Since November, 15 participants in The Trail Town Business Challenge, a five-part workshop series focused on business planning training, have been working towards the final stage, a pitch contest scheduled for February 2022.

Participants will be presenting their final ideas to a panel of judges for the opportunity to receive funding.

Funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission through a Power grant, the program is focused on providing support for entrepreneurs who have a vision for the communities in and around local regional trail systems. These include the Bailey’s Trail System here in Athens County along with other county’s trail systems such as the Buckeye Hiking Trail in Perry County and the Moonville Rail Trail in Vinton County.

The project collaboration is led by Rural Action and the ACEnet. As these trail systems continue to grow and develop, more tourists are projected to make southeastern Ohio a destination location for outdoor recreation. This opens the door for an increase in economic growth.

ACEnet staff have presented the workshops, designed to provide participants with a blueprint on how to develop a solid business plan making it possible for them to start a successful business in the trail towns experiencing revitalization.

Following the final workshop in the series, participants will have the opportunity to meet with business coaches for one-on-one assistance and practice their business pitch.

The entrepreneurial participants in the Trail Town Business Challenge have a range of business ideas from short term rentals, restaurants, breweries, wineries, food trucks, bike shops, and interpretive guiding — everything that a tourist would want to experience while exploring the trail systems here in southeast Ohio.

If you would like to donate to the increase the cash awards for the top entrepreneurs, donations are still being accepted. Please consider donating here: https://ruralaction.org/donate/.

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