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Bradford Business Competition


The Spark to Fuel Your Business!

Funding for new startups and new business ventures of existing businesses in the Bradford area

Do you have the next great idea?  Whether it’s a new app, a new product to be manufactured, a new store, a consulting business, or, perhaps a season business, we want to help you make that idea a reality. 

The competition is open to anyone who would like to open a new business in the Bradford area.  The competition is also open to any existing business that is interested in expanding into a new venture. 


Big Picture Stuff

Economic gardening is an economic development model that embraces the fundamental idea that entrepreneurs drive economies. This is a specific entrepreneurial approach to economic development that seeks to grow the local economy from within. We are embracing this concept for our community and want to support aspiring or budding entrepreneurs to move from idea-to-vision-to-market. 

Mission Statement:  To seed and support the formation of new business and/or new business opportunities of existing business.


The competition is part of a larger effort in re-invigorating Bradford’s rich history of entrepreneurial spirit.  That spirit is an outcome of our heritage as the birthplace of the U.S. domestic oil industry.  Given that long-standing history and the profound impact of our current energy sector, the tag line for the competition is “The Spark to Fuel Your Business”.  However, we are inviting all those in our community who have a new idea – no matter if it is in energy, manufacturing, retail, tourism, seasonal, etc. - to come forward.


Prizes - What Will You Win?

All applicants will gain valuable entrepreneurial skills, networking opportunity, visibility, and free services for the development of your business plan.

The winner will receive $20,000 seed funding plus a list of optional, in-kind services to choose from, i.e. accounting assistance, legal assistance, office space options, HR assistance, etc.

If desired, the option of also forming an Advisory Board to meet regularly (i.e. quarterly) with the winner exists.  The Board will be formed based on the specified needs of the winner.


What Is The Process?

The process is easy - let us know you are interested, develop and submit a business plan, and plan to pitch your idea.  This is good stuff! Here are the nitty gritty details….

  1. All interested parties should fill out and send an initial application. This step simply allows us to keep a count of interested candidates; it does not obligate you to move forward.

  2. Interested candidates need to develop a business plan.  Clarion’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) will provide consulting to assist with the development of your business plan.  All submitted business plans must be reviewed by the SBDC prior to submittal.  For consistency in judging the business plan format should follow the SBDC business plan template and be no more than 10 pages.  See Contacts section (below) for SBDC contact.

  3. To enter the competition, ALL interested candidates must electronically submit a 10-page business plan no later than Friday, April 3rd at 5:00pm EST.  A link will be provided to all interested candidates for submittal of their business plan.  The submitted business plans will be reviewed by a panel of judges who will select finalists.  Finalists will be notified no later than Wednesday, April 8th at 5:00pm (via email).

  4. Finalists will be required to participate in a “shark tank” like Pitch Event hosted by the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford on the evening of April 16th, 2020 where a panel of judges will select the winner.


How Do I Apply?

Initial Application:  Email the following information to Carolyn Newhouse, Executive Director, Bradford Area Alliance at :

  • Name(s):  First, Last Name(s)

  • Contact:  Email, Phone

  • Address:  Street 1, Street 2, City, State, Zip

  • New Business or Existing Business?

  • Business Idea (2000 characters or less)


All initial applications will be acknowledged via email and additional information on how to submit will be sent via email.



  • The planned or existing business must be physically located in the Bradford region. The Bradford region includes the City of Bradford, Borough of Lewis Run, Bradford Township, Corydon Township, Foster Township, or Lafayette Township. 

  • All deadlines and guidelines for submission must be adhered to. Materials must be submitted on or before the specified due date. No late submissions will be accepted. Any submissions that are greater in length than specified will not be considered.

  • The applicant must participate in the Pitch Event on the designated date and time. Only applicants submitting the business plan will participate in the Pitch Event.

  • Submitted business plans must represent original work, i.e. no copyrighting of ideas.

  •  All submissions will be treated as confidential. The only persons with access to the entry materials will be judges and select members of the advisory committee. Materials will not be distributed to any other party. No other or special provisions are made to protect intellectual property.

  • Judging will be performed by a panel of independent judges. Any entry is subject to minimum criteria in terms of its market potential, viability and other factors, as determined by the judging panel’s experience. If no entries meet the minimum criteria, the prize may not be awarded. All decisions of the judges are final.

  • Prize money is granted only to the business entity that the winner forms. The winner will have up to eight months after the competition to form their business entities. This is the specified period of time. Prize money will only be distributed when its principal place of business is in the specified Bradford region.  If the winner fails to form the business entity or fails to establish its business entity in the Bradford region and requests the prize money within the specified period of time, the prize money will be forfeited and will not be dispersed. Prize money will be granted only to reimburse the original invoices of the business entity for expenses relating to the submitted business (e.g. no substitutions may be made without the approval of the Bradford Area Alliance).  The winner is responsible for any tax consequences of the prize money. Prize money will be distributed with evidence of PA formation of the business entity. The Bradford Alliance reserves the right to disqualify, in its sole and absolute discretion, any candidate and/or winner from the competition at any time (before or after a judging round or the award of any prize) for any reason. Reasons for disqualification may include, but are not limited to: plagiarism and any other form of dishonesty, misappropriation or infringement of the intellectual property of others, and any failure to comply with these rules, regulations. All candidates and winners, upon submission of the business plan, shall agree to indemnify and hold the Bradford Area Alliance and all its  representatives thereof harmless from any and all claims, actions, changes, damages, liabilities, obligations and losses arising out of or relating in any manner to the business plan, Bradford Business  Competition, any award made or forfeited, the business started or operated by any one or more members of the  business entity or any other individuals or entities claiming that the candidates or winners has infringed on the intellectual property rights, of any third parties or engaged in any other illegal or inappropriate activities.

  • All applicants must electronically submit business plan and receive an acknowledgement of receipt.


Contacts - Who Should I Talk To?

We have all been there. Sometimes you just want to talk to someone.


For specific questions on the Bradford Business Competition:

Carolyn Boser Newhouse

Executive Director

Bradford Area Alliance

PO Box 1201

Bradford, PA 16701

Phone:  1-814-598-1519


For assistance with writing a Business Plan (and other assistance):

Aleshia Marshall

Business Consultant

Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

Barnes Center

330 N. Point Drive, Suite 100

Clarion, PA 16214

Phone: 1-814-393-2060


For more SBDC information see Starting Your Business and for a listing of overall SBDC services, see SBDC Types of Assistance

For other inquiries on opportunities to grow your business in the City of Bradford and McKean County:

Anita Dolan

Community / Economic Development Coordinator

Bradford Office of Economic & Community Development

20 Russell Blvd.

Bradford, PA 16701

Phone: 1-368-7170, extn 117



Sherri Geary

Director, Economic Development

McKean County

17137 Route 6

Smethport, PA 16749

Phone: 1-814-887-3107


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


Interested candidates are encouraged to re-visit the FAQ section as it will be updated periodically based on various questions posed throughout the process.


Can a not-for-profit apply?

No. At this time the business competition is focused on creating private sector job opportunities.

I am a student and have a great idea.  Can I apply?

Yes!  Ideas and applications can come from anyone interested in locating their business in the Bradford region. Students, including both high school and college students are welcome and encouraged to apply.


What if I have already expanded my business and want to apply for investments already made, albeit recently?

The business competition is focused on future opportunity.  Past investments are not eligible.


My idea is seasonal.  Does it have to be full-time?

While we would like to see your business flourish to get to a full-time status, we welcome ideas that are seasonal or part-time.   The goal of the competition is to seed new ideas.  We realize that it takes time and energy to be successful and a one step-at-a-time approach is a good one.


Is other funding or assistance available?

Possibly. I would recommend that you first work closely with the SBDC and then reach out to the City of Bradford Office of Community & Economic Development and/or the McKean County Economic Development Department.  I have included the contact information for all of these organizations under the Contacts section (above). The SBDC should be your first step and can help guide you.

What is the Pitch Event like?

The Pitch Event will be the culmination of all of your efforts.  A panel of judges will have reviewed your business plan in advance. You will be given 5 minutes to "pitch" your plan.  Each judge will have the opportunity to ask you questions.  This event will be hosted at Pitt and will be open to the public. Feel free to bring your cheering section! The winner will be announced at the end of the Pitch Event.  This event will take place in the evening. 

I live in Mt. Jewett but want to start my business in either downtown Bradford or out at the Bradford Airport. Can I still apply?

Yes, the criteria is that your business be located in the Bradford area.  That area includes the City of Bradford, the burough of Lewis Run, as well as Bradford, Corydon, Foster, and Lafayette Townships.