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Kick Start Middlebury now accepting applications

MIDDLEBURY — The Kick Start Middlebury program, created by a partnership of property owners and government, economic development, educational and business entities, is now accepting Letters of Interest from those looking to establish, relocate or expand a business in Middlebury. At least two applicants will receive an incentive package that includes free or discounted services and products donated by area businesses, a $10,000 grant made available by the Town of Middlebury’s business development fund, and various benefits offered by property owners. More than a cash prize and valuable start-up services, the initiative offers business support, coaching and connections that will help all applicants, regardless of outcome, advance their ideas.
Businesses and entrepreneurs interested in locating a new or expanding business in Middlebury will submit a business idea and a Letter of Interest. A review committee, comprised of community stakeholders, will invite up to ten applicants to submit a full application. All invited applicants will receive free business plan counseling and business projection preparation from the Vermont Small Business Development Center or another qualified mentor. Invited applicants will be required to submit an application, a business plan, and financial projections which will be evaluated by a committee against a set of criteria. Applications will be accepted and reviewed for any available location in Middlebury, but preference will be given to projects locating in Middlebury’s designated downtown area.
“Downtown Middlebury has nearly a dozen storefront vacancies due to a combination of the COVID-19 pandemic, a multi-year downtown construction project, changes in retail habits and a myriad of other factors,” said Karen Duguay, Executive Director of the Better Middlebury Partnership. “Regardless of the circumstances that have caused this situation, the impacts are clear: fewer businesses mean fewer people being drawn to the downtown and fewer people patronizing the existing stores and restaurants. Equally clear is that community partners must act proactively and collaboratively to bring new and expanding businesses to Middlebury and restore our community center.”
 “Local programs like Kick Start Middlebury have been very successful around Vermont to encourage creative entrepreneurs to launch their ideas and reinvigorate downtowns,” said Fred Kenney, Executive Director of the Addison County Economic Development Corporation. “It is very exciting to see the community rally together to overcome the impacts of the last year.”
The collaborating partners that have created the Kick Start Middlebury program are the Town of Middlebury, Better Middlebury Partnership, Addison County Chamber of Commerce, Addison County Economic Development Corporation, Vermont Small Business Development Center, Middlebury College, and several Middlebury area businesses and property owners.
The application window for Letters of Interest starts on March 15 at noon and ends on April 9 at 5 p.m. The review committee will announce the ten projects selected to submit a full application on April 19. Applicants will have until May 24 to submit their business plan, financials, etc. A final announcement of awardees will be on June 28.
The Kick Start Middlebury website has links to application forms as well as details on program eligibility, rules, process, selection criteria and a timeline. The website also includes details on the awards package and available storefronts. Visit kickstartmiddlebury.com for complete details.

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