Story updated 6 p.m. June 28
The deadline is quickly approaching for several Simsbury small business owners who are hoping for a chance to receive a generous small business grant from the Mission: Small Business program. All they need to make it to the next step is your vote.
Chase and Living Social have teamed up to award 12 individual $250,000 grants to qualifying business owners across the country. In Simsbury, nine local businesses have applied to the program and are in the running to have their applications considered by a panel of Mission: Small Business judges.
"This grant would give them some much needed cash to make some substantial improvements," Simsbury Main Street Partnership Executive Director Sarah Nielsen said.
, , , Spitfire Communications, , , , , and are each hoping for a chance to receive one of those grants.
Editor's Note: Secret Lake Dog Training and Flamig Farm are listed under West Simsbury on the Mission: Small Business website.
Each applicant must receive 250 unique Facebook votes from their supporters to qualify for the application review. Nielsen said the fact that the community has to help businesses achieve this goal helps strengthen the town's ties to local business.
"Our small businesses are so important. They support our charities, they support our schools, they support our churches," Nielsen said. "I think it helps remind the community of how important they are."
Kim Foster first opened Harvest Cafe and Bakery with her mother, Evelyn Kelley, in 1995. Foster said she would use the grant to make many needed improvements to her business.
"This building is so old. The volume that we do here is really putting a lot of wear and tear on the business," Foster said.
Old plumbing, aging equipment, and a small kitchen are just some of the issues Foster faces. The cost of operating the business in a town like Simsbury prevents her from taking the leap to make even minor improvements.
"We love our community, we love being here and we really want to stay here," Foster said. "We have the best customers and they're really like a family."
A grant would help RJ's Spirit Shop owner Bill Daum expand his business and help him remain competitive. With the recent announcement of plans for a new Big Y supermarket across the street, Daum is hoping for a boost in business in the town's north end.
"I'm excited about Big Y coming. As long as the governor doesn't let them sell wine, I'm excited," Daum said. "I think it's going to breathe new life into this end of town."
Daum said he would build an addition onto his store and expand his selection of products. The Simsbury resident and business owner would also use the grant to give back to the community, another requirement for the Mission: Small Business program.
"We already donate a lot to the community so this would just help us to do it bigger and better," Daum said.
As of Thursday at 6:00 p.m. the nine local businesses in the running for the application review had the following vote counts:
- - 323 votes
- - 124 votes
- - 162 votes
- Spitfire Communications- 227 votes
- - 96 votes
- - 4 votes
- - 88 votes
- - 43 votes
- - 31 votes
The deadline for community voting is Saturday, June 30 at 11:59 p.m. Voters are permitted to vote for all five businesses but can only cast one vote for each. Once the qualifying applications are reviewed, the winners of the 12 grants will be announced by September 15, 2012.
To cast your votes for Simsbury's competing small businesses visit the Mission: Small Business website and log in with your Facebook account.