Make it on Main Street Contest open through July 16

WILMINGTON, VT: If you’ve always dreamed of owning a downtown business, 2018 could be your year to do so in Wilmington, and to the tune of a $20,000 cash prize.

Starting May 24th, Wilmington Works is kicking off a business plan competition: “Make it on Main Street: The Wilmington Downtown Business Challenge.” Says Board Chair Lisa Sullivan, “We are very excited to showcase Wilmington as a great place to live, work and play. Our historic downtown has some buildings to fill and we are looking for the right business to add to our mix.”

The competition invites entrepreneurs to submit their idea for a brick and mortar business between May 24th and July 16, 2018. Up to five contestants will be selected as semi-finalists, assigned a business development mentor, and asked to produce a full business plan by October 1, 2018. Following a final oral presentation on October 18, one lucky winner will be granted the $20,000 cash prize, with the stipulation that the winning business must then open in Wilmington’s downtown within a year of the award.

The idea for the business competition was born when long-time second-homeowner and Dan Patrick Show producer Paul Pabst had some Sports Jeopardy prize money to donate to a cause. Says Pabst, “I knew this would be a cool idea, to invest into the Wilmington/Deerfield Valley area. I’ve been coming up here for two decades and this will give people all over the country a chance to know what a great area this is and one person the boost to start a business here.”

The effort soon became a collaborative affair, with Wilmington Works adding some of their own funds, along with sponsorship from myriad local businesses and organizations (including Brattleboro Savings and Loan, the Town of Wilmington’s Event Fund, Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation, The Deerfield Valley News, the Southern Vermont Deerfield Valley Chamber of Commerce, and The Richards Group).

The competition is open to all comers, but to score high, potential businesses must consider how their idea will serve the entire community — locals, second-homeowners, and seasonal tourists alike. The “Make it on Main Street” competition is not looking for just any business, but one which will add to the heart and soul of the town. Other than that, it’s wide open — from the whimsical (a store that sells only plaid items?), the practical (people want a place to buy shoes and jeans!), to the au courant (co-working space is definitely in demand, and there is a former microbrewery building on the market), to something we’ve never thought of: send your idea.

Non-retail ideas are welcome as well, especially if they would provide good employment opportunities and diversify our local economy!

Interested parties are invited to read the full rules and learn more about the project at

For more details or questions, please contact:

Meg Staloff, Program Coordinator, Wilmington Works

(802)234-1433 office