A grant of up to $12,000 may be awarded to the winner of a Winneshiek County Development Inc. business plan competition called Biz Booster Challenge.

The Challenge is open to anyone who starts a new business or significantly expands an existing business.

The main consideration in selecting a winner or winners in the Biz Booster Challenge will be the amount of economic impact the new or expanding business will have in Winneshiek County.

"We feel fortunate to live and work in a community that values promoting economic growth for new and existing business owners," said Kirsten and Dr. David Heine of The Family Care Clinic, a 2012 Biz Booster winner.

Another 2012 winner, a Calmar coffee roasting business Bean Masters, said the contest was very helpful to their start up.

"Among other benefits, our company acquired financial support, credibility, marketing and promotion, and by writing a business plan we were able to set specific goals for our company," said owner Fernando Vaquero.

Judging panel

The Biz Booster judging panel will make the final decision on whether the $12,000 grant will be awarded to one participant or split among multiple winners. The deadline for entering a business plan is Friday, April 5.

In addition to a one-time grant award, the winner or winners may receive free professional consultations with an attorney, a certified public accountant or other professional services helpful to running a small business.

Participants must be 18 years or older or have consent of their parents or legal guardians to qualify. Only one business plan per participant will be allowed.

Oral presentation

In addition to a written business plan, finalists will make an oral presentation before a 7-member judging panel.

To qualify to make the oral presentation, local small-business owners or prospective business owners must submit a business plan that calls for the business to be:

• Profitable or at least sustainable

• Situated fully or at least substantially in Winneshiek County

• Not engaged in an acquisition or merger of an existing company

Registration materials and more information about the Biz Booster Challenge may be obtained by contacting Winneshiek County Development Director Randy Uhl at 563-382-6061 or wcdi@thinkdecorah.com.