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“Hatch Bloomington” contest will award $100,000 prize to a small business owner

One local entrepreneur who commits to locating their brick-and-mortar business in the city of Bloomington will earn $100,000 in financial assistance in a business competition called Hatch Bloomington.


The deadline to enter the innovative content is May 3, 2024.


“We are looking for ways to spur entrepreneurial fever in Bloomington. This is an opportunity to support and promote small businesses with an emphasis on sustainability, creativity, equity, and inclusiveness,” explained Bloomington Mayor Tim Busse. 


“Based on the number of people I’ve talked to and the number of applications we’ve received, Hatch Bloomington is generating excitement.”


To attract fresh investment into Bloomington and position it as a hub of economic activity,  Bloomington has partnered with Minneapolis Regional Chamber to sponsor Hatch Bloomington.


The contest follows in the footsteps of Hatch Detroit, a similar successful business competition that originated in the Motor City 15 years ago.


“We took the opportunity to travel Detroit to learn about this concept that we’re now bringing to life. Some incredible business ideas coming through the portal,” said Jonathan Weinhagen, President & CEO of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber. “Coming out of the pandemic, we know the importance of capital and we want to find ways to think creatively and shore up corridors across the Twin Cities.”


Business owners do not have to live in Bloomington to enter the contest but they do have to commit to building their brick-and-mortar business in the city. Applicants can be at any place on the business development timeline, from still in the idea phase or as an existing small business looking to expand.


The judging to select the winner will take several rounds of review that will last four months. The judging will begin as a panel of business and community leaders will study the applications and winnow the pool down to ten finalists.


“The last rounds will be onstage at our community theater a la Shark Tank, where these folks are going to have to present their business plan and make their pitch in front of a live audience,” said Mayor Busse. “The whole community will be involved in deciding who the ultimate winner will be.”


The final voting round will be in late August with the winner announced in September. 


Even finalists who do not ultimately win the big prize will also benefit from the Hatch Bloomington platform.


“The $100,000 prize is amazing and life changing but when we get down to the ten finalists, the visibility these folks are going to get, the opportunities in the media and social media is almost as valuable as the cash prize. We can’t wait to celebrate these individuals,” Weinhagen said.


If, as the old saying goes, imitation is the highest form of flattery, then Hatch Bloomington is already a success. Even before the contest is launched, other local communities in the area are interested in replicating it, just as Bloomington did.


“I’ve been talking to mayors across the metro who want in on this. You always know when something is working in city government when other cities want to try to do the same thing. It’s a great idea,” Mayor Busse said.


For information about the Hatch Bloomington application process, eligibility criteria, and competition details, visit



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