Reannon Hayes

Contest winners open for business

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Zoe and Spenser with the contest judges.

In September of 2016 the Tiffin Community Reinvestment Group held a contest to give a space to an aspiring entrepreneur rent free for one year. From the applicant pool, seven possible businesses were chosen to present their business in front of a panel, who decided the winner. This week, contest winners Zoe Dolch and Spenser Blackiston will open Washington Street Outfitters in the Laird Arcade.

Their store is located on the interior of the Laird Arcade (corner of Market and Washington Streets) and features men and women’s clothing and jewelry as well as new and used vinyl records and home decor. “It’s a mixed-merchandise approach, ” Zoe said. “We have hundreds of items and different styles as well as staple items.”

As winners of the contest, in addition to free rent, they received two business organization sessions with professional organizer Reannon Hayes, six sessions from KKR Consult, a business consulting and dream coaching service, and meetings with Retail is Detail (provided by Heritage Ohio), which provided marketing and demographic information for the area. The Seneca Regional Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Services provided one year of free membership, which includes participation in the Chamber Cash gift certificate program.

After winning the contest, they were also contacted by groups at both Heidelberg and Tiffin Universities looking to take an active role in marketing. The Enactus group from Heidelberg has been helping the pair since a couple weeks after the contest, assisting with tasks ranging from building clothing racks to planning the grand opening. Tiffin University marketing students also started working on a marketing campaign that will be presented to Zoe and Spenser upon completion.

“I love the students,” Zoe said. “Working with them has been a great experience and a lot of fun.”

Zoe and Spenser are recent college graduates who were originally looking to start careers elsewhere and defer their dream of opening their own store when they learned about the business contest. “We didn’t know if we could win, but we knew we could put our whole hearts in it,” Zoe said. “We didn’t anticipate this opportunity, it just came about and it felt right.”

Property Manager for the Tiffin Community Reinvestment Group and organizer of the contest Tyler Shuff said he is working with runners-up of the contest to help them launch their business ideas. “The contest was great and brought everyone out of the woodwork that had an idea. Even though there was only one winner, I want to help all seven finalists,” he said. “We are looking at doing another contest within the next year or two, with the goal of getting people downtown and giving their business a head-start.”

Two of the finalists now have office space in the Laird Arcade – Small Victories Financial Coaching and Lascala IT. Shuff is currently working with a wine and craft bar, dance studio and business incubator to find space downtown.

Investment group announces new business contest

Winner to receive space at Laird Arcade for a year

LairdTIFFIN, OHIO – March 23, 2016 – Aspiring business owners have the opportunity to win a space in the Laird Building rent-free for one year, as well as business services valued at $12,000. The Tiffin Community Reinvestment Group is holding a contest to fill the final vacant rental space in the Laird Arcade, located at the corner of E. Market and S. Washington St.

Entrepreneurs can submit their business plans and ideas to property manager Tyler Shuff at the Laird Building leasing office. “In just two and half years, we have gone from 30 percent occupancy to 95 percent. A private donor has made it possible for us to lease this last space for free for one year and give someone the chance to start their own business,” Shuff said. “The purpose of the contest is to give someone a chance to make their dream a reality and to bring something new to downtown Tiffin.”

In addition to free rent, the winner will also receive two business organization sessions with professional organizer Reannon Hayes, six sessions from KKR Consult, a business consulting and dream coaching service, as well as information about and assistance with obtaining an intern from a local university.

Applications are available now and will be accepted until June 1. They can be obtained at the Laird Arcade leasing office or online. Finalists will be invited to pitch their business idea in front of a panel consisting of TCRG members, the property manager, and downtown development professionals.

To set up a tour or submit your business plan, contact Tyler Shuff at 419.618.9515 or 114 S. Washington St., Suite C. For more information about downtown incentives and resources, contact Amy Reinhart at 419.619.5517 or reinhart@senecacounty.org.

About the Tiffin Community Reinvestment Group

The Tiffin Community Reinvestment Group LLC. is a for-profit organization made up of community minded shareholders. The purpose of the TCRG is to encourage and promote downtown business.

About SIEDC

Started in 1983, the Seneca Industrial and Economic Development Corp. (SIEDC) is a private, non-profit corporation dedicated to driving positive economic, downtown, and community development in Tiffin and Seneca County, Ohio, which consistently ranks among the top communities nationally for economic development. Learn more about the great things going on at the company’s blog at www.senecasuccess.com.