Winners and runners up of a regional contest aimed at developing small business owners have been putting their prize money to good use.
The contest was called the ThriveNorth Business Challenge, a project of a national non-profit business mentoring and development agency called Futurpreneur and financed by the BG Group, which is proposing to build a liquefied natural gas plant called Prince Rupert LNG at Prince Rupert.
Contestants gathered in Prince Rupert in the spring for two days of business concept pitches, after which a panel of judges decided on winners and runners up in different categories.
In Terrace, a Coast Mountains school district registered speech-language pathologist, Nathan Hoffart was the $10,000 winner of the social enterprise category.
He is moving toward meeting his goal of making the service more available in the area.
His plan was to have speech language pathologists travel to communities for specific therapy sessions.
For now, Hoffart has set up shop at the Terrace Hearing Clinic.
Another Terrace contest participant, Jeff Minhinnick, took home $2,500 as the runner up in the best business expansion plan category with his plan for a mobile version of the newly-opened Ye Olde Chop Bloc barber business in Terrace.
That’s still a possibility and Minhinnick and partner Travis Murphy have two barber chairs set aside for such an eventuality.
They’re now waiting for the launch of the large construction camps that will be needed based on anticipated final investment decisions for major industrial projects.
“Some of the companies we talked to wanted us to open a full barber shop,” said Minhinnick in response to their sales pitch for a mobile operation.
But that would be a bit of a financial risk for the new enterprise and mean having to hire an employee just for that location.
Instead, pending development of their mobile concept, Minhinnick is leaning toward having one barber chair in a small space at a camp and have it open for a set number of days each month.
New Hazelton’s Ria Smith won $10,000 for topping the new business category with her Fender Food Company mobile food kitchen.
She had already purchased a 28-foot long trailer that can be towed behind a truck and the money went a long way to outfitting the kitchen.
“It’s called a toy hauler. That’s the description for a trailer that you can put two vehicles into,” said Smith.
The unit is completely self sufficient, meaning Smith can move it anywhere to provide a catering service or general food services at specific events.
Smith has also developed a local network of suppliers, saying she wanted to cement the concept that as a business, she can help other businesses.
“I want this to be sustainable. You support your business and they will support you.”