For more than a decade, the Yampa Valley Entrepreneurship Center’s community business plan competition has provided a platform where local entrepreneurs can present their ideas and, if good enough, pocket some startup cash for them.

The competition helped the owners of companies like Chill Angel, Grass Sticks, Mountain Pine Manufacturing, Hive 180, Town Hall Outdoor and Steamboat Social turn their business ideas into reality while also helping to diversify the local economy.

The competition is back again this year, but Randy Rudasics, manager of the Yampa Valley Entrepreneurship Center, said there are a few changes in the works for the long-running event that has taken place 10 out of the last 11 years — the only break coming during the pandemic.

Rudasics said that after some discussion and a review of programming in other mountain communities, the entrepreneurship center is moving toward an event called, “the Community Pitch Plus Competition.”

“Pitch events allow entrepreneurs to have a wider audience without the heavy burden of developing a full business plan,” Rudasics explained. “The last couple of years, I think, we were getting a marginal participation, whereas I’m seeing pitch events going on and other cities that are getting 10 to 20 people. I don’t know if a new generation of people want to spend the time and energy to write a comprehensive plan, so this outline, which is a business model, might be a little less threatening to some but still give some meat and potatoes to the plan.”

That business model canvas will represent 40% of the scoring, while the business pitch will account for 45% and financial projections will account for 15%. Rudasics added that the competition will occur in late September, giving local entrepreneurs time to get their business model canvas in good order and work on their pitches.

Rudasics said he is hard at work lining up sponsorships and support that he hopes will allow this year’s prizes to grow. He is hopping to raise between $15,000 and $20,000, which will be rewarded to the top three businesses at the end of the competition.

On Monday, Rudasics was still working to line up sponsors to offer top cash prizes to reward the best business ideas with some cash to get started.

“I’m out looking for sponsorship money right now,” Rudasics said. “So far the city and the county have stepped up as sponsors, and I am optimistic that many other businesses will.”

He said he reached out to many businesses last week and sent 18 emails to different companies. He will be out of town later this week, but he hopes to start following up when he returns next week.

He said that anyone who wants to support the event financially can get in touch with him on his office phone at 970-457-4529 or at [email protected]

The Routt County Economic Development Partnership, which is a non-profit organization, is the fiscal agent for the program. Donations may be tax deductible for a for-profit business. Any donation of $250 will receive a donation receipt letter from the partnership for tax purposes.

“I am very excited to continue this program, which has received a great deal of support and visibility each year,” Rudasics wrote in the email. “We are optimistic that this format change will drive greater engagement and stimulate new business energy in our community.”

John F. Russell is the business reporter at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach him, call 970-871-4209, email [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.