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Woodstock competitors affords ,000 prize for finest enterprise thought

Woodstock competitors affords $30,000 prize for finest enterprise thought

Woodstock competitors affords ,000 prize for finest enterprise thought
Cliff Johnson, left, and Larry Niles, two of Startup Woodstock’s organizers, hope to spur new enterprise. Picture by Ethan Weinstein/VTDigger

WOODSTOCK — Let the very best enterprise win.

With $30,000 in seed cash, three Woodstock enterprise leaders have helped create Startup Woodstock, a pitch competitors that may assist launch a brand new enterprise.

“The concept is, the nearer the corporate is to fixing some important want inside the group, that is a giant plus,” mentioned Cliff Johnson, one among Startup Woodstock’s organizers and judges. 

Johnson moved along with his household from Atlanta to Woodstock throughout the pandemic. Greater than a decade in the past, whereas working in Portland, Oregon, he based Vacasa, a world trip rental administration firm, which he left in 2018. 

Johnson is organizing the Woodstock competitors with Jon Spector and Larry Niles, each members of the city’s Financial Improvement Fee, which focuses on points akin to housing, little one care and downtown revitalization. The fee offered $10,000 for the competitors, and the extra $20,000 got here from non-public donors. 

“We actually need folks to come back right here,” Niles mentioned. “We’re gonna do the whole lot we will to resolve a few of these very apparent issues, or limitations, to opening up a enterprise.”

Excessive rents downtown contribute to the limitations, Niles mentioned, together with the notion that Woodstock has a difficult-to-navigate forms for potential enterprise house owners. Whereas the previous could also be true, he refuted the latter, saying almost all of the enterprise house owners surveyed by the fee reported having optimistic experiences with native authorities. 

Niles additionally rejects the concept that Woodstock caters solely to a sure clientele.

“I all the time cringe on the thought that we’re only a wealthy city,” he mentioned, “as a result of we’re made up of numerous tradespeople and lots of people which have lived right here all their lives.”

With that in thoughts, Niles and Johnson mentioned Startup Woodstock hopes to solid a large internet in recruiting potential candidates for the prize cash. Folks whose concepts could solely be of their infancy are invited to use. So are service-based companies akin to electrical, landscaping and little one care corporations. 

“A $30,000 grant might assist any person launch a brand new little one care enterprise fairly simply,” Johnson mentioned.

The competitors’s standards require the enterprise to fill an unmet hole in the neighborhood and, hopefully, create living-wage jobs or a sustainable owner-operated enterprise.

If profitable, Johnson mentioned he hopes the competitors will create “a tradition of entrepreneurship and (enable) folks to create their very own future.”

Johnson imagines that type of tradition might develop in Woodstock. He moved to Vermont to lift his household, relishing Woodstock’s faculty system, tight-knit group and entry to the outside. He works remotely, and sees the Windsor County trip vacation spot as a draw for extra distant staff like him. 

For a city of solely about 3,000 folks, Woodstock devotes substantial sources to financial growth. Since 2016, the city’s Financial Improvement Fee has given out over $1 million in grants supporting occasions, bodily infrastructure, advertising and different initiatives. 

This yr, the city authorities created a program paying landlords to transform short-term leases to long-term leases. This system goals to ease the city’s housing scarcity, made extra acute due to the village’s attract to vacationers. Property house owners acquired $3,000 in the event that they agreed to a one-year lease with a tenant, and $7,000 for a two-year lease. 

Johnson acknowledged that “issues that come when a group will get extra trip leases coming in,” together with by means of Vacasa, including that short-term leases could also be a “minor contributing issue to housing affordability.”

Nonetheless, he believes trip leases could be a “optimistic a part of most communities” when they’re licensed, taxed and following native laws. 

Although it’s a brand new thought, Startup Woodstock might develop if it proves profitable, in response to organizers. Candidates can apply till Dec. 1, at which level a to-be-announced panel of judges will slender the sector to a gaggle of finalists by Dec. 15. These finalists will current their concepts in February, and a winner shall be chosen quickly thereafter.

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