Deadline to enter the ‘Get on the Trail!’ Business Plan Contest is next week

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The deadline for entries in the Oil Region Alliance of Business, Industry and Tourism's annual "Get on the Trail" entrepreneurial contest is fast approaching.

Submissions in the form of a business concept paper must be received by 5 p.m. Monday, August 1st, in order to be eligible for the next step in the competition.

The contest is open to anyone interested in tapping into the growing outdoor recreation industry by opening a new, or expanding an existing, business along the Hydetown-to-Foxburg corridor of the Erie to Pittsburgh trail.

Participants can be individuals, businesses or any other organization planning to launch or expand a business, seasonal or permanent, that caters to regional trail and waterway users.

First prize is a $5,000 cash stipend. The second-place finisher will receive a $2,000 award and $1,000 will be awarded to the third-place proposal. Winners may also be eligible for business-related support and low-interest funding.

The contest is spearheaded by Deb Lutz, vice president of economic development for the Oil Region Alliance of Business, Industry & Tourism.

"History has shown me that people typically wait," Lutz said of the high percentage of last minute submissions received every year.

She is still waiting to hear from some of the attendees at the ORA's workshops held earlier this year.

"We had nice attendance at the two education forums, Lutz said.  While attendance at the forums was not a requirement to enter the contest, we do prefer that potential contestants attend.  This year we had a special marketing presentation on creating customers from content as well as a presentation on revisions we made to the financial projections that are required to be included in the business profiles contestant who are chosen to move in the contest must provide.”   The information is still available by calling the ORA offices.


As part of the application process, contestants will be required to submit a concept paper along with their application, paying particular attention to the judging criteria.

Among other information that should be included in the concept paper are a proposed location, business summary, general company description, products and services and sustainability.

Additional information on the requirements is available online at under the More Information tab.  Potential contestants can also call Lutz at (814) 677-3152, Ext. 115.

Those needing assistance putting together the paper can receive free resources from SCORE, a business mentoring program offered through the ORA and the Clarion Small Business Development Center.

After completing the concept paper, current or potential business owners can start on the business profile, the next step of the contest.

It builds off the concept paper but is more comprehensive.

"Give us a little more detail," Lutz said of the requirements in the second step.


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