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Local entrepreneurs compete to win part of $95,000 to grow business in Vinton

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VINTON (WSLS10) - Local entrepreneurs are putting their businesses to the test during Vinton's Gauntlet Business Plan Competition. The winners receive part of $95,000 to expand their business.

"Occasionally, I do a sale and that's one of the areas I want to improve in," said Jim Privitera, local business owner of Earthworks Pottery.

Like the other 20 entrepreneurs all competing for part of $95,000 -- Privitera pitched his business plan to a panel of judges.  He's asking for $4,000 dollars.

"The money will be used to do things like add additional publicity, to make my website compatible with cell phones and advertising," said Privitera.

Privitera's hobby now sits as a store front in downtown Vinton. He offers limited classes that cover the cost of the building's overhead. But, in order to take home a paycheck and grow his business he said he needs guidance and money.

"We've raised additional money and we actually have over $95,000 in cash and prizes to give away," commented Annette Patterson, the president of the Advancement Foundation who's hosting the competition. "So, it's the region's largest business competition."

The Gauntlet Business Plan Competition is to encourage small business development in downtown Vinton. The competition connects competitors with successful business leaders from across the valley to share their expertise and provide useful insight.

"The business side is the last thing I wanted to do -- the bookkeeping, figuring out where I wanted to go next and the marketing," said competitor and Owner of New Moon Creative Media Denise Allen Membreno.

With a variety of business proposals, event organizers told us the goal is to help all 21 applicants' open shops in the city this year.

For Privitera that could mean more pottery, more money and the chance to finally see his hobby become the business of his dreams.

The winners will be revealed on April 23rd after the judges review each presentation.