First-ever Brown County start-up business competition to announce winner

Published: May. 10, 2022 at 7:00 PM CDT
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MOUNT STERLING, Ill. (WGEM) - Five Brown County start-up competition finalists are set to compete for a $20,000 prize to make their business dream a reality on Wednesday night.

Put on by Action Brown County and through the Tracy Family Foundation, this competition is the first of its kind to take place in Brown County.

The competition started on April 13 with 17 participants. Through the process, the competitors sent in an application with a business idea to Action Brown County. Over the course of time, the participants were required to attend two out of three workshops to help develop their business with topics pertaining to marketing, branding, and planning.

Action Brown County officials said the idea is to bring niche businesses to Brown County and help spur the local economy.

“The intent is for them to get their business up and running within six to nine months,” said Action Brown County Executive Director Alex Geisler. “Knowing that they could have restrictions or setbacks so that we can work with them, but that is the intent for them, to get it going pretty quickly.”

Colleen Loehr and Jeff Schmitz were preparing their presentations on Tuesday ahead of tomorrow’s pitch.

Loehr and her husband said their butcher shop and deli business idea, Loehr’s Lockers, would bring a lot to her town Versailles.

“There’s a lot of backlog of butcher shops in the area,” Loehr said. “So, we would like to help consumers get their meat and have access to fresh local meat.”

Schmitz’s said he was thinking ahead of the future for his business idea, Two Wheels Trading Co., which would be a bike repair shop located in Mount Sterling.

“With the Brown County Trail network coming in over the course of hopefully the next ten years, there just seems like there will be a need to take bikes to get serviced,” Schmitz said.

Geisler said the amount of applicants they received for the start-up competition was almost triple the amount they had expected.

“We did not expect that big of a turnout,” Geisler said. “We were hopeful for four and we got seventeen.”

As a result, Geisler said they had to modify the competition by adding that “finalist” phase with the five contestants. She said seventeen would have been too many for a one night pitching event. She said though there is only one winner, the other pitches could get snatched up by investors.

“Maybe there’s a potential investor in the audience,” Geisler said. “So maybe if one business didn’t win, but an investor is like ‘hey that’s a really good idea I want to pursue that, they can make that connection through this process.”

The pitch competition is set to take place on Wednesday, May 11, at the Brown County High School auditorium.

The public that attends in-house will have the opportunity to vote on their favorite pitch.

The judge panel will also hold weight in the voting process.

A full press release on the competition can be found here.

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