From rental cabins and glamping to adventure tours, the Trail Town Business Challenge helped area entrepreneurs fine-tune their ideas during five workshops that assisted them in creating business plans for their tourism-focused endeavors.

The initiative, sponsored by Rural Action and ACEnet with funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission, culminated in presentations of the top ideas at the Athens Community Center.

“We were impressed by the ideas that were submitted for the Challenge,” says Dan Vorisek, Rural Action Resilient Communities Director. “These entrepreneurs worked diligently during the five workshops, learning everything from how to secure investment to marketing strategies. We’re hoping several of them will now go out and create businesses that capitalize on the outdoor industry that is rapidly growing in our region. The new Baileys Trail System, the Moonville Rail Trail, and the Buckeye Trail all create economic opportunities that can provide jobs and increase tourism.”

Mark and Emma Brunton, owners of Burr Oak Getaways, gave a polished, well-researched presentation on their plans to expand their Float Shack, a small general store/bait shop.

“We took it from a beat-down trailer to a small building in six months,” Mark told a panel of experts who were offering advice and feedback on the business plan. While the Float Shack was successful in its first year of operation, the Bruntons wanted to add additional infrastructure and product offerings to meet customer needs, including a restroom with a laundry and the expansion of pre-packaged food options.

“The Trail Town Business Challenge has been great,” Emma said. “The workshops have been awesome.”

Of the 16 ideas that were submitted for the challenge, three were chosen for the final presentation and an opportunity to receive money to help fund their idea. The three were Burr Oak Getaways, Morgan County Adventure Cycling, and Rooted Domes.

For more information about the challenge, please contact Dan Vorisek, Rural Actions Resilient Communities Director.

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