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Lansing launches local business pitch competition. One prize is a year of free rent downtown.

Posted at 6:30 AM, Mar 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-01 09:59:39-05

LANSING, Mich. — The city of Lansing is launching a startup competition for entrepreneurs looking to start a new business. One of the prizes: a year of free rent.

Mayor Andy Schor says the pandemic’s devastating impact on local business is what inspired the city to organize the Lansing Built to Last competition.

“COVID-19 has been really challenging for us here in downtown,” Schor said. “We want to stem the tide of temporary or even permanent closures and do our best to bring new businesses downtown.”

More than 20 mid-Michigan companies and organizations are sponsoring the initiative, which will provide a full year of resources and support to the winner including a year of free rent in a suite downtown on South Washington Square, discounted electricity and water courtesy of the Lansing Board of Water and Light and complementary IT support from Dewpoint.

All pitches must contribute to the economic development of downtown Lansing. Each applicant must also have an “emergency-resistant” strategy in place that would help their business survive in uncertain circumstances.

“We see a lot of new companies come and go very quickly and that's hard on the community,” said Laurie Baumer, the executive vice president of Capital Region Community Foundation, one of the jackpot’s sponsors. “We want to make sure that whoever is chosen to receive this award does have a plan for resiliency.”

The competition will be broken down into three phases. An online form outlining participants’ business proposals is due March 14. In April, applicants will have the option to attend a virtual workshop to refine their pitches before the submission deadline. The top five business plans will be selected by April 21. In May, the finalists will present their idea to a panel of the sponsors and a winner will be announced.

“Lansing Built to Last is exactly what it sounds like," said Schor. “We are built to last and this is an effort to make sure that we can grow even through the toughest of times.”

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Tianna Jenkins

12:23 PM, Jan 12, 2021

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