The deadline is approaching to register for a business plan competition aimed at expanding farm, food and forestry businesses in Vermont.
Vermont Technical College and Strolling of the Heifers are putting on the competition. The deadline to register is Feb. 5.
All applications must involve some aspect of farming, forestry or food processing, distribution, packaging or retailing, including restaurants.
The winner will be awarded $10,000, with prizes of $8,000 and $5,000 for second and third place and two runner-up awards of $1,500. The student competition awards $4,000 for the winner, $2,000 for second place and two runner-awards of $1,000.
Finalists will be picked by March 20 and have until May 22 to prepare detailed business plans.
Contestants can register and find rules and information online at www.strollingheifers.com.
After registering, contestants must attend a Feb. 5 orientation workshop, either in person or an interactive video presentation provided via Vermont Interactive Technologies, which will be available in multiple locations through out the state. They will then prepare a three-page business prospectus due March 8.
The intent of the competition is to help create and retain jobs, foster economic growth, and improve the quality of life in Vermont. Contest entries will be reviewed and judged based on such criteria as likelihood of success and job creation (direct or indirect).
For instance, will the proposed business or expansion create new jobs opportunities, or positively affect other businesses such as suppliers or distributors, or make an ancillary impact such as drawing tourists to the area?
Past winners of the competition were Lucas Farrell and Louisa Conrad, owners of Big Picture Farm in Townshend. Farrell and Conrad won top honors in 2011, and have since then significantly expanded their business which markets goat milk taffy, and won the Gold Award for best confection at the 2012 Sofi Summer Fancy Food Show.
Other past winners include Kelt and Kristina Naylor of Side Hill Farm of Brattleboro, The Gleanery restaurant of Putney and Deer Ridge Farm of Guilford, Raven Hill Farm of Braintree, and Freedom Foods of Randolph.
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