A version of this article was first published on The Bloom.
Hands Up Like County, 2021, a small business competition created to support the local economy, drew 50 applicants this year. Of these, 19 will compete in a mini competition on October 23rd, where 5 will be selected to advance to the final competition and a chance to win from $20,000 to $4,000. A total of $50,000 in cash awards plus a “fan favorite” prize and other gifts will be awarded.
To prepare for the first competition, the group attended a 1-day workshop taught by Mendocino College Adjunct Professor Stephen O’Mara who applauded the groups enthusiasm and creativity. The culmination of the day was a 3-minute pitch by each business. “Everyone hit the mark, now it’s just a matter of putting the learning into a pitch-style presentation for the next step of the competition,” O’Mara said.
“The workshop focused on financial and business planning and a session on marketing in a digital world,” said Monica Rosenthal, the newest Board member of 1Team 1Dream Board of Directors, the nonprofit that puts on the competition. “This is more than 5 small businesses winning cash awards,” said Rosenthal. “It’s 19 businesses who walk away with knowledge and tools to help perfect their business models and then go on to become an essential part of our economy.”
In the mini competition, a panel of 3 local business owners will judge the presentations and select 5 businesses for the final competition on December 12.
Since attending the workshop the applicants have been preparing for the mini competition. “In addition to the workshop, each business will receive support in designing or updating their business logos and a consultation with 1Team 1Dream graphics design consultants, Straits Creative,” said Maryann Schmid, founder of 1Team 1Dream. “We want to offer the kind of support that will give each applicant the tools they need to be competitive, in the 2021 competition, and in business,” she said.
The nonprofit Board members were there to cheer on the applicants. “Last year we awarded $28,400 in cash prizes, this year we’re awarding $50,000,” said Board President and Co-Founder Olga Martin Steele. “We have a champion in Maryann Schmid, our founder,” she said. “She provides the seed money and the rest we raise.”
This year the major sponsors are the Cities of Clearlake and Lakeport, Foods, Etc., Lake County Tribal Health Consortium and The Lodge at Blue Lakes. The major sponsors will present the awards at the final competition.
Board member Helena Welsh, who serves as the primary contact for the applicants, summed up her personal goal. “When the judges evaluate the applicants to decide the 5 businesses that will advance to the final competition, I want it to be one of the most challenging decisions they will ever make.”
Lisa Morrow, treasurer of the nonprofit, agreed. “All the businesses that attended the workshop this year represent the future of our local, rural economy,” she said. “They are a creative, hopeful group with the kind of community spirit that makes Lake County such a special place to live.”
The nonprofit is seeking event sponsorships for the final competition on Sunday, December 12, 2021.