March 27, 2017
“Forward thinking” “inventive” “creative” and “unconventional” are the perfect words to describe a second-year-running program, StartUP Bristol. This program is designed as a business plan competition to encourage small business owners and entrepreneurs alike to expand or locate in Bristol. Bristol is a city that offers countless amenities for residents and visitors, including a variety of museums, parks and historical landmarks, and more! On the other hand, Bristol, with a few exceptions, lacks a large number of innovative startup companies. The Bristol Development Authority recognized this need and established this program to help diversify the business climate of the town.
Bristol, already known for its business friendly environment, has added the StartUP Bristol competition to further support the community and small business owners. This program is an opportunity for aspiring business owners to take the next step in their business venture and to establish themselves in a way they may have not been able to before.
There are a number of reasons why startup businesses are important for the health of the economy and community. Here are just a few:
Entrepreneurs not only work for themselves but, as they expand, they also hire people in their communities. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses represent 99.7% of employers and have created 64% of the net new jobs over the past 15 years.
Entrepreneurs patronize local restaurants and businesses, as well use different vendors in the area for their own company, in turn generating more business locally.
Their presence can attract new complementary businesses or competition to the region.
In addition to these great benefits, StartUP Bristol was designed to bring in new, innovative businesses to the area which will provide the public more options and help the local economy thrive. Nationwide, the Small Business Saturday’s movement has been trending for the past several years. It encourages consumers to shop at local small businesses rather than big box stores and online. It is the hope that this program will help inspire the community to do the same.
The competition is going to be fierce this year. With a $100,000 budget, individual award amounts will be determined on a case-by-case basis, with no award less than $20,000 and no award greater than $50,000. There are several qualifications entrepreneurs must meet. Startups interested in applying for this competition may be currently operating in Bristol or be operating outside of Bristol but willing to expand to Bristol following an award. Applicants may also be in the concept stage with no formal operations, but must commit to locating in Bristol following presentation of the award and legal business formation. Applicants need to complete the “Executive Summary” which is a short, fillable form where applicants provide a summary of their projects. They are also required to summarize their backgrounds and the experience and personal qualities they feel prepare them to launch or operate a new business. Based on the “Executive Summary” submission, a select number of applicants will be invited to submit a “Detailed Business Plan” in addition to a fund allocation budget and description. The top finalists will be asked to make a presentation in person to the StartUp Bristol Task Force.
Eric Orschel, a StartUP Bristol Task Force member, states, “My experience with StartUP Bristol has been great. I enjoy seeing people with passion and vision try to think outside the box. This project sheds light on Bristol and its support of entrepreneurs. This shows that Bristol is open for business!”
Ani Chaghatzbanian is an Economic Development Specialist for the Bristol Development Authority and manages the StartUp Bristol program. The Bristol Development Authority (BDA) works to improve the physical, economic, and social environment of the Bristol community by serving as the primary governmental organization dedicated to promoting commercial development, to preserving and improving the City’s housing stock, and to securing and administering the resources required to carry out these goals. The BDA is overseen by an appointed nine-member Board of Commissioners which governs economic and community development policies for the City.