Huron-Kinloss launches contest to fill vacant downtown space


By Barb McKay

There is a new contest in Huron-Kinloss aimed at bringing new business to Ripley.

Win This Space is a pilot project to fill vacant commercial space in downtown Ripley. The township’s community development officer Michelle Goetz presented a report to council on Sept. 6 to ask for council’s approval to move forward with the initiative.

The first space the township is looking to looking to fill is the former Farmer’s Diner at 75 Huron St. New and existing entrepreneurs are invited to present their ideas for a restaurant in that space. The winning submission stands to receive an incredible business opportunity.

The prize package includes six months of free rent (a one-year lease is required), $2,500 from the NWMO from its community benefit fund for municipalities that are participating in the federal deep geologic repository site selection process, a radio and print marketing package from Grey-Bruce Boomers and Blackburn radio worth $1,100, a year of waived service fees and access to a business financial advisor at the Royal Bank, a $1,000 brand consultation and strategy package from PRG, a one-year free membership to the Ripley Business Community, $100 in personalized stationary from Creative Casuals, $100 gift cards to MicroAge Basics, a free perpendicular sign with the purchase of a flat sign from J & D Signs, 15 per cent off printing services from Kincardine Commercial Printing, three months of free phone and Internet with a one-year contract with HuronTel and a free enhanced one-year listing through Tourist Town.

Goetz said the prize package is growing and the township is reaching out to culinary programs and restaurants within a two-hour radius to encourage applications. The contest is expected to launch this month and interested restaurateurscan apply by posting a one- to three-minute video submission to outlining their restaurant idea and why it would be successful in downtown Ripley.

A judging panel will review the submissions and eligible entries will be invited to attend five seminars through Bruce County’s Business to Bruce program between October and January to write a business plan. Those business plans will be presented to the judging panel in January 2018 and the top three to five contestants will move on to make a short oral presentation and answer questions from the panel who will ultimately determine the winner.

Goetz said if the project is successful this year the township will continue to run the contest annually in Ripley and Lucknow to fill vacant space.