Three Biddeford entrepreneurs win $20K start-up packages

In early March, I wrote a story about a contest being run by the downtown organization Heart of Biddeford, which was offering up three grand prizes worth $20,000 each for new or expanding businesses who could make it through a gauntlet of interviews and plan reviews, and who would pledge to eat up some vacant storefronts in the downtown.

Well, 27 entrepreneurs entered the fray, and this past week, Heart of Biddeford announced the three winners.

With their $20,000 package — which includes a $10,000 forgivable loan, six months of free rent and a whole host of free professional services, including marketing and legal help –Jennifer Thibodeau and Wes Rhames will be opening up a vegetarian restaurant called “Dahlia’s Delights.”

Michael Macomber was another grand prize winner with his pitch for “Elements,” a bookstore/cafe by day and taproom/event space by night.

And finally, David and Rebekah Clark snagged the third $20,000 prize with their hand-carved wood store “Tote Road.”

These entrepreneurs will take their first steps toward opening on Monday night with a meeting with businesses, banks and Chamber members who put up all the in-kind service offerings that helped make up the big winning packages.

Said Heart of Biddeford Executive Director Delilah Poupore in a statement:

After the judges reviewed 27 initial pitches, it was very exciting to see these three excellent business plans rise to the top. We will work with each business owner in the coming months as they navigate the start-up process so that they are ready to open before the 2012 holiday season.

Two other business proposals were given encouragement in the announcement of the winners, with honorable mentions (but no start-up packages) offered to the Corner Bookstore and Union House Catering and Events.

Seth Koenig

About Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.