For entrepreneurs wanting to start a new business in southeast Colorado Springs, the opportunity is now.

The Colorado Springs Business Journal, Colorado Springs Independent and Thrive Colorado are accepting nominations through July 1 for the inaugural Southeast Business Plan Competition to give startups — from bookstores and technology firms to clothing boutiques and food trucks — the opportunity to grow in the 80910 or 80916 ZIP codes.

The winner will be awarded resources and tools valued at $25,000 to help a new business take flight. (See below).

“The package includes everything from cash prizes, mentors and legal help, to marketing assistance and help finding office space,” said Jariah Walker, director of community outreach for Thrive Colorado and senior economic development analyst with the city. “We will do our best to look at what the winner is wanting to do as a business, and match resources to help them succeed and give them a leg up in business.”

The winner will be announced Aug. 17 during a reception at the Hotel Eleganté. Franchises, medical marijuana businesses, adult shops, liquor stores, nonprofits or multilevel marketing companies are not eligible.

The competition opens the door to test a concept, Walker said, adding, “If someone has an idea they’ve been sitting on for a while and feel like it could have an impact, fill out the form.”

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Walker hopes the challenge will bring more entrepreneurship to the southeast side and erase the area’s stigma, stereotypes and barriers.

“Most efforts have focused on downtown,” he said. “People in the southeast feel disconnected from the rest of the city, with transportation and housing issues, and crime. … Let’s promote that area and give it as much opportunity for business growth as the rest of Colorado Springs.”

Thrive Colorado uses a 10-week Ice House course to teach young entrepreneurs in the southeast area critical thinking skills and a deeper understanding of business.

“Entrepreneurism isn’t about how much money you have, rather figuring out details along the way and unlocking the potential within the tools presented in front of you,” Walker said.

By the end of 2017, Thrive Colorado hopes to create at least 60 new small businesses in the southeast corridor, employ 200-plus people and generate at least $25 million.

“Community and business can go hand in hand and have a strong social impact,” Walker said. “The recognition and prizes the winner will receive will be fantastic, but on a grander scale, the city will recognize talent on that side of town, removing stigmas and uplifting people.”

Brittney Stroh, executive director at Atlas Preparatory School, said her institution is excited about the competition as a start to promoting more business.

“The southeast Colorado Springs community has a lot to offer our city and with some support can create thriving businesses,” she said.

“Unfortunately over the years as other areas of Colorado Springs have developed, this part of town has struggled with business development and urban blight. By highlighting this community and offering a chance to create job opportunities, even if just a few at first, we are showing that every part of Colorado Springs should be invested in and supported economically.”

To fill out a nomination form, go to or Return the form to no later than 5 p.m. July 1.

Competition prizes

• Four weeks of billboards from Lamar Outdoor Advertising

• Classes from El Pomar Foundation

• School bus donated by Atlas Preparatory School

• 50-minute developmental coaching sessions from Pam Shipp

• Assistance with finding office space by Thrive Colorado

• Marketing strategy, logo design and business card design and printing from Design Rangers

• Workshops and QuickBooks from the Small Business Development Center

• One year of banking assistance and discounted merchant services from Kirkpatrick Bank

• One-year subscription to the Colorado Springs Business Journal

• One year of free attendance at CSBJ and Independent events

• One year of ad campaigns in both the CSBJ and Independent

• Coaching for six months with Business Truth Consulting

• Mentorship with Travis Fields from Fieldhouse Brewery

• Catering services from the Picnic Basket

• Corporate formation and up to five hours of pro bono legal consultations from Sparks Willson Borges Brandt & Johnson P. C.