Princeton uses contest to lure new businesses to city

10:24 AM, Jan 9, 2013   |    comments
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PRINCETON, Minn. - It took just one look around downtown Princeton and community leaders realized something needed to be done.

"We had 16 vacant spaces in a nine block area. We knew that we needed some rejuvenation," said Carie Fuhrman, Community Development Director for the City of Princeton.

But how was the tiny town of fewer than 5,000 people going to bring businesses in? They decided to take a unique approach. They started a contest.

"There are a lot of things that downtown could probably need. From an antique store to a butcher shop, but we're open to anything we don't want to discount anybody," said Fuhrman.

It's called "It Starts Here" and it's a chance for someone who might be considering a new business the opportunity to make it happen. Up to three winners will get a $10,000 forgivable loan and another $10,000 in in-kind services from other businesses in town that recognize the importance of growth.

"To make more people do the drive we feel we should offer them more, spend the day, have lunch," says Kelly Ossell-Guptil, with Ossell's.

The clothing store has been in downtown Princeton for 55 years and they know the key to more business is sometimes more businesses. In order to make Princeton a destination, there has to be a reason to come, and that means more options.

If you're interested, you have until Jan. 31 to apply. It's a three step process that includes application, submitting a business plan and then a presentation before the committee.

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