Southeast Ohio is gaining national attention as a destination for trail enthusiasts, drawing tens of thousands of people to our region each year to visit the Baileys Trail System, the Buckeye Trail, the Moonville Rail Trail, and all attractions along Ohio’s Winding Road. To help ensure local residents reap the economic benefits of this tourism, Rural Action and ACEnet are offering the Trail Town Business Challenge, a series of five workshops that culminates in a chance to win cash and other prizes that will help you turn your idea into reality.

The workshops are structured to help participants expand an existing business or launch a new startup focused on regional tourism. Topics include information on securing loans, accounting tools, marketing strategies, and zoning and regulations.

The application deadline has passed; applications are no longer being accepted.

Key Details

  • There is a $50 fee for the workshops that will be refunded for participants who complete the course and create a business plan.
  • Applicants must be 18 or older and be the primary owner/operator of the business.
  • Workshops will be virtual on Tuesdays from 6-7:15 p.m.
  • The business must begin operation before Dec. 31, 2022, and be based in Athens, Morgan, Perry, or Vinton County.
  • To be eligible for cash awards or prizes, participants must attend all five workshop sessions, a one-on-one mentoring session, and present a business plan to a review panel, which will determine winners.
  • While all business venture ideas are welcome, the following business sectors will be prioritized for consideration of cash and in-kind incentives: restaurants, microbreweries and related food service hospitality; recreation tourism experiences (tours, adventure sports, instruction, etc.); locally owned hotels, short-term rentals, and other forms of overnight accommodation; visual arts, performing arts, and historical venues; outdoor recreation retail goods.

Workshop Schedule

  • Nov. 9: Trail Town Business Challenge Program Overview & Business Planning Essentials
    Understanding the components of a Business Plan and how to develop it.
  • Nov. 16: Show Me The Money
    How to access investments and loans from innovative and conventional sources.
  • Nov. 30: Managing My Sales Goals and Financial Skills
    Financial Management tools and practices for a successful operation. Specific emphasis on accounting.
  • Dec. 7: Formalizing my Business
    Navigating code, zoning, business liability and small business insurance needs for start-ups and expanding businesses.
  • Dec. 14: Using Social Media to Attract and Connect with My Customers
    Small business marketing tools and strategies, including social media.

Download Detailed Info


Contact Dan Vorisek, Rural Action’s Resilient Communities Director.

Email Dan