move on to the semi-finals. The semi-finals, on June 29, will consist of live pitches to a panel of judges followed by a question-and-answer session. Semi-finalists will be given the opportunity to attend a pitch workshop to create and refine their pitch. From the semi-finals judges will select 4-6 businesses to compete in the finals which will be a live event held in Downtown Fostoria on August 5. The public will be invited to attend the finals and may pay $5 to vote for their favorite business contestant.
“We see the continuation of Launch Fostoria as a great way to continue to jumpstart ideas, connections and small businesses while inviting the community to invest in an entrepreneur by attending the finals and casting a vote,” said Sarah Stephens Krupp, Chamber/Small Business Director. “This is such a unique opportunity for Fostoria, and we are so grateful to everyone who has assisted us in making the competition a reality a second time.”
The winner of Launch Fostoria will receive a prize package valued at almost $17,000 thanks to event sponsors and donors. The prize package includes a one year lease in Downtown Fostoria (or equivalent dollar amount in appropriate space), print advertising courtesy of The Review Times, $1,000 courtesy of the Shuff Family Small Business-Entrepreneur Grant, $5,000 in branding and marketing services courtesy of JYoakam Communications, $900 in trainings and courses at the Fostoria Learning Center courtesy of Northwest State Community College and the Fostoria Learning Center, one hour of legal advising valued at $250, three hours of accounting assistance valued at $875, CO.STARTERS course valued at $250 and a one year Chamber Membership valued at $200.
The competition was highly successful last year with over 500 people attending the finals. $12,375 was collected from voting and passed on to the four finalists. The winner of last year’s competition was Jena Stearns, Beyond Laser Creations who has since opened a storefront located at 101 S. Main Street in Downtown Fostoria. Other finalists were Wavy Baby, Expressions Dance Center and Tiny Hands Childcare.
The Launch Fostoria Business Competition is part of the Fostoria Chamber and FEDC’s efforts to build a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem in Fostoria. Both organizations, for the last several years, have been working together to implement programs and resources to assist entrepreneurs, experienced and in-experienced, in starting and growing their ventures. The organizations have hosted various entrepreneur events and trainings such as Get Started Workshops, starter, and maker events such as the Holiday Sip & Shop, CO.STARTERS courses, Advising Hours, Wayfinding programs and worked with the City of Fostoria to implement a Small Business Revolving Loan Fund.
“Our work to build a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem is really a grassroots effort to combat the shrinking physical footprint of national chain retailers and fill the gaps in retail and small business in Fostoria with homegrown, locally owned businesses” said Renee Smith, President of FEDC.
This unique event is an opportunity for entrepreneurs/small business owners, the Fostoria community, and the citizens of Fostoria. This is a way for the residents of Fostoria to actively participate in selecting a new business for their community. “We look forward to seeing the applications and working through this competition to bring a new and vibrant business to our community,” said Sarah Krupp, Chamber/Small Business Director.
A full event timeline as well as applications are available at FostoriaChamber.com/Launch