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New businesses in Utica, Rome can pursue funding in Downtown Startup Challenge

UTICA, N.Y. — Entrepreneurs can submit ideas for a new retail business in “select” districts for downtown Utica or Rome as part of the Downtown Startup Challenge.

The Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties has launched its second business competition that will award up to $30,000 to an entrepreneur with an “innovative” downtown business idea, the organization said in a news release.

Interested individuals and/or groups must apply by June 30 for consideration. They can visit www.downtownstartup.com for complete information on the rules and regulations of the challenge.

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Mohawk Valley Community College’s (MVCC) thINCubator will provide coaching for those accepted in the Downtown Startup Challenge. They’ll also have the chance to pitch their idea for up to $30,000 in seed funding from the Community Foundation.

MVCC’s thINCubator offers “accelerated” programming that gives entrepreneurs the resources and mentoring “needed to make their vision a reality — from ideation to development to deployment,” per the release.

“Vibrant downtowns are essential to our continuing regional economic revival,” Alicia Dicks, president and CEO of the Community Foundation, said. “The Foundation’s Downtown Startup Challenge provides entrepreneurs with networking and funding opportunities to help them reach their goals, enhance our urban centers and attract residents and visitors to livable communities.”

Smith Market, the winner of the Community Foundation’s downtown entrepreneurship challenge in 2016, is planning to open its doors later this year. The natural-food store and local market will be located on Main Street in Utica’s Bagg’s Square.

Co-owners Luciann Gould and Christopher Tillotson say they were inspired by the growing demand for a natural food store and year-round local market in the downtown community.

“This is an idea that has evolved in me for years,” Gould said in the release. “Participating in the challenge was a fantastic opportunity to gain the community’s support and to make connections that have helped us through the process of opening our business. It was the push we needed to get started.”

 

Contact Reinhardt at ereinhardt@cnybj.com

 

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