First time business owner Andy Paul accepted a $10,000 check from the Downtown Sacramento Foundation Monday, along with thousands of dollars of other perks for winning an innovative business contest called “Calling all Dreamers.”
An arm of the Downtown Partnership, the foundation picked Paul from 50 contestants who were seeking to start their own businesses. Andy’s Candy Apothecary also got a year’s free rent at a downtown storefront, construction costs, legal and accounting services, marketing and website help. The total package is worth $135,000.
Businesses, the city and civic groups chipped in to encourage innovative businesses start-ups. Paul said his candy shop will be high-end, cool and unique. A series of presentations won over the judges. He and other finalists got business mentoring as well.
Paul said that, without the contest, there was a good chance that his business dream would have died.
“I would have been working my other job, would have just pulling away a little capital when I could and slowly make it happen. But this really lit a fire under it and made it happen in the space of a few months,” said Paul.
The Daily Method exercise studio will also be moving into the same building after winning an online voting contest for innovative businesses. Franchise owner Sandra Lemos accepted a check for $5,000. She said her studios in Roseville and Folsom has loyal clients, many of whom live in Sacramento. Her studios are open seven days a week after hours.
“We’re not only excited about having success for ourselves, but also helping get bodies down here to help other businesses,” said Lemos.
That’s what Sacramento City Council Member Steve Hansen wants to hear. He represents the city’s downtown area. He donates his council salary to the foundation and wants to jump-start innovative small businesses.
“When you come downtown, I think people want something unique. You can get chain (businesses) anywhere else. This is the future of the downtown,” said Hansen.
Andy’s Candy Apothecary is scheduled to open in less than eight weeks. The foundation is already looking toward next year’s contest for more entrepreneurs who will add a unique look to downtown Sacramento.