The top three $10,000 small grant winners of the Englewood Quality of Life Business Plan Competition offered a variety of new business ideas for Englewood during the culminating “Pitch Day” event on December 15, 2016 at Teamwork Englewood.
Top rated winners Lesley Roth & Steve Marchese pitched “Englewood Brews” a micro brewery. Eddie E. Downs, FBG Cookies and Company came in second with his plan for a cookie company and Andrea NaTay Drane secured the third top spot with Forever Fitness Chicago, LLC, healthy food vending machines.
An additional $10,000 was distributed among the following remaining contestants to help advance their businesses: Michelle D. Flagg, Redacre Solutions, Construction Industry Sub-contractor Support Firm; Ronda Hale Johnson, Nu Horizon, Multi-line Insurance Services; Dr. Sonia Kennedy, EW360, Empowering Wellness, Health & Wellness Center; Cherice Price, Cherice Price Insurance Company; and, Alexis Williams, Let Us Serve You-clean food catering
During the final phase of the five month competition, a blue ribbon panel of judges comprised of local luminaries evaluated each candidate’s ability to effectively “pitch” their business idea. The pitch score was added to a previously evaluated written business plan score. The “Pitch Day” blue ribbon panel of judges included: Andrea Zopp, Deputy Mayor and Chief Neighborhood Development Officer, Office of the Mayor; Maria Guerra Lapacek, Commissioner, City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protection; Edward and Shirley Calahan, Calahan Funeral Home (Englewood); and, Walter Robb, Co-CEO, Whole Foods Market.
The small business grant awards sponsored by Teamwork Englewood are intended to reward small business owners and entrepreneurs with innovative ideas to provide needed products or services to the people of the Englewood community. The awards are presented in association with the Englewood Qualify of Life Plan, Jobs and Economic Development Task Force that is charged with assessing needs and identifying businesses opportunities crucial to building a thriving enterprise zone in the Englewood neighborhood.
About the competition process
The initial field of 31 applicants were required to develop a new or refine an existing business plan in association with subject matter experts or identified collaborators. Following the business plan development sessions, a selection committee made up of Englewood community stakeholders, business leaders and representatives from not- for-profit organizations evaluated and scored the written business plans. The top nine candidates advanced to the final “Pitch Day” competition. The written business plans were evaluated based on several criteria including the applicants experience in the line of business; number of full and part-time jobs to be created by the idea; investment and equity brought to the project by the applicant; creditworthiness; and, projected profitability of the business venture. The “Pitch Day” contestants were evaluated on delivery and content of their pitch.
Through the process, candidates developed unique and sustainable professional associations with top business leaders whom they can access for future consultation as their businesses grow and develop. In addition to enriching their business community network, they were exposed to a vast array of support services and organizations that provide free to low-cost technical assistance needed to advance their businesses.
The Selection Committee
Candidates benefited from one-on-one evaluations with accomplished and industry respected individuals including: Saul H. Klibanow, Principal of Klibanow Strategic Consulting Services, LLC and Teamwork Englewood Board Member; Leon Walker, Esq., Manager, DL3 Realty; Manuel Jimenez, Vice President and CRA Officer, Marquette Bank; Shirley Calahan, Owner Calahan Funeral Home; Alysia Tate, Director of Programs, Chicago Foundation for Women; Felicia Slaton Young, President, Englewood Chamber of Commerce and Edward Jones, Financial Advisor; Thurman “Tony” Smith, Senior Vice President, Community Development Banking-Market Man- ager, PNC Bank; and, Eva Brown, U.S. Bank, Vice President and Regional Community Development Manager.
Competition collaborating organizations that provided business plan development services included: The Monroe Foundation, Marquette Bank, The Greater Englewood Community Development Corporation, Chatham Business Association, Women’s Business Development Center, SCORE Chicago, The Resurrection Project, Sunshine Enterprises and The Law Project.
About Teamwork Englewood
Teamwork Englewood was formed in 2003 as part of the New Communities Program, sponsored by Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and the MacArthur Foundation. Its goal is to unite the many organizations serving Englewood residents and work toward the common goal of building a stronger community.
Created by St. Bernard Hospital, Greater Englewood Parish United Methodist Church and Pullman Bank Initiatives (a subsidiary of the former Park National Bank), Teamwork Englewood drew input from more than 600 residents to draft a “Quality of Life Plan” – a roadmap to a brighter future for Englewood. For more information, please visit: www.teamworkenglewood.org.