2018 Ashland Retail Storefront Business Contest


Opportunity Knocks!! Have you thought about owning your own business? Maybe you are really close to making that move to business ownership? Well now is the time!

….. 2018 Ashland Retail Storefront Business Contest….

The Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce announces the 2018 Ashland Retail Storefront Business Contest.   The “Opportunity Knocks” contest is designed to encourage entrepreneurs to submit their retail  business concept for consideration and to open a storefront on Ashland’s Historic Main Street between the 200 and 500 blocks of Main Street West. (Existing locations of available storefronts).


  • To assist with the opening of one new retail business located in the Historic downtown area of 200 to 500 Main Street West.  Retail businesses also include food /eateries.
  • Occupy available retail space with businesses that complement existing businesses.

Grand Prize:
The business with the winning submittal and accepted offer or lease agreement (“Grand Prize Winner”) receives:

  • $2,500 in cash with a signed 36 month lease agreement or accepted offer to purchase a storefront within the geographical boundary.
  • Free advertising package with the Ashland Daily Press & the Evergreen Country Shopper.
  • Free advertising package with Heartland Communications.
  • 12 hours of free accounting and consulting services with Maitland, Singler & Van Vlack.
  • Start-up business $3,000 loan (1% interest/3 year) from the Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce downtown development revolving loan fund.
  • Free one year membership with the Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce.
  • Exposure to various media outlets during the announcement of the winning submittals.
  • $250 in merchandise from Northern Business Products.
  • 10 – $25 Chamber Dollar Gift Certificates for promotional give-aways during business grand-opening. $250 total.
  • $250.00 Gift Card from Wal-Mart for operating supplies.
  • Free ¼ page ad in the Bottom Line News for 6 editions.

This is a two-phase contest:

Phase 1- Business Concept –  In the first phase, applicants are asked to provide a  business concept which includes an executive summary (in 100 words or less) and also answers the following:

  • Describe the nature of your business and the products/merchandise you would carry or deliver in 100 words or less.
  • Define your market (who would be a user or customer)
  • How would your business enhance Ashland’s Historic Downtown
  • What resources would be needed to develop this concept (personnel, financing, equipment, etc)
  • What are your qualifications to develop this business?

Business Concepts are due by 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

If your business concept advances through phase 1- you will be asked to move on to the second phase of the contest and provide the following: A minimum of 3 finalists are needed to continue the contest.  Should there not be a minimum, you will be notified.

Phase 2- Business Plan –Finalists will be offered free services from UW-Extension Small Business Development Center and Ashland Area Development Corporation to compete in phase 2 of the contest. Training classes for the Retail Storefront Contest, “Creating a Successful Business Plan” will be offered during the week of March 19th with flexible scheduling for those working during the day.
A detailed business plan featuring:

  • Company Summary
  • Executive Summary
  • Products/ Services Summary
  • Market Analysis Summary
  • Strategies & Implementation Summary
  • Management Summary
  • Financial Plan
  • How your business will enhance Ashland’s Historic Downtown
  • Why your business stands out

Final Business Plans are due  by 5:00 p.m. Friday, May 18th, 2018

How to Enter:

All business proposals can be emailed to ashchamb@centurytel.net or delivered to:
Opportunity Knocks (Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce)
1716 W. Lake Shore Drive
Ashland, WI  54806

  • Entries must be clearly identified on the package or email that it is part of the Opportunity Knocks Historic Main Street storefront contest.


  • Business concepts are due by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 6th, 2018.  All that meet the required criteria will be submitted to the Selection Committee for review and judging.
  • The selection committee will consist of a representation of the Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, business leaders, and community leaders.
  • The business concept finalists will be notified on March 9th. Finalists will be offered free services from the Ashland Area Development Corporation and UW- Superior Small Business Development Center to compete in phase 2 of the contest.
  • “Creating a Successful Business Plan” training classes, will be offered by UW-Superior Small Business Development Center during the week of March 19th.  Class scheduling will be flexible and offered in the afternoons or evenings in Ashland.

Final Business Plans are due by 5:00 p.m. Friday, May 18th, 2018

Grand Prize Winner Announced June 1st, 2018

Selection Criteria:

  • Uniqueness of concept –Is there duplicity with existing businesses.
  • Feasibility of Business Plan
  • Ability to execute Business Plan
  • Market Mix – How well does the business complement the existing businesses
  • Ability to attract other businesses to Downtown Ashland
  • Visual appeal from street level

Contest Rules and Regulations 


 Questions? Please call the Chamber at 715-682-2500 or email at: ashchamb@centurytel.net

Ashland Occupy Historic Main Street storefront is sponsored by:

  • Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Ashland Daily Press & Evergreen Country Shopper
  • Heartland Communications
  • Ashland Area Development Corporation
  • Northern Business Products
  • Maitland, Singler & Van Vlack
  • Bottom Line News

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