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(2012 finalists: Kirsten Ussery (left) and Ericka Boyd of Detroit Vegan Soul are open for business and continue to serve delicious soul food out of their restaurant located in Detroit’s historic West Village. — http://detroitvegansoul.com photo)

Do you have an idea for a brick-and-mortar retail shop for Detroit? Do you aspire to be an influencer responsible for helping rebuild America’s great comeback city?

If these questions cause your internal entrepreneurship meter to spike, you just might want to enter your new retail business idea into this year’s Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest presented by the Detroit Lions. Applications are being accepted for the $50,000 grand prize through Wednesday, July 16.

Has this grabbed your attention yet? Don’t stop reading now. There are five more reasons why you should consider being Detroit’s next small business owner.

The top 5 reasons ($50,000) – The grand prize is the most obvious reason. Ask any new small business owner – it takes funding to get off the ground. The startup cost of opening the doors to a new business such as a restaurant, home décor shop or bar can quickly overshoot funding. Not to mention, once you’ve opened shop you’ll have to make payroll, stock and maintain an inventory, as well as cover other overhead expenses before turning a profit. A check for $50,000 from Comerica Bank might be just the investment you need to achieve your small business dreams.

A network of support – As if $50,000 wasn’t enough reason to enter, the winner will also receive a package of services including legal, marketing and advertising, accounting, public relations and IT support from Hatch Detroit and its partners.

But you don’t have come in first to be a winner. New this year, the Detroit Lions will provide both financial and ancillary support to Hatch Detroit alumni who’ve followed through on the business plan laid out during the contest.

“This furthers our commitment to Detroit’s neighborhoods and broadens our collaboration with Hatch Detroit,” said Tom Lewand, Detroit Lions team president. “The growth of small business in Detroit continues to be a significant part of the city’s resurgence and is an important part of the Lions community engagement strategy.”

The success stories – Chances are a former contestant might be one of your favorite Detroit shopping, dining and entertainment destinations.

A popular dining destination is Detroit Vegan Soul, a 2012 finalist, located in Detroit’s historic West Village. After adopting vegan diets, co-founders Erika Boyd and Kirsten Ussery wanted to provide others with healthier versions of the soul food they grew up on without sacrificing any flavor. Detroit Vegan Soul was recently honored as one of Hour magazine’s Best of Detroit 2014 winners.

Mama’s Sweet Side, a 2013 semifinalist, has experienced its fair share of success following the contest as well. The family-style bakery owned by brother-sister duo Anthony and Kathleen Haralson creates some of Detroit’s tastiest desserts inspired by their grandmother’s recipes which ship locally and nationally. Just last fall, Mama’s Sweet Side landed a deal to stock their treats on the shelves of Whole Foods Market.

Detroit River Sports, a 2012 finalist, was founded by sports and recreation enthusiasts Brian Ellison, Alex Howbert and Andy Dold who saw a need for kayak and paddleboard rentals, lessons and tours on the Detroit River. Following the contest, Detroit River Sports is booking reservations for canal tours as they work to secure a permanent location on Belle Isle and Ellison was also recognized as one of Crain’s Detroit Business 40 under 40 honorees for 2013.

“Since its beginnings, Detroit has been a destination for savvy entrepreneurs and business-minded individuals seeking opportunity, not the quickest route to a buck,” said Vittoria Katanski, executive director of Hatch Detroit.

Previous winners include both Hugh (2011) and La Feria (2012) located in Midtown and Batch Brewing Company (2013) planning to open in Corktown this fall.

Detroiter’s love De­troit – If you’re from the metro Detroit area, then you’ve probably had a Detroit-style deep dish pizza from Buddy’s with a frosty cold can of Faygo Redpop to wash it all down. Or maybe you’re a hot dog person and snacked on a Coney Island with a side of Better Made barbeque chips. Either way, you are predisposed to buying Detroit brands because that’s the culture here. You could be the next Buddy’s or Better Made. But why be the next when you can be the first? Whichever you choose, Detroit stands behind you!

Since its inception in 2011, the contest has received tremendous community support to the tune of more than 130,000 public votes.

Because you can – If you are passionate about owning your own business and believe your business plan will succeed then what’s holding you back?

Just take a look at the success stories. Each business owner started out just like you, with an idea in search of opportunity.

In order to succeed you must take the first step. You have a business idea and the contest offers opportunity. Again, what is holding you back?

“Watching the previous Hatch winners and others turn their ideas into brick-and-mortar retail shops has been inspiring, and certainly representative of Detroit’s entrepreneurial spirit,” said Michael T. Ritchie, president of Comerica Bank-Michigan. “Witnessing so many contest success stories has reinforced our decision to support Hatch Detroit. We look forward to seeing this year’s applications and continuing to build Detroit’s entrepreneurial community.”

Apply today at http://www.hatchdetroit.com.

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