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MINNOW TANK Business Plan Competition, 01/30, Harlowton

December 12, 2017View for printing

MINNOW TANK, a local play on TV's famed Shark Tank, launched in Harlowton!

Wheatland County Chamber of Commerce recently launched the first ever "MINNOW TANK" Business Plan Competition to spawn entrepreneurship as a strategy for economic development in their rural community.

Wheatland County, including the communities of Harlowton, Judith Gap, Shawmut, and Two Dot, has a residential population of less than 2300 people and a total of 136 businesses. Industry is similar to other rural Montana communities with top industries such as agriculture, construction, manufacturing, retail, transportation, finance & insurance, healthcare, accommodations & food services and public administration.

Chamber President, Lauri Teig understands that small businesses are the backbone of rural communities. She and her husband, Ron Teig, own and operate Harlowton Auto & Hardware in downtown Harlowton. Lori states that "rural communities hold the keys to survival in their own hands and the Chamber saw the need to feed the entrepreneurial spirit not only Harlowton, but throughout Wheatland County. A small committee of Chamber members was set into motion to remove roadblocks and identify resources for that to happen."

The first step was to partner with Citizens Bank of Harlowton, Snowy Mountain Development Corporation and the Small Business Development Center located within Big Sky EDA in Billings and host a free Business Planning Workshop in late October. Erin Fisk, Chamber Executive Director, reported the workshop was "a tremendous success with over 20 participants and several potential businesses identified. We also launched the MINNOW TANK Business Plan Competition and invited everyone to apply."

Eligible participants must prepare and submit a Business Plan on or before January 15, 2018. They must also complete a simple application form and a separate Business Concept Summary that describes the business nature, products/merchandise to be carried or delivered and describes how the business can benefit existing businesses within Harlowton and Wheatland County. They must also identify needed resources to proceed and a statement of why the business stands out.

All applicants are asked to present their concept and plan in front of judges and those attending the Wheatland County Chamber annual meeting on January 30, 2018. This can be a live or video presentation. Winners in three categories including GRAND PRIZE WINNTER, PEOPLE'S CHOICE and STUDENT GRAND PRIZE will be awarded over $700 in cash and awards. Please contact the Wheatland County Chamber of Commerce for a copy of the full guidelines, selection criteria, eligibility, rules and other details at 406 632-4694 or email

MINNOW TANK sponsors to date include Triangle Communications, Wheatland Memorial Hospital and the Wheatland County Chamber of Commerce. Additional sponsors are invited, please contact Erin with the Chamber for details.

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