Courtesy of scnow.com
FLORENCE, S.C. – The Florence Downtown Development Corporation has begun a “Full Forward Downtown Business Contest” designed to attract new businesses to the downtown historic district. The winner will receive more than $50,000.
The contest, announced Wednesday morning, is open to all current retail business owners who have been in operation for at least one year. The winner of the contest will receive a cash prize of $20,000 as well as $30,000 in grant money from the city of Florence. The winner will also be granted $1,300 for signage, design services and business licensing.
According to the contest rules, the business can be a relocation or expansion of a current business, or a new concept by an existing business owner. Tim Norwood, chairman of the Florence Downtown Development Corporation, said the competition is open to virtually any retail business and he is confident the prize money will help launch the business and further enhance the retail landscape of downtown.
“Fifty thousand is a lot of money for a start-up to get,” Norwood said. “It’s a really good deal, particularly for a business that is up and running and all they have to do is apply, win the competition and move in.”
“We want successful businesses that are up and running to move here and the incentive is to pay them to do it.”
Applicants who enter the contest will be reviewed by the panel selected by the Downtown Develpment Corporation to determine a group of semi-finalists. Those chosen applicants will then be required to present their business plan to the selection committee during an in-person interview. The contest winner will be determined no later than Aug. 7.
Norwood said the goal would be to have the winning business open and fully operational by October of this year. According to the contest rules, the winner is obligated to execute a minimum of a three year lease for the property of its choice.
Bob Sager, retail recruitment consultant for the corporation, said he hopes the contest will attract more attention to the Florence retail market and fill some of the eight empty storefronts in the downtown district.
“We’re hopeful that not only will we have a winner and a great new business in downtown Florence but we may have more than one,” Sager said. “Our goal is to get at least one or more additional retail businesses in the downtown district prior to the holiday season this year.”
For more information about the contest or to submit an application, visit florencedowntown.com. A paper application form can also be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. All applications must be submitted by 5 p.m. July 7.