A version of this article was first published on Lake County Record-Bee.
1Team 1Dream’s Hands Up Lake County is kicking off its second competition this 2021. Small Lake County businesses and business hopefuls are encouraged to apply for a chance to win cash prizes of ranging between $4,000 and $20,000.
After a successful effort in 2020, founders Maryann Schmid and Olga Martin Steele, promise an even better experience in 2021. The application process is now open. “We learned a great deal from our first-year experience,” said Steele.
“This year, the 1-day workshop and follow-up training will focus on business management, financial planning and digital marketing, the areas our applicants most benefited from last year.”
In Hands Up Lake County, a broad range of community donors sponsor the project, including the cash awards, training, and the event.
The 2020 competition drew 37 applicants, small businesses and entrepreneurs, who pitched their ideas – either to start a new business or build on a current business – for a chance to win from $15,000 to $1,000 in cash.
Interest has been building since the winners of last year’s competition were announced. “We hope to draw from an even larger applicant pool this year,” said Schmid’s partner Olga Steele.
“We encourage last year’s applicants – except for the winners – to re-apply as well as anyone who has a well thought out business idea for a startup business or is ready to take an existing business to the next level.”
“This is the only business competition of its type intended to provide an immediate cash boost and on-going mentorship and training,” said Clearlake City Manager, Alan Flora.
“I liked the idea when it was presented to us last year and we boosted the first prize to $15,000 by adding our $10,000 cash sponsorship to The Lodge at Blue Lakes’ original prize match. This year, after seeing the great results, we decided to bump our contribution to $25,000.”
In the 2020 competition, two Clearlake businesses won first and second cash prizes, Lam Printing and Clear Lake Boat Rentals.
Currently, 5 major sponsors have stepped up to support the business competition: the Cities of Clearlake and Lakeport, Foods Etc., Lake County Tribal Health and The Lodge at Blue Lakes.
In the first year, premier sponsors and owners of The Lodge at Blue Lakes, Peter and Maryann Schmid, donated towards all the cash prizes that were matched by major donors. This year, The Lodge at Blue Lakes is donating $25,000 to sponsor some of the educational programs and underwrite the organization’s expenses. Schmid said:
“Peter and I want to promote local economic growth and to do that, we believe it is important to support small businesses directly with a financial boost and the on-going training and mentoring that will make things a bit easier when tough times hit. A big part of that is understanding markets and the tools that can help the marketplace standing of small businesses.”
The competition will culminate in a Gala on Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021 at the Konocti Vista Casino & Resort Event Center, where five chosen applicants will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges for a chance at their share of $50,000.
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