Monticello Bootcamp Program
Where it all started...
The Monticello Bootcamp Program was started in Fall of 2015 as an effort to get business development into downtown Monticello. The program was developed to provide a snapshot to small business owners of integral parts in running a business- areas that aren't necessarily on the radar and often get overshadowed by the excitement of opening a business.
What ended up happening was a completely unexpected, but even better result. Businesses did start up and locate in downtown, but only a small percentage opened initially as a direct result of this program. More importantly, Monticello became a center for information for entrepreneurs in the region and a place for small business owners and fans to network. A "sandbox" so to speak, for people with the common goal and desire to grow and thrive in their own small businesses.
This small business community, even though there is no geographical boundary, creates a safe and supportive space for an otherwise vulnerable and relatively scary time. When a business thrives, the community thrives. When a business fails, the community lifts them up, celebrating the attempts, efforts and experiences with them.
About the Bootcamp Program...
Statistics show that most business growth in any community occurs in smaller businesses. Statistics also show that business failures are a result of the lack of business planning (financial, succession, marketing, etc.). The Monticello Bootcamp program walks participants through individual components of business planning, with the idea of making smarter and stronger business owners. Some may get decide against starting their own business, and some may decide now isn't their time to open- that's ok. The true benefit of the program is the network that is cultivated within the entrepreneurs that have participated. The idea is to create stronger and smarter businesses and help individuals realize if and when they can pull the trigger on opening their dream. Where the business is located isn't important to the program- there's enough information to share!
The program typically runs in the spring and fall for five weeks. Classes meet from 6 to 9pm on Tuesday evenings at the Livingston Center, 224 E. Livingston Street, Monticello. Course books are provided, speakers are engaging, snacks are encouraged, and thoughts are provoked. Participants discover competition is a great thing, entrepreneurs are all different, and there is a huge network of people just like them to interact with. Classes are free for everyone and open to anyone.
The Bootcamp Grant
The purpose of this competition is to encourage the development and startup or succession of businesses in the Monticello community. As a result, the program provides two opportunities for participants to apply for a grant to contribute towards their success. Because the program is funded through the Monticello Business District, all applicants' respective businesses must be located within the Monticello Business District. The grant is funded through many partners and individuals, and the City of Monticello Business District. Applicants who meet the eligibility requirements may present their business plan to a panel of judges during the 5th week of the Bootcamp Program. The judges may recommend the grant to one of the applicants... or they may not.
New Business Grant Opportunity-
This opportunity is available to individuals who are opening up new brick and mortar or purchasing an existing brick & mortar business. Individuals who meet the eligibility requirements may apply for a grant of $5,000 as part of the Bootcamp program. The grant is a reimbursable grant that goes towards payments of rent/mortgage and/or utility bills for a storefront business within the Monticello City limits, once the business has opened or ownership has transferred.
Existing Business Booster Grant-
Monticello is pretty proud of the existing businesses, but understand sometimes it's easy to get stuck in the "same ole" routine. So this opportunity offers encouragement through a brand refresh. Whether that means a complete rebranding of the business, creating of a marketing strategy, or an advertising campaign, this grant is a reimbursable incentive to help existing business owners think of new and inspirational ways to reach their customer base.
Bootcamp Grant Winners...
Make sure you check out these local businesses... Some have opened and received the grant award; some are still trying to figure it out. All are pretty great!
- Fall, 2015 - Samantha Koon, The Zybell House Bakery & Market
- Spring, 2016 - Matt Miller, Monarch Brewing Company
- Fall, 2016 - No grant winner recommended
- Spring, 2017 - Susan & Jeff Ryan, Susie Lu's Cakes & Pastries
- Fall, 2017 - Rebekah & Andy Bradley, Sangamon Meat & Sausage Company (declined award)
- Spring, 2018 - Nicole Stewart, Hartfield Book Company
- Fall, 2018 - Katie Keman, KDK by Design
- Spring, 2019...No grant winner recommended
- Fall, 2019 - Tasha Dunaway and Jeff Zumwalt, BeSpoke Gift Company
- Spring, 2020- Program postponed due to COVID-19.
- Spring, 2021 - Lisa Bourne, Lisa Shreffler Photography
- Fall, 2022-
New Business Grant - Any "new" business endeavor that is to be located in Monticello in a commercial location, and is a new storefront to the City of Monticello; or an existing business under new ownership- Both of which must be located within the Monticello Business District. Examples include:
- A new start-up business
- A business relocating from a home-based business to a storefront
- Purchase of an existing business by a new individual
Business Booster Grant - Any existing, non-franchise affiliated business within the Monticello Business District, that has been in business in Monticello for a minimum of 2 years.
Direct ship businesses are not eligible to apply, but are more than welcome to attend the program. Home-based businesses are welcome to attend and apply, but the grant will only be awarded if the business is to move into a commercial storefront within the eligible area. In order to be eligible to present for either grant, presenters must have attended all 4 weeks of Bootcamp, with presentation being on the 5th week.
While the business plans are due a week before presentations, the presentation should just be your elevator pitch to the judges on why you want to do what you are doing. Presentations should be (as close to) 10 minutes, visuals and props are recommended, and after the judges have asked questions, the class may ask questions. It's a great opportunity to get feedback from all angles- consumer to lender- on your idea.