The finalists were named in an annual competition designed to help entrepreneurs gain a foothold in the community.
Vertical vegetables; Bluewater Pelvic Health Center; Wacky Jacks Pop Up Play; In the house; Personal style, “In Sanitary Hands;” and Tech-Kee Home Solutions are startups selected for final judging in the 2021 Business Boost Bundle Contest.
The previous Win This Space competition, renamed and modified in 2020, offers winners $ 15,000 for one-year rental of retail or office space, $ 5,000 for working capital, and $ 2,500 for branding and marketing services.
Winners will also receive one year of business consulting and commercial banking services and one year of membership in the Sarnia-Lambton Chamber of Commerce.
This year’s 12 semi-finalists received one-on-one training and coaching to develop business plans and created videos to promote their ideas, said Don Anderson of the competition’s host, Sarnia-Lambton Business Development Corporation.
The six finalists’ videos are available at bizboostbundle.com/finalists, and entrants will be judged in a Facebook Live event at 7 p.m. on May 27, he said.
“One of the most important things is to underline the importance of entrepreneurship as a career alternative,” he said. “And also to encourage younger members of our community to take the step forward and have confidence in themselves to open new businesses and create new jobs.”
The total number of entries this year was 28, he said, the most in the history of the competition. Last year it was between 20 and 22, he said.
One of the finalists is also a finalist in last year’s competition, which had to retool its idea because of the pandemic, he said.
“She worked hard … she did a good job,” he said.
Finalists will also receive a People’s Choice Award of $ 1,000 based on votes.
Last year’s winner won with around 300 votes, he said.
The award is sponsored by Bluewater Power.
Southwest Regional Credit Union, CR Creative, and the Sarnia-Lambton Chamber are also contributing to the awards, along with Bluewater Power and the Business Development Corporation.
The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario is also funding the program.
In the last four years of the competition, 80 percent of the finalists have started their businesses, Anderson said.
“Surely we’re looking at where some of these have been over the past four or five years, and I think it has helped revitalize some commercial properties too,” he said.
It is more difficult to do the coaching virtually in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
“At a time like this, it’s always about people trying to make the jump, about the uncertainty about what we’re going to see next,” he said.
“If the percentage of the vaccinated and hopefully fully vaccinated population increases in the next few months, hopefully we can get back to normal, especially in retail,” he said.
Further details on the competition can also be found at facebook.com/bizboostbundle.